Practice Tip of the Week:
Turn Off the Lights

Musicians often depend too heavily on visual information
to help them play accurately. Whether it’s reading sheet
music, following a conductor, or waiting for someone else
to give a cue, many players are too dependent on what they see.

Some musicians even watch their instruments in order to play.
They’ve grown dependent on watching their fingers to hit the
right notes.

But, we must remember that music is all about sound. It’s an
aural medium.

One of the best ways to focus yourself on the sound you are
producing is to practice in a darkened room. And, I’m not
talking about low-level lighting or mood lighting.

Make sure you literally cannot see your hand in front of your face.

Once you’ve grown accustomed to being in the dark, try playing
some music you know well. How do you feel? Do you have any
sensations you don’t normally have?

Many musicians are afraid to try this practice technique because
they worry they won’t be able to play at all, that they’ll miss
too many notes, or they’ll become disoriented.

But, don’t worry about those things. Actually, if they happen,
it’s perfectly fine–even to be expected. It’s just part of the
experience of trying something new.

When you play in the dark, you will learn a lot about yourself.
You’ll gain new insight into both your strengths and weaknesses.
You’ll be a better judge of your true comfort level with the music
you’re playing.

And, there’s another bonus to this practice technique:

Without the visual distractions that can make you start thinking
about something other than the music you’re playing, your level
of focus will rise to a whole new level.

By the way, this practice technique is a lot of fun for ensembles
too. Now, it may not work for an entire orchestra or concert band,
but chamber groups, jazz combos, and rock bands can all benefit from
playing in a darkened room.

You will have the opportunity to really, truly listen to your fellow
musicians, and you will learn to trust each other as well.

Experiencing your music in a darkened setting will force you to come
to terms with any weaknesses in your playing. And, better yet, it
will allow you to hear yourself more completely.

To Your Musical Success!