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Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881232
08/19/19 09:09 AM
08/19/19 09:09 AM
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In early lessons I was taught never to look at my hands; I learned to look only at the score. This is great for developing proprioception, but it can easily be overdone. If you really never look at your hands, you may be unaware of how you are moving, making it harder to correct awkward motions. Leaps also tend to be less precise. I used to get to the general area and then do what my teacher calls "groping," finding the right notes by feel. Having a visual sense of the exact distance makes a leap much more accurate.

I find now that as a piece gets into memory I tend to look at my hands more, I guess because they're more interesting to watch than a familiar score. But I don't perform without a score, so I practice looking at the notes as well.


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Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881668
08/20/19 02:18 PM
08/20/19 02:18 PM
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Hi Moo,

I can usually memorize pieces because of the repetitions while I learn the piece. Also, I seem to have good muscle memory. My problem, that some one else mentioned as well, is after I memorize a piece, I no longer look at the score. Then if I'm playing for, say, my piano club group, and my memory fades from nerves, when I look at the score, I have no idea where I am.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: SueS55] #2881683
08/20/19 02:55 PM
08/20/19 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by SueS55
Hi Moo,

I can usually memorize pieces because of the repetitions while I learn the piece. Also, I seem to have good muscle memory. My problem, that some one else mentioned as well, is after I memorize a piece, I no longer look at the score. Then if I'm playing for, say, my piano club group, and my memory fades from nerves, when I look at the score, I have no idea where I am.


And, of course, that is easily remedied but you have to want to remedy it.


Don

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Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: SueS55] #2881695
08/20/19 03:19 PM
08/20/19 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by SueS55
Hi Moo,
I can usually memorize pieces because of the repetitions while I learn the piece. Also, I seem to have good muscle memory. My problem, that some one else mentioned as well, is after I memorize a piece, I no longer look at the score. Then if I'm playing for, say, my piano club group, and my memory fades from nerves, when I look at the score, I have no idea where I am.
You have to practice playing from the score.

Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881715
08/20/19 04:19 PM
08/20/19 04:19 PM
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I think a good pianist should be able to play looking at the score, but for a high-level performance, the piece should be completely memorized. That doesn't mean the player needs to look at the hands, but he shouldn't bother following a score, that could be distracting. That is why you never see a concert pianist playing technically demanding pieces with the score. You see these "kids" at the Chopin competition with a 3h program completely memorized.
So I don't think it is detrimental to memorize pieces, but having to rely on sight to play the piece is not very good. Some people train to play blindfolded to avoid that kind of shortcoming.


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Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: facdo] #2881726
08/20/19 04:44 PM
08/20/19 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by facdo
I think a good pianist should be able to play looking at the score


Agree.

Quote
...I don't think it is detrimental to memorize pieces...


Unless, you do that INSTEAD of learning to play looking at the score.

In that case, you are reducing your chances of ever learning to play while looking the score.


Don

Kawai MP11SE, Edifier R1850DB Active Bookshelf Speakers, Yamaha HS8S Powered Subwoofer, SennHeiser HD 559 Headphones, Pianoteq and numerous other VSTs
Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: facdo] #2881731
08/20/19 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by facdo
I think a good pianist should be able to play looking at the score, but for a high-level performance, the piece should be completely memorized. That doesn't mean the player needs to look at the hands, but he shouldn't bother following a score, that could be distracting. That is why you never see a concert pianist playing technically demanding pieces with the score. You see these "kids" at the Chopin competition with a 3h program completely memorized.

Is this a high-level performance, and are these high-performance musicians?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODwqTxvnmzQ


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881749
08/20/19 05:19 PM
08/20/19 05:19 PM
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I've memorised every piece I've ever learned. Now that seems a bit silly, although I think I was following the path of least resistance at the time (but now I'm getting on a bit). Now I'm determined to learn some music with the score, and if I happen to memorise it passively, that's fine, but if not I don't care.

As someone who is not used to following the score when playing, I find I need to rehearse looking at the keyboard (for awkward leaps etc.) and back at the score without losing my place. I wouldn't be able to read an already memorised piece in real time without rehearsing it.

I disagree with the idea that serious performances need to be from memory. Yuja Wang and Boris Berezovsky are two of the world's foremost virtuoso pianists, and both use the score when they see fit. Neither of the videos below are chamber music performances. I saw Paul Lewis play the Diabelli Variations, and he used an iPad.



Last edited by johnstaf; 08/20/19 05:23 PM.
Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881783
08/20/19 06:26 PM
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When I was a student, every music student I knew learnt a lot of rep, and no-one memorized anything. The music exams everyone did - ABRSM and 'O' & 'A' Level Music - did not require playing pieces from memory. In fact, the only person I ever saw performing from memory was the one budding concert pianist in our midst, but of course, when he was performing chamber music (he formed a piano trio at school with two talented string players), he played from the music.

