How many senses do YOU use when you play the piano?

I spend a good part of my day repeating the mantra 'look at the music, not at your hands'. I started to ask myself, why is it that so many people want to look at their hands when they play?

When people look at their hands whilst they are playing, it is often because they think they are going to get it wrong, that their fingers won't do what they want. They know they want to play E but they don't trust their hands to do as they are told. By looking at their hand they almost guarantee that their fingers will obey. However, your hands and fingers are far smarter than you are giving them credit for! If you cover your hands whilst you play, and use your sense of TOUCH you will find that in a very short time your hands are able to do exactly what you tell them without the need to look at them. On top of that you have your sense of HEARING on your team as well, because if your fingers do get mixed up, you will hear the mistake and be able to fix it straight away!

Keeping your eyes on the music allows your brain to use all it's knowledge to work out which hand to use, which note to play and how many beats to play it for. This is the best way to use your SIGHT to help you, because then your brain can pass the message on to your hands and your sense of TOUCH can help you finish the job. Meanwhile you are looking at the next bar of music to work out what it is telling you! If you keep looking down once you have read the notes in order to get your fingers to obey, you will inevitably have to pause to find your place on the music and work out the next bar.

Moreover, when you are looking at your hands whilst you play, you are trying to memorise everything-the notes, the rhythm, which hand to use etc. It is a lot for your brain to process, especially in the early stages of learning a new piece. The worst bit of all, is that when you come to practice the piece tomorrow, you won't remember what to play which means you will be back where you started which is really demotivating.

I want to encourage the idea of using as many senses are possible whilst playing the piano. Your SIGHT- to read the notes, your HEARING- to spot mistakes, and your sense of TOUCH- to feel your way around the piano and find the right notes. The more you push yourself and develop these three senses and to have them work together, the more powerful a pianist you will be and the easier it will be to learn new pieces.

Happy practicing!

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