Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 26 to 50 of 56

Thread: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

  1. #26
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    4,498

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    As far as looking at your hands while playing mandolin - or guitar for that matter - I find myself doing all of the following at different times:

    Looking at my fingers or the fingerboard

    Looking at sheet music notation

    Looking at the audience

    Eyes closed

    There seems to be no particular pattern, beyond when I need to sight-read.

  2. #27
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,952
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Niles makes a good point, one I highly identify with. I find almost invariably that the first time I play in a new room/stage I tend to be more 'off'. Play there a second time and everything goes much easier and after a couple gigs I nail it like I do in my practice room.

    I have attributed this to all the visual distraction of a new room, all that visual stimuli takes up brain power and reduces my concentration. Looking at my fellow bandmates, closing my eyes for a solo, or staring at a blank space on the back wall as I sing helps me focus better and play my best until I am used to room and look around instead.

    Looking up from the fretboard raises this issue for me, but as looking up also means better band communication it's definitely worth it.

    To cope with this, I often will practice out on the back deck or looking out the front window a few times before a gig to get myself used to the visual stimulation and distractions. There was a few months when I regularly practiced with a mirror in front of me to help me learn to look up and more so to stop 'guitar face' which I struggled with (my wife told me my face looked like I was cleaning the litter box during a solo, her photo proved it). Now I find myself getting annoyed at jams when half the people don't look up from their fretboard (and signaling who has the next solo is near impossible).

  3. The following members say thank you to Markus for this post:


  4. #28

    Default Re: LOOK, then DON'T LOOK

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    There are plenty of instruments which are non-visual (for the player): violin/viola, horns, saxes, woodwinds. There is probably a long-term advantage of not having a visual crutch to become overly reliant upon.
    Agree ... tho' not sure if violin/viola is non-visual for the player (I go back & forth as with the mando.)

    When I would do some really complicated stuff on mandolin/organ bass pedals/drums, I would have to shut down the visuals so I could handle 3 different instruments at the same time. (You think I'm BSing? There are people on the Café that have seen me on "the rig") When you are the entire rhythm section at the same time, you finally start to understand grooves and how the parts fit together.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	onemanbandbill.jpg 
Views:	138 
Size:	108.5 KB 
ID:	131108

  5. #29
    Resonate globally Pete Jenner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Mt Victoria, NSW, Australia
    Posts
    3,546
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    I'm training my eyes to go in different directions because I need to watch both hands. Playing cross-eyed also works.
    The more I learn, the less I know.

    Peter Jenner
    Blackheathen

    Facebook

  6. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Pete Jenner For This Useful Post:


  7. #30
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia
    Posts
    7,584

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    i have heard of folks playing violin and organ pedals at the same time. It's a different realm, I guess. . .

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  8. #31
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    68

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Coming from a classical guitar background, where I played a lot of pieces by reading the notation, it's almost second-nature now for me to play without looking at the instrument. I began doing the same with the mandolin after the initial familiarization period. For the right hand, I almost never look at it. It's all muscle memory . As for the left hand, i will take a quick glance during position shifts or if I hear something unexpected like a wrong note, buzzes or muffled notes. Granted, I'm not at a level where I play ultra-fast or complex solos, but for scales and such I rarely look. Personally, it seems I can hear what I'm playing better when I'm not also trying to visually process it. I don't think that there's any huge advantage to being able to play without looking. As previous posts have pointed out it's helpful when playing with others in that you can easily see cues, etc. or if you are following some sort of written music.

    Ironically, if I'm playing a memorized piece for someone, I will often look at my left hand. This is probably due more to self-consciousness (somewhere to focus on so that I don't get distracted) than a need to see what my hand is doing. I am looking without 'seeing'.

  9. The following members say thank you to Maczart for this post:


  10. #32
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Kalamazoo, MI.
    Posts
    7,357

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    When there's a hottie dancing in front of the stage, I am usually distracted and let the banjo player go, if I can.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  11. #33
    Registered User Polecat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    South Germany
    Posts
    588

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    As far as looking at your hands while playing mandolin - or guitar for that matter - I find myself doing all of the following at different times:

    Looking at my fingers or the fingerboard

    Looking at sheet music notation

    Looking at the audience

    Eyes closed

    There seems to be no particular pattern, beyond when I need to sight-read.
    Ditto, although my sight-reading is pretty deficient.
    When I improvise, I tend to play with my eyes closed, it helps me concentrate better on what I'm trying to achieve.
    "Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll" (Keith Moon)

