Should You Look At The Keys When Playing Piano?

looking at piano keys

Whether to focus on the score or the keys is individual preference. You can come across professionals who still naturally look down at the keys while they play. On the other hand, some amateurs tend to follow the score more than the keys.

As you’re starting out learning to play the piano, you’ll likely find it’s not easy to look away from the keys. It requires a lot of time and practice to master this skill. 

Looking down at your hands while playing the piano will help you perform the right notes with the right fingers. This is essential for learning the instrument during the early stage. After getting acquainted with the flow, many piano players shift their focus to the score instead of their hands. 

Consequently, the answer to whether you should look at the keys when playing the piano is not necessarily relevant. 

With each new level of learning piano, you will be introduced to different techniques and fundamentals. In this process, diverse learners acquire different skills and approach them in accordance with their own understanding.

This natural instinct of obtaining the skills differs from one learner to another. And the same goes for whether you tend to look at the keys or not.

Let us discuss two crucial techniques that determine the way you play the piano. Note that the points below are steps-oriented and evolve into a personal style of playing once you reach a certain level of playing the piano.

Two types of techniques while playing the piano

1. Score based technique

Some pianists train themselves by memorizing all the placements of the keys. Their attention is more towards the score.

The advantage of this is that you do not have to keep lowering your head and then lift it to read the score. This constant movement can cause dizziness and might distract you from building the correct flow of the music.

This ability of sight-reading will help you play the notes correctly, even without looking at the keys.


  • The essence is to feel and learn the keys by heart. You should be able to guess what note comes after the other. Like, A after G, D after C, and so on.
  • Persistent fingering practice. This skill demands the continuous training of scales and arpeggios. Playing them over and over again will help you develop flexibility and dexterity.
  • Another small yet effective technique is the thumb crossing. The key here is to be practice will help you achieve the coordination of the sound.

2. Key-based technique

Many piano players memorize their scores so that they can concentrate on the fingering better. In most cases, keeping track of the keys and notes is a natural tendency.

This technique builds your cognitive strength.


  • Repetitive practice will help you in the process of imprinting the piece in your memory. So as you keep playing, your brain will automatically recollect the notes as you focus on your finger placements.
  • Recognize the melodies. Imagine playing your piano, forgetting the next key, but you still manage to play the right note without looking at the score. This is because of your ability to recognize and balance melodic phrases. 
  • Try breaking down your melodies into chunks. This tip of breaking down your melody and practicing them as parts help you to memorize them faster.

Playing piano without looking at the keys is often regarded as an upgraded skill. Though it is true that it takes much professionalism to acquire such expertise, the important technique is to keep a balance.

How do you keep a balance between reading the sheets and your keys?

The constant movement of the head is what you need to fix. The golden rule here is to maintain a posture. Now, try keeping an upright back, straighten your neck, keep your head still and glance between the score and your hands occasionally. 

By applying this technique while playing the piano, you will notice the improvement in the music flow. This is because you can focus equally on both the sheet and your fingering.

Remember that it is not mandatory to look away from the keys. As long as you feel what you are playing and maintain the flow, the audience can enjoy your music.

As you progress, focus on feeling the distinctiveness of every key on your keyboard. This method will help you connect with the notes without looking at them.

A trick in this method would be studying the location of your keys. Like the middle C of your piano and identifying the white notes with the help of the set of black notes. And by mastering this trick, the transition between your notes would be swift and smooth.

Points to Remember

  1. As your level goes higher, you will gradually learn different methods and techniques. And though learning an instrument may cost you endless practice, being too hard on yourself might drain you.
  2. It is not necessary to look away from the keys. Try to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals, and you will, in no time, find your natural style of playing the piano or any other instrument.
  3. Good knowledge of the theories will guide you to better execution of the practicals. Spend more time on the basics so that you will have a clearer understanding of what you are playing.


At some point in their learning, every piano player aims at playing the piano without having to look down at their hands. This achievement comes with a lot of dedication and development of skills.

Even professional pianists tend to look at the score or the hands when they are playing a new piece. If you’re just starting out, you don’t have to be bothered with this issue as you will eventually improve with constant practice.

Remember that it is always better to come out of your comfort zone. Such exploration will help you discover your hidden talents and competency.

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