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#2068316 - 04/21/13 11:16 PM Oh not another sight reading thread
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1766
Loc: Australia
I am interested to find out how other people fared with sight reading in the early years. Going from zero piano and sight reading skills how do you think your sight reading skill developed by the end of the first year and second year.

I ask because I would like to get an average opinion which might give me some hope in this regard.

I realize we are all different, depends on how much we practice or how important it is, but all stories will be great appreciated.
_________________________
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#2068370 - 04/22/13 01:29 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
casinitaly Offline


Gold Supporter until March 1 2014


Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 5296
Loc: Italy
Love the title of your thread.

I don't know if my reply will be what you're looking for, as I could read music before starting on piano - I just couldn't read bass clef.

Even with my previous experience, which was pretty good, I found it hard to get the hang of the bass clef.
My first teacher said that it generally takes about 2 years before students are reading "fluently" - but of course that always depends on how much time you dedicate to doing it. It certainly took me over a year to feel I was reading correctly with just the odd slip up here and there, longer to feel I was starting to be able to do is at a respectable speed.

And now, just as I was getting comfy, my pieces are getting harder smile
_________________________
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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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#2068431 - 04/22/13 02:55 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
Mete Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/13
Posts: 45
Loc: Turkey
It's been 8 months since I started and my sight-reading is pathetic. I know I have to keep a tempo, read slow and look ahead. But there is too much going on and my brain cannot keep up with it.

I guess sight-reading is like walking. First, you have to stand on your feet, balance your weight between steps, check if steps are equal, look ahead to see if there is an obstacle, etc.. I think I have to struggle just like a baby. You can't expect a baby to walk like a model suddenly, right?


Edited by Mete (04/22/13 03:12 AM)

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#2068441 - 04/22/13 03:08 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Mete]
Polyphonist Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7776
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Mete
To an adult, walking is so natural that it cannot be described.

You may want to delete that bit, as it could be offensive to those for whom it, unfortunately, is not true.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2068442 - 04/22/13 03:12 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Polyphonist]
Mete Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/13
Posts: 45
Loc: Turkey
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

You may want to delete that bit, as it could be offensive to those for whom it, unfortunately, is not true.


Thanks.


Edited by Mete (04/22/13 03:13 AM)

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#2068456 - 04/22/13 04:02 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: earlofmar
how do you think your sight reading skill developed by the end of the first year and second year.


By the end of the first year? Awful! But then I did little to no practicing of it, and any that I did was probably most all improper so it is/was to be expected.

I still need to practice this with greater regularity, but at least I've developed the skill a little and can practice it with confidence and not just get frustrated and quit after a few minutes like when I'd started. Here's two nice resources to help explain practicing it:

http://www.pianoteacherlosangeles.com/2012/05/on-sight-reading-there-is-really-no.html

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...0an.html#UNREAD


Edited by Bobpickle (04/22/13 04:03 AM)

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#2068457 - 04/22/13 04:05 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
raikkU Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/13
Posts: 73
Does sight reading refer to being able to read notes at all, or *while* you play?
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#2068458 - 04/22/13 04:19 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: raikkU]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: raikkU
Does sight reading refer to being able to read notes at all, or *while* you play?


Some people use the term interchangeably, but to me, "sight-reading" means to make a conscious effort to play through a whole piece (at whatever tempo) without stopping (this means no looking at your hands), usually without ever having seen the piece of music before. Reading, on the other hand, in a musical context may be interpreted as just simply looking over a piece of written music, not unlike one does with a book.

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#2068469 - 04/22/13 05:14 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
earlofmar, I have read your post, here:

I am interested to find out how other people fared with sight reading in the early years. Going from zero piano and sight reading skills how do you think your sight reading skill developed by the end of the first year and second year.

I ask because I would like to get an average opinion which might give me some hope in this regard.

I realize we are all different, depends on how much we practice or how important it is, but all stories will be great appreciated.

_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano

__________________________________________________

Sight reading is interesting because I never know what it means to everybody else, so I guess, I will explain what it means to me.

