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#1022050 - 08/24/05 09:04 AM Looking at your hands
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I saw the discussion of looking at one's hands while playing (on Sandy's thread) and the disagreement about whether this is a problem.

I was mighty surprised to hear anyone say you should never look at your hands. My thinking on it is that you should look at your hands as much or as little as you need to play the piece correctly.

When a piece is memorized, of course you can look at your hands. Where else would you look? Staring out at the audience would freak everyone out.

When you're reading, you'll want to look at the music as much as you can to avoid losing your place. Even then, you'll need to look down for big jumps.

The real issue for me has been where to look when looking down. I recall playing one piece (Chopin Waltz in Am, posthum.) that had jumps on the left hand and a tricky single-note melody without jumps on the right. I was bouncing my eyes between the left and right hand. My teacher held a piece of paper over the right hand so I couldn't see it and told me to play. I was surprised to find that the right hand could do just fine without looking, so I was free to just keep my eyes on the left.

Just one pianist's opinion . . .

Cindy -- not a pro or advanced pianist or anything
_________________________
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#1022051 - 08/24/05 09:43 AM Re: Looking at your hands
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
There seems to be a huge controversy about this. I personally feel that if you have to look at your hands you will not become proficient sight-reader. That's not to say you can't glance at your hands occasionally for jumps and such, but making a habit of looking will certainly retard your ability to sight-read since you will be unsure of how to navigate the geography of the keyboard without looking. Once you've gotten used to it, playing "by feel" becomes very natural and comfortable. I only look at the keys when I have to make jumps or blind leaps. I have a mental image of the keyboard layout in my head so even though I don't look at the keys "with my eyes" I "see" them in my mind.

When it comes to playing memorized repetoire there's really nothing stopping you from looking at your hands and I don't think it's a problem if you do. To me the main reason not to *ALWAYS* look at your hands has to do with increasing your ability to sight-read and perhaps, and this is just a theory of mine, with a sense of security at the keyboard. If I absolutely HAVE to look at every single note I play or look every time I move the hand that makes me very dependent on my eyes, if I make one false move and don't look in time, I could hit the wrong note. If I can generally play a piece through solid without looking (except for a few hard parts with big jumps where I have to make some quick glances) then I *personally* would feel much more secure with the music because I can play it without having to focus intently on watching my hands. Again, this is just me personally here.

Since I have been working with my teacher on keyboard chreography (playing chords, inversions, cadences etc. by feel in every key) and also practicing my scales without looking I personally feel that my confidence at the keyboard has grown. I am a better sight-reader now and I can hit the notes with more conviction because I know exactly where they are without looking. I think back to the old saying "The hand is quicker than the eye", if I have to look constantly then the speed of my hand is throttled by the speed of my eye. If I know instinctively where the notes are I can play faster than my eye could ever keep up with.

There are some ppl on this forum that will tell you that you shouldn't *EVER* at your hands. I think this is a bit strong of a conviction, but I will say that for me personally learning to play without looking has had the added benefit of lowering the amount of time it takes to learn pieces, increasing sight-reading tremendously and having a sense of more control over the instrument.

I have two pianist friends who are both pretty advanced players. One plays only classical and the other plays classical and a lot of jazz stuff including a lot of transcriptions of pop songs that he makes up for his own amusement. Neither one of them really look at there hands at all when they play. I know this is a textbook "argument by anecdote" fallacy but if it worked for them...

DISCLAIMER :: These are just some observations from an amateur pianist with a modest 1.5 years of experience (4 mos with a teacher). I too would like to hear what others in the PW community think about this very interesting topic.

~pianocliff

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#1022052 - 08/24/05 10:00 AM Re: Looking at your hands
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17847
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I'm glad to see this started as its own thread, as I think this is an interesting topic deserving full PW treatment.

I contributed to Sandy's thread where this topic came up recently because I was made very nervous by the people who were advocating "don't ever look at your hands", because I DO look at my hands quite a bit--constantly, in fact, when it's a piece I have memorized, and I end up memorizing most pieces I work on.

