Which hand do you look at while you are playing?

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pduck

Which hand do you look at while you are playing?

Post by pduck » Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:44 am

I've noticed from watching videos of CG players that most tend to look at their left hand (if they are right handed). I tend to look at my right hand. As a result, I have trouble moving my left fingers around. If I watch my left hand, I hit the wrong strings. What do you recommend to this beginner?

Thanks,
Pete

JQ.

Post by JQ. » Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:49 am

I watch the music on my stand, not either hand.

Azalais

Post by Azalais » Wed Jan 03, 2007 5:10 am

Try to learn to do it by feel if you can (so you can watch the music on your stand, and/or play by ear :wink: ) You can also practice doing scales with your eyes closed and just visualizing the frets and hearing/feeling "where" the different pitches and intervals are. I really wish that I had started doing that much early, because having that intuitive sense of where the "sounds" are, so your left hand just goes to it without thinking, really helps.

ps. Look up the threads about using a "guitar support" (like a gitano) if you are not already using one. Having your guitar in the same reliable stable place each time really helps you build accuracy. If your guitar is waving around and in a different place every time you play, it will take much longer to learn the feel of the fingerboard and the strings, and be much more frustrating.

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Vesuvio
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Post by Vesuvio » Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:26 am

Hello Pete,

I endorse the point made by Azalais. First and foremost you want the guitar in a consistent position.

When I am going through the early stages of learning a piece I do look at my hands, mainly the left, and playing very slowly. The point of this is to try and get the right messages to the fingers so that muscle memory can be relied upon later when I try to play up to tempo. Then, I try not to look at my hands as much, just checking big left hand shifts etc.

Best wishes, V
"There are only two things worth aiming for, good music and a clean conscience." Paul Hindemith

LFP

Post by LFP » Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:00 am

Azalais wrote:I really wish that I had started doing that much early, because having that intuitive sense of where the "sounds" are, so your left hand just goes to it without thinking, really helps.
Vesuvio wrote: I endorse the point made by Azalais. First and foremost you want the guitar in a consistent position. The point of this is to try and get the right messages to the fingers so that muscle memory can be relied upon later when I try to play up to tempo. Then, I try not to look at my hands as much, just checking big left hand shifts
The advice couldn't get any better than that. Azalais's point of getting the "feel" of where sounds are is seminal. Pete, to push a point a little further, seek to be independent of having to look anywhere. The more you can achieve that the better your opportunities to focus on the sounds.

All that said, if I was consciously focusing on a particular move in either hand I would do that with all the concentrated "looking" I can muster. For example a RH picking pattern/ finger action or a LH change/ shift etc. I would examine each move very carefully and part of that process would be "feeling" it. A good test for competence is, "Can I do it confidently and with no error, without looking?"

dlmoak

Post by dlmoak » Wed Jan 03, 2007 3:21 pm

All of the points above are valid and benefits are to be gained by focusing on left, right, or none, depending on what you are practicing. If you are reading a piece, it is best to watch the music. If you are practicing a piece for mastery, then attention must be paid to your hands. (Am I keeping my left hand fingers close to the frets? how much is my right hand moving around? what is causing this inaccuracy? does this fingering really work? etc.) It is often recommended to practice each hand separately, concentrating just on the left or right hand. This is difficult to do, especially for the right hand. So it depends on what the focus of your practice session is. On focus could be to play without looking at your hands :)

RamblinJackAllen

Post by RamblinJackAllen » Wed Jan 03, 2007 7:10 pm

Excellent advice all around. This is one of the things I'm having most trouble with, since looking at my left hand is causing neck pain and limiting my playing time.

In a sense, it's a little like training wheels on a bike. You tend to need the visual connection to your hand(s) because you're afraid of falling down.

gosabres06

Post by gosabres06 » Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:22 pm

I agree with the above advice. I find it best to practice slowly at first, with some focus on either left or right hand depending on what is more difficult for me at what part of the piece (almost always my LH). Once I learn that, I look at the music with a focus on tempo, sound production, etc.

All_thumbs

Post by All_thumbs » Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:41 pm

For me, I try to concentrate on the music. When I'm just learning a piece, I will look at the hand with the most/hardest movement.

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Steve Kutzer
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Post by Steve Kutzer » Wed Jan 10, 2007 10:50 pm

I get the neck pain too, but my teacher really wanted me to look at my left hand, Segovia style. He felt the visual feeback was very important. So I do it as much as is comfortable, and especially if I'm struggling with a little section.
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az

Post by az » Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:26 am

I usually do a combination of things:

When I'm learning a piece, I look at the score.

When I have memorised a piece and am working on technical areas I look at my hands (either left or right) to minimise tension and to work out smoothness of motion.

When I'm comfortable with the piece, I try playing it with eyes closed - visualising the fretboard in my mind or just listening to the piece.

I also usually look on the left hand during sections of a performance during positions shifts though I try not too.

I also practice frequently in front of a mirror to see how I'm playing and to keep a good posture.

upucci

Post by upucci » Thu Jan 11, 2007 12:53 pm

I look at my left hand mostly.

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freestroke
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Post by freestroke » Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:27 pm

This is a little strange I guess -- the only time I look at my right hand is when I'm checking to see how my nails are meeting the strings so that I can file them accurately. I NEVER look at my right hand when I'm playing or learning pieces, except to generally check angles and such when I'm experimenting with tone -- and not even then, really, just a glance out of curiosity.

The left hand is another matter entirely. I work at not looking at it, but I catch myself staring from time to time, and getting the concommitent bad body positions. I still have to look with shifts, but I tend to look at the fret, not the hand itself. I also have to look to see the string I'm going to land on with a specific finger, for certain patterns. All in all, I'm sure I look too much.

Sigh. Just what I need. Yet another technical flaw to be addressed. Would you guys PLEASE stop asking all these embarrassing questions?!
Hell is full of amateur musicians -- GB Shaw

goodtone

Post by goodtone » Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:28 pm

except for difficult passages, shifts etc I tend to look at the music stand until I’ve memorized the piece. Once memorized I will mostly look at the left hand. I agree with dlmoak that this is important for accuracy and for memorization of the piece. Of course there are times when it’s very difficult to look at the left hand at all e.g when playing artificial harmonics, so then you will have to play the left hand by feel – maybe some people can play the harmonics with the right hand by feel also – not me :)

ebneth

Which Hand Do You Look At

Post by ebneth » Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:16 pm

When I'm first learning a piece, I look only at the music. I stop when I make a mistake and mark that part for slow practice, learning the left hand fingering first, looking at that hand. Then more slow practice with the right hand.
Currently, I'm working on playing a rest troke with my thumb while i and m play free strokes. I work with only one bar of music until I get it, with all attention focused on the right hand. So I think it really depends on the skill you are trying to develop that will direct your attention. In performance, I tend to look at my left hand if the piece is memorized, and at the music if it isn't. (It's nice to make eye contact with the audience, too)

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