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#2150525 - 09/15/13 12:40 PM Any experience with Sight Reading Factory?
thorn_was_taken Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 95
Note: This is not spam -- I have zero connection with the Sight Reading Factory or any of its employees. I do, however, wish to improve my sight reading. So I'm asking...

I heard about this online learning tool from a music prof pal whose university employer plans to use it in its undergraduate music program. It's $30/year for an individual, which to my mind isn't terrible -- if it's effective and easy to use. Most of my music stuff -- notes, theory info etc. -- I want to own & keep, but not the sight-reading materials, which are to me more like a videogame I'd be unlikely to play again after completing all levels. (Except Bartok's Mikrokosmos, which is so charming -- but not enough on its own to get me to really quit hunting and pecking once and for all.)

When my friend first told me about Sight Reading Factory (he knows I 'hunt and peck' at the piano), there was no piano module, but now there is.

I've already figured out that (obviously) it's an iPad thing. I don't know yet whether it would work with my Kindle Fire, but am going to check. The iPad I'm using is a 'loaner' from my employer.

I'd love to hear from someone who has tried this before I pull the trigger. Especially if someone who has taught sight-reading (or been taught very well) were to try out the demo and report back. Since I can't sight-read to save my bottom, I have no frame of reference for judging the efficacy -- or otherwise -- of the system, even if I *do* go ahead and try it for a year. $30 for a year wouldn't kill the budget -- but it is almost half the price of a solid book on theory or harmony, which I also want/need.
_________________________
thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A

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#2150599 - 09/15/13 03:38 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

Note: This is not spam -- I have zero connection with the Sight Reading Factory or any of its employees. I do, however, wish to improve my sight reading. So I'm asking...

I heard about this online learning tool from a music prof pal whose university employer plans to use it in its undergraduate music program. It's $30/year for an individual, which to my mind isn't terrible -- if it's effective and easy to use. Most of my music stuff -- notes, theory info etc. -- I want to own & keep, but not the sight-reading materials, which are to me more like a videogame I'd be unlikely to play again after completing all levels. (Except Bartok's Mikrokosmos, which is so charming -- but not enough on its own to get me to really quit hunting and pecking once and for all.)

When my friend first told me about Sight Reading Factory (he knows I 'hunt and peck' at the piano), there was no piano module, but now there is.

I've already figured out that (obviously) it's an iPad thing. I don't know yet whether it would work with my Kindle Fire, but am going to check. The iPad I'm using is a 'loaner' from my employer.

I'd love to hear from someone who has tried this before I pull the trigger. Especially if someone who has taught sight-reading (or been taught very well) were to try out the demo and report back. Since I can't sight-read to save my bottom, I have no frame of reference for judging the efficacy -- or otherwise -- of the system, even if I *do* go ahead and try it for a year. $30 for a year wouldn't kill the budget -- but it is almost half the price of a solid book on theory or harmony, which I also want/need.

_________________________
thorn


____________________________________________________________________________________

Thanks, thorn for posting about sight reading. I am a beginner piano player of 2 years and I would go crazy in the brain everytime I would see a posting of sight reading of people wishing they could sight read - which I understand to mean to be able to sit down on a piano bench and play a piece of music at speed - and by speed I mean at Presto (200 beats per minute) or at what speed the piano player wants to play it at when he plays it for the first time - and not having to play it hundreds or thousands of times to be able to play it musically and without errors.

You see, playing the piano is like writing shorthand - the only difference is that as a shorthand writer you hear a sound and you write it in shothand so you can write very fast, like 200 or possible 300 words a minute - so fast. Playing the piano is reading the music and then playing the music very fast when you sit down at the piano bench to play the music for the first time without errors and playing it muscially - same task..

For anyone to be able to sight read or to play a new piece of music you have never played before to play it at a fast rate or presto which is about 200 beats a minute - so very fast - you have to play all the music you play all the time or that you have been playing for a lifetime be it a young life - or an old life - at a top speed.

Here is what I mean. Shorthand writers start out like piano players do - playing slowly without errors - because the brain will only remember what it has been told, so if you tell the brain anything that is wrong - it will remember it until you die or your brain dies - so the piano rule is what it is - a rule that must never be broken else you have to learn it so you can play it without errors.

