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#2050029 - 03/18/13 02:50 AM Sight Reading Methods and Problems
Kerry Jacobs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/17/13
Posts: 8
My sight-reading background: 30 minutes every day for almost a year, still very terrible at it. Working with simple pieces for two hands with position changes and random keys, and I often struggle at 30 bpm.

I have tried both the "intervallic" and "note recognition methods" of sight reading, but have encountered some major problems with both and so I can't figure out which one to use. I know that some advocate a mixture of both, but I can't seem to combine the two. The reason is, if I get into a part in which I am using only intervals, I cannot go back to note recognition because even though I can start reading the notes again for pitch at any time, I don't know which keys are under which fingers anymore. I'll also address the fact that it wouldn't really make sense to try to use both methods simultaneouly for every note because that would defeat the purpose of intervallic reading which is supposed to facilitate faster speed than note recognition would allow (I'm not at a level at which I would know if that's true, but that is always the reasoning I see for intervallic reading).

So now I'll explain the issues I'm running into.

Intervallic: Because of its relative nature, when you play one wrong note, all subsequent notes thrown off. First of all, how would you notice when the notes get thrown off? Second, how would you correct it once you notice it? To clarify, (assuming some position changes as well) I would at that point have no idea where my hand is (i.e. what notes it's covering). I could either look down or feel the black keys, but both would take enough time to interrupt the rhythm considerably.

Note Recognition: I am somewhat concerned about the fact that for more complex pieces this method would not work anymore (as opposed to intervallic reading), but I don't know if this is true because I'm not at that level right now. Still, thoughts on this would be appreciated. In any case, I have experienced a problem with this method already. If I were to play with hands in a fixed position, I wouldn't really have any issues with this so far. However, in playing pieces pieces that require shifting, I cannot keep track of the new keys that my fingers are covering, especially after a few shifts.

This applies to both methods: How do you account for accidentals when changing positions? I'm very familiar with playing scales, but it doesn't really help in this regard because scales place the hand in very specific points within the key that often are not helpful for songs (e.g. when the most appropriate fingering involves the thumb on something like the 2nd or 6th degree, which doesn't happen in scale fingering (most scales anyway))

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to be very specific. Also, I'm not saying that these are faults with the methods, I'm just saying that these are issues I'm having with them. I don't believe both can be used well for the reasons stated above (please enlighten me if my arguments were not valid), and would just like to use one. I'm hoping someone can provide effective solutions to the problems I'm having with one of the methods so I can go forward with that one. For those who read and respond, I really appreciate your time.

Thanks.

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#2050047 - 03/18/13 03:50 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
Charles Cohen Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1184
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
There's too much theory, and not enough application.

So, two questions:

1. How well can you play _from memory_ ? An example of a piece you have mastered will answer that question.

2. What pieces have you been using for sight-reading practice?

There's something funny about running the metronome at 30:

. . . It encourages you to try for _perfection_.

I don't know if that's a good idea. I always figured that "sight-reading practice" meant accepting mistakes, and keeping the rhythm going through them.

If you have a teacher, what does he/she say?

. Charles

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#2050065 - 03/18/13 05:17 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
"...
My sight-reading background: 30 minutes every day for almost a year, still very terrible at it. Working with simple pieces for two hands with position changes and random keys, and I often struggle at 30 bpm.

I have tried both the "intervallic" and "note recognition methods" of sight reading, but have encountered some major problems with both and so I can't figure out which one to use. I know that some advocate a mixture of both, but I can't seem to combine the two. The reason is, if I get into a part in which I am using only intervals, I cannot go back to note recognition because even though I can start reading the notes again for pitch at any time, I don't know which keys are under which fingers anymore. I'll also address the fact that it wouldn't really make sense to try to use both methods simultaneouly for every note because that would defeat the purpose of intervallic reading which is supposed to facilitate faster speed than note recognition would allow (I'm not at a level at which I would know if that's true, but that is always the reasoning I see for intervallic reading).

So now I'll explain the issues I'm running into.