In my life time I had a few, and I mean a few guitar, violin, accordian, piano, sax lessons, I could read the treble clef notes - on, under 5 and above 5 staff. but reading notes isn't reading music - it is a huge help - but not everything. A year ago, I accidently fell deeply in love with playing the piano when I played a few pieces out of the first book of the Leila Fletcher of beginner piano. I knew enough that I was in deep trouble because I didn't know the bass clef, so I concentrated very much so in the bass clef. What helped immensely was writing out the major scales, in the bass clef - not only on the bass staff, but below and the bass staff starting with G the last line of the bass clef and then below that F, E, D, C, B,A, G, which was extremely helpful working on it over the last year. Early on in music you learn very quickly that knowing the names is tiny compared to knowing counting measures and working with note values beyond eighths notes, dotted notes, and rests of all descriptions.

Two things helped my reading or sight reading of any and every description. From piece number one to the current day - of a year - I review a large portion daily of every piece I have ever learned. Currently I am working though John Thompson book 1, so I currently review daily the 27 pieces I know from the first page of the book. Additionally, I review the 50 pieces I learned from my first piano book of Leila Fletcher every 2 or 3 days. I would like to review these daily, too, but I am starting to get very excited with the new stuff in the JT book.

Although, I am dyslexic, have learning and memory, problems, I have not had any difficulty playing any music until today, - coincidentally - and, disappointedly, my first classic, too, Mozart , "Air from Mozart", 16 measures. The problem or the issue, was the treble clef has dotted quarter notes etc, and the bass clef only had dotted half notes. The time signature is 3/4. Mozart had my little fingers too busy - even though I was playing slowly - but I knew immediately that I should write out the piece on staff paper and put in the fingering, and the counting of the measures so I can play through the measures and play the notes accurately and keeping the timing right. So I worked through the piece over 2 or 3 hours and I can play it - just okay, but it still needs a lot of work to play it smoothly.

As soon as I could play the piece through, okay - if you will, I turn to the John Thompson Book to read and play the piece. I just write out any piece, or portion of a piece on staff paper to reduce the risk of making any errors in timing or wrong notes, and then I go back to the original to read and play the piece.

I have been okaying reading the music so far up until today but I suspect it will be more complicated over time, but the key is - it isn't about learning new pieces, but reviewing constantly, because I am a beginner and these pieces are the foundation pieces of learning to play the piano so I have to play them until I can play them easily. So note names are fine, in sight reading, but reading through complicated rhythms is a lifetime of learning the piano.




Edited by Michael_99 (04/22/13 05:33 AM)

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#2068495 - 04/22/13 07:38 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
WiseBuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 822
Loc: Brighton Colorado
By sight reading I mean picking up a piece I've never seen before and playing it correctly for rhythm and notes although slowly. Ideally I read the dymamics too. The only thing that seems to help is reading lots of music. Most people read music a bit easier than they are able to learn over more practice time. The biggest help lately has been having my teacher pull out a new piece and then critique my sight reading. I STILL have trouble reading ahead...just don't seem to do that well.
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#2068507 - 04/22/13 08:11 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
Ragdoll Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 698
Loc: Illinois
Quote:
I am interested to find out how other people fared with sight reading in the early years. Going from zero piano and sight reading skills how do you think your sight reading skill developed by the end of the first year and second year.


I did zero "sight reading" and very little to learn to read music at all. I'll tell what my hindrance was... There are not probably five or six pieces in the method books I started with (Alfred's #1 for adults) that I had not heard many times in my childhood, many of which I knew how to sing.

Because of this I tended to play them as I had heard them (however they were arranged in my mind) rather than read the music. A huge deficit in my early studies. I began to improve much when I started to play pieces I didn't "know" `cause by default I had to read the music.
And now, my pieces are more complex and it's really impossible to play them correctly without reading the notes.

In essence, what helped me learn to read was doing it, period... and I'm still learning to do so 2.5 years in. smile
_________________________
Ragdoll

Never get directions from someone who hasn't been there.


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#2068513 - 04/22/13 08:30 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1766
Loc: Australia
Thanks for the replies so far

Casintaly - since you could read the treble clef fluenty I would guess you played another instrument before the piano. This must have been a great benefit and a great curse having to think of two clefs instead of the usual one.

Mete - I like your "learning to walk" analogy, it is so true

Bobpickle - thanks for the links, I might attempt Maduro's suggestion of playing Bach Inventions and singing (although my wife has enough to put up with my bad piano playing)

Michael 99 - all that writing - I have heard that writing out music helps us to remember better - by the way I have been dabling with Musescore, a composition and notation program. I sometimes write out short passages of sight reading lessons: I think it helps
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I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2068588 - 04/22/13 10:58 AM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3868
Loc: Northern England.
I for one am hopeless at sight reading. I`ve done it for years without improvement; my eyesight`s not clever mind. Even when I went to lessons I memorized the work when playing back. So my page didn`t get turned when it should, or at all.

