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#1772369 - 10/17/11 05:11 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3171
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
landorrano, I am mystified. Simply reading the notes away from the piano, without simultaneously playing them, does nothing to foster the eye-hand connection which is necessary for playing music from written notation. How does your easy-chair method help someone to play?


Hi PianoStudent88. Mystfifed ? I love that ! And "easy-chair method", I love that too, I ought to try to market it !

Seriously, though. Studying reading away from the piano will help you a great deal when you have to read at the piano. And studying a score that you are going to play -- that is to say, reading through it, "in your easy-chair" (patent pending ) -- before trying to play it will help you greatly.

If you cannot read it "in your easy chair", that just brings out how overwhelming an effort you are making at the piano.

After I posted, I started thinking about the fact that it is advised to look over a piece before playing it the first time, and even afterwards. So I concede, the easy-chair is a more comfortable place to do this looking-over than the piano bench.
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#1772370 - 10/17/11 05:11 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: thurisaz]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: thurisaz
I think there's some value in "reading on an easy chair" and in landorrano's distinction between "prima vista" sight-reading and reading more generally. I get that it "does nothing to foster the eye-hand connection which is necessary for playing music from written notation", but I think that it still does something useful (at least for me).

I think the analogy with reading Shakespeare is actually quite good. I'm fluent in English, so I have no trouble reading through a Shakespeare soliloquy. I've also done some amateur theater work and there is definitely a difference between "cold-reading" and reciting something I've looked over. I would like to become similarly "fluent" at reading sheet music and I think that reading away from the piano can help with that. I find it's very useful for learning to identify notes reflexively, especially on ledger lines, rather than slowly figuring out what's written on the score; similarly, it can help learn patterns of notes, either vertically (chords) or horizontally.

I think this kind of fluency is different from "prima-facie" sight-reading. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to 'perform' a piece of music at first sight (that is, play it musically, expressively, etc); at the moment, though, my goal is simply to become fluent at reading sheet music, even if that doesn't (yet) map directly to an eye-hand connection and smooth playing.


Your post is very interesting, Thurisaz. I am honored that in only your second post you support my ideas in such a well-thought way.

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#1772376 - 10/17/11 05:17 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
casinitaly Online   content

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4964
Loc: Italy
Sight-reading in Italian IS prima-vista. Music you are seeing for the first time. If you've seen it several times, you are not sight reading, you are just reading it. The dictionary definition is pretty clear, but so is the logic. I don't know why there is always so much discussion about what constitutes sight-reading.

You don't improve reading (text) by reading the same book over and over and over and parsing each sentence. You have to read lots of books, find lots of common structures, "chunks" of set phrases, grammar structures, standart collocations, idiomatic expressions and so on......(and in English of course you have the ever confusing illogical and semi-incomprehensible combinations of letters that seem to have no correlation with how the words are pronounced!)

Likewise "reading" one piece of music and playing it until you've got it really polished does not help you (greatly) with your overall ability to read music.

As for saying that not many people can really sight-read well, I can't buy into that either - tons of people I know personally can be handed a sheet of music and not only play it well, but also add a lot of very interesting flourishes should the opportunity arise. Would that I were better at it myself!
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Everything's too hard until you make it easy. Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard ;)-BobPickle
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#1772383 - 10/17/11 05:23 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
I would like to point out that in some countries a beginning music student, be it a child or an adult, typically has a half-hour lesson each week on his instrument, and two hours of reading class each week.

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#1772398 - 10/17/11 05:41 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: casinitaly]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: casinitaly
I don't know why there is always so much discussion about what constitutes sight-reading.


It appears to me that the discussion isn't really about how to define sight-reading, and that Sail's OP was a kind of plea.

In any case, I'd like to differ on one point.

Originally Posted By: casinitaly
If you've seen it several times, you are not sight reading, you are just reading it.



I'd say "If you've never seen it before, that is, if you are sight-reading, you are still just reading it".

Also, in fact I wouldn't say "just reading it", because I don't consider that reading music is such a banal accomplishment. It merits better.

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#1772425 - 10/17/11 06:14 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: landorrano]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1325
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: sail
When I think of someone who can sight read I think of some one who can sit at a piano with sheet music they have never seen before and play it as if they have played it a thousand times.


Who can live up to that?