Intervallic: Because of its relative nature, when you play one wrong note, all subsequent notes thrown off. First of all, how would you notice when the notes get thrown off? Second, how would you correct it once you notice it? To clarify, (assuming some position changes as well) I would at that point have no idea where my hand is (i.e. what notes it's covering). I could either look down or feel the black keys, but both would take enough time to interrupt the rhythm considerably.

Note Recognition: I am somewhat concerned about the fact that for more complex pieces this method would not work anymore (as opposed to intervallic reading), but I don't know if this is true because I'm not at that level right now. Still, thoughts on this would be appreciated. In any case, I have experienced a problem with this method already. If I were to play with hands in a fixed position, I wouldn't really have any issues with this so far. However, in playing pieces pieces that require shifting, I cannot keep track of the new keys that my fingers are covering, especially after a few shifts.

This applies to both methods: How do you account for accidentals when changing positions? I'm very familiar with playing scales, but it doesn't really help in this regard because scales place the hand in very specific points within the key that often are not helpful for songs (e.g. when the most appropriate fingering involves the thumb on something like the 2nd or 6th degree, which doesn't happen in scale fingering (most scales anyway))

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to be very specific. Also, I'm not saying that these are faults with the methods, I'm just saying that these are issues I'm having with them. I don't believe both can be used well for the reasons stated above (please enlighten me if my arguments were not valid), and would just like to use one. I'm hoping someone can provide effective solutions to the problems I'm having with one of the methods so I can go forward with that one. For those who read and respond, I really appreciate your time.

Thanks.
..."

When learning a piece where I have to change my hand position, I say the names of the notes/keys under my fingers because at all times I have to know where I am in the music I am reading and where my fingers are on the piano. It is like when you are first learning to play you must say the name of the notes you are playing under your fingers.

When I play scales, I have to say the notes/keys I am playing going up and down because my fingers are on different keys/notes on each scale. Else if I don't do that I am just doing it from memory and not really paying attention to what I am playing because I am playing by ear and that is not beneficial to sightreading.

I am a beginner, so that may not help you.

You have to be able to play in a relaxed, controlled way at all times so it may be that it is a speed issue which means slowing down and take more time to get up to speed may solve the problem.


Edited by Michael_99 (03/18/13 05:22 AM)

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#2050072 - 03/18/13 06:16 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Michael, it gets kind of confusing when you quote the previous post (even though you use " "). If it's necessary to quote some of what the poster says, you can just use the "quote" button at the bottom of their post. Their post then appears in the reply box with tags all done for you. Just mentioning this because it not only makes your posts really long, but it's hard to sort out who's saying what. Hope this helps - I think it will help those of us trying to read your posts. smile
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2050075 - 03/18/13 06:23 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Kerry Jacobs
My sight-reading background: 30 minutes every day for almost a year, still very terrible at it. Working with simple pieces for two hands with position changes and random keys, and I often struggle at 30 bpm.
Kerry, if you are still struggling with the "simple" pieces you are trying to sight-read then you need to find some that are even simpler. Go right back to your comfort zone and don't be in a hurry to up the difficulty.

As for your question on methods, good sight-readers use a combination of interval reading and absolute note placement (not really thinking note names as such, but location).
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2050081 - 03/18/13 06:48 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Originally Posted By: Kerry Jacobs
My sight-reading background: 30 minutes every day for almost a year, still very terrible at it. Working with simple pieces for two hands with position changes and random keys, and I often struggle at 30 bpm.



Your problem is that you are trying to read beyond your capabilities. Sight-reading is more about what you CAN do, than what you can't do. So go backwards to some level where you can do it, and move from there.

Secondly, "methods" are irrelevant, in my experience. What you are trying to do is build a certain kind of physical response to what you see on the page, and it's really just about rapid recognition of what you see, and translation into physical motion, without much thinking. In other words, you need to be able to process the visual information in such a way that most of the process is automatic - you just know. It's a little like learning how to read verbal language - you first have to start out by becoming quite fluent in sounding out letters and syllables. Then whole words, then phrases, then sentences, and on to paragraphs. The only way to get there is by becoming fluent each step of the way. There are no shortcuts.