However, I have noticed that I also tend to focus almost exclusively on my left hand, and I only glance at the right when I have to make a rather large jump on the keyboard and want to be sure I'm getting the right key. I was worried that I looked TOO much at my left hand, in fact. I considered it a bad habit and attributed it to a deep, dark secret from my past, which is that I played the accordion for 7 years as a child (is that confession going to get me kicked out of the forum?) but have been playing piano now only for a year. So all along I have had no problem with mastering the right hand, and all my effort is dedicated to learning the left hand. That's why it was interesting to hear Cindy say that she now focuses on the left hand, too. I'd be interested to hear what others of you do, and from some of the teachers out there regarding what they think is the "proper" balance in looking at left vs. right, as well as the larger issue of how much to look at all.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1022053 - 08/24/05 10:02 AM Re: Looking at your hands
kidblast Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 258
Loc: Leominster Mass.
wasn't a problem for guys like Ray Charles,, who seemed to have no problems at all.

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#1022054 - 08/24/05 10:47 AM Re: Looking at your hands
wfred Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/05
Posts: 42
Loc: pocahontas AR
ROFLMAO! Wow kb, thanks a bunch for a such a refreshing glimpse of insight!

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#1022055 - 08/24/05 10:48 AM Re: Looking at your hands
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
This topic sparked quite a bit of interest in one of Sandy's previous threads. Here's the link to that thread for those of you who didn't catch it previously. Just remember to post your responses in this thread \:D

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/32/1309.html

~pianocliff

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#1022056 - 08/24/05 10:52 AM Re: Looking at your hands
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Personally, I'm trying to learn to play without looking at my hands. I find that even something as simple as scales can fall apart if you're used to looking at your hands and then you don't. Likewise, if you're used to playing a piece by not looking at your hands and then you just happen to look down and watch them for a few seconds, you may find it falling apart as well.

So now the first time through a key, I play with looking at my hands and then I play through it without looking. That way I get used to both ways. I'm still not up to playing most of my music without looking though.

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#1022057 - 08/24/05 11:07 AM Re: Looking at your hands
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
I think for me is the realization that if I don't look at my hands, I actually don't miss as many notes as I thought I would...although I do miss more if I try to play up to speed.

I've been experimenting with playing memorized pieces without looking at my hands (or a score). I'm finding it quite an interesting experience as I'm actually listening more to what I play and concentrating on the feel of the intervals and distance for jumps...... hmmmmm......

I do believe that not "depending" on looking will increase sightreading ability...

I've found an interesting thread about this on another forum it's http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php

In the techer's section..lots of interesting comments and suggestions.
_________________________
It's the journey not the destination..

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#1022058 - 08/24/05 11:11 AM Re: Looking at your hands
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
Sandy can you post a link to the specific thread you are referencing?

Nevermind, I actually found several threads by searching for "looking at hands" see this link: (search results from "Looking At Hands").

~pianocliff

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#1022059 - 08/24/05 11:21 AM Re: Looking at your hands
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
I remember early on (I've had 6 years of lessons), I tried very hard to play without looking at my hands. I was obsessive about it.

Once during my lesson, I was fumbling with some section, but I was stubbornly looking up the music, refusing to look at my hands. After repeatedly messing things up, my teacher said, "Look at your hands! What's the use of not looking if you can't play the section unless you look?"

I think the upshot (in her opinion) was that you should look at your hands when you *need* to look at your hands rather than looking for the sake of it or out of habit.

FWIW, for recitals, I actually practice where my eyes will fall, making sure they go where they need to be for this or that tricky section, or making sure they're in the middle if the hands are very far apart. This may make me something of a freak, I don't know . . .
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post...QvjrL_blog.html

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#1022060 - 08/24/05 11:25 AM Re: Looking at your hands
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
 Quote:
Likewise, if you're used to playing a piece by not looking at your hands and then you just happen to look down and watch them for a few seconds, you may find it falling apart as well.
Bob, isn't that weird?

