The Eyes Are the Windows of…Music
Revelations of an online guitar teacher
There is a well-known musician’s joke that asks, “How do you get a pianist to stop playing piano? Well, simply take the music away from in front of their eyes!” And then it asks, “How do you get a guitarist to stop playing? Well simply place a piece of music in front of their eyes!”
Yes, it is indeed true! Pianists, by nature of the instrument, can play well and easily, while keeping their eyes on the music. Whereas, we all know the stereotypic image of guitarists wailing away on their instrument while they stare either blindly into space, or at the fingers of their left hand.
This truth revealed in this joke, is for young guitarists, even more agonizing. For them, putting even a two-measure phrase together in a musical way means: identifying the notes, staring at their left hand (usually accompanied by some degree of teeth gnashing), finding and pressing the notes with the correct fingers, and then playing the phrase with the appropriate right-hand fingers.
Enter the lockdown, and the camera, and the ability to stare at my students eyes for 35 minutes per week. In brief, the circumstances we find ourselves in, have allowed me to observe the movement of my students’ eyes in minutia, week after week. As a result of continued observation and hard work by my students, the vast majority are now able to keep their eyes on the music while simultaneously finding and playing the notes with the fingers of both hands. In fact, during the lockdown, the musicality and “whole phrase playing” ability of most Campion guitar students has improved drastically!
The challenges of online guitar lessons have been accompanied by a welcome methodical approach to chipping away at age-old stereotypes. Campion guitarists are now simultaneously allowing the notes on the five lines to enter the windows of their soul, while they enjoy playing music.
Marty Eisenstein (Mr Marty)