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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Should You Look At Your Hands When Playing Music?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/54663

Brian Wood - Posted - 02/03/2021:  14:33:15


Although his video is aimed at banjo players, it applies equally to playing any instrument. It's about looking at your hands when you play, and why you shouldn't. More than just opinion, there's a lot of information.



Should You Look At Your Hands When Playing Music?

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 02/03/2021:  16:50:21


This applies somewhat to fiddle, but not totally since we're pretty much forced to look at our left (assuming right-handed) hand. Though you don't have to stare, shifting requires an eyeball to supervise. If you are in one position for awhile, though, you can pretty much close your eyes, look around the room, or even tell a joke to the bass fiddler if you are good enough. Muscle memory is the reason anyone can play a passage or scales or a lick, fast.



I feel that being clueless about the dynamics of others you are playing with is more of an ear thing, than eyes.



This even led to an entire genre--"shoe-gazing"



Further, I appreciate the effort you do transcribing on your site -- top notch


Edited by - Flat_the_3rd_n7th on 02/03/2021 16:57:29

TuneWeaver - Posted - 02/03/2021:  17:29:22


Personally, I'm a carpet/floor gazer/geezer... I Never look at my fingers..

fiddlewood - Posted - 02/03/2021:  18:12:24


no rules...if I need to look I do...and when I don't I don't...

TuneWeaver - Posted - 02/03/2021:  18:16:43


The OP mentions banjos.. WHen I made my first fretless banjo, I put tape on it to indicate finger positions.. After about five minutes I realized that my ears were better indicators than were the tape strips..

Old Scratch - Posted - 02/03/2021:  18:28:27


I would go cross-eyed and get vertigo if I tried to watch my fingers. I do look at my bow sometimes. Mostly stare into the distance.

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 02/03/2021:  18:50:24


quote:

Originally posted by TuneWeaver

geezer... 






I've always loved this word, though I've only recently (in my mind) become part of the Club...



"To geeze, or not to geeze, that is the question..."



For a geezer is one who geezes, no?

farmerjones - Posted - 02/03/2021:  19:16:07


Banjer or not, the video discusses early learning. Read similar on piano site. No piano teacher wants you to watch your hands.
My take on early learning and setting good muscle memory, don't make a big deal of it either way. Eventually as one develops, you'll look up, look around, gaze out the window, whatever. I remember 45 years ago, in a typing class. Always looked back and forth. Agrivated that old teacher to no end. She finally resigned, I probably wasn't going into the typing pool. It wasn't bothering me. It was bothering the teacher. Flash forward 44 year. I chose not to agrivate a piano teacher, by never employing one.

larry dominique - Posted - 02/04/2021:  00:05:03


I'm too busy reading the sheet music to look at my fingers!

boxbow - Posted - 02/04/2021:  04:01:39


It took several years before I could look at my left hand while playing. It made me start to over-control my fingers which only turned them into sausages. For the last few years I've been able to watch them and move them more precisely when I needed to. Mostly, I don't watch them.

carlb - Posted - 02/04/2021:  04:46:16


Sometimes I watch my left hand fingers dancing on the finger board.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 02/04/2021:  05:07:48


I'm with Old Scratch on this...I don't understand how people can see their fingers while playing the fiddle without getting their eyeballs stuck out of socket and cranking their neck out of joint. On banjo...I can't remember if I look at my fingers or not...but I'm thinking both banjo and guitar I just look when I need to do some big move that might overshoot if I'm not watching, but other than that, no, I don't think so.



But I guess it's up to the person...if you feel more comfortable playing by looking, then go ahead and look for heaven's sake...but if you can without hurting yourself, then you're more flexible than I am.


Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 02/04/2021 05:08:51

bf - Posted - 02/04/2021:  07:43:49


Since I had cataract surgery that range is a blurry mess without reading glasses (which I don’t wear while playing). While I may be gazing in that direction I find my point of focus is farther out, or I’m staring off into space.

I did have a number of conversations in lessons regarding looking at my bow’s contact point, and having to explain that I just can’t focus my eyes at that distance. Identifying my bow’s contact point is much more about the feel and sound than I will ever have a visual component.

On banjo, I’m absolutely guilty of looking at my left hand if I’m not paying attention not to. A habit I should correct, but I have maybe a 1 to 100 ratio of banjo to fiddle time, and that time is more about enjoying the experience that seeking to actually better myself on the instrument where the banjo is concerned. Priorities may shift in the future. Who knows?

banjopaolo - Posted - 02/04/2021:  10:29:37


the only instrument where I really need to look the fretboard is dobro, I don't know why


Edited by - banjopaolo on 02/04/2021 10:30:15

boxbow - Posted - 02/04/2021:  12:54:38


During the first couple of years I was seriously trying to learn the fiddle (10 or 12 years ago, I guess) I'd deliberately play without my glasses so I couldn't possibly look. I even played with lights out. That was mostly because I was often playing from sheet music and I wanted to break the habit. A useful side effect was to learn to rely more on kinesthesis whatsis like the guy said. Shouldn't there be a fiddle tune with that name?

ChickenMan - Posted - 02/04/2021:  16:29:41


I'm in the "only if you want to go cross eyed" camp. You glean very little from looking since it is so foreshortened that you can't see much in the way of 'where' your fingers are placed.



I am also in the "look around the circle and make uncomfortable eye contact while grinning like a monkey" camp. laugh

sbhikes2 - Posted - 02/22/2021:  18:00:31


My violin teacher wanted me to look at my fingers (and at the tape) and she wanted me to look at the bow to make sure I was bowing in the right place and straight. She also wants me to look in the mirror and she wants me to read the sheet music. I can't do all of this!

fiddlerjoebob - Posted - 02/23/2021:  05:31:36


Not looking.


Humbled by this instrument - Posted - 02/27/2021:  15:52:02


No.

TuneWeaver - Posted - 02/27/2021:  18:12:13


quote:

Originally posted by Humbled by this instrument

No.






It is about time you showed up to give an authoritative opinion..!!



 

Quincy - Posted - 03/07/2021:  19:53:09


I was told not so long ago I should watch my fingers (I was playing a difficult part), but more often I hear I need to feel the distance between my fingers.
Last few weeks I have been trying to play blind. I just stare at the wall, or on my screen, with my eyes on the notes sometimes - or I watch myself in the mirror. And I try to do what I was told: I try to feel the distance between my fingers. Playing blind sounds a lot better and feels easier , and it's handy when you want to practise in front of the mirror! But when I start a tune and I need to find my way a bit, I need to have a look at the fingerboard. I can't play blind straightaway, I need some time to warm up first. Maybe this will change in future?
I find this an interesting question.

Brian Wood - Posted - 03/07/2021:  21:03:34


quote:

Originally posted by Quincy

I was told not so long ago I should watch my fingers (I was playing a difficult part), but more often I hear I need to feel the distance between my fingers.

Last few weeks I have been trying to play blind. I just stare at the wall, or on my screen, with my eyes on the notes sometimes - or I watch myself in the mirror. And I try to do what I was told: I try to feel the distance between my fingers. Playing blind sounds a lot better and feels easier , and it's handy when you want to practise in front of the mirror! But when I start a tune and I need to find my way a bit, I need to have a look at the fingerboard. I can't play blind straightaway, I need some time to warm up first. Maybe this will change in future?

I find this an interesting question.






I like your answer. I think the same is true for me, that I need to look at my fingers when learning something new. The hard part is breaking away from that when I should, because looking is habitual. It takes an effort for me to stop looking but I believe it is a better way to play, where it is more purely mental.

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