Take the 2-minute tour ×
Music: Practice & Theory Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This seems like such a silly question, but! When playing the piano, I sometimes struggle to turn the pages of my music without noticeably sacrificing the sound of the piece or making the book / sheets fall. For a complicated piece where there isn't a break in one hand that would allow raising a hand to turn the page, is there a trick I can use to quickly flip the page of music and keep the music going?

share|improve this question
26  
You mean other than cajoling somebody into being your page-turner? :-) –  Lennart Regebro Apr 26 '11 at 19:09
10  
@LennartRegebro, I just don't understand it, people don't find that exciting! –  Rebecca Chernoff Apr 26 '11 at 19:19
1  
The other problem is turning the page quietly. I have "turn page QUIETLY" written on some of my music... –  8128 Apr 26 '11 at 19:27
5  
Now that tablets and flat screens are becoming common, there is no reason not to use them to display music on a piano. Several piano builders and providers are already proposing systems (a bit too proprietary and expensive, but it should improve in the future). We could make this a community project for on open source music score display, for instance with a soft button close to the keys for turning pages. –  ogerard Apr 26 '11 at 19:49
2  
What if your page turning system involves planned page falling? It's probably not great for the stage, but I'll have my sheet music as separate sheets and kinda just flick them off the stand as I go. –  bearcdp Apr 28 '11 at 5:28

16 Answers 16

up vote 27 down vote accepted

One of the tricks you can use is one I have learned watching Gustav Leonhardt in concert. For difficult page turns, he uses a little copy of the start of the next page that he pastes on the side of the preceding right page as a flip.

Not only is it easier on his memory but it allows to grab the page quickly and turn it efficiently. Now that scanners and printers exist, this is really easy to do. Leonhardt often copied the parts by hand (which is not bad for memory).

A related thing you can do is to copy the right and left side and putting them in front of you at the same time when studying the passage. It will flow better in general, you will be less dependent of the precise moment you do the page turns, when you use the original score (which is usually required in concert for copyright reasons).

share|improve this answer
1  
Copying the following page is a good solution, although it was frowned upon in my former music school. More than frowned upon actually, it was strictly forbidden (copyright laws taken to their edge). –  Gauthier Apr 26 '11 at 20:00
1  
French law strongly protects copy for private use. If you own the original you have the right to make a partial copy for your own use, for instance for taking notes and fingerings without defacing the original. You only have to keep the original with you so that you can prove your good faith. –  ogerard Apr 26 '11 at 20:09
    
agreed. I did not make the rules at the school. There was no discussing them :) –  Gauthier Apr 26 '11 at 20:14
1  
You can buy two copies and cut out all the pages. No law stops you from doing that. –  Mark Lutton Apr 27 '11 at 4:48
9  
@Mark Lutton: yes, but your wallet can :-). –  ogerard Apr 30 '11 at 11:24

You can just photocopy/print everything onto a single large DINA3 page. That's not sufficient for sight-reading, but by the time you are playing the music before an audience, you need the score as a visual pattern-based reminder of what you are playing more or less by heart anyway.

Which means that you really need to scan/copy from the score you have been learning from. Creating a somewhat superior version by typing everything into a notation program and printing to that size with different layout and line breaks will not really work for the visual cue thing.

share|improve this answer

For more flexible page turning, copy some bars from the next page to the end of a page or copy the last bars of a page to the next page. Although it is forbidden to copy music scores by law, in some countries (e.g. Germany) it is explicitly allowed to copy some bars for page turning optimzations while there are just a very few exeptions to this law!

share|improve this answer

There are iPad apps that help page turning with either a foot pedal or even better a camera watching your head for a page turn movement. Have a look at e.g. piaScore app that has these capabilities.

share|improve this answer

There are so many great suggestions above, but a particularity I've found isn't always immediately obvious:

If you're having trouble turning pages, you need to practice turning pages.

