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loosing my eyes

Posted By: Aurel

loosing my eyes - 01/15/13 09:50 PM

Hello everyone!
My name is Aurel, I'm a 37 years old and I'm from Romania.
I have an incurable congenital eye disease called Nystagmus. This is important because in most cases after 30-40 years the disease is getting worst quickly and dramatically until complete loosing of view. This is happening to me now.
When I observed that things are getting wrong, I started to achieve one of my old dreams: playing the piano. I am practicing now for six months, but is harder and harder. My reading capacity is worst every day.
I wrote here to ask your advice. Please tell me, what to do to accelerate the studying process? What to learn first 'till I can see? How to learn? I'll be thankful for ANY piece of advice.

Best regards,

Posted By: mr_super-hunky

Re: loosing my eyes - 01/15/13 10:11 PM

Aurel, I'm sorry to hear of your sight challenges. My vision is not great either but it does not effect my playing much because I use my fingers to 'feel' where I am at at all times.

I purposely have played piano in the dark (or dimly lit room) ever since I started playing just to force myself to learn to feel my location on the keys as opposed to looking at them.

I don't feel that looking at the keys when you play is a form of cheating as who cares how you come up with the beautiful melodies so long as you can produce them. The only thing is I realized early on that not using your other senses (as in 'touch') is the same thing as not using all the tools that are available to you.

The combo of touch and sight (taste, & smell don't apply) when playing a tune along with audible feedback and adjustments when playing the tune is your most powerful approach.

If I were to teach piano playing, I would absolutely....(NO exceptions) require my students to spend some time learning to play simple tunes in the dark. Forget the "I won't look at my hands" thing.....DARK! (because you can't cheat).

It will amaze you on how fast you will learn this skill. It just takes constant practice over time but if you do this it WILL naturally come and it will be so worth it.

Best of luck to you with your sight situation but remember that playing in the dark does not take 'luck' but rather just some daily practice.
Posted By: Charles Cohen

Re: loosing my eyes - 01/15/13 10:15 PM

Aurel --

I am sorry to hear about your illness.

If you Google:

. . . Braille music scores

you will find several libraries that supply Braille ("touch-reading") music for study. You will have to learn Braille music notation, but you _can_ continue to study piano.

One such library (in the UK) is:


A list of Braille books, and music sources is here:


. Charles

Posted By: ChopinAddict

Re: losing my eyes - 01/15/13 10:32 PM

I am sorry about your illness... frown I hope the piano will indeed give you a lot of joy and comfort.
I agree with Charles; try to get familiar with Braille.
Good luck!
Posted By: Aurel

Re: losing my eyes - 01/15/13 10:57 PM

Thanks for your quick replies!
Mr Super-Hunky's advice seems to be a very useful and interesting challenge. I tried it for a few minutes... I will surely practice this way!
Of course, I know, the Braille reading will be my only chance in time and I have to be familiar with it, but I'd like to push this moment toward the future. It's a kind of "psychological stuff"... I like to feel myself "normal"... yet...
Posted By: wayne33yrs

Re: losing my eyes - 01/15/13 11:06 PM

God bless you Aurel, I am confident he will bless you to see better than ever before! Never doubt it! Keep the faith brother smile
Posted By: Aurel

Re: losing my eyes - 01/15/13 11:11 PM

Thank you!
God bless you too!
Hope you'll be right...

All the best!
Posted By: FarmGirl

Re: losing my eyes - 01/15/13 11:12 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your eyes.
Once I read how a blind pianist Nobuyuli Tsujii learned piano music. He did a little bit of Braille but due to the limited supply of the piano music in braille, he developed a method relying on hearing. Let me dare to summarize them here.
1) learn to play with the touch as Mr S/H mentioned above.
2) sharpen your ears. You need to know what half step/whole step sounds like. All the intervals. And then various chord. You can get free ear training materials on the web. Then you can proceed to 3.
3) find someone to record the piece for each hand separately and together. So you will have 3 recording per a piece. The person who plays the music has to be somewhat good since you are going to ask him/ her to play it with dynamics and articulation. Start from simple piece. Try to reproduce the sound on the piano one hand at a time. Then put it together. Good luck
Posted By: Aurel

Re: losing my eyes - 01/15/13 11:37 PM

Thanks for your advice!
I surely keep them on mind!
Nobuyuli Tsujii is a super talented pianist... I never hope to be so good.
I tried some ear training exercises in the past, but were not easy at all for me. smile I'll keep on practicing them.
Thank you again FarmGirl!
Posted By: outo

Re: losing my eyes - 01/16/13 04:31 AM

I think it would be good to learn to read music now and try to learn as many pieces as possible. You would at the same time learn to recognize patterns and chords in music. After your sight gets worse and you may not be able to read anymore I would expect your hearing to get more senstive (This happens usually when one sense disappears, the brain adjusts and the others get better). Then you'll get better in playing by ear, but if you already know many pieces and structures in music it will help you.

