At the academy of music I was reprimanded for moving while playing. My flute teacher told me it impeded my sound quality. He suggested that I close my eyes while playing. This changed making music entirely: I felt the energy shifting away from my body and towards the sound.
Closing my eyes improved my playing. Does not-seeing make one a better musician?
There are many notorious blind musicians, such as Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, to name only the most iconic. It is tempting to link their musical abilities to their enhanced sense of hearing. Is that link grounded in science?
Scientists have looked into the relation between sound perception and blindness, pointing out that blind people are able to localise the source of the sound better than sighted subjects. Others have focused on the musical aspect of sounds and proved that blind musicians are far more likely to have absolute pitch (being able to situate a sound on a scale without any reference note).
There appears to be a link between better hearing and being blind, but better hearing does not necessarily mean more musicality. What really makes one a good musician is a combination of many factors that are subjective.
Learning about musicians with visual impairment brought me to wonder about musicians with hearing impairment. To learn more about this check out the second part of the blog post on impaired musicians – listening without hearing. Coming soon!