Dunno how I learned to read and write. But I did . . . .Watching good sight readers is like watching touch typists. Makes ya sick . . . .
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#2068625 - 04/22/13 12:03 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Mete]
Anne B. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/22/13
Posts: 4
Loc: Banned
This skill is very difficult to achieve. Actually you need to be single minded and practice/sight read every day. Take the following steps: start with much easier pieces (1 - 2 grades before your actual grade), do it for 10 minutes at the beginning and then as you feel more confident start increasing the time, don't play more than 8 - 10 bars at the beginning and increase the number as you gain confidence.

It will also help considerably if you use a very interesting method, it is really worth looking at it SightRead4Piano app for iPad SightRead4Piano
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sightread4piano-by-wessar/id483084741?mt=8

Besides the method the advantage is that music is graded and is coming from 6 examination boards so you know all the time which level you are actually playing: ABRSM, LCM, RIAM, Rockschool, AMEB and Yamaha.

I had excellent results with my students and they also loved it.
The company website is www.sightread4.com

See what you think and perhaps let me know.

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#2068672 - 04/22/13 01:59 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
I picked up Alfred All-in-One Book 1 and followed it from cover to cover to learn where the notes are, then moved onto the graded series on my own. I was moving myself from piece to piece rather quickly, and my sight reading was getting very strong for a beginner playing grade 1 piano in the first year.

Then, I got a teacher, and I was not allowed to move on to a new piece until I play the piece much better than I ever imagined necessary. By the time I finished a piece, it's basically memorized, and my sight reading abilities stood at a stand still at grade 1 even though I advanced over time to grade 4 and grade 5 piano.

The bottom line, if you read a lot of new music, your sight reading will improve. If you play the same thing over and over, your playing would be better but your sight reading won't.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2068676 - 04/22/13 02:09 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Anne B.]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2423
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: Anne B.
This skill is very difficult to achieve. Actually you need to be single minded and practice/sight read every day. Take the following steps: start with much easier pieces (1 - 2 grades before your actual grade),


I suspect for most of us, 1 - 2 grades below is a possible, but difficult, eventual goal but is simply unattainable until you have developed very good reading skills.

I tend to sight read pieces that I suspect are somewhere between grades 1 & 3 but I have learnt pieces of grade 7 or 8 level. I will find that my reading of pieces at a higher level is much better, but to consider it sight reading? Not even close!!!
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#2068678 - 04/22/13 02:11 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Anne B.]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Ann B., I have read your post, here:

This skill is very difficult to achieve. Actually you need to be single minded and practice/sight read every day. Take the following steps: start with much easier pieces (1 - 2 grades before your actual grade), do it for 10 minutes at the beginning and then as you feel more confident start increasing the time, don't play more than 8 - 10 bars at the beginning and increase the number as you gain confidence.

It will also help considerably if you use a very interesting method, it is really worth looking at it SightRead4Piano app for iPad SightRead4Piano
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sightread4piano-by-wessar/id483084741?mt=8

Besides the method the advantage is that music is graded and is coming from 6 examination boards so you know all the time which level you are actually playing: ABRSM, LCM, RIAM, Rockschool, AMEB and Yamaha.

I had excellent results with my students and they also loved it.
The company website is www.sightread4.com

See what you think and perhaps let me know.

__________________________________________

Ann, thanks very much for posting an interesting post. As a busy teacher, it is wonderful that you have taken a moment to post on a very interesting post.

I realize that computer technology is at the forefront of the music world. If a poor music student has limited resources, isn't just playing pieces learned everyday and reviewing everyday, the same same thing as sightreading, because you are reading music you are learning on day one and for the rest of your piano journey, you are playing music at your level and your reading ability is commensurate with your playing ability. As a slow learner, I don't understand how special music is any different than the music you play everyday as a piano player. Perhaps you or someone enlightened could explain the difference to a beginner piano player like me. Thank you.



Edited by Michael_99 (04/22/13 02:13 PM)

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#2068728 - 04/22/13 03:15 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1098
Loc: Southern California
I am a poor sight reader. I tried to learn years ago, got frustrated and gave up on it. More recently have I been spending some time with a sight reading app, and it has gotten me to at least being able to identify the notes, though sometimes with hesitation.

