Practicing without practicing: part deux

Over the last couple of days I have well and truly being putting into practice the practice of practicing without practicing (ooh too many “practices” there). Well, kind of anyway.

My enforced hiatus from “situation normal” was brought about by a slightly idiotic thought on my part. I thought that I could prevent my rather excitable young dog from tripping people up whilst on a very long extender lead by grabbing hold of the very thin, rope-like line of the lead (travelling at a great speed, I might add) with my bare hand. Yes. My bare hand. Oww. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in two angrily stinging, pulsing and then throbbing friction burns (and now blisters) across fingers one and two of my left hand. It brought tears to the eyes! So, you may agree, that this was not one of my better ideas….

It happened though and there’s no point wishing it hadn’t. I always try to make the most of situations and think about the opportunities presented by an otherwise adverse circumstance.

So, right hand exercises it has been! A good opportunity to get back to basics and review ones foundations.

I started off by carrying out some right hand touch control and tone quality exercises, using the various combinations of pima, listening in to tone quality, looking at and playing with angles of attack, the action of the fingers onto, through and returning to the strings.

I confess I soon got a little bored of this, however, and I thought what other form of right hand only kind of practice can I do? And then I was struck by perhaps a better thought than the one I’d had earlier…..

This was an excellent opportunity to puzzle out and really think about my preferred right hand fingering for a piece I’m bedding in at the moment. This involved me sitting and playing, left hand not even on the guitar (hurt too bloody much!), and playing through phrases with my right hand only. Just playing open strings and thinking about what my preferred right hand fingering is and how the notes and the music would be created with the addition of my left hand. 

OK, so you don’t really get the full picture (or sound) without the left hand, and the fingering may not fit quite as anticipated when you come back to add the left hand in properly (but that can always be played around with again), but it does do a number of things:

  • It gives you another perspective on a piece, allowing you to think about it in a different way
  • Makes you really focus and conentrate as you’re (a) thinking and playing in an unusual way, (b) hearing the music in your head and (c) figuring out, deciding and committing to a right hand approach
  • Exercises your problem-solving skills
  • Probably creates some kind of new neural pathways and connections in your brain as a result (this is not based in scientific fact, and is just my layperson’s assumption around neuroscience!)
  • Stops you from going mad from just doing pima studies!
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