Say I start a new piece, and because I don't know it I must read the music. Time passes. Eventually, I can play the thing and don't need the music and I'm on my way to memorizing.

That first time when I play without music and am completely free to look at my hands can be a bit disorienting.
_________________________
Vote For Cindy!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post...QvjrL_blog.html

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#1022061 - 08/24/05 11:32 AM Re: Looking at your hands
wfred Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/05
Posts: 42
Loc: pocahontas AR
Anybody wonder about Takeshi Kakehashi's "view" on this topic? Or Stanislav Bunin, or_____, or_____, or?

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#1022062 - 08/24/05 11:40 AM Re: Looking at your hands
Theodore Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/05
Posts: 359
Loc: San Antonio, Texas
Try looking down at your hands with your periphery vision. Develop using vision and feel, that the instructions go to you head (sheet music) and head makes it go to your fingers. It's not hard, just tricky.
_________________________
Theodore
Alamo Music Center
San Antonio,Texas

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#1022063 - 08/24/05 11:49 AM Re: Looking at your hands
kateriniparalia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/09/04
Posts: 139
Loc: Cali
I spent the first 1.5 years of my piano playing learning on my own. I did not begin forcing myself to avoid looking at my hands until I started lessons less than half a year ago.

During that first, self-taught period, I naively looked at my hands constantly. I struggled through reading pieces, with my eyes moving back and forth between my hands and the music. I became very adept at memorizing pieces by looking at the positions of my fingers on the keyboard (it was probably the easiest way for me to acquire a repertoire, as reading the music while playing fluidly was impossible). The result is that I'm good at memorizing that way, but the downside is that, 2 years into this, I'm still horrible at sight-reading.

I've only recently started to try to force myself to develop a good tactile sense of the geography of the keyboard. I still look at my hands sometimes, but I limit this as much as possible, because I fear that that habit reinforces my brain's dependence on the IMAGE of my hands on the keys, rather than the way my hands FEEL. The visual crutch I've used all this time has kept me from developing sightreading skills. I view it as a major handicap that I now have to struggle to overcome.

I do think it's important to avoid any dependence on looking at your hands not only so that you can look at the music whenever you need to, but also because, depending on the settings you play in, you may have to look at other things as well: a conductor, bandmates.... Freedom from having to look at your hands will make you a better sightreader, and, in general, will open many doors musically. So, while I think it's a bit extreme to say "never look at your hands", I highly encourage people to resist depending on looking at their hands as early as possible in their piano study.

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#1022064 - 08/24/05 12:53 PM Re: Looking at your hands
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
Some people have also mentioned that they memorize faster by looking at the hands during practice sessions. This is an interesting relationship that I haven't really thought about before. When I memorize something I try to have a visual image of the score in my mind so in a weird way I am memorizing by having a sight-reading "buffer" in my head. What I mean is, when I play I am following an imaginary score in my mind. Even if there are no notes in front of me I "see" sheet music in my head. Is this weird? I don't really try to do this it just happens when I practice....

For tricky passages I will also think about the way the hands look but again I do this in my head. So for instance I'll see a DMajor chord and I'll think ok so that's a D (between the 2 blaks) and an F# (first of 3 blacks) and an A (between the 2nd and third of the 3 blacks). I will see the map of the keyboard in my head and just touch the keys on the keyboard w/o looking.

I guess I could augment my memory of pieces by looking at the hands but (at least in the way I learn) I already "see" the hand shapes in my head. It is kind of weird how this developed over time because I didn't start out thinking this way, it just sort of gradually developed and now I find that if I try to look constantly I'll be slowed down and distracted. One thing that I do sort of subconciously is use my peripheal (sp?) vision on the left hand. For instance in Chopin's C Minor prelude there are some LH octaves that I will sort of spot with my eyes before landing. I don't look at the entire hand, just the bottom note of the octave because I can feel the interval of an octave wihthout looking.

