During the recording sessions I learned something about how my mind works. My producer's usual procedure has been that once the first take has been recorded he gives me comments and feedback on how he heard it and what he'd like to focus on in the next take. He's a man of great precision and detail, which is absolutely needed in his line of work, so he would give me very specific tasks to focus on at specific times in the music.
I started to notice a pattern in my own response to this method. Generally, my first take would be somewhat exploratory and even a little hesitant, and perhaps a chance to remind myself of the possibilities of the piece which I had usually not played in a couple of days, due to the structure of the recording schedule. This means that I would be in a "right-brain" mode while playing the first take, but not necessarily fully at home. I noticed that in taking in the producer's comments, I would start to get more into "left-brain" mode, thinking more than feeling. Invariably, the second take would not go as well as I habitually play, as my mind would be distracted with thinking and judging in a more micro way.
As an experiment, I suggested playing the first two takes without any commentary from the recording booth, no matter what. I really started to feel more successful immediately, as I was able to play much more from that place of "flow" that is the subject of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's book, aptly titled "Flow". Enjoyment and concentration. Joy and focus: a combination that I have discovered might well be the antidote to Doubt!
Now, as I listen to the takes recorded a few weeks ago, I hear the wisdom of altering our process during the sessions. The first take often offers something special and magical, although not always as convincing as subsequent takes. I hear that as I progress through the recording days, the second takes become more interesting and less self-conscious than at the beginning of the sessions.