Practice Tip: Listening

This blog could be a note to myself.  I want to listen better to music!  I often see students playing guitar using  hand/eye coordination.  The problem with this is that they can become too preoccupied with the mechanics of playing and less focused on the actual sound of the music they are playing.  The end result is usually music that contains the right notes, in the right order, but often rhythmically incorrect and/or melodies that are not played legato (in a smooth, flowing manner without breaks between notes).

What we all need to do is play with more ear/hand coordination.  That is, playing our instruments in a way that mimics what we hear around us, and within us.  Let me tell you about something funny that I see all the time.  When I notice that my students are looking at their fret hand, I’ll say, “Play it again, but this time close your eyes.”  You know what usually happens next?  They tip their ear towards the guitar.  All of sudden when you can’t depend on the sense of sight, the sense of hearing takes over.  Isn’t that what we should be doing all the time as musicians?  Using our ears!

Focus on listening more intently to what you are playing.  Strive to play your melodies the way that you would sing them.  Be sure your fingers know that their job is to play what you hear on the inside not just to aim for the right notes.


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