~pianocliff

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#1022065 - 08/24/05 01:15 PM Re: Looking at your hands
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianocliff:
Some people have also mentioned that they memorize faster by looking at the hands during practice sessions. [/b]
it's very true, because it gives you also 'visual memory' over your hands and keyboard.

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#1022066 - 08/24/05 01:51 PM Re: Looking at your hands
vanfanel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/05
Posts: 72
I can atest to memorizing faster by looking at your hands as well. I tend to only look at my left hand as well. I've been playing for about 7 months and I've memorized 5 pieces and I'm about halfway through 3 other pieces. But like others said this seriously hinders your sight-reading ability.

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#1022067 - 08/24/05 02:08 PM Re: Looking at your hands
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
Also, not all teachers are the same but I know that mine would much prefer that I look if I have to rather than stretch or grope for the keys. Playing by "braille" drives him crazy. I guess there's a balance that we can achieve...... eventually??
_________________________
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#1022068 - 08/24/05 02:32 PM Re: Looking at your hands
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
I can see this problem with "forcing" yourself not to look (EVER), however that isn't how I would learn to play without looking. I have built up my abilility to play w/o looking gradually. I think this is a wise approach because you aren't making unnatural movements but rather you are refining an accurate tactile memory of the keyboard gradually. I do think that doing the exercies in Howard Richman's "Super Sight-reading secrets" helped me to approach not looking in a healthy way that doesn't feel forced or contrived. (Man, when is this guy gonna start throwing some advertising revenue my way \:\) ).

I can't play all my arpeggios w/o looking yet but the ones that I can play w/o looking are solid. I think you have to look at first obviously (unless you are blind then you have no choice) and then build up to not looking. When you are sight-reading you don't have time to look at everything so it will quickly become apparent to you if you don't have a firm grasp on the layout of the keyboard when you sight-read.

When I practice a difficult technical part of a piece I will often look at my hands if I can't do something properly and concentrate on the movements my hands/fingers have to make. Here I'll experiment for a bit to make sure I am using a fingering and hand motion that is relaxed and comfortable. Once I have the most efficient hand movement for that particular section down, I stop looking at my hands and play without looking. It isn't hard for me at this point to do this and requires a lot less effort than you would think. You have to actually try this to believe me but trust me, you probably don't "have" to look at many of the passages you can't play w/o looking currently. Eventually I think you get so good at doing this sort of thing that you can sight-read almost anything without looking because you can instinctively put your hands and fingers in the right positions to play the notes coming up in the piece you are reading. This is the essence of good sight-reading (IMHO anyways) and as an added bonus the keyboard familarity you breed will make it easier to learn new pieces because your hand will naturally mold itself to the musical patterns in your pieces. As for playing "by braille", you only need to grope for the black keys initially, when you are first starting out, after a while you can find them instinctively because you have developed an acute sense of tactile memory that will be just as fast and in most cases many times faster than having to look at the keys.

~pianocliff

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#1022069 - 08/24/05 02:37 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Vintagefingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/22/04
Posts: 331
Loc: SE
Cindy said

I think the upshot (in her opinion) was that you should look at your hands when you *need* to look at your hands rather than looking for the sake of it or out of habit. [/b]

I remember my typing class in high school. First rule, don't look at the keys any more than necessary. It worked except when we came to the numbers, I didn't follow rule #1. The result? To this day I still glance down when typing numbers.

I have made a concious effort since I started taking lessons not to look at the keys. In the beginning I was constantly looking which is probably part of the normal learning process.

The only time I consciously look now is when improvising, trying to improvise is more like it. When reading I glance. My teacher has instilled in me the importance of getting a "feel" for where you are on the keyboard by using the black keys as reference points. Float your fingers over the top of the keys so you know where you are, especially when making jumps. This has taken a considerable amount of time to learn and I am a far way from mastering it but I am sticking to it and it seems to be working well. I DO glance down but only for split seconds to reference general locations rather than a specific key. When learning a new piece I study the piece carefully before attempting to play it. I work out fingerings and mark them on the score as necessary.

