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#1898475 - 05/17/12 07:32 AM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: nocturne152]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Originally Posted By: lostaccato
Franz Liszt apparently cracked open Chopin's op.10 right in front of him and sight read through the whole thing perfectly. Chopin later wrote, "I wish I could steal his way of playing my studies."


I can imagine Chopin's awe at Lizst's strength and finesse. on the other hand I imagine Chopin taught Liszt a lot about playing.
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#1898621 - 05/17/12 12:07 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: Maechre]
HorseMom Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 51
Loc: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Well, pianoloverus, I guess you must know better than my conservatory professors. Moreover, you are wrong - nobody sight reads without looking over the piece first when it is handed to them. This is what I described, if you will look at what I actually suggested. Doing it (looking over it and thinking through it before playing) systematically and competently is the key, rather than just leaping into it without taking a look.


Edited by HorseMom (05/17/12 12:09 PM)
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#1898656 - 05/17/12 01:15 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: Maechre]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6095
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I don't know... Rereading what your teacher said, it sounds to me like your teacher is too lazy to help you. A teacher should help exactly where one is weak, and your teacher tells you "you will never be good"? I would fire her if I were you... smile
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#1898678 - 05/17/12 02:09 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: HorseMom]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: HorseMom
Well, pianoloverus, I guess you must know better than my conservatory professors. Moreover, you are wrong - nobody sight reads without looking over the piece first when it is handed to them. This is what I described, if you will look at what I actually suggested. Doing it (looking over it and thinking through it before playing) systematically and competently is the key, rather than just leaping into it without taking a look.
Maybe "look over" for 10 seconds.

What you described might apply to complete beginners(except for the part about air playing and hand position and fingering). Experienced playing wouldn't even consciously check the key signature for more than one second. If you think, as you suggested, you should air play the piece a few times, check the fingering, and think about hand positions before beginning to sight read a piece I cannot fathom you are in a conservatory.

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#1898693 - 05/17/12 02:37 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: Maechre]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 242
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
ChopinAddict: I'd fire her if I could in favour of someone more suited to my style and what I want to achieve. However, she's packaged in with the Advanced Diploma I'm doing. All I can do is take what I can from all the jazz I'm learning, and if anything, playing from lead sheets will be one more thing I can take away from it. At least I can play some of my video game music and popular music in my recital. smile

Pianoloverus: You're right. As a beginner, one has to spend more time looking over a piece before starting - 15 to 30 seconds. Maybe more sometimes. The advanced sight-reader sees and understands everything in a few seconds while it might take the beginner 30 seconds to understand it all.

I know I speak like I know things despite being about mid-to-late beginner with sight-reading, but with so many hours in a day, a mild case of insomnia and a huge desire to be good, I've read A LOT about the topic. I've even read a few studies.
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I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

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#1898729 - 05/17/12 03:31 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: Maechre]
Eglantine Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 01 2013


Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 804
Loc: Another Country
I came back to the keyboard last July after an absence of some 35 years. In July I was completely unable to read bass clef, and treble was pretty ropey. I can now tackle fairly confidently non-simple pieces (say ABRSM grade 4-5, to give an idea of level), with the first play-through being quite reasonable. I would say the improvement has been major.

I'm doing various things, not just reading pieces when I'm learning, or playing sight-reading pieces. I'm also reading scores as others play the pieces (two hours a week), reading and interpreting figured bass, reading lots and lots - and trying pieces out - when I'm choosing my next piece, following scores for some pieces on CD or Youtube, wading through material on IMSLP.... So I must be looking at scores at least 10 hours a week, and reading new stuff and/or trying to play it around 3-4 hours a week.

The big change I have noticed: no longer decoding individual notes in each hand, but rather seeing groups of notes, sequences, chords, in both hands. The bigger picture. And that's what we do when we, for example, learn to read in our own language, or another language. Bigger and bigger units. That allows you to speed up.



Others have said it's like learning a language, and I'd completely agree. Anyone can do it, but you do need to work at it consistently, and perhaps harder than some other people if it doesn't come easily to you.
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Currently working on: F. Couperin - Preludes & Sweelinck - Fantasia Chromatica
J.S. Bach, Einaudi, Purcell, Froberger, Croft, Blow, Frescobaldi, Glass, Couperin
1930s upright (piano) & single manual William Foster (harpsichord)


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#1898735 - 05/17/12 03:43 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: Maechre]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 242
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
That's great, Eglantine! Good work!

I've read that in order for the brain to go through the right processes to develop a skill like sight-reading, it's better to do 3 shortish pieces (of a few pages) than to sit down and play through a whole book (which could overload your mind and actually be detrimental).