Reading the dots and lines is more like learning a second language with a different character set than some of the other analogies. Some folks are exposed early, some have a high aptitude, some struggle. I struggled. I found TromboneAl's story interesting:
http://pianosightreading.blogspot.com/2008/01/background.html

He was an accomplished musician, and finally decided to learn the dots and lines. There is hope for all of us. However, it took a polished musician playing paid gigs, an hour a day for four years to reach the skill level he wanted to reach. That's an hour a day focusing on sight reading.

Considering that I spend an hour a day total on piano, it might be more like 10 years or more at 10 minutes a day. The other side is that a high aptitude person might reach a high skill level in six months or a year of modest work. I see plenty of these fast burners on the forum that seem to take to the dots and lines like ducks to water. Like learning a foreign language, for some it comes easily, for some it is extremely difficult. There is no knowing without trying, so all should try.

If after some dedicated effort, a person still struggles mightily, there are other roads. Some learn to play by ear, or learn treble clef and use lead sheets with chord names, or learn to write their own music (my chosen path), or improvise. There are also other forms of notation. I learned to read ABC notation which is popular in folk music, and still notate my compositions in that format.

I can add that sight reading is one skill. Ear training, music theory, rhythm work, are sometimes neglected, and these skills are also part of being a well rounded musician.


Edited by Sand Tiger (04/22/13 03:25 PM)
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#2068785 - 04/22/13 04:45 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Anne B.]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1766
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Anne B.

It will also help considerably if you use a very interesting method, it is really worth looking at it SightRead4Piano app for iPad SightRead4Piano
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sightread4piano-by-wessar/id483084741?mt=8

Besides the method the advantage is that music is graded and is coming from 6 examination boards so you know all the time which level you are actually playing: ABRSM, LCM, RIAM, Rockschool, AMEB and Yamaha.

I had excellent results with my students and they also loved it.
The company website is www.sightread4.com

See what you think and perhaps let me know.


Anne B. SightRead4Piano is a outstanding app but obviously limited to the Apple world. I would have bought it ages ago only I don't own an IPad. I use PrestoKeys which I think is a great program but cannot be used alone. The old tried and tested method of reading as much as you can in different styles seems to be the best.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2068789 - 04/22/13 04:50 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Michael_99]
Anne B. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/22/13
Posts: 4
Loc: Banned
Ann B., I have read your post, here:

This skill is very difficult to achieve. Actually you need to be single minded and practice/sight read every day. Take the following steps: start with much easier pieces (1 - 2 grades before your actual grade), do it for 10 minutes at the beginning and then as you feel more confident start increasing the time, don't play more than 8 - 10 bars at the beginning and increase the number as you gain confidence.

It will also help considerably if you use a very interesting method, it is really worth looking at it SightRead4Piano app for iPad SightRead4Piano
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sightread4piano-by-wessar/id483084741?mt=8

Besides the method the advantage is that music is graded and is coming from 6 examination boards so you know all the time which level you are actually playing: ABRSM, LCM, RIAM, Rockschool, AMEB and Yamaha.

I had excellent results with my students and they also loved it.
The company website is www.sightread4.com

See what you think and perhaps let me know.

__________________________________________

Ann, thanks very much for posting an interesting post. As a busy teacher, it is wonderful that you have taken a moment to post on a very interesting post.

I realize that computer technology is at the forefront of the music world. If a poor music student has limited resources, isn't just playing pieces learned everyday and reviewing everyday, the same same thing as sightreading, because you are reading music you are learning on day one and for the rest of your piano journey, you are playing music at your level and your reading ability is commensurate with your playing ability. As a slow learner, I don't understand how special music is any different than the music you play everyday as a piano player. Perhaps you or someone enlightened could explain the difference to a beginner piano player like me. Thank you.

------------------------------------------
Dear Michel_99,
Sight reading means picking up a music score you have never seen before and just play it continuously. This is beyond what you achieve every day by practicing one piece or the same pieces every day to improve your playing ability.

Sight reading makes people enjoy music and life generally much more. Being able to explore new music permanently is a great skill. Just think that you would not need to worry about stumbles or about what follows next; you would just be able to follow the score, play the music as it comes and enjoy it.

This skill is not impossible to achieve providing you practice in a certain way every day. What you will have to do is to look only ahead, your eyes need to be 4 - 5 bars ahead; never look back.
Then you need to prioritize, the essentials of good sight reading in this order are: continuity, rhythm and pitch.
The SightRead4App app I was telling you about is focusing on training your brain and eyes to look only ahead, thus achieve continuity.
I hope this helps. Good luck with sight reading!