I don't necessarily believe there is any best way as we all process information differently but minimizing the number of steps required to perform a task would seem to make the process of learning the task simpler.

Now you can take this information on face value, coming from a 1 year 8 month first time piano beginner. I trust my teacher implicitly. He has been so instrumental in my progress by his astute observations and comments. His first rule from the beginning when I started with him a little over a year ago, make as much effort as possible by whatever means necessary to minimize looking at the keyboard.

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#1022070 - 08/24/05 03:30 PM Re: Looking at your hands
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Pianocliff has summarized things very nicely here. I was taught not to look at the keys, however, there are execeptions as he has pointed out. There are times when it is necessary to use the peripheral vision to reach the outer-most parts of the keyboard to give things a glance because these parts seem to be miles away when playing.

There are other times too as when chords are weird. Rachmaninoff and Debussy, for example, use some odd chords with naturals or sharps in them that do not fit the hands. I find with these you have to give these a quick glance in order to get the hands lined up.

When playing by memory, I find that things go better when I don't look at my hands. I find I am using, as Pianocliff says, a brain image of the score, and I will lose the image and get confused. The other thing that happens too is that I lose the musical aspects of the piece too because I start focusing on the mechanical aspects of the fingers.

So as Vintagefingers has stated too, try to minimize the key-peaking and use the feeling/groping approach as much as possible, and glance only if necessary.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#1022071 - 08/24/05 03:58 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Dis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/05
Posts: 67
Loc: California
I have been playing for a couple weeks after a 20 year hiatus.

No teacher yet, but I do intend to find one.

My son taught me to play a piece he wrote. It has a lot of chords on both black and white keys and is played with both hands. I still stumble through it but I'm getting better. By way of an experiment I played it without looking at my hands. I was surprised as how well I did!

Years ago I worked in a packing plant where I packed a dozen pens in little boxes by hand. After a while I could pick up twelve pens without looking. This was any type of pen from skinny little ball points to big fat markers.

I would think finding my way around a keyboard would be easier than that. My goal is to play mostly without looking. Heck I might even master the jumps too.

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#1022072 - 08/24/05 06:23 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I'm an amateur with average ability but with
hopes for major improvement. I had 9 yrs.
of classical lessons as a child, and then there
was a layoff of almost 20 yrs. from the
piano, then a startup on my own with no
instruction in which I made signifcant
improvement initally, but then gave up
again and took another break from the instrument
of about 5 yrs.

4 mos. ago I started up again after the 5 yr.
layoff, this time with a new digital
piano with weighted keys (I had been last
playing on a digital with unweighted keys).
After the 5 yr. layoff I initally couldn't
even read the staffs anymore, but I quickly
got back into it, and once more made significant
progress. I picked up again where I had
left off five yrs. ago on a difficult 19th
cent. concerto and some other advanced pieces.
I do not have the background or prerequisites
for the concerto, and every page of it
presents numerous technical problems that
I have to develop the physical technique
for essentially from scratch. In this situation,
with no prerequisites and learning without
instruction, it's difficult going and I've been
throwing everything but the kitchen sink at
it in an effort to get it in hand. But
my strongest asset to use on it is basically
sheer brute-force repetition, which will
eventually conquer anything.

But in order to get this hand in a reasonable
amt. of time I'm always on the lookout for
anything that will help, and at the beginning
of July I remembered something I read long
ago about Chopin contemplating writing a book
on how to play the piano, and how he implied
that the main thing was to play without looking
at your hands--using the identical pattern
of the black keys to find your way around
the keyboard.

