The act of tuning and the piano sight reading process


Piano Sight Reading – It is common among amateurs to forget that playing the piano implies tuning properly. It is the same as playing any other string instrument or even singing. The muscle management that arises from the relationship we build between the sounds we are abstracting and the ones coming from the instrument itself is the most important element to strengthen if we want to substantially improve our sight-reading skills. This level of muscular and space awareness is fundamental in order to emancipate our eyes from the task of checking the keys we are playing.

It is paramount for the development of a successful sight reading mechanism to clearly assign one sense to each one of the tasks involved in the process. Specialization takes an important role in this triple sided procedure which revolves around the ability to abstract sounds out from the score. The most common mistake amongst pianists is to believe the sight reading is about locating keys in the keyboard in accordance to coordinates extracted from the score. Actually that path is the one which leads to a very limited skill development, signed by the strong boundaries derived from the fact that they are only so many things we can manage through our sense of vision… On the contrary the process should only start from our eyes -which learn from the score about the sound of the piece-, flow into our ears -using our sense of pitch-, and end on our sense of touch -which perform the notes through coordinating the pitch variations with specific finger and hand movements-.

Making this mechanism as fluent as possible depends on consolidating a group of quick and automated responses through well directed practicing. Passive learning helped by regular stimulation performs wonders on our nervous system and lead us to see results much sooner than what we expect. With my students I focus on analyzing how they experience the tuning phenomenon at a particular level. From there we can work together on forging a strong relationship between music and performance that is then based on their personal approach rather than on a stiff generic method.

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