The next important thing to remember is that the brain has to be able to do something 20 beats faster than it needs to be so that the brain can do it in a controlled and accurate way be it anything - sports - driving - it doesn't matter what it is - the rate difference is always 20 beats more than is required for an accurate time and action sequence that has be to mastered.

So now to piano playing - it goes without saying that the piece you want to learn - you have to know the names of all the notes in the piece and where they are on the piano. You also have to know how to play the measures accurately in terms note valves. The reason is because if there is anything that will cause you a problem - everything comes to a dead halt. The same with a shorthand writer - if they hear a word for the first time in their life or career - they have to write it in a form of shorthand that they can remember the word heard so they can look it up later. So famous piano players are absolutely no different than a beginner piano player except they have 10 years of experience or a life time of much, more experience - so there are fewer and fewer surprises they have daily as opposed to a beginner piano player that everything they play is a show stopper if they don't play it very slowly without errors.

Next you have to play it slowly without errors and making it musical. It usually takes about 2 years to be able to writing shorthand presto or 200 wpm - so writing shorthand 4 to 6 hours a day everyday of the 2 years, so a very long time and a lot of work. And if you write shorthand that is very complex, then it is like starting all over again learning new words. Well, the sames with the piano. If you learn basic music, you can play it at presto 200 easily if is a simple piece because of your experience at the piano but if you were to sit down and try to play Chopin's ballade No 4, Opus 25, it could take you 2 or more years - and for some - a lifetime to be able to play that piece because it is one of the most difficult pieces to play.

So there is no magic just hard work whether you are gifted or a slow learner like myself, you can do it but you have to want to do it and keep the standards at a level of your playing so your learning curve is commerate with your goal.

So in a word or two, you don't need a special piano, or a special book of anything because like learning anything - riding a bike - it is all about - not sitting on a special bike, but just a bike that you can pedal and steer. So there are no shortcuts - just sitting down at the piano playing gradually more difficult pieces gradually playing faster but always without errors - no exception - and playing the music musically.

cheers, and enjoy

3S15CZY




Edited by Michael_99 (09/15/13 03:47 PM)

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#2150683 - 09/15/13 06:10 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
thorn_was_taken Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 95
I just looked superficially at the demo.

Michael_99, thank you for your response, however I fear you may have misconstrued my query.

The Sight Reading Factory demo presents five short passages for each reading level -- intended to give one an idea of how it works, I presume. I think the paid version allows one to set a timer. I was hoping it would be a bit like a videogame for sight-reading that might be set up so that one can see only a couple of measures at a time. It's far easier not to look back if one can't.

But I really like what someone here was saying (was it Dave?) about reading a variety of different styles of music. I was hoping maybe someone from the teachers' forum might have subscribed and might have more to say.

Michael_99, fear not -- I'm not looking for a magic brain-slug to infuse me with instant sight-reading ability. Just hoping to find an undefeatable anti-cheat mechanism to help me practice. Sort of like those old computer programs that help one to drill French verbs. Sight Reading Factory *may* do something like this, but I'm still not totally sure. The few examples I tried weren't anything special, but it does have a click-button that allows one to hear the passage to see if one has gotten it right, which is cool, and where I've run into difficulty with Mikrokosmos. A paid subscription offers 'unlimited' exercises, which could save me a fair amount of hunting-for-appropriate-music time -- if the database of exercises is extensive enough.

http://www.sightreadingfactory.com
_________________________
thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A

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#2150700 - 09/15/13 06:38 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
ShiroKuro Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3235
Loc: not in Japan anymore
I just quickly went through the site and selected a level for piano -- the way you choose your level is nice, it explains what the levels are based on and you can choose time signature and key.

Then it shows you the score and there's a pre-set tempo (mine, level 3, was 100), but you can change that. So you could, for example, play along with it. Or, you could do the sight reading and then play it to see how close you were etc.

I think it looks really neat. However, I'm not sure I'd want to do a year's subscription, and I always worry about subscriptions that make it hard to get out of them...

Thorn, i have used the "A Line A Day" sight reading series, and I liked that. They are less than $5 per book, so for $30 (the year subscription for the SightReading Factory) you could get 6 books.