Just like any other difficulty with a piece, you take a line or so before the difficulty, and practice through to a line or so afterwards. Spend some time figuring out if you need to simplify some part of the piece. Try memorizing a section before or after the page flip, and it can help you get to a part of the piece where it is easier to spare a hand for a moment. This might come in handy even if you have a page-turner, to give you the moment to nod for the page flip!

share|improve this answer

If you can try to memorize the part of when you have to turn the page then you will be able to but I would still practice the part of the song when you do.

share|improve this answer

Spend some time with the piece and memorize the next chord, for all of the page turns; that way, you can have your left hand or right hand on the piano keys and automatically find the next notes as you take a second to turn the page.

Also, practice turning the pages beforehand. You can fold the corner of the page up a little bit, for easier gripping and you can even place tabs on your music (like post it tabs, etc from Staples).

The easiest "trick" is to simply memorize the next note and be able to play that note while turning the page.

share|improve this answer

My piano teacher sometimes uses his iPad in place of sheet music -- all he had to do was swipe the screen to turn a page.

Of course, this only works if you can find an electronic version of the music you're playing (although I suppose you could always scan your music and convert it into a pdf).

share|improve this answer
    
I like this. An idea for app development would be to have midi-enabled file as source, and use sound recognition to turn the sheets automatically as you play. –  awe Oct 18 '13 at 9:21

I get to know a piece well, then rewrite it onto one page or two using my own peculiar notations. Once I know the piece, I just need reminders of what to play. The actual notes are memorized by my fingers, so to speak. While learning the piece, page turning is a problem, sure, but there's no audience to be bothered by ugly breaks in the music.

share|improve this answer
2  
example, please?! –  luser droog Feb 13 '12 at 21:49

I've had my fair share of awkward page turns over the years, and there's a few things I've picked up that really do help:

  • Fold the bottom page corner over slightly; it'll make it a little bit easier to grab the page smoothly (and avoid catching any pages behind it, which tends to be what makes most of the noise).
  • Try to make sure you can play the first 2 or 3 bars on the next page from memory; it means you can be a little less violent about doing the turn, since you've got a little bit of time to do it in. Alternatively, if you can find some space in the piece a few (4 or 5) bars back, learn those few bars and do the page turn much earlier. Just be careful not to lose your place doing this - I've always found it harder to recover from doing it this way round for some reason.
  • Depending on what genre you're playing (jazz is usually a safe one for this), you can sometimes make small tweaks to what one of your hands is playing (usually the left) if you can't find anywhere to do the turn. Also, don't be afraid to use the sustain pedal for a couple of beats to keep the sound going (you could use the sostenuto pedal, although be aware that you might not always be using a piano that has one). Just be careful not to make the sound too 'muddy' doing this.
  • If you're playing in an ensemble of some form, try to listen to what the other instruments are playing. If you're playing in a group with a bass player, you can sometimes let him/her carry the bassline while you use your left hand to do the page turn.
  • Finally, if you're playing with lots of loose sheets, it might work to tape them together into a single long sheet.
share|improve this answer

Every pianist I know photocopies and hole punches the sheet music to go into a 1" black binder. This also allows them the luxury of unfolding taped pages so they can play until a break before needing a page turn, but the use of a binder alone should make it easier to grasp and cleanly turn a page compared to a bound paperback or folded free sheet music.

Of course, the pianists I know would all memorize their solo literature and acquire a page-turner if accompanying an instrumental soloist--and then there is the questionable legality of photocopying for that purpose, but anyway that's the perspective I'm familiar with: Memorize, if not: page turner, if not: minimize page turns with taped photocopies, and/or: photocopies in black 3-ring.

share|improve this answer
1  
plastic sleeves make it easy to turn a page, because simple friction will do it. –  Benoit Apr 29 '11 at 6:48
    
Why black specifically? –  msh210 May 10 '11 at 16:47
1  
@msh210 It matches with the piano, and other colors would likely be seen as silly by those with design taste (myself not necessarily included). –  NReilingh May 10 '11 at 17:24
3  
@Benoit plastic sleeves are great for the friction problem, but beware glare from unfortunately-placed lights. Get the sleeves with the matt finish to mitigate this. –  Monica Cellio Feb 14 '12 at 15:57
1  
@XTL, Monica - I never liked the matte finish sleeves--they would be blurry unless they were smooth against the sheet, and they -do- still reflect light, just not directly. –  NReilingh Mar 7 '12 at 23:54

