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Monday

Blindfolded Guitar Playing - Out of the Box!

Beginning today, I'm gonna start playing blindfolded.

Several things came together to give me this idea.

First, I can sing without watching my larynx. Even if I could watch my own vocal chords, how would that help me to know if I was at the right note or pitch? Figure that one out. And yet people sing.

My hands & fingers are just as connected to my brain & ears as my voice box is. Or at least, they should be. People learn to talk, discuss concepts & ideas and sing Old MacDonald before they learn to read & write words or music notation. So maybe keeping my eyes on the fretboard is actually attenuating the signal path between fingers, brain & ears.

This post isn't a justifier for not learning theory and it's not an attempt to side with either learning to read music or not learning it. People manage to make music regardless, and they seek tools & improvement in direct ratio to their own individual necessity & interest level. There are commercially successful working musicians who read and ones who don't. Either way though, shifting your attention from the structure of your instrument to the function of playing music by removing your video circuit is gonna send more juice to the ears and force them to take on more control responsibility of the motor functions.

Everybody knows that blind people can play musical instruments if they're interested in creating or recreating music. And unless they use their bare feet to read braille sheet music or tab while playing, they're not following any "sheet" music while playing. Vocalists would have that one a bit easier.

When running up & down the stairs, do you watch and measure each step? No, we become coordinated, a word which describes a zillion physical actions we do without watching or giving it a second thought. How many times have you stabbed yourself in the nose with a fork while eating? It's been awhile for me because I got better with the fork. I also stopping falling down as much except during certain holidays.

Whether you're a music reader & know the fretboard map-- or you play totally by ear, playing blindfolded should help to put your playing closer to par with speaking by removing the mostly unnecessary detour of having to watch the fretboard, a detour which adds time & mental machinery we probably don't need to use.

Ask yourself the following:

"If I actually lost my sight, would I have to quit playing guitar?"

"If I lost my sight, could that condition actually reduce certain obstructions to playing better than before?"

We often hear that people lacking one or more of the 5 senses, "have" stronger perception in those senses they retain. I don't believe that's an automatic "given" though, but rather that those working senses are worked harder and thus become stronger. I wrote this blog post without watching the keyboard. Doing otherwise would have taken longer, but it helped having the screen to look at instead. Blindfolding will get my ears to "look" more at the sound and the music than at patterns my eyes dictate.

The Guitar Channel recently featured some Scott Henderson video interview clips. Click the link and watch to video #3. More important, LISTEN to what he says about rhythm & FEEL, and worrying about what your fingers are doing.

If you're not ready to try the blindfold, start playing in front of the TV with the sound turned off. It's so simple a caveman can do it.

I don't recommend using a blindfold to become a better driver, however Ray Charles talked about riding a bicycle by himself as a child, after losing his sight. He navigated around his small town by knowing the ruts in the road, smells and sounds all around him. I was disappointed that the movie "Ray" didn't include that potentially very entertaining item.

Stay tuned for future reports on my own blindfold guitar playing progress.

Check out Stratoblogster Labs for more ideas. Some really work & some will cause you irreversible damage. The chance you take.

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