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Why should you look at the music whilst you play?

If I had a shekel for every time I utter the words 'look at the music whilst you play' I'd be able to go on a wonderful holiday by now! People have such a desire to look at their hands whilst they play, as if they don't trust their fingers to do what they are told. But why is this so 'wrong'? Surely, once you've read the notes they have done their job and you don't need to keep looking at them.

Firstly, every time you read the notes, you are getting better at reading the notes- so it is a no brainer that you should read them over and over again, rather than just once to work out what to play. The quicker you get at decoding the music the more accessible new pieces will become.

Secondly, looking at your hands doesn't serve any purpose, given that your hands don't know what to do, so looking at them and willing them to do the right thing isn't going to help. It's like standing in the forest, lost, and instead of looking at the map in your hands to work out which direction to go to get home, you look out at the tree's as if they will inspire you to know which way to go.

The music is your map; it tells you what notes to play, when to play them, how long to play them for. It has all the information you need so looking at it as you proceed makes a lot of sense. You read the music, your brain works out what it needs to do and then sends signals to your fingers to tell them what to do. Of course there will be moments when you need to glance at your hands but as a general rule you should always be focusing on what the music has to say.

Each piece you tackle is an opportunity to develop your skills- your ability to read and decode the music, your ability to play with fluency and ease, your ability to get your hands to move confidently around the piano, your ability to play with different dynamics and articulation. It is not just about learning that particular piece. Each piece you tackle should make you better. So keep reading the music, keep training your hands to follow your instructions and keep pushing yourself to be the best you can be.

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