I spend a huge chunk of my practice time practicing with a Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW.
There are a dozens of these recording programs on the market. I use Logic (and love it), but Garageband and Audacity are free alternatives. Until you’re pro enough to have specific recording needs, just use whatever you have at hand.
Here are five ways that I use my DAW:
1. Brutally Honest Mirror
Perhaps the most important reason to get familiar with your DAW is that it lets you separate playing and listening. It’s so much easier to pinpoint specific areas that need work when you’re listening back after the fact.
2. Feel Testing
This is closely related to the Brutally Honest Mirror. Like most people, I tend to rush when I play. I’ll record a short section (with a click) and then examine the waveforms to see if I’m ahead of, on top of, or behind the beat. This is particularly helpful if the whole idea of feel is new to you (and thus hard to pick out by ear).
3. Slowing Down Audio
It’s enormously helpful to slow down a section & loop it in order to figure out how to play it. Sometimes I’ll practice a whole song at a slower tempo and gradually work my way up to speed.
4. Superclick, Cartoon Gravity, & Making Click Tracks
I use the DAW’s built-in drum machine to make a malleable Superclick or Cartoon Gravity. I also set the metronome to play on playback (and not just on recording), then export them as click tracks for using live.
5. Death By Solos
It’s easy to fall into the habit of playing your favorite licks all the time. Here’s a good way to bust out of that.
Pick a section of a song to solo over, and pull it into your DAW. Now every day for a month, compose & record a new solo. One rule: no reusing anything you’ve composed & recorded on a previous day.