Back in the daytm guitar was my job. I taught, I played some concerts, I gave lectures (mostly about digital marketing and music business) — guitar was my identity. My online identity is still tied to the whole guitar thing: chrisguitarguy.
So when I heard myself on a recording, it hurt. That’s not what I really sound like right? Right?!
Recording is a performance. It’s less ephemeral than a concert — recording gives you instant feedback. Like any performance, mistakes will be made. Mistakes might mean a flubbed note. That happens (it happens a lot for me). A mistake can also mean that something doesn’t sound like it was expected to sound. Sometimes that’s a result of the nerves. Sometimes it’s a result of poor planning or intentions.
Either way, hearing oneself play is often not pleasant. If guitar becomes a significant part of your identity, hearing a recording of yourself can make you feel like crap.
It’s the ego that hurts. Your sense of self worth goes down because the thing you’re meant to be good at doesn’t sound as good as you expected.
The ego is the enemy. In the case of recording, it’s the enemy of being able evaluate things from the perspective of an audience member and genuinely improve based on that feedback.
Don’t let the ego get in the way of progress. Record yourself. Listen. Take notes. And get better. Guitar can still be part of your identity, but make that identity about the process of improvement and performance rather than the actual result. The result can always be better.