Struggling with the concerto, and desperate for
any kind of help, I started to try playing it
without looking at the keys anymore--at the
time this seemed like madness, since I was
struggling even while looking at my hands.
But lo and behold, after some initial bad
fumbling, I began to see the absolutely
fundamental benefit of playing without looking.
It was like seeing the light for the first
time--I said to myself: "Why, this is what
I've been doing wrong all these years,
looking at my hands!"

Since the beginning of July when I started
to play without looking at my hand, I have
made unbelievable progress. What happens
when you play absolutely without looking is that
something almost phenomenal occurs: it is
as though you are now in harmony with
the instrument, since this is the proper
way to play it, and it seems to appreciate that
and reward you for it. Questions about
fingering and technique now seem to almost
solve themselves. Your sight-reading
automatically improves, since you now
play with your eyes focused on the score,
not your hands. You musicality also
improves since you have more time to
listen to yourself since you're not longer
constanly checking your hands. And so on.

Another thing (and this might be partly
to do with the superb Casio weighted keyboard)
is that your hand strength improves dramatically
by playing without looking. Playing without
looking forces you into the right kind of
technique automatically and this does
wonders for you hands. Since July I had
noticed the undersides of my hand seeming
to become rather thick and muscled (but not
in an unsightly way). I had never had
this happen before when playing. Curious about
this I went to a store a few days ago to
try playing on an acoustic--I had not played
on an acoustic in more than 5 yrs. (five
yrs. ago when I had my digital with unweighted
keys, I would have to make a physical
adjustment in order to play on an acoustic).
And when I played on the acoustics this time I was
shocked at the way I could tear into them
like they were toy keyboards. In just over
a month of playing without looking my
hands had developed tremendous strength
and my technique had improved amazingly.

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#1022073 - 08/26/05 04:00 PM Re: Looking at your hands
tk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/04
Posts: 695
Loc: Los Angeles County
Hey! I am the only one who noticed that Monica fessed up to playing the accordian for 7 years!

OFF WITH HER HEAD!!

\:D

Just kidding, of course. I actually think that is really cool!

As for the whole looking at your hands thing... Here's my take: different strokes for different folks. Different techniques and strategies will work for different people. I say do whatever works for you. I, for one, do look at my hands periodically (mostly left hand--very rarely right), but primarily in situations that others have mentioned such as when there is a big jump. With memorized pieces (I have so few...), I will glance at my hands from time to time, but I am not concentrating on what they are doing. I just want to see what they look like moving up and down the keyboard. When I play on my sister-in-law's polished ebony grand, I look at the reflection of my hands on the inside of the fall board. It's almost like watching someone else play, which is kinda weird, but interesting!

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#1022074 - 08/26/05 04:15 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17847
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Aw, shucks! And here I thought I was getting away with it... ;\)

And thanks for "cool" comment, but there's few things more socially stigmatizing than admitting to playing the accordion (kitten basher, maybe?). I just wish my mom had shelled out for piano lessons 35 years ago instead of being swept away by the Milton Mann door to door salesman.

Oh well. She did good in the end. I'm using the money from her inheritance to buy the new grand I'm currently shopping for, and I think it would please her to know that I still have a love for music, though in a much more aesthetically pleasing form.

And maybe after a few years I'll finally be good enough at the piano that I won't need to look at my hands!

But I still think it's interesting that most of the people who say they look at one hand more than the other mentioned the left hand...I really wonder why that is. If anything, the left hand seems more patterned and predictable to me, so it doesn't seem intuitive to me that you would focus on it more. And unless everybody else who focuses on the left hand is also a closet accordionist but too embarrassed to admit it, my theory is wrong and there's got to be another explanation. Maybe it's the order in which we learn a song? I usually practice and master the right hand first, as it will have the recognizable melody and sound more complete. So perhaps I look at the left hand because it's the one I feel less confident about?
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Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1022075 - 08/26/05 04:33 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Cindysphinx Offline


Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Monica, since we're exploring this whole accordian thing . . .

How does one wind up playing the accordian?

"Hey mom, what's is this wicked cool thing I just found in the attic?"

