5 Benefits of practicing guitar with your eyes closed

Though I was aware of the benefits of practicing the guitar with my eyes closed, I began doing so for about 10% of my practice time out of vanity. 

See, I wear thick glasses, and when I remove them, the fretboard appears as a long, blurry fret. 

This was not an issue until I started making Tiktok videos. I didn’t want the Tiktok community to see me wearing glasses, but some of the riffs I was playing required me to look at the fretboard and my hands.

 The obvious solution was to practice the riffs until I could play them without looking at my hands; however, because looking at the door or the carpet does not aid my playing, I found myself unconsciously closing my eyes. 

It wasn’t long before I realized how much this practice had improved my playing. 

The following are some the advantages of practicing with your eyes closed, followed by advice on how to do so correctly.

 Note: If you’re a beginner guitarist, you might not want to practice with your eyes closed. At this point, you’ll need to use your eyes to navigate the fretboard. Introduce this type of practice when you’re at an intermediate to advanced level on the guitar.

  1. Eliminates Distraction

Our five main senses are the channels through which our brain receives information from the outside world. 

By turning one of them off while practicing the guitar, we are closing one of these five sources and all of the distractions that come with it (light, colors, movement, etc). 

This makes it easier to concentrate on the item we’re practicing. 

  1. Listening to and identifying mistakes

Blind people develop a higher level of listening and spatial recognition because they combine hearing with proprioception (also a sense, but not one of the main ones; more on this later) by using a stick to show them what lies ahead.

Practicing the guitar with our eyes closed does not result in any significant long-term improvement in listening. 

However, it temporarily improves our ability to hear and notice details. 

When you practice with your eyes closed, you will be able to notice small mistakes and imperfections more easily, which can then be corrected, resulting in improved playing. 

You will reap the majority of this benefit if you do it consciously. 

When practicing with your eyes closed, use your enhanced listening skills to look out for: 

Unwanted string noise – Is any noise coming out from the strings you’re not playing? (This problem manifests itself most when playing the guitar with distortion).

Imperfect timing – Are minor imperfections in your timing lowering the quality of the music?

Dynamics – Do you pick every note with the same force? Can you make the music more exciting by using dynamic accents, which means playing some notes louder than the ones around them?

A note played wrongly – Do your string bends accurately reach the target note? Does your vibrato sound sloppy? Do your hammer-ons and pull-offs sound weak? 

When you find a note that is being played incorrectly, look for the causes and correct them. You’re likely making the same mistakes every time you use the same technique, not just when you practice that particular lick.

  1. Proprioception 

Though we have five primary senses, we also have additional senses that provide information to our brain. 

There is no scientific consensus on how many senses we have, but some of them include the vestibular system (our sense of balance), interoception (internal sensors that tell our brain what our organs are feeling, such as hunger and thirst), and proprioception, which is the one we’re interested in here. 

Proprioception gives us a sense of the relative position of neighboring body parts and the effort required to move them. 

Proprioception is the sense that allows us to touch our ears though we can’t see them.

When playing the guitar, proprioception is the sense that tells us where our fingers are in relation to other parts of the body and the guitar itself. 

When you practice with your eyes closed, you improve your proprioception because your fingers must navigate without visual guidance.

  1. Real-life situations

When playing the guitar in front of others, you will occasionally be unable to look at the instrument.

This can happen for a variety of reasons, including poor lighting, smoke machines, or having to look at something else (such as band members or audience).

Spending some of your practice time with your eyes closed helps you prepare for such unavoidable situations. 

  1. Gives your eyes a break

Closing your eyes while awake (also known as quiet wakefulness) does not replace sleep, but it does relax your mind, muscles, and organs. 

If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen, closing your eyes can help to moisturize and reset them.

Tips for practicing with closed eyes

  • Unless you’re an advanced player and want to practice with your eyes shut while improvising, only apply this practice to musical pieces you already know pretty well. Think of practicing with closed eyes as the last layer of learning a piece of music.
  • Practicing with closed eyes is harder when you move up and down the neck, rather than staying in one position. When shifting positions on the neck, you may find yourself repeatedly hitting the wrong notes. When this is the case, isolate the notes that you keep playing wrongly and practice them on repeat – with your eyes open at first, then with your eyes closed. Such practice will significantly improve your navigation of the fretboard.
  • Practice with your eyes closed, focusing on one thing at a time, such as timing, unwanted string noise, or proprioception, for optimal results. 

Use your body strategically

Although we play the guitar with our hands, our entire body takes part. 

Some parts of our bodies, such as our jaws and feet, are simply meant to be relaxed.
Other parts, like our eyes and ears, are more important. 

And our brain is the one doing the majority of the work.

It is thus critical that we become aware of the role that each part of our body plays, and one strategy for doing so is to simply refrain from using one part of our body to focus on the rest.

You may consider giving a donation, by which you will be helping a songwriter achieve his dreams. Each contribution, no matter how small, will make a difference.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *