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#461514 - 06/04/02 10:56 AM sightreading
smiles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 31
I am a pretty good player, but I can't sightread even really easy stuff very accurately. Difficult stuff is just about impossible. Oddly enough, I can do pretty good quick study work. I would really like to get better at sightreading. Does anyone have some ideas on how I can improve? (I know about all the "look at the key signature and chord patterns" and stuff, my fingers just don't do it.)

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#461515 - 06/04/02 12:00 PM Re: sightreading
Beth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/21/01
Posts: 151
Loc: Atlanta Area
Sight read daily. Lots of stuff. Easy stuff, intermediate stuff. Whatever. Go slowly right now so that you can keep a steady tempo, regardless of the tempo marking, don't go any faster than you can play accurately and steadily. Don't stop to fix mistakes. Keep going. Use the metronome if it helps. Get in the habit of looking ahead. You don't see just one word at a time when you are reading, don't get stuck on one note or chord when you play. Think about it: you are "sight reading" these words now. The more you read, the better you will be at reading.

As for the chords, I understand completely. I have found something that helps me, but its tedious. I play the chords and cadences in different inversions in all keys as part of my warm up. I-IV-I, I-V-I, I-IV-I-V-I, I-V7-I, IV-V-V7-I, etc. vary it. Play all the keys. Play all the inversions. Vary the rhythm and tempo some to keep it from getting to dull. But your fingers will learn to get to the chords more easily.

Read, read, read.

#461516 - 06/04/02 02:35 PM Re: sightreading
LudwigVanB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/02
Posts: 152
Loc: Atlanta
I agree with everything Beth says (esp since she has me over to her house for an adult recital every few months!)

To add to what Beth says, if you don't mind spending $12 get Seymore Bernstein's book, With Your Own Two Hands. He gets right to this in the first few pages of the book and makes a strong case that one cannot be a good musician without being a good sightreader. He gives a detailed 15 minute a day regimen that looks kind of tedious but its not as bad as it looks. Its the best thing on sight reading I've seen so far.

#461517 - 06/04/02 08:39 PM Re: sightreading
PianoMuse Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 902
Loc: Philly, PA
I have the same problem as you. i consider myself a good pianist, and I can learn and memorize pieces quicker than can a lot of other pianists, yet i really have trouble with sight reading...even simple, 3rd-grade level stuff! So i have been working on it, and one thing is for certain: READ AHEAD! I know it can be hard to do, but look ahead a measure in your score and use your music intuition to fill in the gaps of the measure you are playing while looking ahead. Reading ahead will prepare you for any sudden leaps of accidentals that may pop up in the score, so that you dont come to a dead halt when those obstacles get in your way.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." ~Rachmaninoff

#461518 - 06/05/02 12:28 PM Re: sightreading
nancyww Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 585
Loc: central oregon
I can't sightread worth beans but I'm working on it. One thing I noticed is that if I think too hard while sight reading, the notes get all jumbled up and everything comes to a screeching halt. It seems to work better if I can look at the notes and just let my hands play what I see. Sort of like when I used to type alot and could look at the text, type with my fingers but carry on a conversation with someone and have my mind on something completely unrelated. Is this some kind of left brain/right brain phenomenon?

#461519 - 06/05/02 03:26 PM Re: sightreading
Grotius Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/02
Posts: 100
My sight-reading is not all it could be, either. My two biggest problems are accidentals and -- this is a bit embarrassing -- notes that are high above or below either clef. I've been playing the piano for 35 years, so I certainly do know how to read music, but sometimes I have to scratch my head and count ledger-lines to figure out just what note is called for. It's partly a function of my declining vision, too. Why can't these composers use 8-va more often?

Are there any studies that might help someone with my particular deficiencies?


#461520 - 06/07/02 11:22 AM Re: sightreading
kenny Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
My teacher has me working out of this book:

Speed-Reading At The Keyboard Volume 1, By Edward Shanaphy, Stuart Isacoff and Julie Jordan. Ekay Music, Inc 333 Adams St, Bedford Hills, NY 10507 ISBN 094674825-9 $19.95


There are 3 volumes, but I believe Vol 2 and 3 are out of print.

I like the book, it also has "flash cards":
You look at a simple measure or two,
try to take a mental photograph,
close the book,
THEN play.

Very challenging!


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