String Musicians Turn to the Mirror for Practice Perspective and Help
Recently, Elaine Fine of Musical Assumptions (an invaluable blog for professional musicians), has advocated a practice method for string players that, quite literally, changes their perspective. In order to better observe one's fingering at a profile when playing the violin, she proposes the use of a tilted mirror that aims toward the neck of the instrument. With this simple mirror, accompanied by a helpful "how-to" for the tilting process, Ms. Fine and Musical Assumptions once again offer respite to musicians desperate to observe and fine-tune their playing style. While the fingerboard is normally obscured by a head-on view, a mirror reveals how the fingers interact with the instrument. With it, musicians can observe, test and make changes in real-time sessions.
Serious musicians are always trying to find new practice methods. From traditional techniques to outlandish experiments, part of mastering any craft is to learn how we learn. The benefits of perfecting a technique and moving on to the next as expediently as possible are obvious: time saved, money earned, skills acquired and horizons opened. Ultimately, the more unique our practice methods, the more unique our performing style. For all these reasons, the internet is overflowing with anecdotes, propositions, and personal suggestions for all to attempt---that is, if they're into it. For instance, a similar "mirror" proposal was suggested by GuitarWorld, which expands on the technical benefits. Among them is the ability to observe and improve one's posture, fingering, fret speed, and the angle of the knuckles (imperative for avoiding carpal tunnel).
Though hardly a groundbreaking concept, Ms. Fine's "mirror" suggestion represents a workaround solution to the seemingly insurmountable barriers that so many musicians face throughout their careers. At any age, stagnancy is an ever-present threat. Ms. Fine would merely have us take pause and "reflect" on the task at hand.