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#2050181 - 03/18/13 10:58 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
You might try to get really super solid on your scales and arpeggios, because it might help out with figuring out fingering problems on the fly without giving it too much thought. I also wouldn't personally sight read with the metronome. For me, part of sight reading is the pleasure of figuring out interpretation on the fly and I like room to add in tempo changes or rubato where appropriate. I might also try easier music to sight read. Try children's beginner books if you are really struggling. But I'd say start with something to build your confidence. I choose scandalously easy pieces to sight read most of the time and as a result I can play them somewhat expressively and have fun with it.

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#2050185 - 03/18/13 11:03 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
I wonder if sight-reading a piece, as opposed to memorizing a piece, is somewhat connected to the way one's brain is wired. In my case, I have been able to sight-read just about anything put in front of me. As a result, I have spent 40 years being hired as an accompanist for auditions and coaching classes, where nearly every piece put in front of me is new, or, as in my case, even if I have played it before, it looks new to me. I have always had a hard time memorizing solo rep for my own recital work. I force myself not to sight read any piece that I want to learn. I play it, usually hands separately, excruciatingly slowly until I have the whole structure in my brain.

Does anyone else have a similar case?

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#2050194 - 03/18/13 11:26 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 242
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Check out this page. http://www.soundfeelings.com/products/music_instruction/sight-reading_books.htm

I skipped straight to the Big Note (Level 2) section as I'd already been working on my sight-reading for about a year or so before I found the page, but it might be of interest for you to consider the rhythmic and left/right hand stuff. I skipped them and I'm happily reading the simple stuff. I read through "100 Best Loved Solos", "The Best Songs Ever" and "Fun to Play Christmas Songs" 2 or more times each, most recently in hour-long blocks. Firstly I went very slowly -- now that my understanding has increased, I can anticipate more easily and therefore play faster. I also played through some slightly harder material that I was inspired by -- Harry Potter Big Note, which was actually closer to level 3, and The Disney Collection, which was called easy piano and is probably at level 3.

I've just moved myself up to level 3 with the "100 Christmas Carols" book, and I'm doing pretty well. Some pieces I can play up to speed more or less, but I'm mostly going slowly to build my accuracy, and again, as I begin to understand the complexities more, I'll be able to play them faster. I can't wait to get more "Easy Piano" books. I've got so many on my wishlist -- Harry Potter, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Lord of the Rings, Wicked, Pirates of the Caribbean . . . and I'm sure I'll come up with even more.

As you can probably tell from this post, and as you can see in my signature, I just love sight-reading. Nothing gives me more pride. It's worth playing through the easier pieces, which are still very nice, to get to the point of being able to play the harder ones.

Re: Note recognition vs intervals
I use both thanks to a good understanding of theory. In the left hand I see broken chords and "edit" any deviations from there, eg. usually a broken chord would go C E G, but maybe this time it goes C F G. Knowing the basics means you run into less surprises. And part of knowing what to expect comes from reading all those easier pieces, as well as learning harder pieces (that are quite harder than your sight-reading level).
If I see a C and an A, I know instantaneously that those are what the notes are, but my hand will fall into the interval shape of a sixth. I think intervals come with time, as I originally focused on notes, but the trick is to see the note, know where it is and play it. That's how sight-reading becomes "automatic".
_________________________
I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

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

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#2050233 - 03/18/13 12:43 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Charles Cohen]
Kerry Jacobs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/17/13
Posts: 8
Quote:
An example of a piece you have mastered will answer that question.


I've memorized Moonlight Sonata Mvt 1. I just started Mvt 2 recently so I can't speak for the rest. I don't feel it was hard to memorize at all, but it is fairly repetitive.

Quote:
What pieces have you been using for sight-reading practice?


I haven't been using pieces, just sight reading books. I have trouble finding pieces at such a low level.

Quote:
There's something funny about running the metronome at 30


Wouldn't the metronome just reinforce rhythm? I'll try without and see how it goes.

Quote:
If you have a teacher, what does he/she say?


I don't have one. Too broke.

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#2050235 - 03/18/13 12:49 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: currawong]
Kerry Jacobs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/17/13
Posts: 8
Quote:
you need to find some that are even simpler.


I would need to go back to pieces with 2 hands and random keys, but no position changes. I would do that except for the fact that music with those specifications is very hard to find. I have a few pages of that, but it is very easy to memorize if I keep repeating those. Any suggestions on where to find music at that level?

Quote:
As for your question on methods, good sight-readers use a combination of interval reading and absolute note placement (not really thinking note names as such, but location).


Could you elaborate on how to use "absolute note placement"? It sounds interesting, but I don't quite understand how to apply it.

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#2050249 - 03/18/13 01:25 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: wr]
Kerry Jacobs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/17/13
Posts: 8
Quote:
What you are trying to do is build a certain kind of physical response to what you see on the page, and it's really just about rapid recognition of what you see, and translation into physical motion, without much thinking.


This sounds good, but could you explain how to practice for this? You mention becoming fluent each step of the way, what are these steps? In other words, how do you get to the point to where you respond without much thought. I know that you must practice, but what am I to be practicing? I understand that the best way to sight read might not be one of the common methods, but I don't see how it could involve no method at all.

Quote:
There are no shortcuts.

I'm not looking for shortcuts as far as I can tell. I just don't feel that my practice time has been used in an effective way and I would like to improve it. Just as someone serious about running would not want to waste time by continually practicing with bad form. I'm willing to put in the time, I just want to know how to better direct my efforts.

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#2050254 - 03/18/13 01:38 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Maechre]
Kerry Jacobs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/17/13
Posts: 8


I looked at the Big Note books you mentioned, and they may be my best option for my current SR level.

Quote:
In the left hand I see broken chords and "edit" any deviations from there,


This sounds like it might help me. I'll start trying this out.

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#2050260 - 03/18/13 01:52 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4859
When you've been playing piano (or indeed any keyboard) for long enough, you start to get a 'feel' of where the notes are. The notes on the page become morphed onto the actual keys themselves, and your hands have a kind of instinctive 'map' of the keyboard, so that you know where, and how far, to reach out with a finger from your present hand position to play a note that you see, without having to look down. It's like a form of proprioception. Just like when you have to step over an obstacle - you don't need to keep looking at your feet as well as at the object: you just know how much you need to lift up your foot to step over the object.

And when you see a chord, or a recognizable pattern of notes, you already know what shape your hands and fingers have to adopt, to play it. Then you might just glance down momentarily, just to check that your hand is right where it needs to be to play that chord or group of notes (if it was over some other part of the keyboard before).

So, when you see a note on the stave, can you instantly, without having to count or think, play that note on the piano? If you can, can you do the same with a simple chord (which means that your hand and fingers already have to instantly adopt the right shape, as soon as you see it on the page, so that when your hand comes down, all the right notes are played). Then, what about an arpeggio? And so on.

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#2050303 - 03/18/13 03:29 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
LarryShone Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 778
Loc: Darlington, UK
The mention of 'random keys' concerns me. Learning is about routine, practising a set routine over and over.
_________________________
If the piano is the King of instruments then I am its loyal servant.

Yamaha PSR225-I NEED A PIANO wink

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#2050322 - 03/18/13 04:07 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: LarryShone]
Kerry Jacobs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/17/13
Posts: 8
Quote:
The mention of 'random keys' concerns me. Learning is about routine, practising a set routine over and over.


Should I practice in one key at a time? I thought about doing that before to get more familiar with a key (which scales provide limited help for) but my material is in random keys. As I mentioned in some post above, I've already had trouble finding material for my level as it is. I'm going to get some "big note" books as suggested by another user, but I'm assuming those will have a variety of keys as well.

