Close Your Eyes and See in New Ways…

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Eyes closed….

When I wrote this article for notreble about playing without looking at the fretboard, about the micro and macro ways of feeling the instrument and how that can help us practice and play better, I did not at all expect to receive an email such as the below. Thank you, Eric, for sharing your story, and for inspiring all of us! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Hello Ariane:

I hope this finds you well.  Recently, I read your article/lesson on “No Treble” regarding closing one’s eyes and paying closer attention to the instrument, body, and mind.  Enjoyed it thoroughly.

I am a totally blind bassist, and have had to learn to play in the dark.  I lost my eyesight in 2004 due to a skydiving accident.  In 2012 I got up off my duff, and decided to finally play the bass.

Several of your points/guidance within your article are immensely important!  I had to teach/learn myself several of them; body position(ing), landmarks within/on the instrument, sensing (“seeing”) fret spacing as one travels toward the 12th fret or the 15th etc.  While I have yet to find a piece of technology which can “read” to me sheet music, I can still remember 4th-6th Grade flute notes!  IReal Pro is helpful…Ear Training!

I purchased small, almost imperceptible, markers called “Loc-Dots.”  They are small adhesive markers which I placed about an inch from the fingerboard on the neck.  I have marked frets 3-5-7-9-12-15.  Hey, even I have to peek on occaission!

One thing I would stress for those attempting to close their eyes and play/feel is that no matter what they are attempting to practice blindly (take the C Major scale beginning on A-3) is to do it extremely-almost painfully-SLOW.  Slow is smooth, and smooth is quick.  Speed will come the more accurate and comfortable one becomes.

What am I trying to say?

Spot on article.

Our trio released an  EP this past February, and I have gigged about every 8 weeks since July of 2016.  If I can do it, anyone can!

I like to tell everyone, “I may have lost my eyesight, but I have clarity in vision.”
Thank you for your advice and guidance, and especially this article!

Warmest regards,
Eric K.
Seminole, Florida

PS: Check out Eric’s band here.

Comments(4)

  • Geri O'Neil
    December 28, 2017, 05:05  Reply

    Just when you wake up slightly aggravated at having to learn a few really older classic country music sings at the last minute for my NYE gig…what an idiot I am. Very meaningful article and letter. I think I shall gladly go practice now…

  • Gabriela
    December 28, 2017, 06:23  Reply

    As I was getting to read chapter 13 of Oliver Sacks’ “Musicophilia”, called “An auditory world: music and blindness”, the e-mail notification for this blog post arrived, which is, well, uncanny. I will take it as a cue from the universe to recommend this book to everyone, and to Eric in particular. I’m loving it and I hope more people will enjoy it as well. 🙂

  • Fred LAINE
    December 28, 2017, 06:29  Reply

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. The advice on playing slow is well noted.

    Merry Year end to all,

  • David
    December 28, 2017, 07:41  Reply

    I haven’t done this in the while, but instead of closing my eyes, I played in a dark. Close the curtains and turn off the lights. Playing in the dark really was quite illuminating.

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