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#915751 - 04/30/03 10:52 AM Re: Sightreading technique
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Hi, pique--

His name is Johann Pischna, you should be able to "google" him and find some info. I know of only two things:

1) The Little Pischna - a series of shorter, beginner to intermediate exercises

2) 60 Progressive Exercises - more advanced, for me they are about isolating fingers, building strength and dexterity, not speed

Check out this URL for a fairly comprehensive list of exercises, including Pischna's published work:

Pischna works

You should talk to your teacher also, since she sounds great! I'm sure her opinion will be right for you.

Nina

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#915752 - 04/30/03 12:00 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Pique,

I just typed Johann Pischna in google.
\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915753 - 04/30/03 12:38 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Pique,

I agree wholeheartedly. I have had adult students in the past (I am not currently teaching) and in each instance I made it clear that we would likely be going back to fill in any holes. A few decided they didn't want to do that. A few decided that they did, and I think they were very happy that in a couple of years time they were able to read fluently and they now knew how to "finish" pieces.

I have to speak for my current teacher, though. Her students have had amazing success. For example, he took on a 50-ish gentleman two years ago who was a beginner. In two years he not only reads fluently, but he can play Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata, Brahms' Op. 118 No. 6, Debussy Preludes, a Bach Prelude and Fugue, and a Mozart Sonata. He was also accepted into the CU music program and an undergrad. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during his lessons!

Ryan

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#915754 - 04/30/03 01:07 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Ryan,

I have the intuition he can play so well BECAUSE he reads and does not learn by stubborn and desperate repetition.

Reading is the shortest way to mastery.

Because reading leads necessary to memorizing.

That is what I am experiencing with the scales and Pischna.

I have always wondered how Bach taught his beginner adult students.

I know he did not let them play a piece before a few months. When they got really VERY impatient , he just wrote one of his beautifull little preludes for them.

I now know that he helped them built solid basic skill. He probably used Pischna and scales \:D and made sure they mastered all the basic elements : rythm(in the broad sense), pitch and sensitivity of the sound.
He certainly gave them strong harmonic and contrapunctal basics so that they knew what they were doing when they played the preludes.

Unfortunately, all that is left is what his students learnt after they had the most important training.

He was like the Pyramid builders : the secrets are lost but the works are there for eternity.

Sorry about the lyricism !

I sometimes get carried away. \:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915755 - 04/30/03 01:09 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
thank you, nina. i will check with my teacher about him.

and ryan, me too! i want some of whatever he got from his teacher. wow!
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#915756 - 04/30/03 01:50 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
It looks like you received some good advice on this area you want to develop. There are a couple of things I would add. From reading your posts in this thread - and let me know if I am wrong - you are not equating sight playing (which I guess you mean playing with the music in front of you) with sight reading (playing a piece the first time you see the music in front of you). Sight reading is a skill that takes a long time to develop - just ask me because I am terrible at it - and what goes through your mind as you are sight reading is quite different than the mental process of sight playing or playing from memory.
There is a lot of good advice in this thread that can help with sight reading, but another important point to make is you need to always be moving forward in the music while you sight read. That means reading forward, and (the most difficult part) not stopping for mistakes. How far you read forward depends on the complexity of the piece and the tempo. In some cases you can read one to two measures ahead, but with a slow piece, you may only be reading 1/2 of a measure ahead. It depends on the piece, and what matters is how far you can read ahead in order to keep going forward mentally. Another thing - related - about sight reading vs other types of playing is in order to keep moving forward you have to be less reflective of what you are actually playing at the moment.
Sight playing is somewhat different because - again, as I think you are applying the term - it involves playing music that you are more familiar with, but have not memorized. Some of the skills or mental processes used in sight reading can be applied here - e.g. looking ahead in the music - but I think you would want be more reflective in terms of listening to what you play as you are playing (as opposed to constantly moving forward mentally). Also, you may be looking at your hands more as you are sight playing than you would when you are sight reading, especially as you become more familiar with the music. As you become more and more familiar with a piece of music, the line between playing from memory, and sight playing start to become obscure (because some of the music is creeping into your memory), however there are specific things you need to work on with any piece before you can say it is memorized.
It is great the way you analyzed the problem, and developed solutions for reading rhythms. Sight reading, sight playing and playing from memory are all very rewarding once the skills are developed. It is a lot of fun to be able to sight read. On the other hand, I find I am a lot more free and secure once I have a piece memorized.