Incidentally, our Chapel Choir always performed from the music too, just like any other (classical) choir. We could all sight-sing, and we had to learn a lot of rep to performance standard within a short time period - for instance, one school term to learn and perform Bach's Magnificat plus a couple of Handel anthems, and one month to learn some fifteen carols (mostly sung a cappella) for the Christmas Service.

The only way anyone can learn a lot of pieces quickly is to learn to play them from the music - always - and develop excellent reading skills.

Near beginners will almost inevitably memorize a lot of their pieces even if they don't strive to, because they are all short and don't have many notes in them. The mistake is that they then keep on doing so as they progress to more complicated stuff, and end up taking such a long time to learn each subsequent piece (because they just can't play them properly without memorizing) that their progress slows right down, and they get bored of each piece before they can play them fluently. Developing musical and technical skills require learning a lot of music, and practicing them. Wasting time trying to memorize each and every piece, only to discard it once learnt means that their skill development is stymied.

Even in my last two years of lessons, when I was at university doing a full-time (not music-related) degree course, I learnt five complete Beethoven sonatas, Schumann's Carnaval and Kreisleriana and Arabeske, several Chopin etudes and Rachmaninov and Debussy Preludes, Estampes and Images, the complete Brahms Op.117, Op.118 and Op.119, Bartók's Suite Op.14.....plus a few Scarlatti, Haydn and Mozart sonatas and Bach's WTC. The only pieces I memorized were the ones I played for my performance diploma.

I believe that technology will eventually make playing from the score a normal occurrence even for concert pianists performing solo. Several years ago, I was at a Chopin recital by a well-known concert pianist who played everything reading from his iPad, using a foot pedal to 'turn' the pages. I didn't even realize he was using a score from where I was sitting, directly in front of the piano, until I saw what looked like an extra foot pedal that his left foot regularly stepped on. I thought it was pretty novel then, but it's starting to catch on these days.....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881795
08/20/19 06:52 PM
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Thank you for the information. That is really is an very impressive amount of pieces mr Ben. Tell me, how difficult and how much work was a performance diploma? Sorry I know it’s a digression but I made the thread so it’s ok 🐝

Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881797
08/20/19 06:54 PM
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Also why do you need to memorise the pieces for the diploma?

Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881804
08/20/19 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Moo :)
Thank you for the information. That is really is an very impressive amount of pieces mr Ben. Tell me, how difficult and how much work was a performance diploma?

It was difficult and a lot of work - it took up every minute of my 'free' time during the day: I skipped lunch every day in order to walk to the Music Department to make use of its practice rooms; and whenever there was no lecture or tutorial, I'd run there to grab some more practising time, because it was only open until 6pm, and only Mondays to Saturdays.

From Grade 8 to performance diploma is equivalent to a jump of at least two more grades, even discounting the requirement of performing the pieces from memory. (The teaching diploma doesn't require playing from memory and is easier).

As well as that, I was also attending an evening class weekly at the Music School to get up to speed on theory, harmony, composition etc.

As you can imagine, socialising went completely out of the window, because when the Music Department was closed, I had to study the subjects for my university course that others would have used some of their free day time for. Luckily, I cannot tolerate alcohol, so I didn't miss much...... whistle


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: facdo] #2881805
08/20/19 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by facdo
I think a good pianist should be able to play looking at the score, but for a high-level performance, the piece should be completely memorized. That doesn't mean the player needs to look at the hands, but he shouldn't bother following a score, that could be distracting. That is why you never see a concert pianist playing technically demanding pieces with the score. You see these "kids" at the Chopin competition with a 3h program completely memorized.
So I don't think it is detrimental to memorize pieces, but having to rely on sight to play the piece is not very good. Some people train to play blindfolded to avoid that kind of shortcoming.
Based on your conclusion there were no "high level" performances before Liszt and Clara Schumann popularized playing without the score.
And never any high level performances of chamber music. And Richter didn't give high level performances after he started playing with the score.

While some amateurs feel they play better without the score I think many others(including quite a few professionals) would love to avoid the anxiety of worrying about memory lapses and the opportunity to learn a lot more repertoire using the time it would normally take to memorize music.

Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881810
08/20/19 07:46 PM
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I don't agree that using the score during a professional performance is "distracting." For most professionals who perform at that level, the score is there only as guideposts along the way. They are not literally reading every note. In many cases the work is essentially memorized but as bennevis points out, having the score there avoids the stress of the possibility of a memory failure. In that sense, the pianist can well be more relaxed, less nervous and may even give a better performance that one who may even be vaguely threatened by a possible memory loss.

Some seem to think that a pianist who uses the score doesn't really know the music. I think that, at the professional level, this is far from the truth.

