Using Eye Contact to Practice Total Awareness
We have all seen talented students perform with their eyes glued to their hands, sometimes even being sucked into the keyboard, neck bent over in a contorted curve. Thanks to the health and wellness movement in music, students and teachers are becoming more attuned to such issues. The most musical method I have found is to ask students to maintain eye contact with me while they play. My goal is to require the student to have the intention of communicating to another person, and also to teach how to play by listening and by touch sensations, rather than by looking at the fingers. While maintaining eye contact with me, we then add on how to anticipate what comes next, and how to stay afloat of the music as a listener out among the audience. When they practice without me at home, looking into the eyes of a favorite stuffed animal or a friend’s photo on the music stand substitutes for my interaction. Total awareness while performing is as challenging and enjoyable to teach as any virtuosic feat, and I do think it makes a world of difference for the audience.
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