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#1076176 - 10/10/06 04:50 PM Sight reading practice.
Sii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/06
Posts: 49
Having recently started up with a new piano teacher I've been increasingly bothered by my absolute lack of sight reading skills while reviewing new pieces during leasons. I've decided to add serious attempts at sight reading to my daily practice sessions to hopefully improve my skills on that point somewhat.
Does anyone have any particular advice regarding how to best go about practicing sight reading? Any and all tips welcome. I'm thinking along the lines of how long to spend practicing sight reading per day to have any noticable effect, anything in particular to think about while doing it etc.

I don't have huge amounts of material to practice with so I'm thinking I'll start of with old pieces that have been more or less completely forgotten, hopefully enough muscle memory will have disappeared that the pieces will be more or less 'new' for short sight reading sessions.

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#1076177 - 10/10/06 04:59 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
Peyton Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 2522
Loc: Maine
I'm guessing this question has been asked dozens of times on this forum and will be asked a dozen more times. I'm sure you will get some good answers here but I asked the same question on a thread on the pianist forum you might want to check out. Jerome and some others gave some good answers. http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/2/13094.html

Practice, practice practice was the biggest answer.
_________________________
"One's real life is often the life that one does not lead."- Oscar Wilde
www.youtube.com/Biffer5
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#1076178 - 10/10/06 05:06 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
menancy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
Try this site emusic Theory.com

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#1076179 - 10/10/06 05:47 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
Sii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/06
Posts: 49
I agree that this is almost a FAQ, but the threads tend to go of on so many unrelated issues that i thought I'd give it a new start aiming for purely - "I want to better my sight reading skills, concrete advice please."

Thanks for both the links, I'll be sure to check them out.

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#1076180 - 10/10/06 06:14 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
piano_chic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/26/06
Posts: 40
Loc: Bordentown, NJ
I just picked up Alfred's Basic Adult Sight Reading Book Levels 1 & 2.

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#1076181 - 10/11/06 02:52 AM Re: Sight reading practice.
Sii Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/06
Posts: 49
 Quote:
Originally posted by piano_chic:
I just picked up Alfred's Basic Adult Sight Reading Book Levels 1 & 2. [/b]
Ah, I never realized there were whole books about the subject, thanks.

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#1076182 - 10/11/06 09:56 AM Re: Sight reading practice.
piano_chic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/26/06
Posts: 40
Loc: Bordentown, NJ
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sii:
 Quote:
Originally posted by piano_chic:
I just picked up Alfred's Basic Adult Sight Reading Book Levels 1 & 2. [/b]
Ah, I never realized there were whole books about the subject, thanks. [/b]
I also swiped a ton of sheet music from my grandmother, no matter how crappy the songs just to practice sight reading and downloaded as much "free" sheet music as I could find to practice. I picked up the books to use as a guide for practicing.

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#1076183 - 10/12/06 01:59 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
Eeeff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/06
Posts: 192
I haven't read any of the other posts here, but for me, the best practice? As refered to me by my Music Teacher, is a Hymn Book.

As a Hymn Book works moreso Vertically than Horizontally. So you will rarely find 1-note melodies because everything is written in chords (for the most part)

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#1076184 - 10/12/06 04:43 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Practice scales (all major and minor) without looking at your hands.

Practice arpeggios (all major and minor) without looking at your hands.

Practice Hanon in all 12 major keys without looking at your hands.

Practice inversions (all major and minor triads) without looking at your hands.


Be very careful about fingering, and be very careful about accuracy and clarity.

This will help you when you sightread, because:

(1) It will make you feel very comfortable in all keys
(2) It will make things much easier for you when you see scales, arpeggios, inversions etc. in the music because your fingers will just be able to whip through it
(3) It will allow you to look farther ahead in the music when you see such passages, because you can just take one glance, see that it is an F# minor scale, and continue to look ahead at what comes after the scale while you are playing
(4) It will boost your technique.
(5) It will give you a fail-proof way to impress your friends at coffee parties and reunions.
_________________________
Sam

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#1076185 - 10/12/06 06:26 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
Karyn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/06
Posts: 89
Loc: Ireland
That's great advice.. I think I'll use it as well because my sightreading's rubbish too! I've never even seen the scales written down so it'll be a change!

I may be opening up a can of worms here but what are Hanon and inversions?

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#1076186 - 10/13/06 01:33 AM Re: Sight reading practice.
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Hanon is a book of exercises. It was written by a guy named Charles Hanon. ;\)

(The exercises are all written in C Major, so try playing them in C# Major, and D Major, and Eb Major...)