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#2068790 - 04/22/13 04:50 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Ragdoll]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1766
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Ragdoll
[quote]
In essence, what helped me learn to read was doing it, period... and I'm still learning to do so 2.5 years in. smile


Ragdoll, I have heard this expressed so much it must be the norm. As a complete beginner I notice my sight reading is improving as my technique improves which is similar. I had thought it was something I could learn as a standalone thing but no, it is integral.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2068793 - 04/22/13 04:59 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Sand Tiger]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1766
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger

. I found TromboneAl's story interesting:
http://pianosightreading.blogspot.com/2008/01/background.html

He was an accomplished musician, and finally decided to learn the dots and lines. , it took a polished musician playing paid gigs, an hour a day for four years to reach the skill level he wanted to reach. That's an hour a day focusing on sight reading.


Sand Tiger I read Trombone Al's blog cover to cover a few months ago. Studies seem to indicate that you can only really apply yourself to sight reading for 15 to 20 mins a day. I think that is more achievable for us with busy lives. Al's is one of the best posts I have read on the subject because it literally is a blow by blow description of someone's attempt to learn sight reading.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2068832 - 04/22/13 06:15 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I've just downloaded Anne Bs app for iPad, it looks extremely good and I'm looking forward to using it with my students.

My sight reading is excellent (runs and hides hehe!).

But...it wasn't always this way. I have been playing for over 30 years, studied at a conservatoire and have been performing, accompanying and teaching for the last 15 years or so. Up until studying for my B mus degree my sight reading was awful. I went through the whole ABRSM system as a kid and managed to fail the sight reading element in every exam from grades 1 through to 8! It just wasn't happening. As a teacher it's easy to understand why. I was an ear player and found it very easy to memorise music. I whizzed through my grades by learning and memorising just 3 pieces for each. Having a good level of technical flair I got by pretty well (blagged it really) but I didn't spend enough time reading music to get good at doing it fluently. The sight reading tests were a waste of time because they were simply too difficult and all I could do was limp through with many errors and hesitations.

Things changed when I went college. For a start I was able to practice for several hours a day. This means you just eat up repertoire and that's when it starts making more sense. Fluent sight reading comes from encountering the same patterns over and over as you do if you play enough music. But theres more to it than that. I started to accompany recital classes for instruments. Singers were the worst for dropping the music in your pigeon hole ten minutes before the class started or even better, changing their pieces just as they were going on. Some of the accompaniments were very complex so you develop the ability to know what you have to play and what you can miss out. Obviously there is no option but to keep going in time and at the correct tempo. Sometimes all I could do was give a sketchy outline but over time I got better. As a teacher I have to demonstrate new music for students all the time. It's well below my level so I can usually play it straight away unless it's something quirky and unpredictable. Reading below your level is a must if you want to stand a chance of playing with any fluency and accuracy at speed.

So.... I'm afraid most of it comes down to experience and years of practice. You need to have played so much music that you can just anticipate what must come next the same as we do with text and speech. If I wrote a sentence with miskates or missing ........ your brain would just sort it out instantly. Experience.

You need to understand keys and harmony because most music is not random. Knowing your scales will help but also practicing chords and progressions is good. The ear plays a big part. I sometimes find that scores will contain mistakes that I correct automatically without even noticing because I know how it should sound and feel. I don't even have to think about it.

Most importantly you will only sight read fluently if you have technically mastered your instrument. Any physical barriers will result in hesitation. It's not necessarily to do with interpreting the notation. For example I can read music as well as anyone but I can't sight read when I play the guitar. It's not because I don't understand the score, it's because I'm a lousy guitarist!

One other thing to add is that people seem to get obsessed with this ability to just sit down and play anything straight away. It doesn't work like that. It's not realistic. And at the end of the day does it really matter? So what if you have to practice it a few times, is that so bad?

Stick with it!
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#2068836 - 04/22/13 06:29 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Chris H.]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Very nice reading your comments Chris H. My children's teacher says much the same things. He was for many years the main accompanist for the San Francisco Opera, and the children and I often joke that it's disguisting how he could sight-read literally anything. It's good to know that you teachers started out as mere mortals and were not born with your super-human abilities!
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2068840 - 04/22/13 06:41 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3868
Loc: Northern England.
there`s some good interesting stuff here. In relation to Chris H`s post, I used to play organ at church, and was required to sight read all the stuff for the Zunday Services. Hymns, anthems psalms etc. The poor ole tenor (we only had one) got missed out, `cos I could only manage to read three notes ata time . . I became reasonably competent at that. I`m convinced you can read well in one genre - and be nloody hopeless in others!