But, yeah, the books don't let you program what you're going to practice, and the choosing the key and all that is pretty cool....
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2150705 - 09/15/13 06:42 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
ShiroKuro Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3235
Loc: not in Japan anymore
BTW, it looks like it's cheaper to buy A Line A Day sight reading books at Amazon, but if you go to SheetMusicPlus.com, you can see a sample from each level. just FYI
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2150731 - 09/15/13 07:25 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

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

I just looked superficially at the demo.

Michael_99, thank you for your response, however I fear you may have misconstrued my query.

The Sight Reading Factory demo presents five short passages for each reading level -- intended to give one an idea of how it works, I presume. I think the paid version allows one to set a timer. I was hoping it would be a bit like a videogame for sight-reading that might be set up so that one can see only a couple of measures at a time. It's far easier not to look back if one can't.

But I really like what someone here was saying (was it Dave?) about reading a variety of different styles of music. I was hoping maybe someone from the teachers' forum might have subscribed and might have more to say.

Michael_99, fear not -- I'm not looking for a magic brain-slug to infuse me with instant sight-reading ability. Just hoping to find an undefeatable anti-cheat mechanism to help me practice. Sort of like those old computer programs that help one to drill French verbs. Sight Reading Factory *may* do something like this, but I'm still not totally sure. The few examples I tried weren't anything special, but it does have a click-button that allows one to hear the passage to see if one has gotten it right, which is cool, and where I've run into difficulty with Mikrokosmos. A paid subscription offers 'unlimited' exercises, which could save me a fair amount of hunting-for-appropriate-music time -- if the database of exercises is extensive enough.

____________________________________________________________________________________________ `

thorn, I wrote what I had to say about sight reading and I clicked on Piano World to see if there was a sight reading thread that was active. I saw your sight reading post as an active thread so I added a post to the thread. So that is all it was. You see, it would be impolite to start a thread that didn't ask a question.

On your remark about reading a variety of different styles of music, I poltely and respectfully disagree because sight reading from my understanding is restrictly reading the names of the notes in the piece of music and being able to find them on the piano to be able to play them. So what type of music or style of music has nothing to do with sight reading except it is notes on a page that you are reading and being able to find them on the piano and play them. I must quickly add, of course, that you must know the values of each note on the page and there is a very important reason why you have to know the values of the notes on the page or piece of music and that is if you do not know the values of the notes, you won't be able to play the note/notes the proper length of time and so you will not be able to play the music so you will know what it will sound like. Knowing the values of the notes to be able to read and play them enables you and/or anyone to know how to make the music you have never heard or played before the way it should sound when played.

cheers,

3S15RPY

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#2150736 - 09/15/13 07:34 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1121
Loc: Australia
Glad to see this website has finally added the piano. I have been practicing sight reading daily since I started 10 months ago so am quite the novice. However I have researched the subject to death and while I like this site was a bit disappointed it was not interactive. However that said I think it represents a good source of graded material at a reasonable price.

I may review and subscribe but for now I have lots of material for sight reading practice and for an interactive challenge I use a program called Prestokeys which is a note generator with enough adjustable settings to suit the beginner to advanced sight reader. Good luck with you choice.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXIII-4-XXX

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#2150767 - 09/15/13 08:18 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
thorn_was_taken Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 95
You can choose your key? Hm. I think I like both the 'surprise' and the ease of being guided by an unseen hand. I even make my teacher decide which pieces I should play, poor soul.

I will take a look at the 'Line A Day' previews. Thank you for that suggestion; it seems economical. I worry about a subscription myself -- on account of the guilt I would feel if I didn't use it every single day. Online subscriptions are a river; music books more of a bucket. Great functionality could make an online practice tool worthwhile, but only if it saves me significant extraneous effort.
_________________________
thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A

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#2150800 - 09/15/13 08:57 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
It says the examples in this product are computer generated, right? Isn't there another different sight reading subscription service wherein they offer actual human-composed music?

I remember there being more than one of these sight reading subscription services, but I'm not keeping them all straight in my head. Reminders of similar services would be welcome.
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#2150837 - 09/15/13 09:34 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: tangleweeds]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1370
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
Isn't there another different sight reading subscription service wherein they offer actual human-composed music?

I remember there being more than one of these sight reading subscription services, but I'm not keeping them all straight in my head. Reminders of similar services would be welcome.



