Day 57, Optical Illusions

Practice: 3.5, Rehearsal: 3.  It felt great to make up for lost practicing time, but it took a toll on my concentration in the ensuing three-hour rehearsal.  Sometimes I can get away with practicing right up to a rehearsal, but evidently not today.  I’m having a great time out here but I’m starting to feel the wear of being at a music festival for seven weeks.

Today’s main theme was vision, visuals and how the sense of sight influences perception of hearing. It started when I began my practice with the main mission of working on my intonation and ability to adjust.  I did my normal warmup routine with a Tuning CD.  Later on I would keep a tuner on my stand and glance down to see how certain pitches were doing.  This would help a lot if the notes were significantly out, but when it came to fine tuning notes of chords (in terms of just-intonation) then the tuner became more of a distraction.  Playing right on the money was gratifying but not pertinent to playing a note that’s the third of a chord.  Using a drone to find the pitch was not only more efficient but more practical for real life situations.

Other related optical-distractions were: playing familiar music using the score.  Sometimes just looking at the notes can prevent you from really listening to what the music is about.  I find that if I’m struggling with something, playing it with my eyes closed will almost always clarify the problem.  Similarly, watching others play can be a big influence on my perception of how they sounded.  And related to that, physical movement in music, even if related to the expressive content, can be a tempting fabrication of playing expressively.  You can feel like you’re being extra musical by lifting your left shoulder while you crescendo (or whatever) but in reality it’s expression being wasted on a physical movement that creates no sound.  Often consciously preventing that physical movement from happening results in the expression being given to my air and thus given to the music.

Lastly when I’m listening to a short recording I’ve just made, i find I listen better if I’m looking out a window, or at anything other than the music.  If I do look at the music, there’s a tendency to hear what I want to hear, rather than the objective truth.  If looking out a window is good, listening to a recording later on, say, in the car, is even better.


  • Creating a physical “In Box” for music I want to work on that day.  The satisfaction of moving them to an Out Box is palpable.
  • Creating one big daily goal, related to a persistent challenge- “All my entrances will be excellent” or something like that.
  • Still continuing to think about extremes of style.

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