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#1180856 - 04/15/09 11:43 AM Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at hands
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
What are all the thoughts out there on this subject?
I liken it to watching yourself walk down the stairs. You will probably trip up. What are others thoughts on this?

What about when the music is memorized? Then you don't have the argument of losing your spot...
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It is better to be kind than to be right.

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#1180943 - 04/15/09 02:02 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at hands [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I agree, for memorized music it's fine.

I've posted a little finger/ear test in the past. You can look at the screen and press which finger number it prints or you can look away and press on the sound. Interestingly there is no way it can be done fast by watching the screen, the 40% of your brain it takes to process visual data makes it too slow. Looking away and doing it by ear is much faster. Here's the pentatonic version if you want to try it yourself: http://www.box.net/shared/6gmzc4z0ze Only press one key at a time or it goes on and on.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1181407 - 04/16/09 08:58 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at hands [Re: keyboardklutz]
Stanny Offline
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Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
Do you mean once a piece is memorized? Because there is little reason to look at the hands before that point.

I have some students who never look at their hands once a piece is memorized, and some who do. I do look at my hands after memorization, but it does take a learning process...like another step once you can play the piece well with the music.
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~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1181426 - 04/16/09 09:27 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at hands [Re: Stanny]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
No, I'm talking about on a daily basis. It's one of those things people always tell you not to do (same with when you're typing... "Don't Look At Your Hands!") but I wanna know WHY NOT?? Aside from losing your place, where's the harm in looking?
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1181442 - 04/16/09 09:46 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at hands [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I think the problem is tracking the eyes with the music. Looking at the hands means you are not reading the music, and looking down and up and down and up a lot can be difficult for a younger student.

When I have a student looking at their hands too much, I cover their hands with a large sheet of paper and have them play. It frusturates them at first, but they invaribly play the piece much better!
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1181595 - 04/16/09 02:01 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at hands [Re: Stanny]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4425
Loc: San Jose, CA
Kinesthetic memory, the positional map in the brain and brain stem that guides the muscles, associated with the music on the page. I used to depend on looking at the hands, reading was murder. Then I moved to reading-only and "fishing" for the notes with my fingers. My teacher said, "don't do it: be sure you know your finger is on the right note, and that the fingering is what you intend, before you press the key. Otherwise, the kinesthetic memory learns the wrong thing, and you will never improve. Take a little look if that's what it takes." Turns out, it only takes it for a while; the eye sees, the fingers go there.

Besides that, losing your place in the music is not a small impediment.
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Clef


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#1183941 - 04/20/09 07:37 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at hands [Re: Jeff Clef]
DAVE_250 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 29
Proprioception is an important word in learning new skills, yet few musicians have never herd of it and don’t know what it means.

Closing the eyes heightens the sense of proprioception as with other senses. Proprioception controls muscle pressure, inner perspective and balance.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-proprioception.htm

Your eyes actually interfere with the sense of proprioception .In this video at 5:30

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3AgO6H0H98

you will notice that the MRI picks up brain activity when proprioception was used for perspective, where as the eye’s would use the same brain area for perspective.

I don’t teach piano, but teach violin and guitar. I’ve been developing proprioception techniques over the last few months and find when students are learning a new skill, the learning curve is shortened tremendously, and consistency and accuracy are also very noticeably high.

As for keeping your eyes closed when playing, I am sure there is pro’s and cons , but when learning new techniques there’s only pro’s ,no cons .

Charlie

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#1184080 - 04/20/09 12:55 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: DAVE_250]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I learned to play the violin in the last few days. Instead of looking at the instrument I focused on the music sheet. Over the hours my body fitted itself around the instrument and all sorts of posture details became clear. Eyesight was of little use, if anything off-putting.
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snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1184123 - 04/20/09 02:29 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: keyboardklutz]
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Well,Vladimir Horowitz concentrated exclusively on watching exactly where his hands and fingers were at all times and if it was good enough for him its certainly good enough for me.
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#1184126 - 04/20/09 02:32 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Mocheol]
keyboardklutz Offline
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Registered: 05/21/07
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Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Mocheol
Well,Vladimir Horowitz concentrated exclusively on watching exactly where his hands and fingers were at all times
Even when sight reading?
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1184208 - 04/20/09 05:21 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: keyboardklutz]
musdan Offline
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Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1165
I have trouble looking at the music and looking at my hands every so often - I end up not knowing where I am - guess it takes eye-hand coordination and practice.

