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Originally Posted by liliboulanger
Advanced pianists just do things differently from beginners or intermediates because they can, not because they know some secret of how and where and when to look at the score. For one thing, they see lots of familiar patterns and groups of notes and whole chords (in both hands) at a glance, not individual notes, and their well-trained hands know exactly where to go.
Exactly.


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There are so many skills one's trying to learn at the beginning, and they're all so important. One needs to learn to play musically and ergonomically, and that's when you want to pay attention to your hands, not only what they look like but also what they feel like on the keyboard.

But once you have gotten the keyboard geography settled into your mind, can remember where your hands are on it and feel where you need to go next without looking, it makes it much easier to play without needing to look back and forth and re-find your place on the score, which is very nice.


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I've been memorizing music since my school days playing violin so memorizing piano music just means an extra staff with more notes. Part of memorizing is learning the notes and the other is muscle memory by repeating the same sequences many times until playing becomes automatic.

Beginner pieces start with the C position with the 2 thumbs on the middle C you don't have a lot to think about. When you always use the same fingers for the same notes, you can put finger numbers on the sheet and just go by them without consciously reading each note.

Repeating the same pieces many times whether you have it memorized or not is not the best way to practice reading. You learn a piece well enough your hand positions become automatic whether you read as you play or not. The best way to practice reading is to play new pieces regularly. When starting a new piece, you don't know the Key, Time Signature or the notes. The only thing that would help you is to run through the piece slowly so that you can get the right notes.

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
I've been memorizing music since my school days playing violin so memorizing piano music just means an extra staff with more notes.
Fellow violinist here, as well, LOL! Though not really, I haven't seriously played since high school. Maybe our early violin training just made it easier for us to memorize? I think it probably comes naturally for me because I've just been doing it for so long. Definitely easier for violin, though, LOL!!!


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Originally Posted by tangleweeds
There are so many skills one's trying to learn at the beginning, and they're all so important. One needs to learn to play musically and ergonomically, and that's when you want to pay attention to your hands, not only what they look like but also what they feel like on the keyboard.

But once you have gotten the keyboard geography settled into your mind, can remember where your hands are on it and feel where you need to go next without looking, it makes it much easier to play without needing to look back and forth and re-find your place on the score, which is very nice.

In format of 'the chicken or the egg' , which came to easy for you to do first? Memorizing the keys on the piano or memorizing the piece for the piano?


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Remembering the keys on a piano doesn't require a lot of effort. All we have are 7 letters of the alphabet. The sharps & flats for the black keys are like the accents in French or Italian you add on top of a vowel. To cover all 88 keys we start with A1...G1, A2...G2, A3...G3, etc. all the way up using the same 7 letters of the alphabet.

I'm a spatial person. I recognize the notes of a song by sound pitches. I don't usually recall specific notes in an abstract way. The melody of the beginner song "Mary Had a Little Lamb" can be written out as EDCD-EEE-DDD-EGG etc. Most people don't recall music this way. We'd hear a song on radio, go to a piano and try to repeat the notes of the melody by what we hear. We navigate the keyboard by the shape & position of the keys. And we get to the note we want by thinking about the sound that specific keys would make without thinking the key we want is a C3 or D4 sort of thing.

And then there is muscle memory. We'd play automatically after repeating the same finger sequences many times. We're not consciously thinking the note we just played is a C or a G. The sound that comes out would tell us if the notes are correct.

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Wish I could have seen this thread 18 months ago. I freaked out thinking I was looking at the keys too much (I was but I was a newbie) AND I always lost my place on the music. Still struggle with this but I'm improving.

I have surprised myself recently that I'm grasping some key geography naturally, after two years of playing. I am also getting better at glancing to the keyboard and finding the place on my music sheet. It does take time to develop this.

A piece I'm learning now, I always glanced at one particular section. I have the key geography defined but now it is just comfortable to glance down without needing to, if that makes sense. It's almost like a pitcher's wind up before the pitch or a golfer's preshot routine.

Keep working. You will develop the skills naturally. I was about your age when I started. You have a future!

Also, dogperson, thanks for your encouragement. You have told me to be patient too. I appreciate the support from inside my tablet you send.


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Originally Posted by josh_sounds
Originally Posted by tangleweeds
There are so many skills one's trying to learn at the beginning, and they're all so important. One needs to learn to play musically and ergonomically, and that's when you want to pay attention to your hands, not only what they look like but also what they feel like on the keyboard.

But once you have gotten the keyboard geography settled into your mind, can remember where your hands are on it and feel where you need to go next without looking, it makes it much easier to play without needing to look back and forth and re-find your place on the score, which is very nice.

In format of 'the chicken or the egg' , which came to easy for you to do first? Memorizing the keys on the piano or memorizing the piece for the piano?

Learning to see the keyboard in my mind and to read notes from the page came far more easily for me than memorizing pieces.

I had terrible problems memorizing (perhaps because I learned to read music relatively easily?) until I learned enough basic music theory to see interesting patterns instead of way too long a series of way too many notes to ever possibly remember. Muscle memory and playing it by ear would eventually enable me to put away the sheet music, but then I had no idea what notes I was actually playing. So I was really happy learning theory because it helped me see/remember what what was actually going on.

But I'm a linguistics/coding/math geek from a non-musical family, so it kind of makes sense that the abstract parts would be easier for me to learn.


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I don't know if it's perfect pitch, but I could go to the correct place on an instrument whenever I heard a note. Obviously it made playing by ear very easy on instruments that have the notes arranged logically, and I learnt the harmonica and fife very quickly, but not guitar, where notes and chords need special memorisation. When I began piano, melody was easy, but chords not so, because of the same reason.

Then I remembered when I was learning programming I had great difficulty because I did not know how to type. However after lots of keyboard usage, I learnt the logic of the keyboard layout, THROUGH much usage, and now I can enter words very easily and quickly. I suppose this will be the same with piano, because I'm using chords and scales a lot, and learning music theory and notation reading, ie. the use of sheet music. Now instead of just individual notes, I know where the chords and the major and the chromatic scales are located. Inverted chords are formed in a uniform way, so that helps

Since I play fife well, I'm also learning flute. Flute learning doesn't need too much music theory knowledge and it's mainly a melodic notation, but there is a lot of stress on harmonics. This is also helping me to learn the logic of the flute, where some fingerings aren't very logical!

Last edited by Proton; 07/21/21 05:45 AM.
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Look down only when you need to... is subjective and utterly useless advice to you.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, don't look down, at all.
There is no need to, you're not going to be playing anything / well you shouldn't be playing anything for some time to come that really truly requires you to look down. If you are playing pieces that require you look down then you're ABSOLUTELY playing the wrong stuff.
Doing the .... it's ok to look down now and then ... nonsense is not going to do you any favors and you are bound to start over-relying on looking down. And like someone else had already mentioned, you will be shocked when you realize how often you're looking down.
Now if you're still learning the structure of the keyboard and you're unable to place your hands in say the F position without finding it on the keyboard first, that's a different story and really a moot point.
Don't look down. Try not to. It will help you tremendously if you don't.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyIssieBangie
There is no need to, you're not going to be playing anything / well you shouldn't be playing anything for some time to come that really truly requires you to look down. If you are playing pieces that require you look down then you're ABSOLUTELY playing the wrong stuff.
Hard disagree. You can certainly hit the notes without looking down, but it is important to look at your hands and keep improving your technique. You don't want bad technique to become automatic.

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