Sometimes playing the piano can feel like trying to rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time – there’s a lot to think about! One common question that beginner piano players have that ties into this is whether you should look at your hands or the music when you’re playing. Read on as Chicago piano teacher Carol R. tackles the topic…
I am asked this question many times in my teaching, especially with beginners. I try to explain that it is like typing on a keyboard. You have to “feel” where the keys are and only look at the music. This is fairly easy if it is done at the beginner level. Your piano teacher should be training you to watch the music and not look down.
In my teaching, I begin with a five-finger hand position (key of C) and have my students feel where the notes are by playing and thinking of each key as a number and stating the name of the note. Of course, you must find the position by looking at the music before beginning to play, not after you’ve started. Gradually, we expand out to other five-finger positions (key of G, F, D, etc.). From there, we branch out to notes outside of the five-finger positions, by knowing how it feels. You’ll learn that your playing will sound more like music by “feeling” for the notes, along with counting, and by keeping your eyes totally on the music.
This becomes more of a problem if you can already play the piano and read notes, but play by stopping and looking down for the notes. This leads to not keeping a steady beat and breaks in the music, and affects the sound of the song. Your teacher should help you recognize this, and encourage you to keep your eyes on the music. In time, you’ll learn how to do this on your own and be able to play many more songs accurately.
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Carol R. teaches piano, music theory and organ lessons to students of all ages in Chicago, IL. She holds a Master’s degree and Ph.D in Music from the American Conservatory of Music, and she joined the TakeLessons team in February 2013. Learn more about Carol, or search for a teacher near you!
Photo by guruscotty