Piano Lessons – To Read or Not Read Music During A Performance
It’s the day after a student music recital and my brain always seams to run a mile a minute after I see a concert. So many things come to mind, which is why it’s always a great idea to video all student performances. At yesterday’s performances I couldn’t stop thinking about reading music vs. playing without music.
How Playing Without Music Affects a Performance
It’s safe to say that our goal for students who are taking beginners Piano Lessons is to play without music. It’s also safe to say that depending on where a students’ progress is wile learning a piece of music, and the specific scope of a recital, it’s totally acceptable for a student to use music during a performance. At yesterday’s performance, students did a fine job both reading and playing without music. What got my brain going was that I couldn’t help wanting a little more out of the students who played well but used their music. It’s this specific group that I wanted to take the next step.
To Read Music or Not to Read Music, that is the question.
Playing without the music during piano lessons for kids is not something that comes natural to every student. It’s also not always an indication of how well a student is doing or how often a private music student is practicing. It should be something a piano teacher and student work on during lessons, but in some cases the subject doesn’t seam pressing until recital time.
Memorizing is a Bad Word
I always taught my students that Memorizing was a bad word. In a strict sense private music teachers don’t want students to memorize a piece of music. Instead we’d rather them know the music without having to read it to play the music. There is a difference, and in that difference is the reason some students have a difficult time playing without the music. If you try to hard to play without music you are most likely trying to memorize your piano music.
Trying to Memorize
If you try to memorize piano music, or any music for that matter, it can create stress within a student. There is a way to learn to play without music. A lot of students have unfortunately been subject to a teacher saying, “I want you to memorize, this piece for next week” as they walk out the door.
Let’s Not Split Hairs
In the less strict sense of the word many teachers can find themselves using the word memorization in a generic sense, and therefore don’t be alarmed if you hear it during your students lesson.
How to Play Without using Music
The short answer for the purpose of this blog, is to have your students sing or think about, a section at a time, what the music sounds like. Then, have your student try to play what they sung, heard, or thought about. It’s that simple. If a student can sing, or hear the section in their head, they will be able to play without using sheet music. If they cannot hear the music or sing it, a piano lesson student will not be able to play without music but a good teacher will then use other techniques and yes, the preceding means there is a new “reading music” blog post on the way.
Benefits and Freedom, To-do’s Whether you are Reading or Playing Without Music
The best part of playing without using music is Freedom, a piano student can feel free and liberated to know they can just sit down and go for it. Playing without music is the beginning of developing a repertoire.
Expression – The Essence of Being a Musician
To express yourself is what being a musician is all about and the reason we take Piano Lessons. Playing without music can greatly let the performer express themselves by freeing them from keeping track of where they are and turning their attention to how they are expressing what they are playing.
Listening to Piano Music
When you’re free from reading as you play, you’ll notice you can listen to what your playing in a new way. Listening to and evaluation of your own playing is a powerful step to musical independence and maturity. This self-construction is what professionals draw on all the time.
Now it’s your turn, go to the piano! Can you play without using your music?
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