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http://digg.com/video/eye-tracking-pianist

This was a pretty interesting video. Not super scientific, but interesting nonetheless. It struck me how much he jumps ahead to where he needs to be with his eyes.

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Really quite interesting.

Astonishing how fast the professor can identify (sight-read) both the treble and the bass lines. His student seems to need checking the keyboard much more often and spending more time identifying the notes.

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Yes, interesting. The professor seemed to follow his left hand a bit more versus the right hand. The pronounced vertical reading in the hymnal was interesting.


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One thing I noticed is that when playing from memory, Daniel looks a little more at the bass/left hand than the right. I'd like to try this.



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Thanks for posting this. It was pretty cool.


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Thanks Sara for posting this.
You're right, it is not scientific. However, it gives you a lot to think about in terms off Maximizing sight reading and performance.

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Very fascinating, thanks for sharing!


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A couple of people referred to sight reading. I saw no written music. Isn't he playing by memory? Looking ahead makes sense, since you would be looking toward where you're going, and if the LH has the more difficult part, that is where you'd throw your eyes so to say.

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Very interesting! Now that they've analyzed themselves, I wonder how self-conscious that they'll be about it in the future. It would be just another point of distraction for me. I already have enough problems concentrating! grin


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Originally Posted by keystring
A couple of people referred to sight reading. I saw no written music. Isn't he playing by memory? Looking ahead makes sense, since you would be looking toward where you're going, and if the LH has the more difficult part, that is where you'd throw your eyes so to say.


Towards the end of the video, they played from written music.


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Blows the hypothesis that you see both staves at once.


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Very interesting, thanks for sharing that


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Originally Posted by chopin_r_us
Blows the hypothesis that you see both staves at once.
That was my thought as well, but maybe part of the reason he's not reading both staves at once is that it's a hymnal and there are several verses of lyrics between the two staves. Depending upon how many verses are present, the two staves can be quite some distance apart. The same with non-hymnal scores where the notes are several octaves apart--it can be very difficult to read both staves at once glance.


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Wow! I was searching for something like this video literally a week ago on Youtube and turned up empty. Thanks so much for sharing it!

The actual pair of glasses they used, along with the supporting tools, apparently cost around $30K... I wonder if wearing something like the GoPro (just glasses camera, no eye tracking) would still be informative. Alternatively, people with computer vision chops might be able to do some post hoc analysis.


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What struck me is how often he's not looking directly at anything. His "default" eye position seems to be around the center of the keyboard. He'll peek up and down to see where he needs to go in the near future, but then always returns to staring at the center. He even comments on this toward the end.

I find this interesting because, although I am NOT a proficient pianist, I am an excellent sight reader on my horn, and I have been asked before whether I read ahead or not, and I have commented that I don't think I really look at anything most of the time. I sort of put my eyes in the middle of the page, defocus, and am able to kind of take it all in. It appears to me that he's doing a great deal of that, the exceptions being when he needs to look at something specific (an upcoming leap, for example).


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Originally Posted by newbert
Originally Posted by keystring
A couple of people referred to sight reading. I saw no written music. Isn't he playing by memory? Looking ahead makes sense, since you would be looking toward where you're going, and if the LH has the more difficult part, that is where you'd throw your eyes so to say.


Towards the end of the video, they played from written music.

Thanks, found it.
The interesting thing is that I am only now learning to look at my hands. When I was a self-taught child and teen, I played like a blind person in the sense that I felt for the sounds, which I heard by looking at the music. I needed to learn to look at my hands in order to get a better handle on technique. I am also learning to look at the keyboard and become familiar with its black-white key configuration and such. What the student was doing while reading seemed so foreign - it was surprising.

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That is really interesting! The one thing they left out I would like to have seen was student and teacher playing the same song from memory and doing a side by side comparison of where they are looking.


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It was instructive to see how efficient the teacher was compared to the student. I feel like I do the same when I'm reading well or struggling to read. I like that he's visually centered, until he needs to focus on specific things. It was also interesting to see him efficiently reading left/right hands from bottom-to-top.

Really cool video, hope they do more!


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Originally Posted by Legal Beagle
What struck me is how often he's not looking directly at anything. His "default" eye position seems to be around the center of the keyboard.


Indeed. When playing from memory, there's no reason to look at the keyboard except when you need to check a long leap. When reading, most of the time you can have your eyes on the chart. I can look at who's coming in the front door, or check out how busy the bartender is.



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