THE BLINDFOLD – proprioception
Watching your lefthand can be a debilitating habit: unbalancing your stance, keeping your attention only on left hand issues, and making you dependent on visual cues to play in tune. Tension tends to go where you put your attention.
Proprioception is the sense that allows you to know what your body is doing in space. It’s a fine tuning that your nervous system does using receptors on the inside of the body. It’s a sense we take for granted, but without proprioception, you would have to track with sight or sound or other senses, what your body parts are doing. Proprioception allows us to look at the screen while your fingers are typing, find your mouth when eating, walk down stairs while talking to a friend, drive a car while watching the road, or to play the bass without watching your left hand!
Athletes have this excellent body awareness. Their minds are free to focus on more immediate tasks – like playing music instead of thinking of what needs to move next to make a sound. Musicians need this excellent body awareness as well. Disciplines like yoga, tai chi and other martial arts help you develop this sense of mind/body unity. Mindfulness practices also increase this immediacy of physical awareness.
Back to the bad habit of watching your left hand. At some point you’ll want to break the cycle. Some possibilities: playing in a dark room, examine your technique in a mirror, use your eyes differently or use a blindfold so that you begin to use your eyes from the inside to examine your technique. That last one is proprioception. This can also be practiced mentally – perhaps when you have insomnia – rehearse your music internally with eyes closed. You’ll probably fall right to sleep.