Last semester, we talked about how important self-evaluation can be, especially by watching yourself on video. Here, we'll talk more specifically about how to do that effectively.
When watching your videos (whether clips of your practicing, self-tapes for auditions, or Dem Lab performances), you should ask the same questions you would consider whenever evaluating anyone else's singing performance. What works about this performance? What do I like? What is making this effective? What is not working? What is getting in the way of more authentic communication? What could be done differently to make it more successful? Any amateur observer can say "I like this," or "I don't like this." But, as theatre artists, we should be curious as to the why.
When evaluating your practice clips, I'd recommend watching the videos soon (if not immediately) after you record them. That way you can see and hear what you are doing while you still have a tactile memory of how you created the sounds. If you liked what you saw on the video, try the same thing a few more times to solidify what you did. You can even use this tactic to record yourself singing a phrase of music two or three times in a row but in different ways. Then you can watch to see which version you prefer and, once again, recreate that sound while it's still fresh in your mental and physical memory. If you watch these videos for the first time even a day later, you won't have the same visceral memory and it will be more difficult to recreate those sounds in the same way.
For performances, like Dem Lab videos, I'd recommend the opposite and instead allow more time to elapse before watching the videos (days, if not weeks). That way, you won't have such strong memory of the feelings and sensations you were experiencing in the moment. This will allow you to evaluate the video more as an outside observer. When you aren't watching with the same physical memory from having just sung, you're better able to give yourself an overview of your performance instead of being more focused on a single element of your singing, like with the practice videos.
Notice that I'm using the words "evaluate" or"criticize" when it comes to watching yourself. And I absolutely didn't use the words "tear down" or "obsess over" either. You can observe and evaluate by asking the questions above with a true sense of curiosity in order to identify what you are doing well and to strategize about how to improve upon the less effective elements. As I've said previously, feel free to tell your inner critic to shut the hell up!
Remember, the flip side of being your own worst critic is that you can also be our own best evaluator. No one will be able to watch your own performances with as much insight as you. You know what you were thinking at the time. You know what it feels like inside to make those sounds. You have the best idea of how you might recreate or tweak those sounds. The rest of us can guess or make assumptions, but you're the only one who knows. Use that information to your advantage.
Now go practice.