Now that you have your instrument and a few of the immediately required accessories, it is time to continue adding to your collection of great toys. The two pieces of equipment which I will address here would be your tuner/metronome and your audio and/or video recorder.
The importance of a metronome/tuner
It is essential that you own and use a metronome and tuner for these two accessories are vitally important to your success as a musician. If you play out of tune, no one will want to play with you. If you don’t know the tempo of a piece, you might be wasting time in your practicing. When I combine the tuner with the metronome, I am speaking of a device similar to the Boss Tuner & Metronome TU-80. Both this tuner/metronome instrument and the Korg are priced at $25 and would do a good job keeping you in tune and at the correct tempo. I have used my Boss for more years than I want to remember and have had no problems with it. The Korg on the other hand has a better consumer rating so you may be swayed to this unit. Although I could not find the dimensions of the two units, it looks as if the Boss is a little smaller. This might influence your decision. Boss fits in my shirt pocket easily and I doubt that the Korg would. Either way, if you don’t have one, you need to get one.
The importance of recording
We are involved with an art form which is based on sound. Also important is the visual perception while on stage. Because of these two important areas, I have divided this next piece of equipment in to two areas, i.e. visual recording and audio recording.
- Video recording
When we perform, our audience is influenced not only by what they hear, but also what they see. Many times our perfect musical performance is marred by something on stage which detracts from the over all presentation. To illustrate my point, I will relate an occurrence which had a very profound affect on an educator. I was judging a jazz festival in Iowa and was faced with a very uncomfortable situation. The jazz band I was judging was very good but the director was distracting to say the least. This woman, to be politically incorrect, was huge. I had no problem with her size for this is something many people deal with. The problem I had was the fact that she –moved across the stage directing every entrance and ever note to the point of distraction, both to her band and the audience watching her. Even though the band was well rehearsed, the site of this large woman dancing and jumping up and down on stage ruined the performance. Finally I had had enough and questioned one assistant director of the band if they were aware of the problem I was faced with. He assured me that he had been mentioned this issue to the director but she was not concerned about the visual affect on the bands performance. The assistant director asked if I had any suggestions and I simply told him to video tape her programs and make her watch them. Later that year I received a message from the assistant director telling me that they had video taped her presence on the stage and after playing it for her to watch, she realized the problem and never over did her presence on stage again. How you present yourself to your listener can be as important as your musical performance, so consider using a video recorder from time to time to see what the rest of us see.
- Audio recording
While we are involved with the mechanics of producing notes and making wide skips during our performances, we are many times unaware of how we actually sound. Sometimes when we hear recordings of our performances, we are shocked at what was actually played. To be a good musician, we must be truthful to our selves. Remember that when you ask your mother or mother-in-law what they thought of your solo, they are not going to tell you the truth. Tape recordings (sorry, old habits are hard to break). Audio recordings are the only truthful records of how you played. They don’t lie.
The price of Digital, hand held recorder has dropped considerably in the past few years and the quality has also improved. You should be able to purchase a reasonable good hand held, digital recorder for a price of $100 to $300. One such recorder in the middle of that price range would be the Tascam
If money is an issue and you would be content with something of lower quality and lower price, the best way to save money would be to find a deal on a video recorder which would work as an audio recorder also. Any time you try to do everything with one unit, you will have to sacrifice some quality and for that reason I am suggesting this possibility. Two years ago I purchased a JVC HD Memory Camera model GC-FM2 for video taping some of our concerts. When it arrived, I was most impressed. The HD video and image stabilizing features were better than I had hoped and as an added bonus, I found out that the audio recording quality was also impressive. If you check for sales on line you may be able to find a similar buy to what I found- Listed at $180.00, discounted to $92.00 and with a $10.00 coupon,- total price $82.00. Add in the memory which did not come with the recorder and you have a fairly acceptable recorder of both audio and video, AND IT IS SMALLER THAN MY TUNER/METRONONE. I love modern technology!