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#2261113 - 04/13/14 04:11 PM How to improve Sight reading
Lily33 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/03/11
Posts: 6
My daughter started to learn piano at 5 and half year old, after three years, she still make mistakes on reading music note,and she read very slowly for each new music piece that she starts. This frustrate me and her teacher very much. I want to get her up to speed, I don't know what kind of exercise or books that she should do to improve her sight reading skill. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.

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#2261172 - 04/13/14 06:34 PM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: Lily33]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5418
Loc: Orange County, CA
Does she practice sight reading every day? Does the teacher cover sight reading during lessons?

I have one student who was SO BAD at sight reading, I spend 2/3 of the lesson on nothing but rhythm, note reading, and sight reading examples. Most kids who cannot sight read also have rhythm problems. It took me about 8 months of intensive work on sight reading, and we're not out of the woods yet!

Reading the letter name of each note is just one aspect of sight reading. There's rhythm, fingering, and coordination between hands. There is a lot of multitasking involved.

Believe it or not, math (fractions, proportions) is also intrinsic to sight reading. Poor sight readers are likely to be really bad at math, too.
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#2261218 - 04/13/14 08:12 PM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: Lily33]
Piano*Dad Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10349
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I find sight reading issues amusing. Don't get me wrong. Sight reading is most definitely NOT an easy skill to master. I just happen to have a kid who was less interesting in polishing because his ability to read was so … polished. We have the finishing issue to deal with!

AZN is quite right. If your child is not an effective reader, then the teacher will need to work on that skill by devoting more of the lesson and practice time to sight reading situations. It is indeed a multitasking skill, and the teacher has to make this really hard thing into a fun process by starting simple so success is easier to grasp.
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#2261244 - 04/13/14 08:56 PM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: Lily33]
hreichgott Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/13
Posts: 868
Loc: western MA, USA
Frequent reading at a level that is currently easy for the student to sight-read. This will probably be substantially easier than her repertoire playing level.
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#2261426 - 04/14/14 06:46 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: AZNpiano]
LarryShone Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 770
Loc: Darlington, UK
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano


Believe it or not, math (fractions, proportions) is also intrinsic to sight reading. Poor sight readers are likely to be really bad at math, too.

That is very interesting! I find sight reading really hard and I am not good at maths at all!
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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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#2261431 - 04/14/14 06:59 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: LarryShone]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5899
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Believe it or not, math (fractions, proportions) is also intrinsic to sight reading. Poor sight readers are likely to be really bad at math, too.
That is very interesting! I find sight reading really hard and I am not good at maths at all!
And I am not very good at maths either, but I'm an excellent sight reader, so don't let it be some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy for you. smile
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#2261457 - 04/14/14 08:16 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: hreichgott]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3151
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: hreichgott
Frequent reading at a level that is currently easy for the student to sight-read. This will probably be substantially easier than her repertoire playing level.


And an 8 year old may not have a very high repertoire playing level.

One of the ways to get your sight reading level higher is to get your repertoire level higher.

Before that, doing a lot of sight reading proactice may just be frustrating.
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#2261485 - 04/14/14 09:52 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: currawong]
LarryShone Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 770
Loc: Darlington, UK
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Believe it or not, math (fractions, proportions) is also intrinsic to sight reading. Poor sight readers are likely to be really bad at math, too.
That is very interesting! I find sight reading really hard and I am not good at maths at all!
And I am not very good at maths either, but I'm an excellent sight reader, so don't let it be some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy for you. smile

I've always seriously struggled with sight reading. I know how the system works, I understand the process and have even written a small piece years ago. But looking at a piece of sheet music is like looking at a foreign manuscript. It just doesn't go in. And it annoys me, because I'm missing out!
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Yamaha PSR225-I NEED A PIANO wink

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#2261547 - 04/14/14 12:11 PM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: currawong]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7501
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Believe it or not, math (fractions, proportions) is also intrinsic to sight reading. Poor sight readers are likely to be really bad at math, too.
That is very interesting! I find sight reading really hard and I am not good at maths at all!
And I am not very good at maths either, but I'm an excellent sight reader, so don't let it be some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy for you. smile

And I am good at both. It seems this is somewhat random. grin
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Polyphonist

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#2261599 - 04/14/14 01:52 PM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: Lily33]
kck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 265
What helped my son over here was just working slowly through a series of books designed just for sight reading, starting very simple and working our way up. I think more aural learners tend to remember notes fast and so they never need to get very good at sight reading. So having something new to read every day or 2 is really necessary, and polishing repertoire pieces won't necessarily improve reading ability. We didn't even necessarily spend much lesson time on it.

