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Topic: Where should ones eyes be while playing ?  (Read 2022 times)

Offline drooxy

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Where should ones eyes be while playing ?
on: September 03, 2003, 11:37:13 AM
Good morning,

This is a question that is coming back often to my mind and I would appreciate to get some input here.

First, a statment that I read on this forum and that I like very much because it surely illustrates what I often experience while playing: if my concentration leaves my ears to get to my eyes, it leads me to make mistakes...

So, my question: where should my eyes be while playing the piano ? Is it strictly "forbidden" to look at my fingers ? In that case, can I expect that by working again and again difficult fingerings, my fingers should end up to always be at the good place ? Or is it acceptable, for these difficult parts, to take a quick glance at the keyboard ?

A "compromise" that I have been trying to get to, would consists in working a lot the right hand so that I am sure I do not need to have to look at it and to allow me to look at my left hand... that works pretty well but still it is not perfect because, here again, my focus swaps from my ears to my eyes...

Any idea, suggestions, etc... would really be precious to me !

So thanks to anyone sharing with me on that subject.

Drooxy
Drooxy

Offline Hmoll

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Re: Where should ones eyes be while playing ?
Reply #1 on: September 03, 2003, 05:52:25 PM
There is absolutely no reason why you should not look at your hands when playing.  The only exception to this is it is a good idea to almost always keep your eyes on the music when you are sightreading something for the first time.

While it can be good training to become familiar with the keyboard without having to look at it, since you have two eyes, why shouldn't you use them? When have you ever seen a concert pianist never look at the keyboard?

If you never look at your hands, how will you know if your hand position is correct, and whether the position of your hand indicates tension?
"I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me!" -- Max Reger

Offline rachfan

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Re: Where should ones eyes be while playing ?
Reply #2 on: September 04, 2003, 03:37:19 AM
I believe everyone is different in this regard.  If I have a piece memorized, I can all but play with my eyes closed.  But that looks weird if playing for others, so I generally look out through the tail of the grand.  Occasionally I look at the keyboard for a difficult stretch, leap, cross-overs of the arms, or the execution of a short cadenza.  If the hands or wrists must be choreographed a certain way to facilitate execution in a tough spot, I'll look down at my hands for that.  Otherwise, I usually don't find myself staring at the keyboard.  

But like I say people are different.  When George Bolet was alive, and if you ever watched him play, his head was constantly angled downward, and his eyes were glued to the keyboard.  Also, there are some people who have developed a form of memorization that is not digital, auditory, photographic memory, or done by musical analysis.  Rather, they somehow memorize the sequential  patterns of key depressions created by the fingers playing.  And  that registers in their brains!  So a pianist using that method watches the keys like a hawk.    To each their own, as they say.
Interpreting music means exploring the promise of the potential of possibilities.

Offline drooxy

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Re: Where should ones eyes be while playing ?
Reply #3 on: September 04, 2003, 12:12:21 PM
Thanks to you two for answering.

My question is mainly motivated by the fact that my concentration is very "fragile" (I am very nervous when I know I am listened to !).

I have noticed that "loss of focus" - that leads to mistakes - often happens to me as follows:

* I "feel" people listening to me...

=> I start thinking to myself "Do they like it ?", "Am I good enough ?", etc. and finally: " DON'T YOU PLAY WRONG NOTES !!!"

=> I watch with more and more intensity my keyboard, listening less and less at the music I am producing (remember: focus going from ears to eyes !!) until my vision get "confused" by all these keys that can potentially be pressed... (88 ;=) )!!

=> Guess what ?... I make mistakes !!!!

That is why - and this is something I would like to experiment and validate in the future - I now try to avoid to look at the keyboad or, at least, I try to identify precisely, for each hand, the very specific sequences where I can allow myself to do it because the accuracy of my hands/fingers position cannot be guaranted by an appropriate fingering... knowing that my eyes should not wander too long on the keyboard and quicky get back to the music sheet... that later being kind of
"reassuring" !

Does all that make sense and should I persist on this way ?
Drooxy

Offline randilea

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Re: Where should ones eyes be while playing ?
Reply #4 on: September 27, 2003, 06:59:29 PM
You need to give yourself permission to do it "your" way.  Rach is right!  To each his/her own.  The audience does not validate you or your musicianship.  Someone in your music past has spooked you into thinking this way  no doubt.  Too bad they don't offer therapy for performance anxiety.  

Re:eyes and keys  This may be an area you need to practice.  You may want to identify areas in your music where you need to look at your hands.  Then identify nearby passages or measures that you can handle well enough without intense concentration- this will be where and when you transition your concentration from ears to eyes and back again.  Do it purposefully, and  decisively.  After a few repetitions it will undoubtely become easier.  

Or try an entire piece while making an effort to look at your hands.  feel the difference mentally and see what you can glean from it.  I often find that when the "pendulum" swings too far one way, a good way to balance yourself is to "swing" the other way (no pun intended.)

Would love to hear how you are eventually cured, write back.
He...guided them by the skilfulness of His hands.  Psalms 78:72

Offline eddie92099

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Re: Where should ones eyes be while playing ?
Reply #5 on: September 27, 2003, 08:38:06 PM
Quote
Too bad they don't offer therapy for performance anxiety.  


https://www.pianoforum.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=perf;action=display;num=1062600051;start=2

Ed

Offline drooxy

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Re: Where should ones eyes be while playing ?
Reply #6 on: October 03, 2003, 01:53:47 PM
Thanks Randilea and Ed for your input here !

I like very much your first phrase, Randilea: "you have to give yourself the permission to do it". I really believe that this is where the problem is !

Now, about identifying measures where I need to look at my fingers: this is exactly what I have been trying to do for a while and your comment encourages me to continue to do so.

It is a bit too early to tell you wether it helps or not... I probably need more occasions to play for an audience...

Anyway, I 'll try to add comments/thougths here, about those various experimentations. That will contribute to my motivation to "fight against myself" !

;=)

Very sincerely.
Drooxy
Drooxy
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