Stop, Look and Listen


In the last 14 weeks I’ve been diligent about either learning new tunes or dusting off old ones. I can’t say whether or not I am actually sounding better, but I can say I’m listening better. I’m listening to myself and listening to others with a keen ear. And I’m noticing things I’ve never noticed before, especially in my own playing.

If you haven’t recorded yourself playing, I highly recommend it. It gives you the opportunity to just sit, listen and watch how you play without having the pressure of remembering the notes of the tune.

Recording myself has been enlightening to say the least. Here are some things I noticed about my own playing:

  • Smiling – I’m not sure why but smiling while playing seems to be a challenge. Even when I think I’m smiling, when I see myself on camera, it doesn’t show. I’m not sure why smiling is so hard. I think it’s because I’m focusing too hard on the notes.
  • Bowing – I always thought I drew my bow straight across the strings when I played but I noticed on some tunes, I get a little sloppy.
  • Rushing – I tend to rush through the parts of a tune I find the hardest for some reason.
  • Feeling the music – The biggest thing I noticed about my playing is that it seems like most of the time when recording, I’m just trying to get through the tune instead of really feeling the music.
  • Recording – On the bright side, what used to take close to an hour now takes about 20 minutes to record a 2-3 minute tune.

I’m looking forward to the next 38 weeks as I have committed to learning a tune a week for an entire year. It has forced me to keep practicing, even on the days I don’t want to. It has also forced me to stop, look, and listen to not only the music that I’m playing but the music and the beauty that surrounds me.

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