Forum member Evan R. Murphy runs the site sightreadingmastery.com and I can easily personally recommend it. The compositions are very musical and written specifically to coincide with ABRSM's sight-reading syllabus (though only up to level 3). There's a 7 day free-trial and if you subscribe, you can click the following link I copied from Evan's Pianoworld signature for: 40% off the first month for Pianoworld users

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#2150841 - 09/15/13 09:36 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: tangleweeds]
thorn_was_taken Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 95
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
It says the examples in this product are computer generated, right? Isn't there another different sight reading subscription service wherein they offer actual human-composed music?

I remember there being more than one of these sight reading subscription services, but I'm not keeping them all straight in my head. Reminders of similar services would be welcome.



I was just looking at the site again. Yep, the music is computer-generated. The good thing about that, is that it really wouldn't be possible to run out of examples.
_________________________
thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A

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#2150847 - 09/15/13 09:42 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
ShiroKuro Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3235
Loc: not in Japan anymore
You know, I wonder about the computer-generated thing.... how reliable is it to have sight-reading exercises that are computer-generated? Is there something we're overlooking here? Is there something about the human-written site (SightReadingMastery) that would make it the better choice?
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2150890 - 09/15/13 10:35 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 1810
Loc: Rocky Mountains
No matter what you do. Getting sight reading down is important. If you like this or that. That's great! Just follow Nike's advice: Just Do It!
Personally, I'm up to my ears in sight reading right now. I'm drowning in it.
_________________________
Ron
Ingrid, my beloved VPC : "Play it Sam....For old times sake...Play it for me...I'll sing it with you...Play me again, Sam."

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#2150917 - 09/15/13 11:13 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: ShiroKuro]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
Originally Posted By: ShiroKuro
You know, I wonder about the computer-generated thing.... how reliable is it to have sight-reading exercises that are computer-generated? Is there something we're overlooking here? Is there something about the human-written site (SightReadingMastery) that would make it the better choice?

I think so. Experienced sight readers report that they sometimes have to kind of fudge the music, by reading to play the the basic melodic and harmonic patterns, even if the player can't catch precisely all the notes on the page. *

i think much hinges on how sophisticated the computer music generator is, but overall I think human-generated music would be more likely to familiarize the aspiring sight reader with meaningful musical idioms.


* I find myself doing a less helpful proto-version of this. When the notes get too thick on the page for me to catch them all in time, i catch myself playing the most melodically and harmonically trite and predictable thing imaginable, rather than the (usually much more interesting) thing on the page.
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#2150955 - 09/16/13 12:11 AM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
thorn_was_taken Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 95
I wonder whether having to read completely unpredictable (i.e. machine generated) music mightn't result in human-produced music being easier to read, because human music is generally predictable, so the need to fudge might be reduced by practice reading more random computer-generated music. If that is the case, it could also result in very modern, atonal music being fairly readable -- but I am *so* inexperienced with this that I have no clue whether modern art music ever presents reading difficulties.

@tangleweeds: Your comment about the idioms is pretty interesting. It raises the question of whether the Sight Reading Factory's system has included statistical analysis of the patterns commonly found in existing human music from a variety of periods and in many styles. I've gathered that spotting rhythm patterns quickly and accurately is at least as important as getting the notes right -- and that the commonly occurring intervals are critical to getting the notes right...?
_________________________
thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A

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#2151314 - 09/16/13 01:32 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
DinaP Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/12
Posts: 148
Another possible series is Sight Reading and Rhythm Every Day .

The publisher's page I linked to explains what knowledge is necessary for each level so you can pick the level you want to start at. Also, each week's work of exercises ends with activities that you and your teacher can do on lesson day.

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#2156639 - 09/24/13 04:08 AM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1121
Loc: Australia
After looking closely at the Sight Reading Factory I decided it was a fairly good option to add to my sight reading regime and have taken out a subscription.

While the exercises may be computer generated they are indeed musical enough to pass as human written. The price tag is definitely a winner and I like the fact you have access to all levels should you want to take a step back or forward.

What I really liked was the ease of use which meant you spend more time sight reading at your level. On day one I easily went through a normal books worth of exercises.

Sight reading is a dark art and I was disappointed to read that another forum member (tromboneal) gave up after five and a half years of intense work. This program alone won't make anyone a great sight reader but a very useful tool in the arsenal none the less.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXIII-4-XXX

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#2156854 - 09/24/13 01:33 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: earlofmar]
Barbareola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/12
Posts: 67
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: earlofmar
After looking closely at the Sight Reading Factory I decided it was a fairly good option to add to my sight reading regime and have taken out a subscription.


