Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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spanishguitarmusic
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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by spanishguitarmusic » Tue May 07, 2019 1:05 am

I always look at my left hand while playing, especially when learning a piece. As I get a little more relaxed playing the piece, I tend to try to look at the sheet music more than my left hand. Once the piece is memorized or I am away from the sheet music, I'll look at my left hand more.

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by Smudger5150 » Tue May 07, 2019 11:55 am

I've approached this from the other direction in that I'm trying to play without looking at my left hand at all times. But this is a by-product, for me, of trying to improve my sight-reading. Or, to play pieces from sheet music even when well-known (which is different from sight-reading something new it has been said [on this forum]).
Shifting positions is the big problem for me in these situations though.
And I'm wondering if shifting positions without looking is something that can be learnt, much like we learn to find the notes in a 'set' position, we can learn to shift up and down the fretboard without looking.
I suspect others (like Mark CG) will say it is possible to learn to do this without looking. Certainly, if you watch players like Raphaella Smits playing with her eyes closed then one concludes it is possible to get to that level.

But is it ok to look at your left hand if you've memorised a piece? I assume it's helpful as a safety-net to do this and I do it for the one piece I know from memory. (Adelita). But does anyone have a reason for not doing it in this situation?
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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by bear » Tue May 07, 2019 11:57 am

no
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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by Smudger5150 » Tue May 07, 2019 1:49 pm

Well if you're answering my question Bear then I was thinking the same thing initially. If you're answering the OP then ignore me....
But one thing that crossed my mind was whether NOT looking at your left hand, or rather, not needing to look at one's left hand meant one was at a level where one could concentrate more on the music that is being produced rather than being 'distracted' by getting the mechanics right.
i.e. it would result in being more free to concentrate on phrasing etc.
Just a thought....

Ps - I'm definitely not at that level unfortunately (for me).
"Music washes away the dust of every day life." Art Blakey

"If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it." Louis Armstrong

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by zupfgeiger » Tue May 07, 2019 2:35 pm

Sometimes, if a piece is technically not yet fully incorporated. It just adds a feeling of additional control to watch where your lh fingers are heading to on the fretboard. But most of the time I am sight-reading or playing blindfolded.
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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by Arion Romanus » Tue May 07, 2019 2:58 pm

I try to look at my left hand as little as possible, mostly because I think it allows me to maintain a better position for the rest of my body. I worry that paying too close attention to my fingers will lead to hunching over and "craning" my neck. Although I also play standing up with a guitar strap, so the mechanics of it all might be slightly different for people using a more traditional playing position.

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by Tonit » Tue May 07, 2019 3:37 pm

Yes I do when there is no sheet in front.
The purpose of it I don't really know.
I am near-blindly short-sighted, so that I cannot even read a book at any farther than 6 inch without a pair of glasses.
Still I look at my left hand when I play without wearing the glasses.
I recently found that I am easily tricked out when one of the position mark paint has been scraped off.
So as it turned out, looking at my left hand when playing only gives me problems.
But I look at my left hand nevertheless.

I would say, I am not staring at it, but it just makes me feel natural when I set my scope around the area I guess.

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by bear » Wed May 08, 2019 12:25 pm

Smudger5150 wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 1:49 pm
Well if you're answering my question Bear then I was thinking the same thing initially. If you're answering the OP then ignore me....
But one thing that crossed my mind was whether NOT looking at your left hand, or rather, not needing to look at one's left hand meant one was at a level where one could concentrate more on the music that is being produced rather than being 'distracted' by getting the mechanics right.
i.e. it would result in being more free to concentrate on phrasing etc.
Just a thought....

Ps - I'm definitely not at that level unfortunately (for me).
I was answering the question posed by the OP. However, I don't memorize music and if my eyes leave the page, I get lost.
2019 Gretsch G9126 432mm
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2006 Michele Della Giustina Concert 10 string 650mm ce
2005 Jose Ramirez 4E 650mm ce
2005 Manuel Rodriguez Model C3F 650mm sp
2003 Manuel Rodriguez Model D 650mm ce

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by es335 » Wed May 08, 2019 1:23 pm

Also answering the OP it is NO. Not with intention initially but for whichever reason I was lucky never having problems to play without looking at my left hand. As I later found that this suffers from even occasional looks at the fretboard I try to avoid even this. Different guitars and particularly different scales are a bit problematic in this aspect but my fingers learned quite well to correct occasional faulty fretting lightning fast! :wink:

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Frank Nordberg
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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by Frank Nordberg » Wed May 08, 2019 6:55 pm

Contreras wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:04 am
I suppose following the left hand imparts an extra level of accuracy.
No, it doesn't really. Imagine if you're at work and your boss is standing behind you, watching everything you do and instructing you in every little detail. That's how it feels for the hand you are watching and it certainly doesn't help. Besides, we use two hands to play and how about the other one? The hand you watch will always be a fraction slower than the other hand and that means they tend to go out of sync, reducing both precision and speed.

