Looking down at our hands as we play breaks the continuity of reading, prevents us from looking ahead, and undermines concentration. Yet for many piano students, even some who have played for years, it is a frequent temptation.
Imagine you’re seated at your piano with sheet music. But as soon as you begin to play the first note in a measure, the entire measure is erased from the score. You’re forced to play what notes you remember and move on, whether you’ve made mistakes or not. This persistent score-eraser chases you until you finish the piece.
Fellow Stumblers: I suspect there are no quick answers to sight-reading classical piano music and perhaps also no magical moment where sight-reading just happens (though I sometimes dream there is). I do know that it does gradually get better.
My piano teacher said something useful (she often does). She said, “I don’t pay any attention to black or white notes, because they are all the same.”
During my first year of adult piano lessons, my piano teacher Stephen had the temerity to suggest that I study the score away from the piano.