It’s All About the View

I started writing blog posts in September 2018. Yes, it really has been that long. Most of my posts have floated off into obscurity, but a few have been more far-reaching. I find it funny to see which posts get the most views and where the readers live. Though my view counts would be far lower than someone writing about other topics, when I say some of my posts have been far-reaching, I mean geographically. Some of my posts have been read around the world.

I expected my posts on music theory to get some action. The whole question of whether or not music theory is racist is controversial. Of course, people will be searching out others’ opinions on the topic. It’s curious that that post gets more hits towards either the beginning or end of college semesters.

My blog post, “The Ugly Chicken Stage” gets a lot of hits. I find this odd. I wonder if it is because I shared some of my feelings about my own pieces while I’m working on them. I wonder, too, if readers get surprised, thinking the word “stage” communicates something related to theater rather than a period of life.

But one blog post has surpassed them all, recently reaching a milestone: 270 views and counting. (I know this is not a lot in the grand space of the internet, but it is still a milestone for me.) The post is “Proprioception, Peripheral Vision, and Playing the Piano.”

In that post, I talk about my difficulties using bifocals. I discuss the need for relying on peripheral vision and proprioception when playing the piano. Bifocals messed with all of it. I only need glasses for reading, but because I need to see the conductor when accompanying choruses, I couldn’t just use reading glasses. Bifocals didn’t help. If I tilted my head the right way to read the music, I couldn’t see the conductor properly.

I had to wait two years before addressing the problem, unless I wanted to pay for a new lens prescription out of pocket. In the meantime, I gave up on wearing glasses except when absolutely necessary. I avoided too much computer time when I knew I had rehearsal in the evening. I learned how to guess well when the staff lines were double. At least I didn’t end up with a permanently kinked neck.

I asked the ophthalmologist if I could get the dividing line on the bifocals raised and have my eyes measured based on looking at a conductor. She was skeptical. “Sure,” she said, “if you want to do it that way. But I don’t think it will work because the line will be right there when you look straight ahead.” She suggested I get the gradual-change lenses with no line which, of course, insurance doesn’t pay for.

I am very happy to say that my idea worked very well! Raising the line on the lenses allows me to see the whole page of music without tilting my head, and I can see the conductor clearly by looking above my music. In fact, the line on the lenses hits right at the top of my binder or music stand, which I am not looking at anyway! Now, I just have to stop moving my head so much when I play!

The glasses still won’t solve the problem of the change in perspective when using peripheral vision to get those notes way off to the left or right, when a pianist has to judge the distance for moving to a whole new area of the keyboard. Not many instrumentalists have this problem because their hands are kept pretty close to their bodies, or they barely have to look at their instruments at all.

Maybe someone will create some wrap-around bifocals, designed like certain sunglasses. I’m sure they would be expensive, and it’s probably too niche a market. If I got some of those, I’d have yet another problem – a fashion one. Maybe I could convince people it’s my superhero look, enhancing my sight-reading superpowers. But I’d have quite a sorry catchphrase: “It’s near! It’s far! It’s blurry!”

While the post that has gotten the most attention is about how well I can see, this post today is also about perspective. The posts that get the most attention are the ones where I share some insight into the struggles I face, like needing bifocals or, in the case of the “Ugly Chicken Stage”, working through the phase of creativity when I don’t like my piece, or when I share my opinion on controversial topics. Four and a half years of writing blog posts and examining metrics is starting to help me understand what keeps bringing people to my posts and connect with my readers.

P.S. let me know if there’s anything specific you want me to write about! I would love to hear from you!

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2 thoughts on “It’s All About the View”

  1. I am taking your observations to heart as I have the same struggles watching the conductor and seeing the music! Wonder if you have tried scanning your music to an iPad or laptop and turning pages with a Bluetooth pedal? With some settings you can magnify the music.

    1. I have not yet scanned music to turn pages with a Bluetooth pedal, but that is one reason I got my Lenovo ThinkPad (which I love!) I have not had time to do the research to know which apps and gear would be best for me. The thought of scanning an entire concert worth of music overwhelms me, too. Musicians reading single lines and not off the score have a lot fewer pages!

      I do think it would be worth it in the long run, but more for lack of page turners. I used to be able to conscript my kids, but they are grown now. John has gigs that sometime conflict with concerts. Last time I had to pay my page turners, and that just isn’t the point of a gig. (I could not play that gig without a page turner – the score for Schubert’s Mass in G would barely stay open.)

      In short, I do need to take advantage of this technology, but the new lenses with the higher line are working great.

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