Let us know how it works out for you!
_________________________
Currently working on: Venetian Gondola song by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy

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#2156862 - 09/24/13 01:54 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: earlofmar]
thorn_was_taken Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 95
Originally Posted By: earlofmar
After looking closely at the Sight Reading Factory I decided it was a fairly good option to add to my sight reading regime and have taken out a subscription.

While the exercises may be computer generated they are indeed musical enough to pass as human written. The price tag is definitely a winner and I like the fact you have access to all levels should you want to take a step back or forward.

What I really liked was the ease of use which meant you spend more time sight reading at your level. On day one I easily went through a normal books worth of exercises.

Sight reading is a dark art and I was disappointed to read that another forum member (tromboneal) gave up after five and a half years of intense work. This program alone won't make anyone a great sight reader but a very useful tool in the arsenal none the less.


Thank you so much for letting us know you're trying it! Definitely let us know how it works for you, if you can spare the time. I'd love to know whether it has any features that its electronic-ness makes brillant, that are completely impossible to practice with printed music.
_________________________
thorn

-- Sometimes I poke. Even if I like you.

1920's Mason & Hamlin A

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#2157075 - 09/24/13 08:36 PM Re: Any experience with Sight Reading Factory? [Re: thorn_was_taken]
earlofmar Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/13
Posts: 1121
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: thorn_was_taken
Originally Posted By: earlofmar
After looking closely at the Sight Reading Factory I decided it was a fairly good option to add to my sight reading regime and have taken out a subscription.

While the exercises may be computer generated they are indeed musical enough to pass as human written. The price tag is definitely a winner and I like the fact you have access to all levels should you want to take a step back or forward.

What I really liked was the ease of use which meant you spend more time sight reading at your level. On day one I easily went through a normal books worth of exercises.

Sight reading is a dark art and I was disappointed to read that another forum member (tromboneal) gave up after five and a half years of intense work. This program alone won't make anyone a great sight reader but a very useful tool in the arsenal none the less.


Thank you so much for letting us know you're trying it! Definitely let us know how it works for you, if you can spare the time. I'd love to know whether it has any features that its electronic-ness makes brillant, that are completely impossible to practice with printed music.


Easy to answer right now, I have seen almost immediate progress in the last three days just by finding my correct level and staying with it. I think I was aiming too high before and while I had some graded material it was mostly not graded.

As to the electronic advantages I have a computer screen at my dp so I can open the browser anytime of day and just do some sight reading. I can have an exercise in front of me quicker than getting one of my books out, a single click and a new exercise is up in the same key and time signature as the last. I have some Paul Harris sight reading books and the exercises change key and time signatures from one to another prompting a change in thinking which I find a little off putting.

So the big advantage is you control the key and time signature as well as being able to flit between different levels if you want to push yourself or step back a little. Each exercise comes with a play button which is good to hear how it should be played, here you can also control the tempo although I am happy with the standard setting of 100. I think this will be a really good feature when I get used to playing along with the program. Many people have written their sight reading improved when they played with others at tempo. While this isn't the same as accompanying someone it would force you to play without hesitation and quickly recover and play through errors (another important ability). Just the ability to hear the exercise and adjust the tempo gives this program the edge over books.

The program currently goes up to level 4 with 5 & 6 supposedly coming soon so there is a drawback there for more advanced readers but for me sitting between level 2 & 3 I could easily see me with this program for a few years and more if they develop the other levels.

So far I really like this program and it will be a major component (but not the only one) of the tools I will use.
_________________________
I thought I understood endurance sport; then I took up piano
XXXIII-4-XXX

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DEBUSSY-"Serenade for the Doll" from 'Children's Corner'
by Hal Freedman
04/20/14 07:14 PM
Worth buying a new digital piano as a controller?
by slickvguy
04/20/14 05:49 PM
Video clip for classical music?
by Nikolas
04/20/14 05:43 PM
Home speakers for RD700NX: need help!
by PoleStar
04/20/14 05:32 PM
stuff fell through the Kawai K8 fallboard, into the piano
by akita
04/20/14 03:12 PM
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