Regards,


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Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: BruceD] #2881827
08/20/19 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
I don't agree that using the score during a professional performance is "distracting." For most professionals who perform at that level, the score is there only as guideposts along the way. They are not literally reading every note. In many cases the work is essentially memorized but as bennevis points out, having the score there avoids the stress of the possibility of a memory failure. In that sense, the pianist can well be more relaxed, less nervous and may even give a better performance that one who may even be vaguely threatened by a possible memory loss.

Some seem to think that a pianist who uses the score doesn't really know the music. I think that, at the professional level, this is far from the truth.

Regards,


I must agree. It is NOT distracting to me when a professional pianist is using a score. As said, they usually are not reading it for the most part. Take the Yuja Wang example above. The score was there, but only seldom looked at. It didn't bother me a bit.


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Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: BruceD] #2881881
08/21/19 02:46 AM
08/21/19 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
I don't agree that using the score during a professional performance is "distracting." For most professionals who perform at that level, the score is there only as guideposts along the way. They are not literally reading every note. In many cases the work is essentially memorized but as bennevis points out, having the score there avoids the stress of the possibility of a memory failure. In that sense, the pianist can well be more relaxed, less nervous and may even give a better performance that one who may even be vaguely threatened by a possible memory loss.

Some seem to think that a pianist who uses the score doesn't really know the music. I think that, at the professional level, this is far from the truth.

Regards,

I agree. I was talking about the same thing in my previous post. They know the piece too well to call this 'reading'.

Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2881889
08/21/19 03:30 AM
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I began as a good memorizer and bad reader. Now I am getting the balance back.
But I still look too much at my left hand in particular.
Now I'm learning the choral section in Mendelssohn op 35 n 1; where the left hand has a line in octaves, I must learn to feel the jumps instead of watching with my eyes.

Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: bennevis] #2882121
08/21/19 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

Is this a high-level performance, and are these high-performance musicians?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODwqTxvnmzQ


Yes, it is and I understand the points that you made. But you have to agree with me that it is unusual for a concert pianist to perform his high-level repertoire following a score. I never played any complicated long piece, but I believe that after practicing it one thousand times, which might be required to get it to a live performance level, not memorizing it is impossible. So that is my point, for a high-level performance the musician is expected to have practiced the piece exhaustively. If the pianist needs a score, is because he didn't practice that piece that much. Of course, high-level pianists could get a piece to a high standard without much practice, but that may be because that particular piece is not very challenging for his/her level. I wonder how the interpretation would differ when the same piece is confidently played by memory. I might be completely wrong, but I believe it would be a higher-level interpretation.
This is an interesting conversation, I will discuss it with my teacher (who is a concert pianist) at tomorrow's lesson.


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Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: facdo] #2882143
08/21/19 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by facdo
Originally Posted by bennevis

Is this a high-level performance, and are these high-performance musicians?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODwqTxvnmzQ


Yes, it is and I understand the points that you made. But you have to agree with me that it is unusual for a concert pianist to perform his high-level repertoire following a score. I never played any complicated long piece, but I believe that after practicing it one thousand times, which might be required to get it to a live performance level, not memorizing it is impossible. So that is my point, for a high-level performance the musician is expected to have practiced the piece exhaustively. If the pianist needs a score, is because he didn't practice that piece that much. Of course, high-level pianists could get a piece to a high standard without much practice, but that may be because that particular piece is not very challenging for his/her level. I wonder how the interpretation would differ when the same piece is confidently played by memory. I might be completely wrong, but I believe it would be a higher-level interpretation.
This is an interesting conversation, I will discuss it with my teacher (who is a concert pianist) at tomorrow's lesson.

1. I can't conceive how interpretation would be affected by using the score vs. playing from memory.
2. You assumed that playing from memory means more confidence but I don't think that's true for pros or amateurs. It could easily mean less confidence because of fears about memory lapses.
3. It's true that professionals relatively rarely play with the score for solo performances but many would say that's mostly convention.There was a time when this was never done. Even today, performances of contemporary pieces or very lengthy pieces(Bach WTC for example) are often played with the score. Chamber music and orchestra performances are always done with the score.
4. Pros don't always practice a piece "a thousand times" before performing it. They sometimes have to prepare very difficult music on short notice.
5. Even extensive practice of a piece doesn't mean it would be automatically memorized and secure for a performance by memory.
6. It's definitely not ture that "If the pianist needs a score, is because he didn't practice that piece that much."

Re: Looking at fingers or the music score [Re: Moo :)] #2882161
08/21/19 06:32 PM
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Does it not get harder and harder to memorise when you are more advanced ? More notes, harder rhythms and more notes to remember. In the end you spend more time trying to memorise and play less pieces ? I don’t think its beneficial at all. Comparisons with concert pianists I don’t think are relevant for amateurs.

Last edited by Moo :); 08/21/19 06:32 PM.
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