Which Hand to Watch?

Question: I’ve been a guitarist for 30+ years and have always watched my left hand, and rarely my right. And now that I am learning/practicing the major and relative minor scales on piano, I find it easier to watch my left hand when playing the scales with both hands in unison. When I try watching the right hand, the left seems to make more mistakes, thus I feel a bit more disoriented in doing so.

Is this just a form of habit, or do pianists simply pick and choose which hand is most comfortable to watch?

– Richard (North Carolina, USA)

Albert’s reply: In this case, you should do whatever is least comfortable. First, since you’re having a difficult time with it, train yourself to look at your right hand when practicing scales.

Second, and most importantly, learn all your scales with your eyes closed. It will be very difficult at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Once you free your eyes from the keyboard, you’ll discover a new world of freedom, and you’ll be far more secure.

In fact, you might even discover that you play better with your eyes closed. The reason is that, with one sensory modality taken out of the equation, the brain is free to concentrate more on the sounds you’re producing.

As an experiment, try simply speaking a phrase out loud, first with your eyes open, then closed. I’m willing to bet you’ll discover that you heard significantly more detail with your eyes closed! The same applies to music.

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