My method

  1. Copy the sheet music to separate sheets and lay them out side by side.
  2. If they don't fit, memorize the easy pages until you can discard them.
  3. Eventually memorize the whole song and become more impressive to watch. (this one can wait)
share|improve this answer
3  
3. ... (this one can wait) with that username? –  11684 Nov 3 '12 at 18:48

A pianist I used to work with would never actually grab the pages she was turning. She would just rely on the friction of her fingers between the front face of the page and swipe the page across. It was a very fast, efficient, and somewhat violent movement. I would not recommend this on any score with a weak binding or easily torn pages.

Disclaimer: I've never managed to do this myself.....she had some special way of folding the sheets of her music so that they wouldn't clump together.

share|improve this answer
3  
Apart from memorization, all other techniques require you to turn the page sooner or later. And this is by far the fastest technique, I would like to add some tips: Loosen the pages by quickly flipping through all pages prior to the performance, just like you would do before inserting paper into your printer. Practice the above technique slowly at first, just try to flip the page by applying a light pressure on top of the paper and moving it to the left while applying less pressure (more fluent motion). Using a small bit of saliva can help too... –  Tom Wijsman May 9 '11 at 16:35
1  
As a Bach pianist (a good amount of his music has no one-hand breaks to allow for easy page turning), I too use this technique. I photocopy the pages into a heavy ring binder, and use hole reinforcements right off the bat so I can violently swipe the pages across in a fraction of a second without worrying about them tearing off. –  Lotus Notes May 16 '11 at 18:05

Little Post-It notes as tabs sticking out from the edge of the page. Line them up from top to bottom and it's easy to grab the top one and turn the page.

Another trick with a bad page-turn is to take a pair of scissors and cut horizontally across the middle of the page, like a Dutch door. Then you can turn the top half first and the bottom half later.

share|improve this answer

For a high tech solution, there's the Freehand Systems MusicPad Pro Plus. It's an LCD tablet that stores and displays sheet music while letting you turn pages with a foot pedal.

Most likely overkill for most people though.

Me, I just print out / photocopy the sheet music and tape the pages together so I can spread them out four pages wide. A 6-page-long piece now requires only one page turn, 8 pages, two turns, etc...

share|improve this answer
5  
Taping sheets together like this usually just results in me trying to turn it too quickly and sending the entire chain of pages to the floor. (; –  Rebecca Chernoff Apr 26 '11 at 19:58

In general I find that I am slowed by grabbing the page, not by the actual turning. You could bend the corners of the pages forward so that it's easier to grab quickly, or use those sticky flags on the pages, or something like that.

As for turning pages where there's no break for one hand, you need to memorize the music. You can memorize all of it and discard the sheet music1, or memorize the last few bars after you did have a break, or memorize the first few bars of the next page before a break.

1: In a performance you should probably keep the sheet music even if you're not paying attention to it, so that if you suddenly go blank you can just glance up.

share|improve this answer
    
Some songs don't have a break at all! I agree with keeping the sheet music there in an emergency, but it still needs to be turned to keep up as the piece progresses. –  Rebecca Chernoff Apr 26 '11 at 19:17
1  
With the right setup, you could probably turn the pages with your teeth :P but barring that if there are no breaks at all you either need someone else or to give up. Or some sort of machine, I'm sure someone's made one. –  Matthew Read Apr 26 '11 at 19:19
1  
Also note that at the college level and above, all solo performances are always memorized. I have never seen a soloist have a score near in case they forget. –  mjibson Apr 4 '12 at 17:47
    
@mjibson Yes, that's fair. My advice at the end was actually given to me by a teacher when I was much younger, and I didn't really follow it :P –  Matthew Read Apr 4 '12 at 19:08

protected by NReilingh Nov 3 '12 at 3:40

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.