Question for piano players

I have reference books that show how to use octave signs in the piano upper and lower staffs, but they don't give me a sense of how readily they should be used.  Do keyboard players like to see as many as possible notes on the staff, even if it means turning the octave sign "on and off" frequently, or do they rather prefer to put up with leger lines provided they aren't extremely high or low above or below the staff?  Answers might be of use to others besides me.  Thanks for any advice.

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  • For me, it almost always depends contextually- but a good rule of thumb I like to follow, when writing or reading,  is anything over the F in treble (3 ledgers) is a good spot to start using 8va. If you have a passage that is alternating around that range (say Eb F G A etc) best to put it all with 8va, but if the top note of a long run is say even a G it would be pretty intuitive for the player and safe to keep with the lines for ease of reading.

     Engravers will do it based on where it's practical too - that is, where the notes would be so high above the staff they would collide with the music above - so it's not always a reading issue, but one of engraving practices too. Another thing I try to do and like to see while reading music is that one should try to do it by musical phrase - and if that phrase has some notes that are only one ledger line above the staff, but the others are 4 and 5 and 6 lines above, then by all means it's best to include the one ledger line note under the 8va if it's part of the musical phrase- players will not want to see a lot of flip flopping between using it and not using it. 


    • Thanks, that is useful information.

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