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#915757 - 04/30/03 02:31 PM Re: Sightreading technique
LudwigVanB Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/02
Posts: 152
Loc: Atlanta
Benedict, you Ryan, Praetorian, pique and ob1knabe are revving me up to try sight reading again. As a beginner, I havent discovered the fun you and others have found in it yet. So far, it has been like the Chinese torture and I just want to get through it and be done with it. As a result, Ive tried it a few times but quit after a short time.

In response to Ryan who said:

I have to speak for my current teacher, though. Her students have had amazing success. For example, he took on a 50-ish gentleman two years ago who was a beginner. In two years he not only reads fluently, but he can play Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata, Brahms' Op. 118 No. 6, Debussy Preludes, a Bach Prelude and Fugue, and a Mozart Sonata.

This gives me both grief and elation. I am a 50ish gentleman who took up piano for the first time over 3 years ago. I can play a couple of Bachs Minuets, Beethovens Sonatina in G and Im just starting Fur Elise to play in its entirety. Im making very good progress but nothing like the guy you referred to. Ryan, I know this is a long shot, but do you know of any good teachers in Atlanta, or know someone who might know of a good teacher. Ive had 2 teachers so far and they didnt seem to give a twit for sight reading. It's so hard to find a good teacher that I'll try anything!

Benedict, you said:

[i]Thanks to Ryan's advice . . . I sightplay scales which puts an end to the nightmare of automatic memory playing which kills any joy. Ryan, your insisting on the scales has taken the emphasis away from the pieces and more on the reading process per se. It has freed completely my mind.[i/]

Could explain what you do here? Do you simply sight play the scales the same as you would a piece of music? Im intrigued by this because it reminds me of my experience with the metronome. A few months into my piano adventure my ex-teacher saw I was having difficulty on a piece and she pulled out her metronome and told me to practice the piece with it. It was extremely frustrating and I swore I would never use a metronome again. A year later, after reading an article on how helpful it can be, I decided on my own to start at the beginning. I spent about a week using the metronome to play scales, first a note on every click, then a note in between clicks (8th notes). It opened the door for me and now the metronome as a tool is second only to the piano itself. I get a feel for a new piece then start practicing it with the metronome and my progress is by leaps and bounds. I then find I can drop the metronome and just soar through the piece, listening for the sound of the music. The metronome is a temporary tool I use to learn the rhythm faster but it is for me invaluable.

The lesson I learned is that if I am having difficulty then I need to simplify the problem, taking it down progressively from one level to the next until it becomes manageable. Im attempting to do this with sight reading because Ive always had trouble with it. Is sight playing the scales a way to simply the learning experience?

Ive cut portions of this thread and put them into a file called Sightreading Tips. Thanks to all.

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#915758 - 04/30/03 03:34 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Phlebas,

 Quote:
you are not equating sight playing (which I guess you mean playing with the music in front of you) with sight reading (playing a piece the first time you see the music in front of you).
The more I study the problem, the more I think that the three parts (sightreading,sightplaying and memory playing) are like a pyramid with three levels. Each level leads to the next.
Which is the opposite to the practice I (and most students) have had.

If you learn a piece (or the technical exercizes)in that natural order, things will be easy and very pleasant. If you start by the top level, then you won't have the equipment that makes it easy to learn and enjoy the music naturally.