My friends (not musicians) said that maybe it was like typing, maybe in some ways, but has mentioned, you are taught not to look at your hands. Accompianist must have this ability--- interesting thread and the replies are really helpful.

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#1184224 - 04/20/09 06:07 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: keyboardklutz]
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
When sight reading Horowitz had his right eye on the music and his left eye on his hands.

Im told Lang Lang can do the same only in reverse.

The technique is performed quite simply by angling the head at 90 degrees to the shoulders and using the upper eye for the music and the lower one for the hands. It also has the advantage of exercising certain back/arm muscles which is believed to facilitate the more difficult arpeggios and scales.


Edited by Mocheol (04/20/09 07:39 PM)
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vcz

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#1184270 - 04/20/09 07:36 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Mocheol]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Mocheol
When sight reading Horowitz had his right eye on the music and his left eye on his hands.


What? Am I being duped here?
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1184280 - 04/20/09 08:04 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
buck2202 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Cleveland, OH
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
What? Am I being duped here?

My neck used to be able to bend to 90 degrees, but my hinge got rusty and I can't do it anymore.

(Yes, you're being duped. You can tell because he said that Lang Lang focuses his eyes on his hands and sheet music, when in fact, he looks pretty much everywhere wink )

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#1184282 - 04/20/09 08:05 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1165
How is that possible - "Horowitz had his right eye on the music and his left on his hands".

Interesting.

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#1184319 - 04/20/09 09:36 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: keyboardklutz]
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
One reason for not looking at your hands all the time is those embarassing moments when you are asked to 'pick it up from here' by your teacher (who is pointing to some note in the middle of a section) and feel as though you've never even seen the music before. I think you need to be able to do both - only looking when necessary for jumps etc. I'm very guilty of abandoning the music once memorized. I really believe it is a cause of weak sightreading.


Edited by IPIBAHN - Sandy (04/20/09 09:38 PM)
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#1184348 - 04/20/09 11:11 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: SAnnM AB-2001]
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1165
Sandy, I've been there more than a few times and it makes me feel as you said so well - l feel as if I'd never seen the music before.

Guess that's why it's good to keep an eye on the music and check to make sure your hands are in the right place at the right time.
Now how do I go about getting this skill? Because each time I give it a go, it's hit or miss.

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#1184372 - 04/21/09 01:31 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Mocheol]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Mocheol
When sight reading Horowitz had his right eye on the music and his left eye on his hands.
???
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1184373 - 04/21/09 01:32 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: SAnnM AB-2001]
veem Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/10/09
Posts: 127
Loc: CA, USA
Originally Posted By: IPIBAHN - Sandy
One reason for not looking at your hands all the time is those embarassing moments when you are asked to 'pick it up from here' by your teacher (who is pointing to some note in the middle of a section) and feel as though you've never even seen the music before. I think you need to be able to do both - only looking when necessary for jumps etc. I'm very guilty of abandoning the music once memorized. I really believe it is a cause of weak sightreading.


Used to happen to me all the time... So embarrassing! frown

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#1184631 - 04/21/09 01:24 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: keyboardklutz]
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1165
Does anyone have suggesions on how to accomplish what some us are having problems with?

My father could play whatever was in front of him - there must be a technigue for reading music and glancing at your fingers as you play without getting lost.

Thanks for any ideas. Who knew - what looked so easy isn't. Back to the drawing board. Would add a smiley face if I could find one.

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#1184633 - 04/21/09 01:27 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: musdan]
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1165
Wonder why there is a little box with a small red x under my name. Curious- don't see this icon in the other posts. Answered my own question. Thanks smile


Edited by musdan (04/21/09 01:39 PM)

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#1185057 - 04/22/09 07:02 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: musdan]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5512
Loc: Orange County, CA
There's a significant difference between upright pianos and grand pianos insofar as the location of the book rack. When I used to practice on an upright, it was easy to read the notes and look at the fingers _almost_ simultaneously. I remember having difficulty playing on my teacher's grand because I actually needed to take my eyes off the score to look at my fingers, then it'd be hard to go back to the score to find out where I left off.

