Recording yourself play – why and how

Simon DringBlog


iphone memosWhen we’re playing drums on our own, we’re so absorbed in reading the music / coordinating limbs / holding the sticks etc, that it’s hard to actually hear what our playing sounds like from the outside. However, with the advent of smartphones, tablets and laptops, there’s no excuse. Almost all of these devices will have a basic recording facility. On the iPhone it’s called “Voice Memos”.


Wondering if you’re playing a rhythm or fill correctly? Record it, and play it back. Count carefully when listening back to check everything is in time. Where at all possible, record with a metronome as well. An excellent way of checking a groove is by listening back to the hi-hat or ride cymbal – if either of these are wobbly or uneven, then chances are something else is wrong too.


Have you invented a brilliant new drum rhythm, or a cool fill? Record it before you forget it!

Zoom H2n
Zoom H2n



Even if you are just jamming, record as much as you can. I remember years ago spending hours jamming with musician friends of mine. We recorded all our rehearsals on cassette tapes, and I have literally dozens of tapes at home with song ideas on. It’s so much easier on a smartphone or tablet. No tapes to rewind/label/copy. Simply email the recorded tracks to the rest of band. No-one else outside the band needs to hear these recordings – unless you want them to.


Obvious really. You’ll listen back and be able to spot which songs work, which ones don’t, and they’re great reference copies for future songwriting.

A few notes:

– Don’t be discouraged if recordings show up faults or inaccuracies in your playing. That is what we’re doing the recording for! The recording help us spot the problems, and then we can work on improving the playing. We can’t do that until we know what’s wrong.

– I use the Voice Memos app on the iPhone to record short snippets of rehearsals etc. The results aren’t perfect, and the sound of your drums or the band won’t be high quality, but it’s an incredibly useful tool for critiquing your playing/songwriting.

– Experiment with the positioning of your recording device. If you place it too near to your drums, it will distort. Further away is best. If you have an option to control recording level, turn it down – drums are surprisingly loud!

– To record full rehearsals and gigs, I use a Zoom H2n which has multiple high-quality built in microphones.