 Quote:
, but another important point to make is you need to always be moving forward in the music while you sight read. That means reading forward, and (the most difficult part) not stopping for mistakes
I have tried to do that consciously like is recommended by teachers and books.
I lost all pleasure and coordination
Sightreading practiced with the rythm algorithm that I mentioned will become a pleasure. It should never be an effort.
If a piece looks difficult, it is much better to start with hands separate to let the rythm do the job for you.
I think the question of reading in advance should never be a goal. It is more a natural step in the evolution. I had had learnt reading books by reading in advance, I would never have read the first of the thousands books I had the joy to read. When you start reading books, you stay on the part you are on, but soon enough, the advance mechanism comes. It is the anticipation of what comes next \:\)

Trying to read in advance will only slow you.

 Quote:
Also, you may be looking at your hands more as you are sight playing than you would when you are sight reading, especially as you become more familiar with the music.
The more you are familiar, the less you will be looking at your hands. Not in the learning phase.
Once you play it with you eyes closed, you can look at your hands or have a business or sentimental conversation, it is a bit like driving a car.

The sensitivity is a natural process that the is in the piece of music (part of the artistic DNA). One should not strive to be sensitive, but just let the sensitivity and beauty which came from the composer meet your own sensitivity and beauty.

 Quote:
. As you become more and more familiar with a piece of music, the line between playing from memory, and sight playing start to become obscure (because some of the music is creeping into your memory), however there are specific things you need to work on with any piece before you can say it is memorized.
I love it when the music takes control of me. With Bach's WTC, it is every time a unique experience. When I sightread or sightplay, I never think I am working. I feel playing this music is a blessing.

When I learn a new Pischna exercize, I really have fun. Would you work on a video game ?
_________________________
Benedict

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#915759 - 04/30/03 04:13 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Penny Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2943
Loc: San Juan Capistrano, CA
I just want to tell you all how informative this thread has been. (Although I like Nina's suggestion of using real words, i.e. "chips," "salsa," "enchilada" because it's easier to read than other attempts to write what's verbal.)

In short, thanks.

penny

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#915760 - 04/30/03 04:32 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
Benedict,

Thanks for the interesting story about your daughter.
I am not sure about that sight reading and sight playing/memorization represent different levels. To me, sight reading is a different skill than the others, and does not necessarily represent a higher or lower level on the pyramid. On the other hand the fundamentals of rythms and notes are building blocks to being able to read (obvious statement, I know).

quote,

"If you learn a piece (or the technical exercizes)in that natural order, things will be easy and very pleasant. If you start by the top level, then you won't have the equipment that makes it easy to learn and enjoy the music naturally.....

...I have tried to do that consciously like is recommended by teachers and books.
I lost all pleasure and coordination
Sightreading practiced with the rythm algorithm that I mentioned will become a pleasure. It should never be an effort."

I know you are not really saying this and you seem pretty disciplined in finding a solution to this, so I am a little hesitant to say the following: just because something seems like an effort, does not mean you are not developing a skill. Sight playing and sight reading might be an effort at first, but as you become more skilled at it, it will become more pleasurable and less of an effort.

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#915761 - 04/30/03 04:46 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
Hello, Everyone:

I've been following this thread with some interest and hope you don't mind if I jump in with some questions. I'm at a very early beginner level and am trying to understand some of the concepts being discussed. So, to all, thank you for your posts on this topic and for any replies you might make to my inquiries.

First, to Phlebas: Thanks for pointing out the distinction between sight-reading and sight-playing. I never heard the term sight-playing and was mistakenly thinking that Benedict was referring to sight-reading. So, thanks for clarifying my reading of his posts. I, too, have found that my greatest sight-reading challenge is to not stop when I make a mistake - hard to resist the urge to stop and fix the problem! Likewise, I find myself looking at my hands more as I being to learn the music, just as you noted. At that point, my major hurdle is not loosing my place in the music when I reach a point that is not quite memorized and requires "sight-playing."

