David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
Really Seeing Yourself
When we practice, we often feel that our technique is strong and we are playing efficiently. It would be interesting to know if someone watching us practice would come to the same conclusion.
Getting Real-Time Feedback
You should have the means to see yourself practice. Probably the best way to accurately watch yourself is to shoot a video and then watch it all the way through. I highly recommend using video, especially for performance runthroughs and at lessons. On a daily basis in the practice room, however, video isn’t always practical.
A simpler way to see exactly what you’re doing while you’re practicing is to watch yourself in a mirror. This gives you real-time, live feedback as you’re working.
When you practice in front of a mirror, you can see if you’re doing something physically that is getting in the way of creating the sound you desire.
4 Things to Look For
Here are specifics to look for in the mirror:
- Posture: Sit or stand so that your spine is fully supported.
- Tension: Watch for raised shoulders, clenched jaw, a forceful grip, tight neck, or your arm(s) held in an unnatural position. Even raising your eyebrows can be evidence of tension building.
- Habits: If your teacher always brings up a specific habit that gets in the way of improving your technique, look for it in the mirror.
- Confidence: You want to look at ease and in control as you play. Be sure you look like a performer an audience would want to watch.
Be Aware of These Issues
Using a mirror in the practice room can feel unnatural. Watch out for these issues:
- Use a mirror big enough to see your whole body. You want to see the cause of all issues, especially tension and posture. For instance, if your torso is uncomfortably twisted, it may be the placement of one foot that is causing the problem. You would never see that foot in a small mirror.
- The very act of looking in the mirror may cause you to change your playing position. Don’t watch yourself the entire time.
- Place the mirror where it is very easy to see yourself. The mirror is of no use if you must turn 90 degrees to see it!
It’s easier to see a physical issue that affects your playing than it is to feel it. Having a mirror in your practice space lets you quickly see a problem and allows you to see yourself from the outside – just the way your teacher would.
To Your Musical Success!