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#2050388 - 03/18/13 06:00 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Kerry Jacobs
I would need to go back to pieces with 2 hands and random keys, but no position changes. I would do that except for the fact that music with those specifications is very hard to find. I have a few pages of that, but it is very easy to memorize if I keep repeating those.
I don't think you need to look for specifics like this. Why even with two hands? If you're having as much trouble as you suggest, go right back and play single line music until you're confident with your note identification, one at a time.
Originally Posted By: Kerry Jacobs
Could you elaborate on how to use "absolute note placement"? It sounds interesting, but I don't quite understand how to apply it.
I just meant seeing the written note and knowing where it is on the piano (as opposed to relative note placement, as in reading by interval. Sometimes I get wordy when I'm tired. smile )

Grab a handful of beginner books and just play the stuff. Broad exposure to written music beats over-analysis, in my experience. Of course you'll notice patterns you've seen before and become better at reading them, but, as they say (and I think they're right!), just do it - and enjoy it smile
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2050434 - 03/18/13 07:41 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: currawong]
Kerry Jacobs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/17/13
Posts: 8
Quote:
I just meant seeing the written note and knowing where it is on the piano (as opposed to relative note placement, as in reading by interval.


Do you find that this ^ (as opposed to intervals) works even with difficult pieces at tempo? And do you have any tips for remembering which keys each of your fingers are on after a few position changes? This always messes me up.

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#2050462 - 03/18/13 08:21 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
Bogs Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/17/10
Posts: 133
I also think you should be reading easier material. The 'random keys' + 'different hand positions' is only introduced only later on in sight-reading graded material.
Level 1 - a whole book! - only hands separate, but gradually introduces more 'complicated' rhythms and even dynamics! Trust be, it gets hard to anticipate and pay attention to all the details, even with one hand!
Level 2 - hands together, but no position change throughout the piece. More rhythms and in the end even dynamics
Level 3 - hand position starts to change, but only a little bit, 'scale' like [3 over 1, etc].
Level 4 & above - dunno, haven't reached it (caught me, I'm a n00b hanging in the pianist corner :P)

This is how slowly you have to go! But they all help you looking at what's coming next. If you can't do that for the current level, then go back one level and read some more.

Regarding the metronome, I don't use it because from time to time I stall a little bit to read what I have to play. I think that's OK - I use the metronome when learning a new piece only after I've memorized it and figured out the technical difficulties of it as a "let's see if I can do it under pressure/evenly" kind of thing. I certainly don't have that high expectations when I sight-read!

Regarding the actual technique of sight-reading, I guess whatever helps you look ahead works. For some people it's chord progression/harmony theory, for some it's interval-reading, sometimes you need actual note reading, etc. Don't worry too much what or how you're doing it (it = reading ahead), as long as you do it!

I agree there aren't that many free resources, but graded sight-reading books are great and with sites like bookdepository delivering world-wide without transportation fee, I'm sure you can save up for a book once in a while.

Best of luck!
_________________________
old Gaveau upright & Kawai CA63; previously Korg SP250

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#2050469 - 03/18/13 08:35 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
Spacetone Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/16/13
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
I'll say I'm very good at sight reading. The way it worked for me is to put more than 30 minutes. I used (still sometimes do) to spend hours on end just sight reading. I would take scores everywhere I went and I would sight read them mentally. I think it's about persistence and constant practice until it fully sinks in and it becomes second nature. Maybe you don't have more than a half hour, so in that case I really recommend you take scores around wherever you go and try to mentally sight read them (or out loud is great, too.). Keep at it and don't give up. Also, start small. Sight read easy children's pieces until it becomes natural and easy. Then move on to harder stuff.

Good luck!

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#2050470 - 03/18/13 08:35 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Bogs]
Kerry Jacobs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/17/13
Posts: 8
Quote:
I also think you should be reading easier material.

Yeah, I'm starting to think part of where I went wrong was material. I was working through semi-instructional sight reading books which actually don't have much material at a certain level as they introduce several new things to do in each book. Finding out about "big note" and "5-finger" books will probably help me out quite a bit. I'll check out Bookdepository as well.