On to some lingering questions. I think I'm missing something in everyone's references to rythm versus pitch. When you refer to pitch, are you talking about what note to play? And by rythm, do you mean things such as the time signature, note values, etc.? Doesn't sight-reading and sight-playing involve the reading and execution of both rythm and pitch? I guess I'm confused as to the merits of focusing on rythm alone. Can anyone enlighten me?

Thanks, again, for your posts.

Humbly . . . Linda

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#915762 - 04/30/03 04:46 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Penny,

I love chips, salsa and enchilada.

I had an Indian record with ta ke ti mi.
I loved it too.

What food will you use for 32nd notes ?

And triolets ?

And 6/8 ?

What makes the rythm easy (at first) is that each sound has a specific name. Else, it is approximate as I have experienced it for years with the subject of the fugue in C major (WTC 1).

Now it just come in time. Such a pleasure this precision ! ;\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915763 - 04/30/03 04:59 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Linda,

The pitch is the name of the note : C, G, F, B...

I advise you strongly not to think that name when you play.
You can do that before with the sheet music till you pitchread it very easily.

Rythm-reading I have explained in this thread with several examples.

These are the basic "names" of this rythm vocabulary :
One two three four One two three four
One and two and three and four
One and a Two and a Three and a Four and a One
One ee and aa Two ee and aa Three ee and aa Four ee and aa One..

In the piece, of course, the notes do not come as regularly, but there will be a specific name for each note.

Concentrating on these names (once you can read the pitches easily) will free you mind and your hands.

If you are interested, there is a method to pitch read in the correct rythm so that your pitch reading is rythmical.

With the proper training you will not often make mistakes and the rythm reading will allow you to correct the mistakes without "killing" the music.

Do not look at your hands. It is important to use the right tools (like sightplayingLittle Pischna) and sightplaying scales so that your hands and brain "know" the keyboard and never ever look for the right key.

I hope this is clear.

You are not obliged to feel humble. You can feel proud to learn such a beautiful art. \:\)

Good luck.
_________________________
Benedict

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#915764 - 04/30/03 05:01 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Drewsman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/03/03
Posts: 76
Loc: Eastern PA
I'm a latecomer to this thread, but would like to offer this thought:

For me sight-reading is generally not strongly related to being able to read individual notes or their rhythmic values instantaneously. I think it's all about shape recognition. Ob1knabe mentioned how we learn to read language by word recognition, rather than sounding out every word. Isn't it just the same in piano?? We learn to recognize certain shapes of notes and translate them into chords, portions of phrases, rhythmic patterns, etc..

Take the beginning of the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata, for example. You see those four groups of three notes each. You see the shape of that chord and you immediately convert it to a hand position (assuming you've read the key signature!). You don't stop and think "G#-C#-E, G#-C#-E, etc! Now if you're using an edition that puts the G# in the bass clef, it suddenly becomes much harder to read, because the shape is not well defined anymore. Similarly, if the printer decided to group the the right hand notes into two groups of five and one group of two , I think it would be much harder to read even though it would still all be eight notes! It's because you've trained your mind to recognize patterns of notes.

Something like Pischna helps with shape recognition. So does playing things like Beethoven or Mozart, IMO. But Brahms is often not so helpful for building sight-reading skills, because he uses a lot of non-standard "shapes". Consequently, his music is harder to sight-read.

Counting is very important, of course. I'm not discounting that (ouch, pun not intended, but I'll leave it in anyhow \:o ). All the shape recognition in the world won't help you through the slow movements of a Beethoven sonata!

My thoughts. What do you all think?