  12. #34
    Registered User dusty miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    382

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maczart View Post
    Coming from a classical guitar background, where I played a lot of pieces by reading the notation, it's almost second-nature now for me to play without looking at the instrument. I began doing the same with the mandolin after the initial familiarization period. For the right hand, I almost never look at it. It's all muscle memory . As for the left hand, i will take a quick glance during position shifts or if I hear something unexpected like a wrong note, buzzes or muffled notes. Granted, I'm not at a level where I play ultra-fast or complex solos, but for scales and such I rarely look. Personally, it seems I can hear what I'm playing better when I'm not also trying to visually process it. I don't think that there's any huge advantage to being able to play without looking. As previous posts have pointed out it's helpful when playing with others in that you can easily see cues, etc. or if you are following some sort of written music.

    Ironically, if I'm playing a memorized piece for someone, I will often look at my left hand. This is probably due more to self-consciousness (somewhere to focus on so that I don't get distracted) than a need to see what my hand is doing. I am looking without 'seeing'.
    I'm usually staring at a book looking at tab or notation the first twenty times I work on a new song or exercise and that does it for me too. I can look wherever after that but I also find I look at my hand if someone asks me to play something for them when I don't need really need to.
    Jacobson #24
    Kentucky KM-620
    Michael Kelly
    Fender
    Gold Tone Banjo

  13. #35
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Outer Spiral Arm, of Galaxy, NW Oregon.
    Posts
    16,667

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    If I had to sing and face the audience & look good, it may matter. more..

    Of course picking out melodies Vs Comping chords does change the needs somewhat.
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
    about architecture

  14. The following members say thank you to mandroid for this post:


  15. #36
    Registered User CavScout's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Jersey City
    Posts
    108

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Just chiming in with full agreement that I play more accurately, with fewer mistakes if I don't peek. In fact from time to time I go in the washroom and turn out the lights. Great acoustics and it helps develop muscle memory without the confusion of watching and playing at the same time. I have been learning Going Up Caney this week. One run was giving me fits...but then I remembered not to look...and it improved right quick.

  16. #37
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Mountain View CA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    I stuck those little colored Avery dots on the neck's side on mine 'pour le moment' to do just that.
    Careful, though, those ones are probably some of the most expensive types of labels they make, for being so dinky!

  17. #38
    high strung gfury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    60

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    I Googled and found this old thread ...

    I need to stop looking at my left hand while playing.

    Last night I missed a cue from the bass player to end the fiddle tune that the group was working through.

    Today I pledged to not look at my hands (or look much less) while playing. I have to say that it is a whole new experience, and not as hard as I thought.

    There is a certain freedom in it, and I feel that I can concentrate more on my sound / tone.
    Greg Fury

  18. #39
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Blue Zone, California
    Posts
    1,573
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Excellent question and discussion!

    Keep in mind, in art which includes music, there are no rules, there are only conventions... But there are also situations that come up, and, there are also phases that we all go through.

    In my experience, which includes playing solo, playing in jams, performing in bands and playing with others in real time online, ultimately, the goal for me has been to be able to watch what is going on around me so I can visually follow tempo, body language and queues, so I can adjust to my audiences, so I can follow written music, so I can be conscious of technical things going on around me, and really so i can see and process important things going on in the rest of the world as I'm playing music. And there's a lot out there to watch and care about...

    So for about 95% of the time that I'm playing, I'm not watching my hands. I'll glance to my hands about 5% of the time, mostly when I need a visual check to make sure I'm about to do something the way I want to do it.

    It didn't start that way though. It has taken a long time to get to a point where I can play well, and at the same time be looking around at the other important things that are going on.

    Btw, in a band on stage, being able to follow gestures and motions of band mates, sound people, back-stage people and the audience is extremely important in order to maintain the flow of the songs and of the program being presented, in order to perform as a single unit on stage, and really in order to connect with the audience. This is also pretty much the same in a live jam.
    -- Don

    "Music: A minor auditory irritation occasionally characterized as pleasant."
    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."


    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug (plus many other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [Our recent arrival]

  19. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to dhergert For This Useful Post:


  20. #40
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,914
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Petrus View Post
    Is it a worthwhile goal to try to spend less time looking at my hands while I play?
    I think, of all of the skills one needs to master in order to play the mandolin, this particular one is wayyyy down the list. Doing it means nothing, and not doing it means nothing.

