#1
I practice a lot in front of the TV. Whenever my girlfriend is watching something and I want to watch something else I put some headphones on and watch it on my laptop in front of me.

I play an acoustic guitar so I can still hear it quite loudly.

What's odd is that the distraction of casually listening to the TV through the headphones seems to improve my technique. Very few fumbled notes and a feeling of effortless. It seems to put me in a very relaxed state of mind.

Have you heard of Gregory Porter? He's a jazz singer who plays with a hat that covers his ears saying that he is much more comfortable performing with this hat.

Does anyone else have something similar?

It's a reminder to me that good live performance is about being absolutely relaxed and it proves it's possible.
#2
Maybe since you aren't paying attention you just don't notice small mistakes.
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#3
Kristen got it right. It's probably because you're "just playing" without any focus, so you're not paying attention to something that you are doing wrong.
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#4
I agree with what was said above, but sometimes not being able to do something is about your mental state. For example if you actively think "here comes the tricky part", you may not be able to play it because you are already panicking before you have even started playing. But if you just forget about how "tricky" the part is and just play, you may actually be able to play it (of course you can't do this if you have never really practiced the part).

Have you heard of Gregory Porter? He's a jazz singer who plays with a hat that covers his ears saying that he is much more comfortable performing with this hat.

He's most likely just a bit superstitious. The hat is most likely not preventing him from focusing on what he's doing (my point is, it's not comparable to watching TV and noodling around on the guitar at the same time, because when you are doing that, you are focusing on two things at the same time). He just feels more comfortable when he's wearing the hat - maybe it's his "lucky hat", just like some athletes have "lucky underwear" or whatever.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Sep 5, 2016,
#5
first reply is likely correct, plus you're probably not doing anything that requires thought or technique.

Once in a while I noodle on the guitar while I'm watching TV and it's really a competition for my attention. I can go through the motions on something I'm familiar with, but there's zero chance of being productive beyond keeping my fingers warmed up.

Playing music effectively requires your full attention. I can play gigs and watch the audience half the time, but when it comes to something that's more complex than 4 bars of repetition, I have to zone back in on the music. Overthinking is definitely a thing, but distraction isn't the solution. The goal is to concentrate on the sound.