I've tried doing one page a day, and two pages a day. And four. Now I'm doing three pieces each session from three different books at the same level, and I usually do one or two sessions a day.

Everyone's different, but in your experience, do you have an idea which is more effective? A smaller number of pages each day, or bigger?
_________________________
I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Acrozius?feature=mhee

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#1898744 - 05/17/12 03:59 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: Maechre]
DottedNotes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/12
Posts: 59
Loc: New York
The best thing is that you want to get better. As a blind pianist, I was often "exempted" from sight-reading requirements. Thought this was cool as a kid--I was lazy!--but now realize that, if approached differently, blind people can do something equivalent. The Associated Board, as part of their exams, administers "Braille/aural memory tests". Since I read Braille, I'm given a piece to read and memorize as best I can in a set time limit. I have taught many blind students not to freak out when handed new music--and will find out soon how my own most recent Braille memory test (ABRSM Grade 7) went.

My advice is read a lot; play a lot; challenge yourself. A teacher is only a guide. But teachers, no matter how good, can't practice for their students. Good luck!

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#1898745 - 05/17/12 04:00 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: Maechre]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Maechre


I've read that in order for the brain to go through the right processes to develop a skill like sight-reading, it's better to do 3 shortish pieces (of a few pages) than to sit down and play through a whole book (which could overload your mind and actually be detrimental).

I've tried doing one page a day, and two pages a day. And four. Now I'm doing three pieces each session from three different books at the same level, and I usually do one or two sessions a day.

Everyone's different, but in your experience, do you have an idea which is more effective? A smaller number of pages each day, or bigger?
Bigger number.

But I think more important than any of the possibilities you listed is to find music you enjoy sight reading. IMO most of the best sight readers never even "practiced/worked on" their sight reading. They just went through a lot of music they enjoyed.

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#1898768 - 05/17/12 04:53 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: pianoloverus]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8820
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
IMO most of the best sight readers never even "practiced/worked on" their sight reading. They just went through a lot of music they enjoyed.

Which I would think was 'practiced/worked on'. I think I am a great sight reader, and I got that way through playing reams of music since I was a lad. I used to bring scores home from the library just to have the fun of reading through them.

Wasn't that 'practiced/worked on' even if I didn't see it that way at the time?
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#1898773 - 05/17/12 05:00 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: pianoloverus]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11561
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
[ IMO most of the best sight readers never even "practiced/worked on" their sight reading. They just went through a lot of music they enjoyed.

How would you know that?

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#1898780 - 05/17/12 05:11 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: Maechre]
Eglantine Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 01 2013


Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 804
Loc: Another Country
Originally Posted By: Maechre
That's great, Eglantine! Good work!

I've read that in order for the brain to go through the right processes to develop a skill like sight-reading, it's better to do 3 shortish pieces (of a few pages) than to sit down and play through a whole book (which could overload your mind and actually be detrimental).

I've tried doing one page a day, and two pages a day. And four. Now I'm doing three pieces each session from three different books at the same level, and I usually do one or two sessions a day.

Everyone's different, but in your experience, do you have an idea which is more effective? A smaller number of pages each day, or bigger?


The more, the better, I'd say. I just read through masses. I got four books out from the library yesterday, Glassworks, a volume of Couperin, Bach's English Suites and Nyman. I will read through a lot of those, try out some of them. I've just spent half an hour going through Frescobaldi partitas, will print out some and try out. This is all music that interests me, composers I like.
_________________________
Currently working on: F. Couperin - Preludes & Sweelinck - Fantasia Chromatica
J.S. Bach, Einaudi, Purcell, Froberger, Croft, Blow, Frescobaldi, Glass, Couperin
1930s upright (piano) & single manual William Foster (harpsichord)


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#1898782 - 05/17/12 05:15 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: argerichfan]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
IMO most of the best sight readers never even "practiced/worked on" their sight reading. They just went through a lot of music they enjoyed.

Which I would think was 'practiced/worked on'. I think I am a great sight reader, and I got that way through playing reams of music since I was a lad. I used to bring scores home from the library just to have the fun of reading through them.

Wasn't that 'practiced/worked on' even if I didn't see it that way at the time?
My thinking is that whatever it should be called you weren't thinking of it as work. That's why I always say what I said a few posts earlier when posters say they want to "work" on their sight reading.

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#1898785 - 05/17/12 05:22 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: keystring]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
[ IMO most of the best sight readers never even "practiced/worked on" their sight reading. They just went through a lot of music they enjoyed.

How would you know that?
It's mostly just my opinion based on my own experience and observations. I can't really imagine that good sight readers spent most all of their time just preparing their lesson pieces for years.

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#1898791 - 05/17/12 05:33 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: pianoloverus]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11561
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
It's mostly just my opinion based on my own experience and observations. I can't really imagine that good sight readers spent most all of their time just preparing their lesson pieces for years.