Hollywood studio musicians. That's one place where sight reading of stuff you've never seen before is a job requirement.
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#1772426 - 10/17/11 06:15 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1191
Loc: Helsingborg, Sweden
Andy Platt #1772106 - Today at 10:03 AM. I was not talking about some extremely simple thing, Happy Birtday, a few middle C's or anything like that. I was talking about complex pieces.

Okay, maybe geniuses like Lizst are exceptions. But I ask, had he never heard the piece before? I said never saw the sheet, or never heard the piece.

If he had heard the piece a few times before, he must have studied it, at least with his ear. Not saying that it makes his achievement any less remarkable, it's amazing, just like when Mozart sat down, 3 or 4 years old and played a complex musical piece (don't remember which one), which he had never been taught to play, astonishing everyone.
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#1772433 - 10/17/11 06:31 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: JohnSprung]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: sail
When I think of someone who can sight read I think of some one who can sit at a piano with sheet music they have never seen before and play it as if they have played it a thousand times.


Who can live up to that?


Hollywood studio musicians. That's one place where sight reading of stuff you've never seen before is a job requirement.


Of course, but there you are talking about people who really know how to read well and really know how to play. Whereas this thread concerns people who can barely do either and who really need to see how to begin.

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#1772634 - 10/18/11 02:13 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
casinitaly Online   content

Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 4964
Loc: Italy
I meant no disrespect to Sail, who was asking a sincere question and I don't think that was implied in my comment. I was refeffing to the debate. I still don't understand why other people endlessly feel the need to debate a defined concept.

Likewise, I was not belittling anyone's ability to read music. By "just reading" I meant remove the adjective "sight". If you have read a piece a number of times, you are not sight-reading it you are only/merely/simply/just/plainly/ no adjective needed reading it.

Did I really need to explain that? Sadly, it seems I did.
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Everything's too hard until you make it easy. Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard ;)-BobPickle
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#1772678 - 10/18/11 06:28 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: casinitaly]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: casinitaly

Likewise, I was not belittling anyone's ability to read music. By "just reading" I meant remove the adjective "sight". If you have read a piece a number of times, you are not sight-reading it you are only/merely/simply/just/plainly/ no adjective needed reading it.

Did I really need to explain that? Sadly, it seems I did.


OK, OK.

Still, I think that it helps to see that sight-reading is only/merely/simply/just/plainly reading (with an adjective). And that it is this relationship of the two that is the most important.

And that the distinction isn't pedantic.

One's sight-reading ability is limited by his reading ability, and not the other way around.

One can't sight-read better than he can simply read. If one hopes to improve his sight-reading ability he must work on his reading, and good prima vista sight-reading, even with relatively simple music, is the result of a great deal of study of which prima-vista sight-reading is only a small part.

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#1772692 - 10/18/11 07:11 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: casinitaly]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: casinitaly
I meant no disrespect to Sail, who was asking a sincere question and I don't think that was implied in my comment. I was refeffing to the debate. I still don't understand why other people endlessly feel the need to debate a defined concept.


Perhaps because it's not as clearly defined as you think? The fact that the debate arises so frequently on this forum alone suggests to me that it isn't clear-cut.

Not that it really matters, in my view. Arguing about what words mean serves only to reduce the amount of time available for arguing about music smile

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#1772720 - 10/18/11 08:17 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1412
Loc: Georgia, USA
There's a poster over in the Pianist Corner who is an exceptional sight reader. And he proved it in this thread:

Give me something to sight read!

Sam

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#1772721 - 10/18/11 08:19 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
Eglantine Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 01 2013


Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 804
Loc: Another Country
Sight-reading music is a bit like working in another/new language that uses a different alphabet. (I speak and translate and interpret various languages.) Learning another language requires a lot of hard work in order to have the facility required to 'read' and instantly interpret in some fashion.

Perhaps the mistake many of us make is that we think we might be able to do this without that specific application.

I've bought a number of volumes - a little below my playing level - specifically to practice sight-reading (every day, if I can).


Edited by Eglantine (10/18/11 08:20 AM)
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#1772813 - 10/18/11 10:57 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
thurisaz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/11
Posts: 73
Loc: Finland
Originally Posted By: casinitaly
Likewise "reading" one piece of music and playing it until you've got it really polished does not help you (greatly) with your overall ability to read music.


I agree; working on a piece until you've polished it probably doesn't help with learning to read music. However, reading the piece does, whether simultaneously playing it or not. Of course, if you read it enough times that you start reciting from memory, that kind of defeats the purpose...

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Still, I think that it helps to see that sight-reading is only/merely/simply/just/plainly reading (with an adjective). And that it is this relationship of the two that is the most important.

And that the distinction isn't pedantic.


I agree whole-heartedly. I would also like to add that I think it's important to make such a distinction in order to help manage people's expectations. "Sight-reading" in the strict sense can seem quite daunting to a beginner, whereas increasing one's fluency in reading music is a much less intimidating goal.

Originally Posted By: Eglantine
Sight-reading music is a bit like working in another/new language that uses a different alphabet.


Exactly! I think that may be the best way to highlight the difference between "reading" and "sight-reading" that we've been discussing. Learning a language with a new alphabet involves a phase where words are decoded letter-by-letter; eventually, a certain level of fluency is achieved and whole words (or portions of words) become instantly recognizable, at which point one can "read". Being able to orate from text or recite poetry, however, requires still a higher level of fluency, which might be analogous to "prima-vista" sight-reading.
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#1774017 - 10/20/11 10:03 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: sail]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
It is a pity that interest in this thread has faded so quickly. It is such an important topic, that I would think ought to be of primary concern to everyone who comes to this forum.

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#1774021 - 10/20/11 10:24 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: landorrano]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2380
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: landorrano
It is a pity that interest in this thread has faded so quickly. It is such an important topic, that I would think ought to be of primary concern to everyone who comes to this forum.


But it's been discussed many many times and will be again.
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#1777268 - 10/26/11 12:38 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: Brian Lucas]
Evan R. Murphy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/01/11
Posts: 42
Loc: Austin, Texas
Originally Posted By: Brian Lucas
Sorry, I think I'm confused by your signature. Are you going through a course or creating a course? Either way, would love to hear about it.


Brian, I am creating it and would love to talk about that. But I don't want to hijack this thread to talk about my own product. I will send you a PM.
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#1777408 - 10/26/11 09:43 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: landorrano]
whitfit Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/11
Posts: 80
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: landorrano
I would like to point out that in some countries a beginning music student, be it a child or an adult, typically has a half-hour lesson each week on his instrument, and two hours of reading class each week.


What do they do during these classes? I would have thought you would have to be doing reading as an individual exercise, and unless this is one on one instruction sitting at the instrument, I would like to know the broad outlines of the process.

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#1777960 - 10/27/11 02:45 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: whitfit]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: whitfit
Originally Posted By: landorrano
I would like to point out that in some countries a beginning music student, be it a child or an adult, typically has a half-hour lesson each week on his instrument, and two hours of reading class each week.


What do they do during these classes? I would have thought you would have to be doing reading as an individual exercise, and unless this is one on one instruction sitting at the instrument, I would like to know the broad outlines of the process.


No, this is not sitting at the piano, it is a group lesson in a classroom. It is not especially for piano, students of all instruments find themselves together in these classes. The only instrument that the students have is their voice and their hands.

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#1777974 - 10/27/11 03:42 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: landorrano]
Arctic_Mama Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/09
Posts: 379
Loc: Alaska
This has been true in my limited experience, as well. Studying a new piece away from the piano, just getting a feel for the tempo, the overall structure, and then a read through of actually name the notes to myself in each hand (even without solfeggio, which I'm not great at) makes a WORLD of difference in my first at-the-piano playing of either hand. I can only HT sight read (prima vista) very basic stuff, but for practical learning a new piece with the intent to work it until it is smooth and compositionally clean, a thorough study of the score makes the process go a lot quicker, especially in the first session or two of working a new bit of it.

Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
landorrano, I am mystified. Simply reading the notes away from the piano, without simultaneously playing them, does nothing to foster the eye-hand connection which is necessary for playing music from written notation. How does your easy-chair method help someone to play?


Hi PianoStudent88. Mystfifed ? I love that ! And "easy-chair method", I love that too, I ought to try to market it !

Seriously, though. Studying reading away from the piano will help you a great deal when you have to read at the piano. And studying a score that you are going to play -- that is to say, reading through it, "in your easy-chair" (patent pending ) -- before trying to play it will help you greatly.

If you cannot read it "in your easy chair", that just brings out how overwhelming an effort you are making at the piano.

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