A couple series that worked well here
https://www.mnmusicteachers.com/store-category/3

(this is book 1 of 11 of this series)
http://bookstore.musicdevelopmentprogram.org/books/book-1.html

ETA - I'm not sure I believe the sight reading strength = math strength. My son is 3-4 years accelerated in math at age 13 with little effort, but did need to work at sight reading. He is a strong pianist for age (although not necessarily the most self motivated and focused). I have multiple tech degrees, including a BS in math FTR.


Edited by kck (04/14/14 01:54 PM)
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#2261954 - 04/15/14 05:49 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: Lily33]
LarryShone Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 770
Loc: Darlington, UK
I've found an app on my phone that displays an octave below a stave. The stave has a note on it and you have to press the corresponding key. Its something I can do each day so it could prove useful!
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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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#2262493 - 04/16/14 07:56 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: Lily33]
noobpianist90 Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 292
Loc: India
Here you go:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,11490.0.html

That's a treasure trove of sight reading information. I have been following it for a month now and I've already begun to see huge improvements.


Edited by noobpianist90 (04/16/14 01:43 PM)

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#2262600 - 04/16/14 01:22 PM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: Lily33]
Tmoose Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/07
Posts: 111
Loc: Washington State
Hi All - I'm a self-teaching (for the moment) adult, sort-of-intermediate level, but have been struggling with sight-reading for years. Yes, it would be helpful to have a teacher to motivate me, but I've really, consciously tried to work on it and have made progress, but frustratingly slowly.

One thing that seems to help (me) is to listen to a recording of a piece that's not too complex while reading along with the score (and even some that are way above my level). It helps me to associate the visual patterns of rhythm, relative note value/position and movement within the clefs with the associated sounds and feel of the piece. I was away from my piano for several years and did this when possible and when I came back to actual playing my reading seemed to have improved, and continues to do so (albeit still slowly!).

I haven't heard of anyone using or mentioning this 'technique' before, but FWIW, there's my 2 cents!
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1906 Steinway B (#124401)

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#2262912 - 04/17/14 03:13 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: LarryShone]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5418
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
I've found an app on my phone that displays an octave below a stave. The stave has a note on it and you have to press the corresponding key. Its something I can do each day so it could prove useful!

Several of my students are doing something similar, and it has really helped them with sight reading.

But it has to be done consistently and conscientiously. Anything haphazard or off-and-on is not going to be useful. Do these exercises mindfully and purposefully, focusing on one aspect of notes (bass clef only, inner ledger lines, outer ledger lines, etc.).
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#2262960 - 04/17/14 08:13 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: AZNpiano]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3151
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: LarryShone
I've found an app on my phone that displays an octave below a stave. The stave has a note on it and you have to press the corresponding key. Its something I can do each day so it could prove useful!

Several of my students are doing something similar, and it has really helped them with sight reading.

But it has to be done consistently and conscientiously. Anything haphazard or off-and-on is not going to be useful. Do these exercises mindfully and purposefully, focusing on one aspect of notes (bass clef only, inner ledger lines, outer ledger lines, etc.).


Isn't this working on one specific skill, keyboard geography?

That's part of sightreading, and it might be a large part in the very beginning.

But I think it's a very small part of advanced sightreading.
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gotta go practice

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#2263301 - 04/18/14 01:08 AM Re: How to improve Sight reading [Re: Lily33]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Just the words "sight reading" used to put me into a cold sweat when I was a student. My teacher knew it too, so she would play duets with me. Not that I enjoyed that. I think it frustrated her more than me! grin

But I had a series of books specifically for sight reading called "Sight Reading & ear tests, by Elsie Bennett & Hilda Capp. Another series, the "Four Star" sight reading & ear tests by Boris Berlin and Andrew Markow. These books were a God send for me. Book 1 - 10. Book 1 would be with Grade 1.

So just to add here, I think when you sight read "NEVER" look at your hands. Pretend you are blind and using your fingers like you are feeling braille! Like riding a bike, you have to look straight ahead or you'll hit a car. Look only straight at the music. Work thru intervals and note identification.

Go slow, and if you come across a note you don't know, then circle it and learn it. Knowing half your notes is not going to cut it. Knowing all your notes is a must for sight reading! This includes the leger line note! Which we seem to neglect for some reason.

Sight reading practice should always be done at our lesson and absolutely every day at home!

So try doing duets.

Hope this helps!


Edited by Diane... (04/18/14 01:25 AM)
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