Video as a Practice Tool

The famous double-slit experiment shows the duality of light which can behave as both a wave form and a particle. This experiment had the side effect of illustrating that observation can completely change the outcome of an event. When a camera films the experiment, the photons act as particles. However, when no observation takes place, photons act as waves and particles simultaneously. The implications of this are mind blowing, and show that there is a lot about our universe that is, well, just odd.

So, does filiming yourself performing, change the nature of that performance? In the same fashion as studio recording, you become mindful that what you are doing is being captured. The camera makes you acutely aware. Every fret buzz, missed note, every rhythm and timing issue, every vocal part that is slightly sharp or flat, it all comes to a jarring reality. When I practice in private, without that additional level of scrutiny from a video camera, or audio capture device, things normally flow comfortably. Sometimes I have off days, and can deal with this by adjusting practice goals to work around the obstacles. So, you may be comfortable with yourself when you can’t observe from the outside. 

But, plant myself behind the camera, and a heightened alertness to every nuance takes over, and a new level expectation emerges. In this sense, using video as a tool for practice is an exceptional way to develop musical discipline. Hearing yourself play is different to hearing yourself playing. It does not sound the same when you propagate that energy, as when you observe your own energy represented upon a screen. It is both affirming and terrifying at the same time. It is different even from watching yourself in a mirror. You gain an entirely other perspective, and upon honest review, you can see right away every facet that needs development.

Perhaps this is another element of the exposure therapy I am using as a means for me to confront performance anxiety. The problem with my live performance schedule is that I am not at a point yet where I have a consistent frequency of suitable outings. So I have a few close together, start improving, then the schedule dries up, effectively undoing any progress made by the next opportunity. My own goal setting to share my reinterpretation of the universe that I see in simple singer-songwriter material has been driving positive change in my music and my life, as I peel away the layers of the onion skin to find things about myself that entangle me, or create beautiful interference patterns, or present obstacles that I just try plow through. All this to say that observing myself on a screen after capturing video offers a point of reference I would not otherwise have access to, and shifts ideas of what to focus on.