I am sorry about your sight, but remember, there are countless of great blind pianists, so surely it won't stop you!
Posted By: JessicaB

Re: losing my eyes - 01/16/13 05:05 AM

Just a thought, but could you seek out a teacher with impaired vision or who has suffered a degeneration in vision. Sometimes it helps not to have to reblaze a path.
Posted By: Wuffski

Re: losing my eyes - 01/16/13 08:47 AM

Take your time now(!) to search for the full repertoire you are interested in. Build up a list with 100 to 150 pieces. This might be the amount what an adult beginner can learn to beautifully play in its life, and is enough to play each day of the month 5 or 6 of the pieces for yourself in your personal recital at home. After a month it is already time to start from the beginning, to not forget things, or?

But it needs time to find and decide on the pieces for your list! Now that your eyes still support you, it will be easier for you to succeed in building up such proper list for you, because you might need to quickly screen, that your list is not containing pieces which would need your hands to ‘jump’ over large distances on the keyboard! I would imagine for playing blind, that it will be very helpful to stay with pieces, which, if spanning over many octaves, let you cover this just by proper finger technique (progressing from key to neighbored keys), but not by requiring ‘jumps’ of a hand.
Listen and select according to your ear´s preference, then invest enough time to screen the sheets for such unwanted jumps and optimize your list. Once having your list together, you can calm down and enjoy learning to play piano without a hurry, because you know already to have some nice repertoire selection which will please you well.
You have to invest much time and money for the sheets now, though. You might not be in the position like others, to little by little get things together. Of course, you can and will also do this, put you will not be in need for it so much anymore! Once having your sheets, or at least a very detailed list of the names of ‘your’ pieces (Composer, Opus, No, Title, Key, CD/MP3, whatever), you in future can ask for help, that somebody teaches you ‘your’ music by ear.

You also might want to invest money now, for putting up a nice collection of piano music CDs, or MP3?

Just my thoughts about your piano situation.
Wishing you all the best!
Posted By: Jeff Clef

Re: losing my eyes - 01/16/13 12:02 PM

Here's wishing you the very best with this, Aurel.

I did the Wiki look-up, to learn a bit more. The hopeful side is, that it appears to be a condition which has some ongoing research, so maybe a way will be found to help. I don't know if using strategies such as photocopying scores at a larger and easier-to-see size, or using a brighter reading light, would be of any help. Some scores are available as MIDI files, which might enable you to play them at a slower tempo (or to divide them into hands-separate or voices-separate segments), to make them easier to learn by ear and by touch.

The brain adapts; when vision is impaired, it acquires greater facility in using cues from sound, touch, smell, memory. There are schools for adults who have become blind, which help people to acquire these skills, and even though you are not blind, their programs may be able to help you--- at least, I'm sure they know of things that the rest of us do not.

There have been many musicians--- some of them great ones--- with visual impairments. There is reason to hope that you may be able to go a long way toward realizing your lifelong dream. Lots of us find ways to fulfill our dreams in ways we would never have guessed.

Good luck to you.
Posted By: mabraman

Re: losing my eyes - 01/16/13 04:59 PM

Aurel you will always be "normal". And your ear and hands will become more sensitive each day. But, if it is so clear that in some future you'll lose your vision to the point of not being able to read...why not to begin with braylle right now? Though I understand that it can be emotionally tough, it might be a clever decision, too.

Good luck!
Posted By: Scout

Re: loosing my eyes - 01/16/13 10:06 PM

Aurel, I too am very sorry for what you are going through, and think you have been given some great advice here. I have no new advice but wanted to tell you this: Years ago, worried that something someday might stop me from playing the piano, I memorized a Bach prelude with my eyes closed--never looking at the keyboard, music, or my hands, whenever playing it. Later I also practiced learning some piano music by listening to a tape over and over, bit by tiny bit. Both of these endeavors, which were not easy for me, gave me strength and confidence. And so they were exhilarating.

It is really wonderful that you have taken up piano! You are an inspiration, and I'm sure it will give you many years of learning and pleasure.
Posted By: adultpianist

Re: loosing my eyes - 01/16/13 10:32 PM

Sorry about your eyes. Stevie Wonder is a great example of someone who plays well and cannot see.
Posted By: Aurel

Re: loosing my eyes - 01/17/13 02:35 AM

Thanks again for everyone!
I already cannot read well from paper so i scan the sheets to PC, zoom them in and practice.
In other hand, I like classical music but I like more blues, "light" rock and some popular jazz music. So I believe that some playing by ear techniques will help me more.
In these days I learn as much music theory as I can... maybe will help me in the future.
But, the worst thing is... time. Maybe you can imagine that my life is a hurry to do as many things as I can not just in music but work, family, around the house....

Thanks again for your advice and wishes.
Wish you all the best!

Posted By: Jeff Clef

Re: loosing my eyes - 01/17/13 03:15 PM

"...Maybe you can imagine that my life is a hurry to do as many things as I can..."

One of the great truths of life--- and the subject of life's greatest denial, for most people--- your understanding of this is, in a way, a very great advantage... though dearly bought.
Posted By: leokatero

Re: loosing my eyes - 01/18/13 02:31 AM

It will amaze you on how fast you will learn this skill.
Posted By: Nicholas Mihaila

Re: loosing my eyes - 01/18/13 08:17 AM

Your reading ability will definitely be impaired, but luckily playing the piano—at least once you've reached a certain level—depends more on feeling than seeing. If you don't already, I'd start practicing without looking at your hands (although you may be doing this already, as I know you mentioned reading).
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