Where do your eyes glance when you play?

Posted: 6/22/2011 9:41:33 AM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

As I was practicing last night, I noticed that when I look at my pitch hand, I end up "thiking" too much about where my fingers are going and I end up making my life more difficult. Then I decided to look away and direct my glance toward the volume hand a little bit above it. Like if I was "daydreaming" - Well I'll be darned! I ended up playing so much better than before. I guess I let my body go into overdrive and trust what I have learned so far ~ let my fingers do what they are supposed to do.

I was a diving board instructor in my early 20's and I remember advising my student this: The worst thing you can do to the execution of your dive is to change your mind in mid air. If you do, you'll fall flat on your back. I guess the same principle could be applied when you play the theremin. You have to play with conviction, determination and confidence. When you ride a horse, you don't want him to drag you around all over the place - You have to take control...

Can you all tell I am obsessed (I guess I am in good company, you are all like me!)
Posted: 6/22/2011 2:30:18 PM

From: Brooklyn,NY

Joined: 12/1/2009

I look into the ether or at crack on the wall.
Posted: 6/22/2011 2:39:11 PM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

Those are times when I think about re-decorating or seriously painting my walls.
Posted: 6/22/2011 3:43:16 PM
Chainsaw Willie!

From: Just a short walk away from Nike Missile Site S-13/14

Joined: 1/28/2011

When practicing, it is probably good to prepare yourself for performance.

In performance you should make as much eye-contact with the audience as possible. Even if the music is great, there is a certain dis-connect that occurs when the musicians sit and stare at their printed music. There is less interaction and life to the performance. Nobody really wants to watch robots play music.

Of course in practice you do not have an audience, but it is something worthy of thinking about, and perhaps imagine an audience in front of you - that not only hears you but SEES you also.

Posted: 6/22/2011 9:56:28 PM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with Chainsaw Willie on this one.

The woman has been playing barely six months now, and she's just starting to really get a feel for what she needs to be doing. The last thing she needs is to concern herself with performance issues or her "game face".

What she is just now learning is to quiet the distracting parts of her mind, like her visual cortex. This is what's responsible for the "thereminists stare", or as she put it, a feeling of "daydreaming". It is a necessary part of learning to play the theremin well for many people.

I have only a limited knowledge of it, but what she needs is more of an extension of her yoga experience - to clear her mind of flotsam, and allow her ears, mind, and body to become one so they can play the beautiful music she hears in her head.

I had to go plug in my Etherwave to find out just what I do look at when I'm playing. I never watch my hands, but my mind does sense them using my peripheral vision. Occasionally, I look directly at the pitch antenna, but mostly my eyes are focused (subconsciously) on whatever is in front of me. I can move my eyes around, but I'm not wholly aware of what I'm looking at.

My focus is entirely on what I am hearing and what I know my body needs to do to play melody, phrasing, and dynamics.

However, I don't think it would do her any harm at this point to occasionally play for her kitty, hubby, or friends. If you could find one, you could get a large poster of some crowd scene (http://bandthenorth.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/plymouth-crowd.jpg) and tack it on the wall in front of you. Perhaps subliminally it could aid you in lessening any performance anxiety in the future.
Posted: 6/23/2011 4:49:24 AM

From: A Coruña, Spain

Joined: 9/26/2010

I also had to actually turn on the theremin to find out where I look. It seems that I look either directly in front of me or at some object in the proximity. In anycase, when I get concentrated in the music, my mind just doesn't process what I'm seeing. I think a mouse could wear a top hat and a walking stick and start dancing in front of me and I wouldn't notice.
Posted: 6/23/2011 5:43:38 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I often catch myself watching my hands. It's fascinating to see them acting autonomically.

Generally I try not to - although if I want to hold a very long, very steady note I will look through my pitch hand to a distant target, as would a sniper sighting a rifle.

(Speaking of animal audiences, when I got my first theremin I played it near the open patio doors onto my back garden, and found myself being stared at by a murder of crows, as if they were trying to figure out what the hell kind of bird I was!)
Posted: 6/23/2011 6:54:15 AM

From: A Coruña, Spain

Joined: 9/26/2010

Totally off-topic note: I was intrigued by the expression "a murder of crows" (I'm not a native English speaker and I had never heard that before) and I found this in Google: http://www.rinkworks.com/words/collective.shtml

Is it actually true? Do people really say "a piteousness of doves", "a tower of giraffes" and even "an implausibility of gnus", or is it a kind of joke?

If it's true, it's just crazy (in a good way) :)
Posted: 6/23/2011 7:03:24 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

I used to play my theremin outdoors during the summer and have been stared at by a gaggle of geese who were apparently wondering if they should just ignore me or go on the attack! They are extremely territorial birds and can be relentlessly aggressive (especially when there are goslings around).

Anybody ever play for a siege of bitterns? A badling of ducks?

How about playing THE SWAN for an eyrar?

Hitchcock should have used a theremin in THE BIRDS!
Posted: 6/23/2011 9:35:51 AM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

... A smack of Jellyfish? lol
... Cartload of monkeys ? Does this applies to humans as well? (I noticed they don't have "humans" in the list)

Jeff - You are right though, I am just starting to clear my mind when I play and still finding my own way at the Theremin... I do find that Yoga is helping my body being a little more relaxed and focused on what I am trying to achieve. With every practice session, I find something useful to aid my journey at being the best that I can be at this "theremin thing" (as my husband would call it)

What I find it so sweet is that my girl tiger cat will push the bedroom door and place herself on the little chair next to my theremin - Curl herself on the cushion and "stay" with me. sometimes when I am done a piece I will say "So baby girl, how did you think it was?" She would often lift her chin up, look at me with her big glassy green eyes and let out a gentle "meow". Melts my heart everytime :)

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