Yarr, I'm a pirate!

December 14, 2018, 7:53 PM · I found that wearing a blindfold really helps me stay focused when I practise, more so than just closing my eyes. One thing's for sure—staring at my fingers or a wall is just way too distracting after an hour of scales. It's funny, and especially when someone walks in and sees me with an eyepatch on.

One of my favourite violinists, Roman Kim, wears glass prisms on his eyes for the same purpose. That got me thinking about other nifty tricks for staying focused (like doing 20 crunches when you make a mistake, although that's more in the masochism camp). Deep breaths, "centering"...
What do you do?


Replies (11)

December 14, 2018, 8:12 PM · I like when someone listens to me practise, or at least listens from another room while doing something else. The pressure (if it can even be called that..) is healthy and I try to feel that every small mistake is extremely painful and that it is a life or death situation. This helps me to raise my lower threshold and I think it is really good for students who do competitions or are auditioning for a job.
Edited: December 15, 2018, 4:38 AM · I like to practice scales in the semi-dark. It helps me focus on fingering without visual cues.
December 14, 2018, 10:51 PM · Don't look at your left fingers while playing. Our mind follows our eyes, and ideally we should focus on the sound and the bowing. Or, a female in the audience.
December 15, 2018, 10:31 AM · I watch daytime tv while practicing.
I thought everyone did...
December 15, 2018, 11:03 AM · A female in the audience? My parents won't be happy if I invite everyone over to watch me practise every day... Maybe once a week...

Interesting that you like it when others can hear you, James. I'm the total opposite extreme—I can't stand it.

December 17, 2018, 9:14 PM · Similar to Scott - I put Netflix on in the background. I find the ambient noise helps to focus and cuts down a little on the 'neighbor anxiety'.
December 18, 2018, 6:34 AM · A contractor told me that most people prefer loud bathroom fans to quiet ones. "Cover noise" he called it.

Instead of doing crunches when you make a mistake, you could just move your sound post a little or replane your fingerboard or strip the varnish off your fiddle.

December 18, 2018, 6:42 AM · Yeah, but planing the fingerboard doesn't give you sweet abs.
January 14, 2019, 7:23 AM · I stare at my contact point. Probably just something I do.
January 14, 2019, 9:45 AM · I think Nina is well aware that Hilary Hahn stares at her contact point.

I found when I was a kid that I did my best piano practicing while the dishwasher was running in the kitchen. The process of ignoring it improved my overall concentration. So even though I know Scott is kidding, what he proposes might actually work.

I remember when the newspaper printed a running daily summary of the plot-lines of all the soaps. That was funny to read. Once.

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