Saturday, February 9, 2013

Should you look at your fingers when playing guitar?

This answer is yes and no so let me explain. The goal is to be able to play guitar without looking at your hands. There are several reasons why you will want to learn to play guitar with out looking but lets begin with when to look. 

The time to look at your hands

The time to look at your hands is when you are first learning simply to ensure your technique is correct. Look at your hands as you place fingers on the neck, learn to pick, strum etc but then work on repeating the process without looking each time checking to see how you went and making corrections. You can try practicing in front of a mirror and then try videoing yourself to analyze where you need to adjust. 

Why your goal is to play without looking
Firstly on the guitar you are coordinating between two hands and relying on your eyes will slow you down considerably. Every chord change and every note would require you to be checking each hand. The second reason and equally important is you will want to feel and listen to what you are playing and that is best done using your ears not your eyes. A third reason is that hopefully your goal is to play with other musicians and for an audience. You therefore want to keep your eyes available for making eye contact with your band members and your audience. A good way to learn to play guitar without looking at your eyes is to get your teacher to guide you. Eg. Try playing a chord without looking at your fingers and get your teacher to give you feedback as you go.
A forth good reason is reading music. To be a good reader you can't be constantly moving your eyes back to your hands.


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1 comment:

JohnEinsteinKovar said...

Here's my take on the subject. I had to answer this question when I started playing live. Firstly, where you look with your mind is important. I find concentrating on the music, being aware of all that's going on and aware of the part you are about to play is critical. Closing your eyes is an important tool for that, but closing your eyes too much disconnects you from the audience. So when your hand is in a position and you know what you are going to play, you can look around at the band and the audience, when you have to change position of your hand its good to glimpse and make sure you are on target, then when you are playing a solo, eyes closed as much as is necessary to be aware of what you are playing and what the band is playing. As guitarists we all spend a lot of time learning in a bedroom, playing alone. Those skills are not good enough for performance. Bedroom playing skills tend to be focussed on the guitar part and unaware of the rest of the band. Something to be careful of, without awareness of the band it becomes unlistenable guitar nonsense.