In addition, the more you concentrate on the finger movements, the less attention you can give to how the music actually sounds and that's what really maters after all.

That being said, we all do it - we just can't help it. Most guitarists have a tendency to watch their fretting hand while they play. Some are more focused on the picking hand but the only ones who don't tend to do eitehr, are the blind ones.

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by Tonit » Wed May 08, 2019 7:20 pm

Frank Nordberg wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 6:55 pm
Besides, we use two hands to play and how about the other one?

That being said, we all do it - we just can't help it. Most guitarists have a tendency to watch their fretting hand while they play.
You nailed it. No further question.

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by closet guitarist » Wed May 08, 2019 7:56 pm

Frank Nordberg wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 6:55 pm
Contreras wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:04 am
I suppose following the left hand imparts an extra level of accuracy.
No, it doesn't really. Imagine if you're at work and your boss is standing behind you, watching everything you do and instructing you in every little detail. That's how it feels for the hand you are watching and it certainly doesn't help. Besides, we use two hands to play and how about the other one? The hand you watch will always be a fraction slower than the other hand and that means they tend to go out of sync, reducing both precision and speed.
Can you refer me to the empirical data supporting these claims?

Cheers

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by Terpfan » Wed May 08, 2019 10:14 pm

Frank Nordberg wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 6:55 pm
Contreras wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:04 am
I suppose following the left hand imparts an extra level of accuracy.
No, it doesn't really. Imagine if you're at work and your boss is standing behind you, watching everything you do and instructing you in every little detail. That's how it feels for the hand you are watching and it certainly doesn't help. Besides, we use two hands to play and how about the other one? The hand you watch will always be a fraction slower than the other hand and that means they tend to go out of sync, reducing both precision and speed.

In addition, the more you concentrate on the finger movements, the less attention you can give to how the music actually sounds and that's what really maters after all.

That being said, we all do it - we just can't help it. Most guitarists have a tendency to watch their fretting hand while they play. Some are more focused on the picking hand but the only ones who don't tend to do eitehr, are the blind ones.
Musicality comes from practice. You work on phrasing in practice. It does not spontaneously occur when performing.

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by Tonit » Wed May 08, 2019 11:53 pm

closet guitarist wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 7:56 pm
Frank Nordberg wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 6:55 pm
Contreras wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 9:04 am
I suppose following the left hand imparts an extra level of accuracy.
No, it doesn't really. Imagine if you're at work and your boss is standing behind you, watching everything you do and instructing you in every little detail. That's how it feels for the hand you are watching and it certainly doesn't help. Besides, we use two hands to play and how about the other one? The hand you watch will always be a fraction slower than the other hand and that means they tend to go out of sync, reducing both precision and speed.
Can you refer me to the empirical data supporting these claims?

Cheers
I surmise what he's saying is, we place LH fingers fraction of a second before plucking by RH fingers, which can't be the other way around. LH fingers before RH fingers, and never RH fingers before LH fingers which is quite obvious without any supporting empirical data.

The Boss example is to illustrate how our consciously trying to control based on visual input may affect our performance for the worse by extra steps on a side of more musical aspects in mind.

I would say, this one I would agree AND disagree. Upon our performance, we shouldn't, but for daily practice, we actually should better use the visual info, and we even use mirrors to have different viewpoints readily available in order for us to compare ours with our instructors or otherwise.

It's like we better practice parallel parking with mirrors available, and there is probably by far less point to practice parallel parking without seeing them or even with an eyemask on, and probably almost nobody would look at gas/brake pedals while doing so.

In fact, mirrors are must for flamenco guitarists when seriously practicing, but on stage they must be looking at dancers or singers almost 100% of time.

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Re: Do you look at your left hand while playing the guitar??

Post by closet guitarist » Thu May 09, 2019 11:38 am


I surmise what he's saying is, we place LH fingers fraction of a second before plucking by RH fingers, which can't be the other way around. LH fingers before RH fingers, and never RH fingers before LH fingers which is quite obvious without any supporting empirical data.

I did not read it that way since he was discussing watching the hand and its effects on playing and not synchronization specifically.

I didn't quite understand the rest of your post Tonit maybe if you could re-word it? I might be a little slow.

Cheers

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