Is it OK to look at your hands while playing piano?

This week, someone asked me on the KeyboardImprov YouTube channel about looking at the keys while they played piano. They said they had trouble playing ragtime and music with an active left hand part without looking at their hands and they keys, and they asked for my advice.

Here’s what I replied:

It’s OK to look at the keys when you’re playing. Piano teachers tell their students, particularly beginning students, not to look at the notes so they become able to read music without constantly looking down. But when playing without sheet music, the truth is that everyone looks at the notes. Even Horowitz. After all, where else would we look! When I play stride, I tend to look at my LH more than my RH.

The bottom line is this:

Have fun while you play piano. It really doesn’t matter if you look at your keys or not, especially if it makes you feel a little “inadequate” as a pianist or “not good enough.” Yes, you can practice looking away from the keys to get a more tactile sense of where you are on the keyboard, but too many pianists become discouraged because they hear something some once told them and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives.

It’s OK to look at your hands while playing piano. Just don’t be tied to looking at them.

Above all, enjoy the journey and “let the music flow!”

Learn the 5 Essential Left Hand Techniques with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration

Leave a Comment

Sign up for Blog Updates