`Snot fair . . . .
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes � but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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#2068871 - 04/22/13 07:45 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: peterws]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1766
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: peterws



Dunno how I learned to read and write. But I did . . . .Watching good sight readers is like watching touch typists. Makes ya sick . . . .


peterws, I learned to touch type years ago for my job and I can tell you it is pretty easy to learn. However sight reading is so much more difficult it is chalk and cheese.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXV-6-XXX

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#2068941 - 04/22/13 10:21 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: Chris H.]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Chris H., I have read your post, here:

I've just downloaded Anne Bs app for iPad, it looks extremely good and I'm looking forward to using it with my students.

My sight reading is excellent (runs and hides hehe!).

But...it wasn't always this way. I have been playing for over 30 years, studied at a conservatoire and have been performing, accompanying and teaching for the last 15 years or so. Up until studying for my B mus degree my sight reading was awful. I went through the whole ABRSM system as a kid and managed to fail the sight reading element in every exam from grades 1 through to 8! It just wasn't happening. As a teacher it's easy to understand why. I was an ear player and found it very easy to memorise music. I whizzed through my grades by learning and memorising just 3 pieces for each. Having a good level of technical flair I got by pretty well (blagged it really) but I didn't spend enough time reading music to get good at doing it fluently. The sight reading tests were a waste of time because they were simply too difficult and all I could do was limp through with many errors and hesitations.

Things changed when I went college. For a start I was able to practice for several hours a day. This means you just eat up repertoire and that's when it starts making more sense. Fluent sight reading comes from encountering the same patterns over and over as you do if you play enough music. But theres more to it than that. I started to accompany recital classes for instruments. Singers were the worst for dropping the music in your pigeon hole ten minutes before the class started or even better, changing their pieces just as they were going on. Some of the accompaniments were very complex so you develop the ability to know what you have to play and what you can miss out. Obviously there is no option but to keep going in time and at the correct tempo. Sometimes all I could do was give a sketchy outline but over time I got better. As a teacher I have to demonstrate new music for students all the time. It's well below my level so I can usually play it straight away unless it's something quirky and unpredictable. Reading below your level is a must if you want to stand a chance of playing with any fluency and accuracy at speed.

So.... I'm afraid most of it comes down to experience and years of practice. You need to have played so much music that you can just anticipate what must come next the same as we do with text and speech. If I wrote a sentence with miskates or missing ........ your brain would just sort it out instantly. Experience.

You need to understand keys and harmony because most music is not random. Knowing your scales will help but also practicing chords and progressions is good. The ear plays a big part. I sometimes find that scores will contain mistakes that I correct automatically without even noticing because I know how it should sound and feel. I don't even have to think about it.

Most importantly you will only sight read fluently if you have technically mastered your instrument. Any physical barriers will result in hesitation. It's not necessarily to do with interpreting the notation. For example I can read music as well as anyone but I can't sight read when I play the guitar. It's not because I don't understand the score, it's because I'm a lousy guitarist!

One other thing to add is that people seem to get obsessed with this ability to just sit down and play anything straight away. It doesn't work like that. It's not realistic. And at the end of the day does it really matter? So what if you have to practice it a few times, is that so bad?

Stick with it!

_____________________________________

Thanks for your enlightenment and perspective.


Edited by Michael_99 (04/22/13 10:22 PM)

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#2068942 - 04/22/13 10:23 PM Re: Oh not another sight reading thread [Re: earlofmar]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 817
I'm an eye player, not an ear player. Reading is the most natural way for me to interact with music.

I started piano as a kid, so it can be hard to remember. But I was not a particularly gifted reader. It is more that I was particularly deficient in aural and memory skills. So the way I've learned pieces for many many years has been puzzling through the written score. This used to be a very very slow process but has gradually improved over the decades.

In my case, it was probably 20 years before reading started to 'click' and I could begin to react to the patterns on the page and not the notes. At just 1 or 2 years, I'm sure I was puzzling over each notes, as some of you might be now.

All I can say is that if you keep at it, it will get easier. And I've been a particularly slow music student so I'm sure you can do better.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

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