Drewsman

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#915765 - 04/30/03 05:12 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
drewsman,

you bring up a very important component of sightreading and sightplaying--the role of intervals.

it is not just rhythm alone that frees us to sight read, it is also recognition of intervals, the ability to see the note groupings, instead of just individual notes, and, as you said, see them in their shapes.

by shapes we mean the shape the hand makes when it plays that group of notes on the keyboard. you should get to the point that you can look at a chord or series of notes and your hand automatically goes into that shape.

you also find the notes on the keyboard not by looking or reading the notes, but by the intervals. you are on c, and you see the next note is a fifth away, so you automatically play a g.

my teacher worked me as hard on interval recognition in learning to sight read as on rhythm, if not moreso. it frees you from having to read the individual notes at all, or to ever have to look at a keyboard. i see a fifth, my hand knows what a fifth feels like, i automatically play a fifth. i don't need to know that i'm playing a c and a g.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#915766 - 04/30/03 05:24 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
LudwigVanB
 Quote:
Do you simply sight play the scales the same as you would a piece of music?
I have a book with all the scales with treble and bass key on four or more octaves.

There are many forms (tenth, reverse etc).

For the moment, I just sightplay them left hand, right hand and hands together one after the other.

I am gathering up energy to use my music software to have one piece with all the scales in a chromatic order (sharps going up and flats going down)
It gives me great pleasure because I can sightplay better and better and I know the keyboard unconsciously.
My first sightreading has incredibly progressed.

Good luck.
_________________________
Benedict

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#915767 - 04/30/03 05:43 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
Thanks for the clarification, Benedict. I'll give this rythmic note-naming a try when I get to more complex music.

For the music I am currently playing, I do not tend to think about the name of the tone - nor do I count very often (probably due to the fact that I'm still playing music at a very easy level). Somehow I seem to process what I see on the page into a melody that I hear in my head. Then, as Drewsman suggests, I believe that pattern or shape recognition does come into play - although I hadn't thought much about it until Drewsman pointed it out!

This does help to explain the frustration I experienced with a short piece recently. In one particular measure, I kept wanting to play notes in the left hand that were different from those that were written. They were the same set of notes, but played in a different order. Now that I think about it, the pattern in that particular measure was a departure from the pattern in use up to that point. Guess my lazy brain latched on to a mental "shorthand" representation and just didn't want to let go!

As an aside, my teacher encourages me to look at my hands more often - not necessarily for what key to play, but to augment the physical sensation of the shape of my hand in certain positions with a visual image. I think he may be trying to get at the same thing that Drewsman is talking about in terms of shape recognition.

Lots of good food for thought in this thread - especially from my beginner's perspective.

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#915768 - 04/30/03 07:18 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
My teacher really emphasizes rhythm, pulse, and pace. She encourages her students to settle into the rhythm and pulse and letting it lead instead of allowing the music to rush. Especially as the notes get more difficult. The end result is a well paced and musical sounding effort. Places where fingers were getting all tied up in knots are sorted out when students learn to stop rushing and to relax into the pulse. Learning how to do this is pretty key to being a good sight reader.

Lugwid,

I am sorry that I don't any teachers in Atlanta. I hope that someone else will provide an answer. You might want to start a new thread just in case.

Ryan

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#915769 - 04/30/03 09:56 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
benedict, what you write about sight-reading and rhythm reminds me of my high-school typing teacher. I was in ninth grade and my sister had encouraged me to take typing--I shall forever be grateful that she did. Anyway, Mrs. Dolphin was the teacher's name and she placed a huge emphasis on rhythm. We learned the keyboard one letter at a time starting with "home" base (asdf jkl;). When we did the exercises, "dfdfdfjkjkjkdjfkdjfkdjfkdjfk" etc. etc., she said we must start slowly, never typing any character faster than the others even if we could. The most important thing was a steady and even rhythm for all the characters. We continued this way until we knew the whole keyboard. I credit her with my ability to type 110 words/minutes (on a 1 minute timing when I was at peak--those days are gone!).