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#2050479 - 03/18/13 08:48 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Kerry Jacobs
Quote:
I just meant seeing the written note and knowing where it is on the piano (as opposed to relative note placement, as in reading by interval.
Do you find that this ^ (as opposed to intervals) works even with difficult pieces at tempo? And do you have any tips for remembering which keys each of your fingers are on after a few position changes? This always messes me up.
Yes, it does work with difficult pieces at tempo. Remembering which keys your fingers are on? I don't actually remember, I go by feel, by peripheral vision, by reading the notes. I'm a bit puzzled by the question actually, so perhaps I haven't quite understood what you're getting at. (Or you me, for that matter). As for "position changes", I don't really think that way at all. And if you're thinking 5-finger positions, I'd get out of that thinking as soon as you can and it will help your reading.

Anyway, I think the advice a few people have given you (easier material, and lots of it) is the way to go. Good luck. smile
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2050638 - 03/19/13 04:57 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 242
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Quote:
I'm going to get some "big note" books as suggested by another user, but I'm assuming those will have a variety of keys as well.

No, you're in good hands! smile

The big-note pieces usually have up to 1 flat/sharp, with 3 as a maximum and very rare.
_________________________
I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

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

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#2050639 - 03/19/13 05:06 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
Maechre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/12
Posts: 242
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Kerry Jacobs
I was working through semi-instructional sight reading books which actually don't have much material at a certain level as they introduce several new things to do in each book.

Yep, I found this out the hard way, too. I went through 6 out of 8 books before working out I really wasn't going to get up to scratch by reading 40 pages of material at each level. You need hundreds of pages before you can really begin to understand each level. And I'm assuming the higher level you get, the more material you need. Thankfully, difficult material is in abundance (hello, classical collections!). It's just getting there that's the hard part. And by hard I mean slow.
_________________________
I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

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

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#2050640 - 03/19/13 05:09 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5425
Loc: Orange County, CA
Brush up on music theory. Be able to instantly tell the type of triad or seventh chord you're playing and spot the nonharmonic tones. Know the key signatures and all the major/minor scales really well. Understand harmonic relationships (especially V-I) on the fly. Study some common chord progressions in tonal music.

When you get really really good at theory, you can almost anticipate what comes next in the music.
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#2050657 - 03/19/13 06:43 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Originally Posted By: Kerry Jacobs
Quote:
What you are trying to do is build a certain kind of physical response to what you see on the page, and it's really just about rapid recognition of what you see, and translation into physical motion, without much thinking.


This sounds good, but could you explain how to practice for this? You mention becoming fluent each step of the way, what are these steps? In other words, how do you get to the point to where you respond without much thought. I know that you must practice, but what am I to be practicing? I understand that the best way to sight read might not be one of the common methods, but I don't see how it could involve no method at all.

Quote:
There are no shortcuts.

I'm not looking for shortcuts as far as I can tell. I just don't feel that my practice time has been used in an effective way and I would like to improve it. Just as someone serious about running would not want to waste time by continually practicing with bad form. I'm willing to put in the time, I just want to know how to better direct my efforts.


It looks like many good people have chimed in and pretty much made it unnecessary for me to respond about how to go about improving. I'd just add that, depending on your location, libraries can be a great source of sight reading material, so you don't have to spend money on stuff you aren't going to be using for that long.

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#2050702 - 03/19/13 09:01 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Spacetone]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Spacetone
I'll say I'm very good at sight reading. The way it worked for me is to put more than 30 minutes. I used (still sometimes do) to spend hours on end just sight reading. I would take scores everywhere I went and I would sight read them mentally. I think it's about persistence and constant practice until it fully sinks in and it becomes second nature. Maybe you don't have more than a half hour, so in that case I really recommend you take scores around wherever you go and try to mentally sight read them (or out loud is great, too.). Keep at it and don't give up. Also, start small. Sight read easy children's pieces until it becomes natural and easy. Then move on to harder stuff.

Good luck!


