I've learned some pieces by myself. When I first learn a new piece, I look at each bar carefully, then I can just remember the notes after a few repetitions. Once I can play through it, I just repeat by memory, rarely looking at the score again. So far my memory has served me well.

I noticed some comments in another recent thread that tells the op that playing the piano while looking at the keys is the wrong way to learn piano.

I'm talking more about being able to look at the score while playing, versus simply playing without looking at the keys (e.g. keeping your eyes closed). In other words, doing two things at the same time

So question: Should I begin to try this on the pieces I've already memorized, or only with my next brand new piece?

  • 1
    I found that my reading ability was helped more by following "difficult" music-scores with LP / cassette (no guessing my age!) than "official music practice"
    – Rusi
    Jan 30, 2022 at 3:38

2 Answers 2


Both are valuable, and they reinforce each other.

Pieces already memorized

Since your hands and ears already know the feel and sound of the music, it makes it easier to associate the experience with what you're taking in visually. This also allows for the possibility of playing music that might otherwise be too difficult to read fluently.

"Reading" music you've already memorized helps develop the visual part of reading.

Brand new pieces

With brand new pieces it's important to start very, very simple. In general, learning visual cues is faster than associating those cues with physical or auditory experience. That is, recognizing by sight that two notes are a third apart is easier than developing the feeling of a third in one's hand or the sound in one's ear. This isn't true of everyone, and might not be true of you, but it's the most common situation.

Playing the simplest pieces lets you develop the association between what you see, what it sounds like, and how to move to play it without undo complexity. If one also have to contend with complex rhythms, intricate technique, or other musical factors, there's not enough room in one's mind to take everything in and play it at sight.

"Easy music", for me, means easy enough to play the entire at or near performance level after, at most, three readings. Reading 1 gives the basic idea of the music; Reading 2 allows for integrating the things noticed but not executed during Reading 1, and by Reading 3, "real" music is being produced (within the musical limits imposed by the simplicity of the music).

Brand new pieces develop the kinetic/tactile/auditory part of reading music.

  • If I do sight reading for a brand new piece, the fingering I will use would be different from what I would use if I had gone through the piece and marked the preferred fingering, since by sight reading I can't tell in advance the next few notes in order to choose the best fingering. And if I sight read more than once, I'll likely have a different set of fingering each time. So it seems beside the sight reading to train the eyes and finger correspondence, one still needs to go through the whole piece marking a preferred fingering for lasting memory? Aug 8, 2022 at 18:39
  • 1
    @GrandAdagio Part of my definition for "easy music" would include being easy enough to use accurate fingering at sight. What I call "reading 1", "reading 2", and "reading 3" above, when dealing with a less easy piece, become "phase 1", "phase 2", and "phase 3", each potentially involving multiple readings of the piece. Fingering would be worked out as part of "phase 2" as part of playing the piece rather than a separate operation.
    – Aaron
    Aug 8, 2022 at 19:05
  • Thanks, appreciate your quick reply. May try it on some Clementi sontatina pieces which I just started to learn. Aug 8, 2022 at 19:19

The real ability you need for that is the ability or muscle memory to know exactly how you’d need to move to get from one thing to the other. For this doing new pieces is implicitely beneficial as these will force you to look at the score and might have transitions you never had before.

But what I’d suggest for practice is to start practicing the two hands separately. Try to play while doing other things and stuff, until you do not concentrate on where the keys are anymore. Then you can start practicing with both hands.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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