Keeping a solid rhythm, especially when learning, does seem to allow the brain/mind to relax because it's predictable and one doesn't feel pressured or hurried. Kind of like it creates a matrix which the mind can fall into with ease.
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#915770 - 05/01/03 01:49 AM Re: Sightreading technique
BJenkins Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/03
Posts: 197
Loc: CA
I want to say something real quick about reading rhythms... I had the BIGGEST problem with rhythms a year ago. If you gave me a huge run of straight 16th notes I'de have no problem belting them out but add in some syncopation (don't know how to spell that), and I'm screwed like mad. But then (im in highschool) I heard about drumline. Oh man I hate the drums always have... But then I thought "Drums are all rhythms! That will help!" and guess what? It certainly did. I play marching snare drum in fall and winter drumline (if any of your are familiar with marching band), and I am section leader this year. I still don't love the drums in any way shape or form (but I have to admit I don't HATE playing it!). But let me just tell you that was probably the smartest thing I've ever done to improve my musicianship. Rhythms are a joke for me now. I read 32nd notes with pretty crazy syncopation on the snare drum regularly, so when I get to difficult rhythms in piano I can't help but laugh! I can pretty much sight read any rhythm without thinking twice.

And not only did it help with rythms but on marching snare there is obviously a lot of articulation type things if you didn't know. Such as the sticking (what hand to play what note) the accents, rolls, diddles, flams, etc... And being able to read them all is pretty much required to play. So when I see articulations on a piano piece I no exactly what they want almost all the time without having to sit down and disect it at all.

So basically I've found that since the snare drum is just ONE drum with obviously no notes, it's FORCED me to become awesome at rhythms (or it would be impossible to play!). I don't know exactly how this could help anyone but I would suggest (if you have access to) to at least learn the basics of some sort of percussion instrument (NOT PIANO! hehe) that really digs deap into these matters. If you're still in highschool go check out your school's drumline trust me you wont be sorry!

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#915771 - 05/01/03 05:23 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Nina,
 Quote:
My daughter's teacher used words, which I've found are oddly contagious:
Chips (1 beat)
Salsa (2 beats)
Enchilada (4 beats, e.g., 16th notes)

I tried Pischna this morning with enchilada.
It was much less powerful.
Maybe because I do not know what enchilada is. \:D

This system in fact is absolutely the opposite of the one I was speaking about.

Why ? Because so as rythm to become inconscious and really lead (like Ryan's teacher does), it is best to get into a regularity that will sort of put you in a trance like state : that's is where music begins.
The conscious mind gives way to the unconscious forms of rythm and harmony.Sorry about psychomusicobabble \:D

The enchilada system is useful to debug a particular difficulty. So you stop everything and analyze it till it becomes solved and then, you forget about your enchiladas, salsas or fries.

Of course everything I am speaking about is related to the particular stage I am at. So, IMHO, only persons with the same goals and problems will find it does "resonate" with them.

\:\)

The system based on counting is used by dancers,dance teachers, choregraphs, conductors : on the paper, it looks abstract. In reality, it conveys incredible strength and magic.

One and a Two and a Three and a Four and a...

See what I mean : with a very simple sequence, everything gets into motion. And the reading pitches becomes a piece of ...cake.

I once bought a book on drums. It was too late to go to college and join the drum line, unfortunately. \:D

Nina, I wonder if what you find contagious in your daughter's method was not the playful aspect of it.

Play is definitely a trance state. That is why children (and adults) can achieve incredible results in a playful state and be absolutely sterile when trying to stop playing and start working seriously.

The tragedy of Mozart IMHO is that he father/manager made him work a lot while his genius is 100% related to play.

And Bach has an incredible playful quality, including in pieces that are as tragic as St Matthew's passion first choir or his extraordinary Cello Suites.

Take away the play quality and all you have is sweat. \:\)

I hope I do not sound to dogmatic. This is the way words get out of my fingers. I wish they would speak with more playful quality.

I suppose childbirth is rarely playful whatever the joy that allows mothers (and fathers \:D ) to go through the process.

\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915772 - 05/01/03 05:34 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Bernard,

You were lucky.

I took typing (and shorthand) lessons as a part of my cursus when I was 16.

