One of the oddities you need to come to terms with as a musician is that things do not sound the same to your listener as they do to you. Something that sounds very slow to you is often not all that slow for your listener, what you perceive as loud is only moderate and a very long pause for you is a mere moment for your audience.
To gain an appreciation of these and to also help identify more easily other issues with your playing you can use the recording artist practice method. For this you will need some means of recording yourself. There are a number of ways you can do this: a cassette recorder, mini-disc recorder, DAT recorder, 8 track, mp3 recorder or even direct to your computer. If you can make a good quality recording of yourself that is great but even a poor quality will serve our purposes (which ever you choose don”t spend too much time trying to set it up – you’re supposed to be practising remember!).
At the start of your first practice session for the week you need to make a couple of recordings. The first recording you will put to one side and only revisit at the end of the week. This should be a recording of all the things you are going to try and learn this week – don’t worry too much about how well you play at this stage the important thing is to get everything recorded quickly.
The second recording is the one you will need for this practice session. Record the pieces or exercises that you are about to practice. Listen back to this recording and make a note of all the areas and issues that you need to improve. Next continue your practice as normal. Finish your practice session by making another recording of the things you have just been working on. You can now compare your recording from the start and end of your practice session – did you improve? What could you have done better?
For your next practice session you should make a recording at the start of the session and then again at the end – reviewing how you got on. Do this for each of your practice sessions during the week.
Just before your next lesson you should make a final recording of all the things you have learnt this week. This is where you will need the first recording you made this week. You can compare the two recordings – your first and last of the week. If you have practised well (using a practice method!) then hopefully you should notice lots of improvements between the two recordings.