You may wonder how to play the piano without looking at the keys.
Because let’s be honest, you tend to have your nose on the keys when you play, right? I mean not literally, but you keep looking at the keyboard to know where to put your fingers, right?
It seems scary to start looking away. What if you hit the wrong key? What if you get lost in the middle of a song?
I understand that. But you may want to cultivate this.
This is something that can help you gain more confidence, feel more free when you play. Even if you are a beginner. It is reserved for advanced players.
But why should you do that, what benefits will you get, and how do you this magic trick?
That’s what I want to discuss in this article.
Why is it helpful to play the piano without looking at the keys?
Have you ever looked for a recipe on a blog?
I do this almost every week.
WIth my wife, we like to try to cook new meals or cake every weekend.
But when I search for a recipe online and I often find myself in a jungle. What I mean is that I land on a food blog where I have to search for a word between all the ads!
I mean, it is like trying to walk in a dense forest without being hurt by a branch. They come from everywhere, pop-ups, videos…
I hate that.
And I quickly go back and choose another website.
My aim is to cook something and with all these ads I get lost.
What this has to do with playing the piano?
I’ll get to it now.
You see, too much information just blur your attention and you lose focus.
When you look at your fingers and the keys while you play, you try to get too much information at once. And you lose focus on what to play and how to play it.
When you play the piano without looking at what your fingers do, you start to feel free. You are in control.
What are the benefits to play the piano without looking at the keys
1. Focus on what to play
First, you will be able to look at the music sheet or the lead sheet of the song. It will help you to know what to play next. This can be reassuring if you are in a stressful situation such as an audition or a live performance.
But even during a regular practice session on the piano, you will be able to learn it more easily.
2. Get more confident on the piano
Second, you will get more confident on your keyboard. Like when you type on a computer. It is easier and faster to type if you don’t look at the keys for each letter you type.
The same on the piano. You will integrate physically the layout of the piano keyboard.
3. Be present during a live performance
If you play in front of an audience, you can even interact with them, which they will enjoy for sure!
4. Let the music play!
If you look away, you can let your brain and your fingers work in auto-mode and focus on the musicality. Play with more dynamics, some rhythmic change. Express better the emotion of the song.
You will become a better musician.
How to play the piano without looking at the keys
He could enjoy the flowers if he didn’t look at the keys!
That’s quite simple, although not easy.
Just don’t look at your keyboard.
“Thanks for the advice, I could have guessed by myself!”
OK, fair enough!
I need to give you a bit more than that.
You can do a few exercises to start with. See them as little piano games if you wish.
1. Find where the middle-C is without looking.
Sit in front of your keyboard.
Then, with your right hand try to press the middle-C key with your thumb while closing your eyes or looking away.
Have a quick glance to check if it is the right key and start over if you need.
Do this a few times. You may struggle a bit a first but you will get there.
With your left hand, you want to find the C key below (C3) and press it with the pinky.
You can also try with both hands at the same time.
2. Find the G
With your right thumb and left pinky on the C keys, try to play the upper G with the top finger of each hand.
They should be already almost at the right position if you have a good posture.
3. Play scales
There isn’t much to say to this one. Start playing your scales on one octave without looking. Then push to two octaves. When you feel confident, you can travel on the whole keyboard if you wish!
4. Play a piano piece (or a part of it)
But when you know the whole song, you can start practicing without looking down to your fingers. During each session on the piano, play it at least once without looking. If you get lost at some point, try to find the right position just by feeling where your hands and your fingers are.
At worst, you can have a look to place your fingers back and continue to play.
Little by little you will be able to play the whole song without looking at the keys.
5. Learn a new piano piece
It will be challenging to play the piano without looking when you are learning a new piece. But you can try at least for a few minutes. The idea is to get used to it.
At some point, you will be able to learn longer parts without looking at the keys and you will feel that freedom!
This goes with getting better at sight-reading if you use music sheets. But it also applies to lead sheets (chords and lyrics). You will be soon able to show off your skill at the next party when someone asks you to play a song you never played before. Grab your phone, find the chords, and start playing right away while looking at the lyrics to be in sync.
(I suggest having a look to guitar tabs, they will give you the chords of many songs)
I believe that if you train yourself to play the piano without looking at the keys, you will get the benefits I listed above.
The best one in my opinion is this feeling of freedom that you will experience. Not being controlled by the piano, by taking control of it!
It requires a bit more work, but you don’t grow any skill if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t manage to do it. It is ok.
Take your time, try it for short piano pieces that you already know very well. Even only a part of a song.
It will become easier and a new habit you will cultivate during your practice.