What are you looking at?

Sometimes, more often than not, I have my eyes open when I play, but I'm not really looking at anything-- something I became awkwardly aware of at a gig once when I noticed someone looking back at me like I was staring.
 
When playing with others there are often visual cues, not just literal ones like a head nod, but things like nodding to encourage each other, or a panicked expression that lets you know someone is lost. While it's often not done consciously, body language can drastically affect the music positively and negatively.  
 
I have been told to remember to close my eyes occasionally to really hear what I sound like, but I would add to that, don't forget to observe yourself occasionally, it's not cheating to watch your hands and see the layout of your instrument, especially on piano, where all the notes are laid out in front of you. 

In this classic clip Miles looks straight ahead, Coltrane often closes his eyes, and Wynton Kelly appears to be gazing towards his hands.



 

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