About reading sheet music

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
pascual
KVRist
467 posts since 15 Jul, 2003 from costa rica / oregon

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 5:00 am

Question for the piano teachers.
I live deep in rural Jungle area, no piano teachers around. So I’ve been learning with an app (simply piano) and various beginner books and other sheet music. (Anna Magdalena).
My question is, how important is it to not look at my hands. I tend to slowly read the music, learn the “finger choreography “ and eventually memorize and move to looking down at my hands when I play. Now I hear that i should only look at the paper, and when I do that it slows my playing (and enjoying) tremendously.
Should I power through it and get good at straight up reading and playing without looking down? Can do both?
Any advice is highly appreciated.

Also: I’ve got the Bach’s Goldberg Aria down!❤️ What’s the next easiest variation from that concert?

Anyway, thanks. Super enjoying this ride....
Bryan.
paz por esos mundos

empphryio
KVRist
263 posts since 14 Apr, 2019

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:01 am

So if you look at your hands while playing music you haven't memorized you're constantly looking up and down. This can result in eye fatigue or neck fatigue if you're moving your head. Also can lose your place. BUT, these are all things you get better at with practice. It's possible that you can do it this way and gradually your hands develop this memory where you stop needing to look down so much. So maybe it can work out.

Conversely you can just try to feel your way around while absolutely not looking down. At first it will be harder, less enjoyable.

If you watch concert pianists they mostly look at their hands. They don't really need to. They do so just to be safe.

Probably what's best is to do both. Spend time with eyes bobbing up and down. Spend time never looking at hands. And also spend some time memorizing music and staring at your hands. All three are abilities to develop.

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jancivil
KVRAF
20182 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:05 am

If you're called upon to do straight sight-reading, you want to not watch your hands so much.
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empphryio
KVRist
263 posts since 14 Apr, 2019

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:10 am

One thing I think, although there are some people who are phenomenal at memorization, some who can study pages of sheet music for 15 minutes and then just sit down and play from memory, and this is an ability that can be improved, if I had it to do over I would spend way less time memorizing and far more time sight reading. The amount of music I have memorized and since forgotten is kind of annoying.

One doesn't forget the ability to sight read like one can completely forget how to play a song. Though you can get rusty at it. ...and there are people who despite thousands of hours of playing can't play anything if there isn't sheet music in front of them.

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vurt
addled muppet weed
68252 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:12 am

what are your goals as a pianist?
if its to play at home,as a hobby, go with what feels comfortable.

if as jan says, youre going to be in a position whereyou are required to sight read cold, then you need to be able to play without looking down so much.

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jancivil
KVRAF
20182 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:18 am

I was the reader in the guitar group at CCM, and was called on to lead the ensemble because I sight-read passably, or better than the rest. The emphasis on being a concert performer means memorizing everything.
Zappa made people memorize, music stands is not a good look for a putative rock group, I've never seen one use them except where there's an orchestra, orchestra cats read and watch the conductor (somewhat at least).

Yet when actually performing I looked at my hands. All kinds of masters at their instrument watch their hands, might be habitual and with no real reason not to care...
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vurt
addled muppet weed
68252 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:24 am

personally, i watch my hands because theyre there, when im sitting naturally, playing either guitar or keys.
not so much to keep an eye on them.

never sang and played, so never needed to look up :shrug: little bit of shyness too, eye contact, even when playing here, with just the missus and i freeze.

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vurt
addled muppet weed
68252 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:25 am

and reading, bar at a time, slow, learn each bar, connect.
sight reading :lol: no chance!

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jancivil
KVRAF
20182 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:36 am

I cannot sing and play the guitar at the same time. although I do remember learning things off of sheet music where I did, and strap a harmonica on for the Dylan effect. God how annoying that must have been for my mother.

My friend at CCM could not sight-read for shit, it's a wonder he ever learned his repertoire
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pascual
KVRist
467 posts since 15 Jul, 2003 from costa rica / oregon

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 10:24 am

vurt wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:12 am
what are your goals as a pianist?
Hmm. All of the goals.
I want to be able to play Bach. I want to play Depeche Mode. I want Dave Brubeck, I want old time, new time, techno, pop, house, rock.
Music is the best thing that happened to this planet.
I don’t need to be excellent, but I want to get good.

And I want to get better at my own compositions.

Thanks for all the answers. I think I’m gonna split my practices into some “eyes on the book” playing, closed eyes scales, and then some more relaxed, do what feels good playing.
paz por esos mundos

ahanysz
KVRist
34 posts since 14 Jun, 2020 from Adelaide, Australia

Post Fri Jul 31, 2020 3:21 pm

pascual wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 5:00 am
My question is, how important is it to not look at my hands. I tend to slowly read the music, learn the “finger choreography “ and eventually memorize and move to looking down at my hands when I play. Now I hear that i should only look at the paper, and when I do that it slows my playing (and enjoying) tremendously.
If you're playing music where you're always in contact with the keyboard (beginner pieces in 5-finger position; music based mostly on scales and arpeggios, most of Mozart, quite a lot of Bach, ...) then looking down won't help you very much. The keyboard doesn't move! It's still where it was last time you looked. And of course, reading the music is much easier if you're actually looking at the music.

Of course, pieces where you jump around a lot (typical waltz accompaniment, Liszt's La Campanella, Bach's Gigue from the B flat partita, some of Scarlatti's sonatas, ...) get a lot easier when you look down. But even then, you're better off looking at the key you need to jump to, not where your hands are right now. And remember that even while looking at the music, your peripheral vision will help keep track of where your hands are.
pascual wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 5:00 am
Also: I’ve got the Bach’s Goldberg Aria down!❤️ What’s the next easiest variation from that concert?
For now, maybe put the Goldbergs on hold and explore the two-part inventions and three-part inventions (sinfonias), and some of the French suites?

pascual
KVRist
467 posts since 15 Jul, 2003 from costa rica / oregon

Post Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:53 pm

🙏🏽 🎼 🤓
paz por esos mundos

Ksamphos
KVRist
56 posts since 8 Feb, 2019

Post Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:10 pm

Ive always memorized music, the piano music that I can play by sight reading near flawless is 20x simpler than those I can play by memory. Thought I can sight read well music for one note per time instruments - only the notes, I never learned well how to read rythm. When I was a kid and practiced I just listened the song once to get the rythm and then read only the notes... I imagine people with absolute hearing might find useless to learn to read the notes eventually! Those are limitations, indeed, but that doesnt stop you from playing the instrument, you have many paths to chose.
Better than this only the silence. Better than the silence only John.

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