February 11, 2011

What do you focus on?

I managed to smash my left middle finger in the bathroom door on Monday night. I'm not sure how it happened, but I came out of it with a small cut and a numb fingertip. Yuck!

So I decided to take it easy on practicing the next day and just play through my Bach Cello suite for fun. I sat down to play and got into my "I'm concentrating!" mode, and soon enough things were going ... well, not great.

Frustrated, I decided to put the guitar away and do something else for a while. But I got bored and came back to the guitar to work on one of the movements that didn't go right. I started by playing through it again, and a funny thing happened.

I got distracted somehow and found myself thinking I should start working on my taxes. Suddenly, I noticed that I was playing great. Huh? I played a few whole of the suite as well as I'd like to play them in concert.

Thinking about my taxes is probably not the magic recipe for success, but I'm pretty sure that lightening up and letting go is part of it.

What do you focus on when you perform? Listening to the sound? Visualizing what's ahead?


  1. I focus on visualizing what's coming. It's a combination of looking ahead of my hands and imagining where I'm going. It's kind of a weird thing, but I sort of see my hand where it is currently and where it will be in next.

    Part of visualizing what's coming is "hearing" the music that's coming as well.

  2. 'Part of visualizing what's coming is "hearing" the music that's coming as well.'

    That's true. Some people talk about visualizing (in the multi-sensory sense) ahead, like Shearer for example.

    Some people talk about just listening to the music as if you're in the audience.

    Pepe Romero says in his book something like, "focus all your attention in the crown of your forehead and just trust your fingers to do what they've been trained to do."

    I'm curious as to what else others might do.