Should beginners look at their hands when practicing?

A "classroom" environment for exchanging Technical Questions & Answers, How-To's, music theory concepts, etc.
Posts: 419
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: Should beginners look at their hands when practicing?

Post by Rasputin » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:20 am

Yes, but you also need to be able to play without looking or you won't be able to read, and might also struggle to follow a conductor. It's just that when we see concert guitarists in action, they are practically always playing from memory so are free to look at their hands. They don't always (watch Raphaella Smits, for example). I think it's fair to say they generally do *in performance* but that is not the whole story. Also remember that it can be hard to know where to look in a performance - gazing at the fretboard is partly a solution to this, even if it does also reduce mistakes.

Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:10 pm
Location: Bude, Cornwall, UK

Re: Should beginners look at their hands when practicing?

Post by kervoas » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:31 pm

I think most beginners tend to twist the guitar onto its side in order to be able to see the fingerboard/frets from above.
I certainly did this at first, and then had to learn to hold the guitar body correctly and to play without looking at the fingerboard surface, just the fingertips.
“The only escapes from the miseries of life are music and cats”
Albert Schweitzer

User avatar
Larry McDonald
Posts: 1252
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 2:33 pm
Location: Milwaukee, Wi USA

Re: Should beginners look at their hands when practicing?

Post by Larry McDonald » Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:10 am

Yoyo Ma practices in the dark. So do I.

Of course this is only for late advanced and concert players who's mechanism is absolutely trustworthy. Beginners through early advanced [level 7-8 on the RCM scale] should examine their hands regularly, preferably through video.

I recorded a Level 5 student this week who was quite surprised at how much she bent her left-wrist after viewing the video I made for her. Another was in disbelief at how much he pronated his left-hand (rotated counter clock-wise) when he didn't need to do so. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth?
Dr. Lawrence A. McDonald, D.M.A., Art Kaplan Fellow
Author of The Conservatory Tutor for Guitar
2008 Michael Thames Cd/Br
Royal Conservatory Advanced Guitar Instructor
Royal Conservatory Advanced Theory Instructor

User avatar
Arash Ahmadi
Posts: 42
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:38 pm

Re: Should beginners look at their hands when practicing?

Post by Arash Ahmadi » Thu Oct 05, 2017 9:56 pm

It's inevitable for a beginner. That's part of the learning process. You constantly need to check your hands and fingers positions and the way you play to make sure you are practicing correctly. If you practice incorrectly, it can become a hard to lose habit. You might find the following link useful: ... struments/
To send light into the darkness of men's heart, such is the duty of the artist. (Robert Schumann)

User avatar
Posts: 1732
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:22 pm
Location: Canada, USA, Mexico, Portugal, Spain

Re: Should beginners look at their hands when practicing?

Post by AndreiKrylov » Fri Oct 06, 2017 7:26 pm

meouzer wrote:
Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:31 am
Almost without exception, classical concert guitarists constantly and intently look at their left hand. So no one can say you can look at the left hand too much without contradicting common practice of the greats. Jamie Andreas who writes for beginners/intermediates and who has won pedagogy awards says "you don't know what your fingers are doing unless you look at them" (both right and left). So you adopted bad practice and ingrained it because you never looked?
for beginners it is sometimes necessary and normal, but for "greats"? it is unnecessary, harmful bad habit... and they set bad example this way too :)

music is the sound!!!!
why do we want to control production of sound by using our vision instead of our hearing? and .. is it good for one's neck? for one's back? etc. so much pain could be avoided if one would not do that constantly ...
Therefore - Yes! bad practice ingrained... and the same with many many things regarding guitar playing and other forms of our activities...
many of the things what we do done as irrational rituals repeated after "great teachers" .... if we only do rational things... if we only personally examine by reason all kind of things what we do or intend to do... maybe world will be so much better?
this will never happen.
We will continue to religiously follow "great leaders" .. academia etc. in all kind of rituals and taboos which fill our time here... :D
I'd better speak by music...Please listen my guitar on most popular music streaming services on WWW. Thanks!

Posts: 409
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:10 pm
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Re: Should beginners look at their hands when practicing?

Post by robinfw » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:26 am

I have to ask.
How this woman learned guitar.
Mauro_Giuliani_Op._107_Variations_Ioana Gandrabur_by_Handel-2.mp4
Here is a link.

Anyway I think we all need to eat some humble pie.

User avatar
Non Tabius
Posts: 920
Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:00 am
Location: Philipstown South Africa

Re: Should beginners look at their hands when practicing?

Post by Non Tabius » Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:01 pm

I've got to the stage where I read a piece without consciously "peeping" at the LH.Yet in memorized pieces, I like to look at the fretboard in general also RH, without actually gawking at each position, but simply the pure joy of interacting with the neck and whole guitar as were.Most pianists do the same from the bit that I have watched.Once again its whatever works for you, and how you paint your picture for yourself and others (hopefully) to enjoy.Yet I do agree that for reading getting used without "peeping" is essential as stated here already.I think a gradual knowledge of the established cg positions also goes a long way in facilitating reading, because of the unique duplication of notes on the guitar as opposed to other instruments, where reading standard notation ie relatively easier according to Noad BK1

Return to “Classical Guitar Classes”