Why are pianists always looking at the ceiling?
I always thought it was a kind of swanning, put on for dramatic display, and just yesterday noticed that I was doing it—alone, in a windowless practice room in the basement of Davies Hall. Just who was I trying to impress?
Dismayed, I scanned through a video from my recital at the Phillips collection and noticed I was doing it there, too.
I have a theory (I almost always have a theory). On both occasions, I was trying to quickly acclimate to unfamiliar pianos (something pianists have to learn to do regularly). Perhaps I was unconsciously trying to distance myself from the sound of the instrument, much as one would walk around different locations of a hall to gauge the sound of someone else playing.
I can’t imagine moving one’s head backwards a foot or so actually changes the perception of sound much—though maybe it does? Perhaps someone who knows more about hearing or sound perception would care to comment.
Still have no idea why a pianist’s head would move in the opposite direction, though: