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#1834593 - 01/29/12 11:00 PM sight reading
robbinson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Westchester, NY
Can anyone recommend a good sight reading series for adults. I've been playing piano for 40 plus years - but mostly by ear with chords (I'm a great fake book player) but never developed strong sight reading skills. I would like to build this skill from the ground up. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Steinway L (1929)
Yamaha CP5

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#1835506 - 01/31/12 03:20 AM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
Weiyan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/11
Posts: 829
Loc: Hong Kong
Can you sing the so fa name from a music staff? Can you find out the key of the song from the key signature? May be you know all of above, just want to improve the speed?

For sight reading have various meaning.
Working on:\

J.S.Bach Prelude in C Min: No. 2 from Six Preludes fur Anfanger auf dem
Am Abend No. 2 from Stimmungsbilder, Op. 88
60s Swing No. 1 from Swinging Rhythms

#1835583 - 01/31/12 07:36 AM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
knotty Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 3039
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Four star series
Improve your sight reading

#1835646 - 01/31/12 10:25 AM Re: sight reading [Re: Weiyan]
robbinson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Westchester, NY
Thanks - yes, I can read notes and musical notation - I chance "translate" that to the keyboard very, very slowly. Regards,
Steinway L (1929)
Yamaha CP5

#1835657 - 01/31/12 10:59 AM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3632
Loc: Maine
I would suggest, in addition to specific sight-reading books, getting a method series and working through it. I like Piano Adventures. They have lots of supplementary books for practice too at any given level.
Elie Wiesel, 1928-2016.

#1835664 - 01/31/12 11:11 AM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
PianoTeacherKim Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/09/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Kailua-Kona, HI
I usually suggest to my adult students that sight reading study can be done with music that you enjoy (maybe you enjoy the standards, since you are a great fake book player) but choose music a couple levels below where you actually play. Then, vary the repertoire occasionally - classical, ragtime with fast left hand changes, or for a real challenge, hymns in four part harmony!

You might start out with some "easy piano" books of popular music or a books with graded collections of classical pieces. If the music is too simple, you can move up -- the important thing is to not choose music that's too challenging to start with, because you don't want to get frustrated! Frustration and tension actually prevent you from learning. So go easy and focus on playing through, not stopping every time you make a little mistake. The point is fluid reading, not perfection!
Find some help for stage fright and share what helps you -- Stage Fright Tips. Let's learn from each other!

#1835673 - 01/31/12 11:39 AM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
knotty Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 3039
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
the issue with folks who play well from fake books is that their sight reading is usually many levels below their playing levels.
Methods like Four Star are good in that sense because the level of difficulty is progressive.
It is hard otherwise to find sheet "at your level". Unless you worked with a teacher.

I would get to a music store, try Four Star level 1, and see how easy it is. If it's trivial, try level 2.
Still, if you can sight read it easy, try level 3. If level 3 is too hard, get book 2 and work through it.

Also, my guess is that you don't actually mean to sight read, but rather play music from sheet, working through a piece for a few days and then be able to play it, with the help of the music.

#1835674 - 01/31/12 11:44 AM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
knotty Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 3039
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
The other thing to consider with these methods, is that the purpose is not to get through them as fast as you can, but actually work on one piece a day.
I usually do that and then work on previous pieces as well (no longer sight reading). That helps your brain recognize shapes (words). Reading through level 2 in 2 weeks won't be nearly as useful as working through it slow.

While the music is very basic, I have found these 2 methods very enjoyable.

#1835791 - 01/31/12 04:10 PM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
EJR Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 861
Loc: Bristol, UK
I've found it useful to split sight-reading into a couple of stages, firstly starting off by studying the score away from the piano, then mentally rehearing it end-to-end once in real time and only when this is complete playing through at the piano. To help do this in a structured manner I've prepared a "sight-reading check list". This includes copying out highest & lowest notes in each staff, rhythmic and 'comp patterns, scales and chords, etc, etc etc. Hopefully this aspect will become more automatic with regular practice. The more information you can suck out of the score the better the play through at the piano seems to go. You can get a copy of the check list and a few more thoughts on this topic in the link here

Daily ramblings....

#1835907 - 01/31/12 06:37 PM Re: sight reading [Re: EJR]
robbinson Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/12
Posts: 6
Loc: Westchester, NY
Thanks all. I really appreciate it. I do love standards :-). I'll try to incorporate all of these suggestions (work through a level/series designed for sight reading, while working with some basic music of the genres I enjoy). I'm looking forward to this challenge (which I avoided in my youth!). I bought a digital piano with headphones so as not to burden my wife and children as I learn (keeping the acoustic piano/grand (my friend)) for playing the fake books for now. Looking forward to to day when I can make the grand sing with some classical works.


Steinway L (1929)
Yamaha CP5

#1922710 - 07/04/12 06:10 PM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
broganhume Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/04/12
Posts: 5
Loc: United Kingdom
Ad deleted

Edited by BB Player (07/05/12 01:24 PM)

#1923149 - 07/05/12 07:51 PM Re: sight reading [Re: robbinson]
ThePawn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/10
Posts: 49
Loc: Alabama

I really liked your sight reading checklist. I downloaded it and am going to try to use it. I don't really do too well singing a score. I don't think my mental ear is going to hear the piece very accurately. I am thinking about supplementing my piano lessons with some voice lessons to try to remedy this but a man only has so much time in a day. What are your thoughts on trying to learn some voice to increase one's facility at the piano? How would you fill in some of the blanks for pieces like Bartok's Mikrokosmos? Some of those pieces are just kind of off the wall and don't really sound major or minor or have a mood. Thanks.

Excited to be here!

#1923468 - 07/06/12 04:19 PM Re: sight reading [Re: knotty]
Quarkomatic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 75
Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
I find the Four Star series moves a bit too quickly. You are supposed to do one exercise a day, but that's not really enough to improve your sight reading by much. At some point, I realized the book's difficulty had far out-paced my progress, so I went back to the beginning. But one can only do this a few times before the little pieces start becoming too familiar.

For me, there are 2 main obstacles to improving my sight reading.

1. You have to practice a bit every day, and progress is slow. Eventually I always get frustrated at the slow progress and let it slide for awhile, and then I'm practically back where I started.

2. You need a lot of material to work through, at very slowly increasing difficulty. An idea just occurred to me though - if you're fortunate enough to live in a city with a good library system, that could be a good way to keep your sight reading music fresh.


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