OR

"Dear, we just opened Uncle Clyde's will. There's good news and bad news. The good news is he left everything to you. The bad news is you must master the accordian first. Seven years of lessons oughtta do it."
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#1022076 - 08/26/05 04:36 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Theodore Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/05
Posts: 359
Loc: San Antonio, Texas
I always try to remember too that when composers (Beethoven, Chopin, etc) were playing this stuff, what really were the looking at most of the time? Probably their hands, since the music was in their head, they must have looked at the degree of difficulty they were creating/discovering as they wrote. Fingering placements are part of the composers memorization process, assuming they are playing it as well as writing it. I find fault with the no look rule of reading/playing because it seems to go against the natural inclination of looking at the patterns of keys while memorizing the resulting sounds. While sight reading, it truly is hard not to look down while pulling out a song. It is tricky, but glancing down seems to help.
_________________________
Theodore
Alamo Music Center
San Antonio,Texas

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#1022077 - 08/26/05 04:53 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17847
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
In my case, it really WAS a door to door salesman who carried a tiny starter accordion, put it on me, praised my "innate musical talent" when I produced a few sickly squawks, and offered an introductory series of 12 lessons for some near-free price. Of course, after 12 weeks with the loaner accordion it became "essential" to get a (new) accordion that they just so happened to have conveniently for sale at their studio...and that was $2000 (in 1970) that would have bought a very nice piano indeed. Sigh.

I still have my accordion, a DaVinci electric model that I don't have the heart to throw out. Or play. :p Do you have any idea how LOUD an electric accordion can get???
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1022078 - 08/26/05 06:10 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Piana Justice Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/05
Posts: 299
Loc: Greenville, NC
i'ma be honest here; even though i've been playing the piano for more than 15 months now, i still have some bad habits that i need to break if i'ma be a pro one day at it. for one, when i play songs, which i started doing back in May, [yes, songs, b/c i'm content to play along to popularized arrangments on the paino] my shoulders tend to tense up if i'm not paying attention to it, and i hate it.

there's also not a time when i'm playing a song when i don't make a mistake somewhere. i always flub a note somewhere. the only time i do really well is when i'm excited or in a good mood. that's when i get into the zone. but then i start to heat up, and then my hands get clammy, and i don't play as well, b/c my hands slip off the keys, and i flub notes.

but there was one thing that i forgot to mention. i also have the habit of looking at my fingers most of the time when i'm playing; i just haven't established [and mastered] the skill of being able to sight-read while i play. it's just like playing and singing at the same time, like some people do, and i'm just as bad at that. but there are times when i don't look at my fingers, [which isn't very often] but i don't feel the music quite as much.

i'm self-taught, but i think if i'm gonna perform in front of a live audience, then i have to break some of the nasty habits i have. but i DO, however, use a mirror while i'm playing, not only for vanity purposes, but to see my positions, just in case my shoulders tense up. people may think i'm nuts when i do that, but i feel it's nessesary.

and then there's ryhthm; forgot to mention that. i have a big problem with that, too. so what i do is that whenever i can, i go to a local university music building and play my CDs with the same songs that i'm playing on the piano, and just play along to the songs up there that i burned, so that i stay onbeat. the reason i do that is b/c i don't really have the fund to buy a metronome as of right now.

does anyone see a problem, or got any tips? i would be more than glad to hear them, even though i may not always like it or agree; but if it helps, then shoot. this past March, i started learning songs and reading music; i started playing fast stuff in May.
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#1022079 - 08/26/05 07:27 PM Re: Looking at your hands
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
PJ, my tips would be two:

1. Get a teacher. I can understand self-teaching if this is just a hobby. But if you plan to earn money from playing piano, then I think being self taught is completely counter productive.

2. Practice perfect. I bet the notes that you miss are the same notes that you missed early on in your learning of the music. When you learn, focus completely and accurately with slow, perfect practice. It takes longer initially, but it plays huge dividends later.

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