    "His playing was magnificent, what beautiful music. But did you notice he kept looking at his hands?" said absolutely nobody ever.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  21. #41
    high strung gfury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    60

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I think, of all of the skills one needs to master in order to play the mandolin, this particular one is wayyyy down the list. Doing it means nothing, and not doing it means nothing.

    "His playing was magnificent, what beautiful music. But did you notice he kept looking at his hands?" said absolutely nobody ever.
    I agree It's the music that counts.

    One point that I was trying to make is that this is a mind-opening experience for me. My head is in a totally different place when I play without looking. Almost like getting the feel of riding a bicycle for the first time. I also hear the music more fully.
    Greg Fury

  22. #42
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,744

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I think, of all of the skills one needs to master in order to play the mandolin, this particular one is wayyyy down the list. Doing it means nothing, and not doing it means nothing.

    "His playing was magnificent, what beautiful music. But did you notice he kept looking at his hands?" said absolutely nobody ever.
    Basically true and if you can play that way well in whatever genre you choose, all the power to you. However, in some circumstances it serves you much better to use your eyes for other purposes. For instance, playing in an ensemble setting with sheet music you need to use your eyes to read the music and simultaneously take cues either from other players or from a conductor. Plus there is a fluidity that helps a lot in developing muscle memory vs. using visual cues when playing in positions up the neck. Better that your fingers know how to reach that high D or E vs. finding it with your eyes every time.

    Of course, I play fiddle, too, and looking at my left hand really does absolutely no good though sometimes I do find myself doing it. My position playing has improved a lot by feel.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  23. #43
    Resident Hack
    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    184

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Where you look is related to where the audience is looking. If you're playing the kinds of tunes where they will all be looking at your hands, look wherever you like.
    If you're in a band situation where the audience will be looking more at your face (Ex: you are the singer in a country band), you better be looking back.
    What I play
    2021 Skip Kelley Two-Point
    Eastwood 'Ricky'
    Morgan Monroe RT-1E
    Epiphone Genesis guitars
    Various Basses

  24. #44
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,451

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Will look at my left hand if I have a tricky shift in a tune. And sometimes when performing will look at my hand, just to calm myself down and not let anxiety get to me.

    But yes, being able to shift to looking at - sheet music, band mates, audience, dancers, festival coordinators, etc., is a nice goal. Still striving to get there. Although even the best players can get too fixated on one thing. Played with an accordion player recently and he was so intent on reading the music he missed a couple of visual cues. Ended up having to say "foot up" or "last time" to get his attention.

    Which reminds me - after all these years, still have a difficult time playing and talking at the same time. Yes, it's another skill to practice. After 40 years of playing music in front of folks thought it would be easier.

  25. The following members say thank you to Eric Platt for this post:


  26. #45

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    I’m still pretty new at this so I often have to look especially when picking single strings instead of chords. But when singing with a mic and/or playing with a harp rack it’s not practical to look much of the time. I was surprised how much difference I noticed when using a mic.

  27. #46
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,914
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Oh I agree, one needs to be able to look around, read the music, watch the conductor, signal other band members, engage the audience, etc. The "sin" is in not doing these things, not in looking at your hands.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  28. #47
    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Bozeman, MT
    Posts
    1,139

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    If I’m not wearing bifocals I can really see my left hand, so no use looking for me
    2007 Weber Custom Elite "old wood"
    2017 Ratliff R5 Custom #1148
    Several nice old Fiddles
    2007 Martin 000-15S 12 fret Auditorium-slot head
    Deering Classic Open Back
    Too many microphones

    BridgerCreekBoys.com

  29. The following members say thank you to MontanaMatt for this post:


  30. #48
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    3,236

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    I like to play on camping trips, campfire jams, festival jams - situations where there isn't much light. It's good to not have to be able to see my hands to play then. Also when playing for a live crowd it's nice to make eye contact with them.

  31. #49
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,614

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Back in the '60s, when my college rock band played at a local high school (and none of us had been playing more than 2 years), it would have been nice if they'd warned us that they usually turn the gymnasium (of course!) lights off for one song each night. Yeah, we wouldda picked something that wasn't our newest song AND that required some chords way up the neck. But hey, it all worked out!
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the knowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  32. #50

    Default Re: Looking at your hands while playing -- opinions?

    Let your hands do it. Don't think about that fret on this string, think about the sound. By now there may be some place in your head that can go straight from thought to sound without the calculation step in the middle. The calculating part is usually visual, so don't look, or better, close your eyes.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •