As I come off an amazing weekend at the World Rhythm Festival here in Seattle and settle back into life, the thing I’m taking away from all of the experiences of the past few days has been the comments on how much I have improved in my playing. Here is where I have to keep in mind that what I see is different from what others see. Because I am so close to what I do, I hear it, see it and feel it every day so it’s hard for me to gauge the improvement. I only hear incremental improvements that seem small. What others have seen this past weekend has been a major leap across the stars because they are not so close to it. Time and again, I kept hearing how much I have improved. It made me keep asking myself, have I improved that much? Well, to put a perspective on it, the last time I was on the stage at WRF was in 2008 with Tyler Spencer and C. J. Bastron. I listened back at that recording and it was like night and day. The playing I did then was the best for the moment. It was good for an intermediate player but definitely not great. The playing I did this weekend was inarguably better. Better technique, better musicality, better instruments and most of all better feel. It was an eye opener to see how far I’ve come in the last four years but moreover, it made me realize how perspective can be so different. For me, it’s been a “can’t see the forest for the trees” scenario but for others who haven’t been in the forest, the trees got huge.
All of this has serves to confirm that recording yourself while you practice is such an important tool. It gives you a record of the improvements not only in small increments but large ones too when you can go back to older recording and hear what you did then. Recording also serves to let you hear the things you need to do in order to improve on a technique you may be working on. And it also captures those moments when a sound that catches your ear comes out unexpectedly.
I guess the bottom line is, when you’re practicing and it feels like you’re not getting anywhere, don’t give up because you are getting somewhere. It may not feel like it but you are. If you have a way to record yourself, do it. Even if it’s a simple Panasonic tape recorder. Do it. This really can serve as a way of showing your progress.
Happy practicing and see you soon!
Your didge servant,