Handheld digital recorders are fast becoming a favorite item for musicians.  There are many musical uses for these handy devices, from recording your practicing to recording rehearsals and archiving your performances.

In the age of Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, personal blogs, and band websites, many musicians are realizing the need to have video as part of their everyday life.

The problem for many years has been that video cameras have had high picture quality but so-so sound quality.  That has all changed recently as companies are developing handheld video recorders with an emphasis on high audio quality.

Some of these products are being designed specifically for musicians!  They include high-quality condenser microphones that are capable of capturing a  full-spectrum audio recording.  Many other video cameras (as well as digital voice recorders) capture the human voice well, but any high or low frequencies generally sound terrible. 

The power of these devices to transform your daily musical routine cannot be underestimated.  Having an audio recording of yourself is great, but video completely changes the way you do everything.  After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a million.

With video, you can hear yourself AND watch yourself on playback.  For practicing it will sometimes be the visual aspect that will give you the solution to a section of your music that doesn’t sound the way you want it to.  You may be able to see a small adjustment in your posture, embouchure, positioning,  curvature of your fingers, angle of your neck and head, or height of your shoulders that will immediately take care of the issue.

You can make similar decisions by watching video of rehearsals and performances.  Just like professional athletes who watch videos of games to make improvements, all musicians can benefit from seeing video of themselves in action.

Having some form of video is better than none, and in a pinch, you can make do with other electronics you already own:

–cell phone to record sound and shoot video

–digital camera: shoot a short video

–web cam and microphone: film yourself

Even poor sound quality is better than nothing.  However, you should consider moving up to a high quality handheld video recorder. 

Two of these devices that have recently come to market are the Zoom Q3, made by Samson (www.samsontech.com), and the Alesis VideoTrack (www.alesis.com).  They were both featured at the recent NAMM show, the industry trade show where music products are introduced.

You should try out several models to see what works for you.  But, it is definitely time to take the plunge into digital video!