Of all the comments on this thread, this one makes the most sense. I call the ability to sight read a knack, but the reality is, it is a skill that is learned by repetition, the same way you learned to talk, and you learned to read. You acomplished both these skills without any knowledge of the underlying theory or structure of the words. You don't hear nouns and verbs or say to yourself, as you are reading, oops, there's a noun coming up, better get ready for it. If you want to be able (not learn) to sight read, then sight read everything in sight - get your iPad out, go on- line, and download as many of the hundreds of thousands of piano pieces available free, in the public domain, as you want from many sites around the world. If you can write to PW and ask ithe question about sight reading, you will be able to sight read music. Don't think about it, just do it.

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#2050751 - 03/19/13 10:54 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Mwm]
Spacetone Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/16/13
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Spacetone
I'll say I'm very good at sight reading. The way it worked for me is to put more than 30 minutes. I used (still sometimes do) to spend hours on end just sight reading. I would take scores everywhere I went and I would sight read them mentally. I think it's about persistence and constant practice until it fully sinks in and it becomes second nature. Maybe you don't have more than a half hour, so in that case I really recommend you take scores around wherever you go and try to mentally sight read them (or out loud is great, too.). Keep at it and don't give up. Also, start small. Sight read easy children's pieces until it becomes natural and easy. Then move on to harder stuff.

Good luck!



Of all the comments on this thread, this one makes the most sense. I call the ability to sight read a knack, but the reality is, it is a skill that is learned by repetition, the same way you learned to talk, and you learned to read. You acomplished both these skills without any knowledge of the underlying theory or structure of the words. You don't hear nouns and verbs or say to yourself, as you are reading, oops, there's a noun coming up, better get ready for it. If you want to be able (not learn) to sight read, then sight read everything in sight - get your iPad out, go on- line, and download as many of the hundreds of thousands of piano pieces available free, in the public domain, as you want from many sites around the world. If you can write to PW and ask ithe question about sight reading, you will be able to sight read music. Don't think about it, just do it.


Definitely! Read as much music as you can. Eventually you'll begin to recognize patterns and chords in an instant. Sometimes it also takes a bit of sacrifice. If you know you won't have much time all day... Get up an hour before your usual wake up time and practice!

Watch this video. She hits the nail on the head about sight reading.




Edited by Spacetone (03/19/13 10:55 AM)

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#2051096 - 03/19/13 11:14 PM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: Kerry Jacobs]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
I love that video! It speaks to me anew each time I see it.

I put together the following post over in the ABF a while back, and hopefully it might contain some helpful suggestions of easy sight reading "fodder" for the OP (or others) to try.
Easy Sight Reading Fodder
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#2051145 - 03/20/13 02:12 AM Re: Sight Reading Methods and Problems [Re: LarryShone]
Charles Cohen Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1184
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
The mention of 'random keys' concerns me. Learning is about routine, practising a set routine over and over.


Except we're talking about sight-reading!<g> And for that, only the "first time through" is pure sight-reading. You never get a chance to experience that again.

"bennevis" has expressed my feelings better than I could. Somehow, you need to develop a "map" from the notes on the page, to the notes (and finger movements) on the piano.

So, along with others, I'd say:

. . . Sight-read pieces that are _easier_ than what you
. . . can learn to play.

If that means "big note" books, so be it. Maybe hymn books -- just the melody line? Or just the bass line? Folk-song books?
The Bach 2-part inventions (in keys you know) -- just one part? Opera vocal scores (some public domain, many in libraries) -- just the vocal parts?

If you haven't learned to play a scale and chords in (say) E major, it'll be really tough to sight-read something in that key. The mental connections you need (note-on-page to finger-on-key), haven't been developed yet.

Sight-reading is a "real-time" skill, like tennis, or driving a car. You can't just master it intellectually, by following one method or another. It has to happen faster than you can _think_ the process. I understand that you want to understand what to do to improve. But the best advice might be:

. . . Find something simple that you _can_ sight-read, and go from there.

I sympathize with your frustration, and wish I had a simple fix.

. charles

PS -- Many years ago, I had a copy of "Guided Sight-Reading", by Leonard Deutsch. It's still in print, and the Kindle edition (which I think you can read on any computer) is around $9. It may be too advanced, but might have useful hints.

http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Guided-Sight-Reading-Leonhard-Deutsch/dp/1406745006

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