I think I started to train myself to stare at the score 95% of the time once I got a grand. I would only look down at the keys if there's a large leap or an awkward shift of hand positions. Of course, if the music is well practiced and memorized, I'd look at the keys more for a sense of security.

Just the other day, I was downloading music off the computer at school, and I had to stare at the computer monitor about three feet to the right of the piano. I surprised myself by being able to play through a sonata movement without looking at the keys at all. I could estimate the distance between keys, even for some large leaps.

That experience gave me an idea. For my "memorizers" or "finger-starers," I will print a copy of their music, and tape it three feet above the piano on the wall. That way, they'll have to look up to see their notes--making it more difficult for them to go back and forth between the score and the keys, so they'll just give up looking at the keys.


Edited by AZNpiano (04/22/09 07:03 AM)
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#1185118 - 04/22/09 09:30 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: AZNpiano]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
For my "memorizers" or "finger-starers," I will print a copy of their music, and tape it three feet above the piano on the wall. That way, they'll have to look up to see their notes--making it more difficult for them to go back and forth between the score and the keys, so they'll just give up looking at the keys.


Oh I like that! I'm going to try it. I hate using the "bib" that covers their hands, but will occasionally pull it out if needed. This seems less like you're "shaming" them. IMO
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1185201 - 04/22/09 11:30 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
musdan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/05
Posts: 1165
I somehow memorize the piece I'm working on, so my teacher asked that I learn to look at the music and I'm not sure what word to use but take a quick look at my fingers - I guess the best way to say it is like a acompianist would.

That takes mucho time to learn - when I lose my place as I play, it would make it easier if I could take a quick look and keep going.

My father was an acompianist and could play anything that was in front of him. It's strange that what looked so easy is so hard to learn.

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#1185219 - 04/22/09 12:04 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: musdan]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
If during early on lessons with a new beginner you have an opportunity to place a blank white paper between their eyes and their hands, but asking them to keep their eyes on the page to read the music with, you will find a cure for darting eyes from music to hands on the keyboard.

You will give them a great piece of information - that fingers work perfectly without our "supervision" (pun there, isn't there!) The eyes job is on the music, tracking the instructions, and the fingers are independantly working from a 5 finger position base which fits the beginning level of music. Each finger is accounted for in a "fixed" in a white key natural position before fingers reach out and up to other notes. Fixed does not imply any tension, it is fixed in position, but is neutral until energy in thinking turns thought to movement ("act"ion!)

To relieve them of this concern lasts a lifetime, and I think this is the instant in which hand and eye coordination gets their liberated start in independance.

It's an important step and a necessary step, and they don't tell you this in the methods. There's whole much more missing in method books, too, if you think about it.

I'll leave the why of not looking to you, it is the how (solution) not to look that is the focal point of building better habits.

Betty Patnude

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#1185365 - 04/22/09 03:31 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Betty Patnude]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I found covering their hands only works while you're covering their hands. That's children for you.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1185403 - 04/22/09 04:36 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
As reading improves, the number of times people look at their hands descreases, and the "looks" are quicker, also more peripheral.

For most people looking less seems to be an automatic or natural process. I never think about it myself except when demonstrating to students that I can and often do play without looking at my hands.
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#1185408 - 04/22/09 04:43 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: keyboardklutz]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I found covering their hands only works while you're covering their hands.


Yes, that's true. BUT it proves that it can be done.The argument I hear most often is "I can't do that".
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1185470 - 04/22/09 07:15 PM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
The problem with doing something just because it proves that something can be done is that you have to be very careful not to introduce tension while making the point.

I think as people become good readers, they automatically look at their hands less. Furthermore, I believe early emphasis on too much memorizing is the number one thing that kills fluent sight-reading.
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Piano Teacher

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#1185643 - 04/23/09 01:34 AM Re: Looking for ideas on why to/not to look at han [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Originally Posted By: keyboardklutz
I found covering their hands only works while you're covering their hands.


Yes, that's true. BUT it proves that it can be done.The argument I hear most often is "I can't do that".
Yes, but it has no effect on their behaviour.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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