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#2040577 - 02/28/13 07:01 AM Good Sight Reading Drill
fizikisto Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 646
Loc: Hernando, MS
I was reminded of a drill I used to do that I think has helped me. I haven't done it in ages, and was thinking I need to pick it up again. Anyway, I thought I'd share it in case some folk found it useful. The drill is pretty simple. Use a score you're working on and get a blank score and a pen. Glance at the first measure. Don't stare at it, try to take it in as quickly as you can, maybe a second. Then quickly cover the measure with your hand, and write it on the blank score form memory. Don't worry if you miss some notes or get it wrong, just do the best you can. Then lift your hand and repeat with the next measure. Continue in this fashion until you get to the end of the line. Then check your accuracy. Repeat until you can do the whole line without mistakes. And as you're doing the drill, try to do it with flow. Glance - cover- write -glance- cover- write....

To make this drill easier you can start out using simpler music, and just "glance -cover - write" for one clef at a time. Eventually you want to work up to being able to do this for both clefs at once with music at your level. And when you can do it pretty reliably, try to expand the exercise to take in a measure and a half at a time.

This drill is really frustrating at first, but it trains you to take in the entire measure at once by sight. That's not the same thing as playing of course, but it's a good component skill to develop.

Warm Regards
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#2040589 - 02/28/13 07:28 AM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: fizikisto]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 632
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
This does indeed strike me as a useful skill to have. Thanks for the tip. I think I might try this some time.

My main problem with sight reading, though, is that even when I manage to take in and name the notes on the page, I don't immediately connect them to the keys that go with them on the keyboard. And once I've memorized a score, I remember the way it sounds, but not what the names of the notes are.

Yesterday, my teacher asked me to start again at a specific spot in the piece I've been playing. I had to ask her to tell me what the notes were before I could do it (but once I had the first beat, I could continue with no problems).
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#2041181 - 03/01/13 06:01 AM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: fizikisto]
samasap Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/10
Posts: 607
Loc: UK
This sounds like a great exercise and will try it with some of my pupils due to take exams soon. Might help them with their sightreading skills. Will let you know how they get on.

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#2046832 - 03/12/13 06:49 AM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: fizikisto]
Lost Woods Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/13
Posts: 104
Loc: The Netherlands
Sounds like a nice drill! Gotta try this one in my sightreading practice.. smile smile

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#2046834 - 03/12/13 06:57 AM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: Lost Woods]
Kristina1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/24/13
Posts: 123
Loc: UK

Thanks very much for this great idea, it sounds very logical
and I shall try it out immediately.

I don't have so many problems with my sight reading anymore,
but my writing leaves lots to be desired.

Thanks a lot from Kristina.

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#2065771 - 04/16/13 11:31 PM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: fizikisto]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1731
Loc: Australia
I was wondering if anyone had success with this very logical sounding tip. Or perhaps you might have other tips to share. I have read a great deal on the subject but rarely do you find someone explaining a process that helped them.
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#2065845 - 04/17/13 03:44 AM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: fizikisto]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 254
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Saranoya: I suggest you build a connection with the notes you see to the notes you play, if that's where you're having trouble. This way you can play the note automatically without looking down. Do it like this:

Start with C. Your thumb always goes on C, until you know your way around the keyboard better. You see a C, you press your thumb down. You can probably do that. Now add an E. Write out a few lines of C's and E's. Your 3rd finger will always be E for the purposes of this exercise. Play what you see. Don't look down. If you have any trouble playing an E when you see it, practise some more. Then add G. Write out random notes (C E and G) and repeat the exercise. Keep adding new notes until you can play all the notes one ledger line below and above each stave. This might take a few days. As it gets more difficult you can take glances, but you need to know where you are in the music. This might seem tedious, but I don't think there's a better way to do it when you're starting out. I started this today with my student.

For interest's sake, it might be easiest to learn all the lines, and then add the spaces. When I was learning my notes this way, I actually first learnt C, E, G, A, C, E and A on the line above the staff. That made much more sense to me, as it just repeated.

Once you really know the notes, it would be useful to work on interval, especially steps (one note up or down) and skips (skips one note up or down). This will increase your speed by taking out unnecessary steps.
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#2066025 - 04/17/13 01:38 PM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: fizikisto]
DRSJ Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/15/13
Posts: 10
Sounds like a good drill! My issue is that I sight read solely for the purpose of memorizing a portion of a piece, and then I play it from memory. So I fear that I am not learning to advance my reading at all, but rather to only read good enough to memorize the notes after the first couple times through, stumbling, then my memory takes over and I'm coasting.

I imagine that doing this is a 'no no' if the goal is to actually play well WHILE reading, but how do I prevent my brain from automatically using these memorization tricks to circumvent actual sight reading, which it frequently does. I'll even memorize the drills that are supposed to be teaching sight reading, so that by the third or fourth time through I'm not actually sight reading at all, but playing from memory or by ear!

I read somewhere that it is human nature for our brain, by the time we reach adulthood, to have developed all sorts of short cuts and tricks to learning that become automatic (to help us parse through large swaths of data quickly). I wonder if my brain's 'shortcuts' to learning are hindering me in this regard.

Has anyone else struggled with this?????

On another note, this is my first post and I'm excited to have found so much helpful information on this site! Amazing!

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#2066330 - 04/18/13 01:45 AM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: DRSJ]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: DRSJ
I'll even memorize the drills that are supposed to be teaching sight reading, so that by the third or fourth time through I'm not actually sight reading at all, but playing from memory or by ear!


There are a specific set of rules you need to follow when practicing sight-reading so that the scale is tipped in favor of reading[ and not memorizing, else your brain will quickly adapt to what you're playing (tipping the scale the opposite way) and little to no reading will be taking place (defeating the purpose of practicing sight-reading at all). For instance, one such rule is that you should not play or read through any particular piece or exercise more than once (for the above reason).

See this great thread for tips and resources on what sight-reading is and how to practice it: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1909912/1.html


Quote:
I read somewhere that it is human nature for our brain, by the time we reach adulthood, to have developed all sorts of short cuts and tricks to learning that become automatic (to help us parse through large swaths of data quickly). I wonder if my brain's 'shortcuts' to learning are hindering me in this regard.


Our brains want things to be easy and so they adapt. Unfortunately, this is most all done unconsciously so we have no means to stop it unless there's either a teacher guiding us and/or we come to understand and know what it'll do in advance and then take preventative measures so that our learning isn't hindered. Be sure and make good use of these forums and all the useful information and people here.

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#2066353 - 04/18/13 03:03 AM Re: Good Sight Reading Drill [Re: Saranoya]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1549
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: Saranoya
Yesterday, my teacher asked me to start again at a specific spot in the piece I've been playing. I had to ask her to tell me what the notes were before I could do it (but once I had the first beat, I could continue with no problems).


Another exercise to try is starting at arbitrary points in the chart. Go through and play only the even numbered bars. Don't count time through the odds, just take an arbitrary pause and re-start. Then go back and do odds only. You could also go back to front. This breaks you out of memorization and forces you to read each measure.
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