Do Pianists Look at the Keys? Amazing Facts You Must Know
Piano playing perfectly is an amazing achievement and it takes years of learning, practice and skill to master the beautiful instrument. As the training and skill keeps on improving, the players play the piano with more ease and perfection. While playing the piano, the most critical part of the performance is the action around the keys as it is the source of all the sounds that comes out of the instrument.
Pianists often look at the keys while playing their piano, however it depends on the level of skill of the player. As a beginner or amateur piano player, one has to thoroughly observe the finger and hand positions by frequently looking at the keys while playing. However, as a seasoned player or being an expert – looking into the piano keys while playing is not a frequent need. Most of the expert players manage to play notes and complex progressions without looking at the keys.
In this article we are going to discuss about the piano keys and how various level of players respond in terms of sight when it comes to viewing the keys while playing for a concert, recording or performance.
Fundamentals of Piano keys training
Piano keys training is the vital part of your piano training. With the guidance of a good mentor who is expert in playing and teaching piano, you can get started with the piano training. The following are the key aspects / fundamentals that your mentor will cover for your training:
- Knowledge on Notes – All 13 notes (including 7 white and 5 black keys) in an octave
- Knowledge on chords – Major, minor, power chords, 7ths, suspended, augmented, triads etc.
- Hands-on knowledge about finger positions, playing runs, trills and arpeggios using both left and right hands
- Co-ordination practice for both the hands – handling melody part with one hand and chords/ arpeggios with other hand in conjunction.
- Speed control and velocity control while playing the notes / songs on the piano
- Knowledge on various scales – chromatic, diatonic, pentatonic and many country/region specific scales.
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Do Pianists look at the keys?
Many pianists would look at the keys to double check what they are actually playing on the piano. They want to sound accurate and not skip notes or play incorrect notes. We have analysed the behaviour of novice beginner players and expert pianists and present the data before you regarding the same:
Behavior of Beginner Players:
Usually beginners are not confident on their playing skills and fingering styles on the piano keys. Hence, they keep their maximum attention and focus on the piano keys to avoid any mistakes or misses in notes.
Behavior of Seasoned Players:
Seasoned players are accustomed at playing most of the melody and chords without looking into the piano keys. However, during complex sequences or tough classical pieces, they look into piano keys to ensure the accuracy of their playing occasionally.
Behavior of Pro / Expert Players:
The highest category of skill and technique is found with the pro-level and expert players. They focus most of their most of their time on showmanship and presentation of their work. While playing the piano, they usually do not look at the keys unless there is some compelling need. Their hands are well versed with all the chords, arpeggios, runs and melody lines, which they perform with ease.
How do Expert pianists play without looking into the keys?
Here’s how the expert pianists play the piano without looking into the keys. We are going to discuss what makes them perfect and confident on their playing skills:
- They practice 8-10 Hours daily with constant focus on improving their playing skills.
- They follow a great mentor who is expert at piano performances.
- They learn end-to-end music theory and implement the same on their performances.
- They are good at listening and picking songs by ear. They have proper ear-training.
- They are perfect at sight reading and able to play complex pieces from the sheets without looking into the keys.
- They have solid left and right hand fingering technique mastery and co-ordination
Tips on Body and Hands Posture for a Pianist to play piano better
Here are some the tips on body and hand posture from the top pianists that will eventually help our reader musicians explore a better pianist in them:
- Focus on learning piano music theory and finger playing techniques.
- Work on playing chords and inversions for each chord in octave sets.
- Use double hand playing technique and practice the same regularly.
- Read sheet music and staff notation thoroughly, understand the elements, clefs, notes and time signature of the song properly.
- Ask your mentor to teach you full octave runs (across all 88 keys) in all scales
- Boost your confidence by closely watching other pro piano player performances regularly.
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From the above discussion, it is evident that most of the seasoned piano players need not look at the piano keys every time and they have mastered the art of finger playing and positioning their hands on the proper notes during the performance. However, as a beginner or a novice player, one must carefully observe the notes and finger movements on the piano keys to avoid any error or incorrect notes while playing the instrument.
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