Inversions...

So, a triad is (for example) C E G... just the first, third, and fifth notes of the scale played together.

Take the bottom note and move it to the top: E G C. You've "inverted" it, so this is called 'first inversion."

Take the new bottom note and move it to the top: G C E. You've "inverted" it again, so this is 'second inversion.'

Do it again, and you're back to where you start (in so-called 'root position.')


So when I say practice inversions, I mean:

(going up) C E G - C E G - C E G - C E G -
(going down) G E C - G E C - G E C - G E C

and then first inversion:

(going up) E G C - E G C - E G C - E G C -
(going down) C G E - C G E - C G E - C G E ...

......
_________________________
Sam

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#1076187 - 10/13/06 02:01 AM Re: Sight reading practice.
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Great advice pianojerome.
I think I will try this with my students!
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#1076188 - 10/13/06 02:14 AM Re: Sight reading practice.
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Also, when you are learning scales, don't go through the trouble of memorizing the fingering for each individual scale.


Every major and minor scale that begins on a white key has the same fingering (except F major/minor and B major/minor).

(RH - 123 1234 123 1234 ...)
(LH - (5)4321 321 4321 321 ...)


So you can just learn 3 fingerings (normal fingering, the one for starting on B, and the one for starting on F), and then you can play every major / minor scale that begins on a white key!


(starting on a black key changes the fingering a little, but the idea is the same: learning just a couple fingerings will tell you all you need to know to play them all)
_________________________
Sam

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#1076189 - 10/13/06 02:54 AM Re: Sight reading practice.
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Do you bother teaching melodic minor scales? Natural scales? I do teach all three forms. In sightreading though I would think harmonic would be the most important.
With c# minor melodic in RH the fingering is different. But I do not make it that big of a deal, I just tell my students when they get to the top to switch back to third finger on c# not second finger so they can play the natural minor scale coming down.
Also Bb and Eb major are different too. Oh yes, I see that in your post you are making the exception for the scales starting on the black keys.
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#1076190 - 10/20/06 10:56 AM Re: Sight reading practice.
Piano_luvr_4Life Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/05
Posts: 80
Well, my "practicing repertoire" looks a little like this:

1) Practice my scales, arpeggios, and cadences
2) Practice the pieces my teacher has me learning
3) ***Practice my sight reading by sight-reading "EASY" or beginner pieces.

I have found that there is no "magic" pill or formula you can take in order to make you better at sight-reading. I have learned that simply playing more and reading music from scratch (meaning pieces you aren't working on, or have practically memorized) help best in improving my sightreading.

All I did was buy a book that contained easy piano music. Or, just a children's sheet music book/lesson book. Nothing fancy. Then, after I practice on the harder pieces that my teacher has me working on, I spend at least 15-20 min. sight-reading from the "easy" children's book. I actually look forward to this in my practice sessions.

I'm telling you, it may sound old-fashioned or silly, but the MORE you sight-read material, the BETTER you will become! Honest! It's that simple. No magic formula or anything. Just continue to read sheet music a little below your level, and see if you can play it perfectly the first time (without even ever playing the piece before). It helps!
_________________________
Kawai Studio Upright, Ebony finish

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#1076191 - 10/20/06 11:05 AM Re: Sight reading practice.
8ude Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 2050
The best way to get good at sight-reading is to sight-read - lots of music. Try to sight-read something every time you practice.

Two books I found very useful in sight-reading practice were Schumann's Album for the Young and Bartok's Mikrokosmos.
_________________________
What you are is an accident of birth. What I am, I am through my own efforts. There have been a thousand princes and there will be a thousand more. There is one Beethoven.

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#1076192 - 10/20/06 02:49 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
dough-re-mi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/26/06
Posts: 34
Loc: Atlantic coast, USA
If you are sight reading from a pile of music, say, playing a piece just once, how long (weeks, months) would you need to wait before sight reading the same peice again (for the purpose of improving sightreading)?

Or has a piece become forever disqualified once it has been sight-read once?
_________________________
I believe in cause and effect; I just can't always tell them apart

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#1076193 - 10/20/06 03:57 PM Re: Sight reading practice.
Kent B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 140
Loc: Sunny Tampa, Florida
Dough,

In my opinion you can sight read a piece until you remember it and it starts to feel easy. At that point I put that piece of music away for a few weeks before pulling it out again. Usually a couple of weeks is enough for me to totally forget a piece of music if I've only sight read it a few times.
_________________________
A Drummer / Percussionist turned piano player. ...Struggling not to hit the piano strings with sticks.

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