We all know how valuable it can be to record ourselves.

But just because we know something is helpful, doesn’t mean we will act on it. After all, we know we ought to eat more veggies and do more cardio, but that knowledge by itself doesn’t turn us into marathon-running vegans.

At the end of the day, if it’s too inconvenient or time-consuming to do the right thing, we’re probably going to stick with our old habits.

So if we are serious about making a positive change in our life, we have to do more than strengthen our resolve. We must look for ways to make change easier.

Case in point, I had a DAT machine and a nice little microphone. But I almost never used it to record myself in practice sessions. Why? Because between looking for the power cord, finding a blank tape, getting out the microphone, and the annoyance of rewinding and fast-forwarding to find what I wanted, it was too much of a hassle.

What? I just need to suck it up and quit my bellyaching?

Perhaps, but it’s often the little things that get in the way of behavior change.

Choices. So many choices.

Nowadays, with so many dead-simple easy-to-use recording devices out there, there’s really no excuse not to record yourself more often.

But if you go online and search for a digital recorder, you are inundated with choices. Zoom? Teac? Tascam? Sony? Roland? Yamaha? Marantz? Olympus? A specialized microphone for your iDevice? GarageBand on your laptop?

Having lots of choices sounds like a good thing, but paradoxically, too many choices can lead to inaction. Often, we end up choosing nothing rather than risking the wrong choice.

What’s the best…?

So that got me wondering… Based on your experience, what do you think is the best device for recording yourself?

How important is audio quality? How important is convenience? Where does cost factor in?

Is it worth getting a high quality device that can double as a recorder in performance settings as well as in the practice room? Or one device for practice that prioritizes convenience and ease of use, and a more high-end model for performances that puts a premium on quality, but may not be as user-friendly?

Nominate your favorite recording device/setup in the comments below, and tell us what makes it stand apart from the competition. To make your nomination clear, please put it in ALL CAPS. Like, VOTE: ZOOM H4N.

About the “What’s the Best…?” series: This is the second set in a series that asks readers to identify the best tools out there for musicians. I’ll put out a call for nominations on Sunday, and YOU share your favorite tool and why it stands apart from the rest. On Wednesday I’ll report back with the top five recommendations and then you will have a chance to vote on your #1 favorite. For an example, check out five best metronome apps.

About Noa Kageyama, Ph.D.

Performance psychologist and Juilliard alumnus & faculty member Noa Kageyama teaches musicians how to beat performance anxiety and play their best under pressure through live classes, coachings, and an online home-study course. Based in NYC, he is married to a terrific pianist, has two hilarious kids, and is a wee bit obsessed with technology and all things Apple.

After Countless Hours of Practice, Why Are Performances Still so Hit or Miss?

It’s not a talent issue. And that rush of adrenaline and emotional roller coaster you experience before performances is totally normal too.

Performing at the upper ranges of your ability under pressure is a unique skill – one that requires specific mental skills and a few tweaks in your approach to practicing. Elite athletes have been learning these techniques for decades; if nerves and self-doubt have been recurring obstacles in your performances, I’d like to help you do the same.

Click below to discover the 7 skills that are characteristic of top performers. Learn how you can develop these into strengths of your own. And begin to see tangible improvements in your playing that transfer to the stage.

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