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Hi all,

I noticed that I look at my left hand when playing - either the actual fingers or the notes on the sheet music for the left hand (correct my English please). The right hand plays on full auto.

I thought that's odd because of course usually the right hand plays the more difficult stuff. Therefore it seems to make more sense to look at either the notes for the right hand or the actual right hand when playing.

Do I have potential for improvement here (i.e. should I learn to observe the right hand when playing), or is this normal or maybe even better than looking at the right hand? How do you guys do it?

Best regards
Gretel


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Originally Posted by Gretel
Hi all,

I noticed that I look at my left hand when playing - either the actual fingers or the notes on the sheet music for the left hand (correct my English please). The right hand plays on full auto.

I thought that's odd because of course usually the right hand plays the more difficult stuff. Therefore it seems to make more sense to look at either the notes for the right hand or the actual right hand when playing.

Do I have potential for improvement here (i.e. should I learn to observe the right hand when playing), or is this normal or maybe even better than looking at the right hand? How do you guys do it?

Best regards
Gretel
I do exactly the same. Is it normal? I have no idea but I have learnt to live with it and accept and use it as best I can. Occasionally when there is a particularly tricky right hand bit it all seems to switch over and the left hand plays 'auto', and if I concentrate on the right hand that can happen as well.


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I just look at whichever hand needs looking at.

In advanced rep, the LH tends to have more wide leaps, especially to bottom notes, even though the RH may have more intricate stuff, but with notes closer together.

Therefore it follows that I'd make sure my LH know what it's doing more of the time than the RH, which usually has a mind of its own.


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When playing from the score one should be looking at all the notes in both hands unless perhaps if one has already memorized one hand. But even then one should learn to look at both hands so one can become a decent sight reader.

No advanced pianist looks at one hand while playing. They look where they have to look based on the music. Sometimes they just see both hands at once. Sometimes they don't look at their hands at all. Sometimes they look at the hand with the more difficult part etc.

Bottom line: it is wrong and counterproductive to look only at one
hand while playing. You are probably focusing on the LH while reading the score or playing without the score because your LH reading and playing skills are less than your RH skills.

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I think look wherever you want to, just play the right notes. wink

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Originally Posted by Gretel
Do I have potential for improvement here (i.e. should I learn to observe the right hand when playing), or is this normal or maybe even better than looking at the right hand? How do you guys do it?l
I look at whatever hand needs to be looked at. If I make jumps with my left hand, I look at my left hand. If I make jumps with my right hand, I look at my right hand.

It's an interesting thing that you have noticed about your piano playing, and there is certainly room for experimenting. Next time, when you struggle with a RH section, or make repeated mistakes with RH, deliberately watch your right hand and see if it makes a difference.


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I usually look at the score, but occasionally need to keep an eye on what the fingers are doing - the worst being the dreaded 'count the leger line' problem when either hand has to do an unforeseen leap and I've been off in a dream world (music has a habit of doing that to me, or is it that I have a habit etc.?). Can be particularly tricky with an accidental thrown in - that get's me looking at whichever hand is concerned, which is OK if it's only one of them....


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Normally the clock-hand these days.

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I also look at my left hand. And always my left hand even if there are jumps on my right. My right hand is usually very accurate and don't need baby sitting. I guess it is natural to look at your non dominant hand?

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Originally Posted by albydooby
I also look at my left hand. And always my left hand even if there are jumps on my right. My right hand is usually very accurate and don't need baby sitting. I guess it is natural to look at your non dominant hand?

You are jumping to a conclusion of whether pianists who look at their LH are RH dominant; wrong assumption for me. I am LH dominant but favor looking at LH over right if I’m looking at a hand at all.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
I just look at whichever hand needs looking at.

In advanced rep, the LH tends to have more wide leaps, especially to bottom notes, even though the RH may have more intricate stuff, but with notes closer together.

This tends to be my experience. I look at whichever hand has a jump or something that needs more attention, and I do think a lot of my music has bigger jumps in the LH...

I also generally play from a score (i.e. I rarely memorize these days), so my eyes are usually on the score, but unless it's new music, I'm not really reading each note, but more sort of looking at where I am in the music, so a quick look down is never an issue.

Having said that, I'll try to pay attention during practice later today and see if my sense of this is accurate.


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Further to my comment above: if I'm not using a score I tend to watch the right hand more than the left if the 'melody' is in the right hand unless there are some leaps in the left hand, and but if the left hand has the 'melody' (or is perhaps 'leading') than I watch it more than the right. Not really thought much about this before, tbh. Interesting.

Last edited by petebfrance; 08/01/20 09:26 AM.

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Just to add further to my comments. I found that I am not just right hand dominant, but had became increasingly right side dominant and over the years - I am 78 - this had had a deleterious effect on my whole body and posture. Having realised that I have, over the course of the past year, taken steps to overcome this. Result, much improved posture, and the back pain which the osteopaths, chiropractors, physios, etc., had attributed to a pelvis problem, has completely disappeared. Also helps with playing the piano as able to play for as long as I like. And getting back to the left hand problems, for the first 60 years I always sight read so never really looked at my hands. Then trying to memorise I became aware of this mismatch between the hands and now spend a lot of time with specific left hand practice.


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Assuming I'm playing from memory and not looking at the score, my eyes are generally on where the hands are going, slightly in advance of their going there - as for right vs. left hand, it depends which hand has to travel the greatest distance.

Last edited by Hank Drake; 08/01/20 10:46 AM.

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Normally I spend more time looking at the L unless there is a big jump or chord coming on the R.

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If I'm honest, I tend to just see a blur of hands. I switch repeatedly between L & R. I suppose it depends entirley on whats happening at that particular point in the piece. I think it also depends on how well memorised the piece is. For instance, Chopins op64 no.1. When I first started it I'd constantly be "checking" my LH for accuracy in chord placement. Now, I just let it go on it's spectacular rampage during certain parts.

Perhaps our focus changes on each hand as the piece evolves in our minds?


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As bennevis said: whichever hand needs looking at (like big leaps).

A lot of the time I don't watch my hands because they distract me and then my memory fails.
Edited to add: So I'm actually trying to work on that... paying better attention to what I do.

Last edited by coaster; 08/01/20 05:34 PM.

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I think I tend to look at the keyboard for orientation, and not my hands themselves. If it's easy to feel my way around the piece, and I don't need to look at all, I'm probably more likely to look towards the left.

Last edited by johnstaf; 08/01/20 06:10 PM.
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
I think I tend to look at the keyboard for orientation, and not my hands themselves. If it's easy to feel my way around the piece, and I don't need to look at all, I'm probably more likely to look towards the left.


That's probably a much better way to describe what I do (although I do close my eyes a lot.)


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With arpeggios, I always look at my right hand when descending, which is a bit unfortunate as it’s the left hand that always fails. If I look at my left hand, things get even worse. smile


Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.
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