That means that you have been around people as they went from being beginners to when they became good sight readers, and/or good sight readers told you how they got there. There would have to be enough people for you to have a definite impression. If this is not the case, then this statement might needlessly discourage someone trying to learn to sight read.

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#1898807 - 05/17/12 06:02 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: keystring]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19225
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
It's mostly just my opinion based on my own experience and observations. I can't really imagine that good sight readers spent most all of their time just preparing their lesson pieces for years.

That means that you have been around people as they went from being beginners to when they became good sight readers, and/or good sight readers told you how they got there. There would have to be enough people for you to have a definite impression. If this is not the case, then this statement might needlessly discourage someone trying to learn to sight read.
The person I was "around as they went from beginners to good sight readers" was myself.

I don't think my ideas are discouraging.. It's never too late to learn how to sight read by not "practicing" sight reading. Although I'm sure good teachers can offer many good ideas to help a student's sight reading, I think depending too much on these things is similar to students who take SAT courses hoping to learn a lot of tricks instead of concentrating on learning the math.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/17/12 06:05 PM)

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#1898892 - 05/17/12 11:02 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: HorseMom]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19648
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: HorseMom
Well, pianoloverus, I guess you must know better than my conservatory professors. Moreover, you are wrong - nobody sight reads without looking over the piece first when it is handed to them. This is what I described, if you will look at what I actually suggested. Doing it (looking over it and thinking through it before playing) systematically and competently is the key, rather than just leaping into it without taking a look.

It's complicated. smile
Because we're talking about different kinds of things.

He was right, strictly speaking -- and I bet your professor was too.

Pianoloverus was talking about the degree of looking-over that you described. Sure, it's good to look over a piece before sight-reading it, if we have the opportunity. But when we do it to the degree that you described, I think most would agree that's not "sight reading" -- and I'd bet that would include your professor.

No offense intended to you or to anybody. But it's good to be clear what we're talking about. As we've seen on this site quite a bit, the term "sight reading" often gets used in every which way; people sometimes even use the term for when someone uses the score during a performance.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND.... smile
The things you said are very useful for reading through music in general, which is a broader thing than just "sight reading" and also very important. And sometimes the line between these things can be fuzzy. Like, suppose you're told that a singer needs an accompanist in an hour, and they give you the score meanwhile (I've been in that situation a couple of times). Then, there's some time to look through it, and you can do the kinds of things that you said. When you get up there, it's not really "sight reading," but it's similar. Or, more commonly, if we pick up a score and want to be able to make the best sense of it that we can upon the first reading, we can take some time to do some of what you said, and it's not really "sight reading," but it's something, and it's good. And BTW I think it helps one become a better "sight reader."


Edited by Mark_C (05/18/12 02:35 AM)
Edit Reason: adding the "on the other hand"

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#1898897 - 05/17/12 11:11 PM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: DottedNotes]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19648
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: DottedNotes
The best thing is that you want to get better. As a blind pianist, I was often "exempted" from sight-reading requirements. Thought this was cool as a kid--I was lazy!--but now realize that, if approached differently, blind people can do something equivalent. The Associated Board, as part of their exams, administers "Braille/aural memory tests". Since I read Braille, I'm given a piece to read and memorize as best I can in a set time limit. I have taught many blind students not to freak out when handed new music--and will find out soon how my own most recent Braille memory test (ABRSM Grade 7) went.....

DottedNotes: This is beyond awesome!! What you have accomplished and what you have been doing in your teaching is just great. Reading a story like yours makes many of us feel guilty for ever complaining about any obstacles that we have had to overcome.

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#1898913 - 05/18/12 12:19 AM Re: "Not a natural sight-reader, you'll never be good." Discuss [Re: DottedNotes]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4747
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: DottedNotes
The best thing is that you want to get better. As a blind pianist, I was often "exempted" from sight-reading requirements. Thought this was cool as a kid--I was lazy!--but now realize that, if approached differently, blind people can do something equivalent. The Associated Board, as part of their exams, administers "Braille/aural memory tests". Since I read Braille, I'm given a piece to read and memorize as best I can in a set time limit. I have taught many blind students not to freak out when handed new music--and will find out soon how my own most recent Braille memory test (ABRSM Grade 7) went.

My advice is read a lot; play a lot; challenge yourself. A teacher is only a guide. But teachers, no matter how good, can't practice for their students. Good luck!

thumb
What a COOL post! It is so easy to let other people define our limits, and then we are forced to live within those limits. But we can do it to ourselves too.

Each time I have made a "breakthrough" in my life, learning to do something I did not think I could do, it felt fantastic. smile
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