It was hell. The teacher was a kind of porcine woman who IMHO should have worked in a prison with a whistle and a whip.

I hated the whole thing.
But typing has proved very useful for all the rest of my life.

I wish she had known about rythm. \:D
_________________________
Benedict

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#915773 - 05/01/03 02:46 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ob1knabe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 141
Loc: New Jersey
Drewsman--I think you are absolutely right about the combination of notes creating a shape that we begin to recognize. Pique certainly reinforces that when she talks about the recognizable difference in space between a fifth and a third. I also like what Pique said about transferring shape recognition to the motor skill of hand shape. Our minds are constantly trying to create patterns so that we can approach a task with greater ease and success. Just think how many patterns there are in piano playing!! Once we get those patterns down, sight reading has to be easier------doesn't it????!!! (just hoping I can get more of those patterns down before my life is over!!)

Praetorian--
Congratulations!!! Thank you for sharing your scores--you must be soooo proud! \:D \:D

Benedict--
Maybe you would want to consider alligator enchiladas??? So much to learn about our humble American ways... ;\)
_________________________
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever"
John Keats

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#915774 - 05/01/03 03:08 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Hi, Benedict:

Sorry the enchiladas didn't work for you! (An enchilada is a tortilla filled with meat or cheese, rolled up, covered with enchilada sauce and baked, FWIW.)

My guess is that part of the problem has to do with your familiarity with the words and how they're spoken in English... the strength of this system (if I can call it that \:D ) is that, for most people, the spoken cadence of these words matches the accents you would want to apply in music.

It does take one beat to say chips in English. Most people say "salsa" faster, so the two syllables still fit a single beat, accent on the 1st syllable. Same with enchilada.

In other words, it provides both the accents and the idea that you are subdividing the time of a beat into 2 or 4 sub-counts. Just like the 1-e-and-uh 2-e-and-u, except kids are more likely to recognize that the 16th notes are played 4x faster in order to fit the beat. (In other words, you don't slow down when playing 16th notes just because there are more of them to deal with.)

Hope this makes sense! but definitely stick with what is working for you. Perhaps you should keep your enchiladas in the kitchen only...

Nina

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#915775 - 05/01/03 03:20 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Can you play the first fugue of WTC 1 saying enchilada during the two pages ?

(enchilada is for one time, right ?)

Of course, I could do Do nald Rums feld \:D

Or Ok1knabe, A lli ga tor.

But it would say the name of the times like

One ee and ah Two ee and ... which of course is the main element in the technique. That's what gives the drive.

Today I notice that the Pischnas I already know skip the and and just do (naturally : patterns !) One two three four.

I am sure soon, the 32nd notes will be the same.
The mind does incredible things when it is left free to take control while you are just concentrating on being the drummer who gives the pulse.

I do not want to play the game of your enchilada is less good than mine, of course. \:D

These exchanges certainly are a great encouragement for me.
I never would have dreamt that this humble thread would turn into such rich exchanges.

In the book The Ants, they call them, I think : trophollaxies.
\:\)

This is an idea Tro pho la xy :p
_________________________
Benedict

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#915776 - 05/01/03 04:40 PM Re: Sightreading technique
OlderGuy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/02
Posts: 40
Loc: Ithaca, NY
Jumping in..
LudvigVan, I am about the same age as you, with only 1.5 years of piano learning. So problems of sightplaying, timing and finding the right key are all very current with me.
(1) My biggest problem with sightplaying: as soon as I am starting to memorize the piece my eyes start wandering away from the scores and then when I get stuck I have difficulty to find where am I. I need a good trick how to keep locled my eyes on the score...
Maybe this is also one reason why my teacher really against playing pieces by memory. She says, it requeries to many repetitions that "irons in" all the correctly learned things.
(2) Proper timing is unarguably the most difficult thing. My teacher makes me to play the whole piece on one key with one finger, just to learn to time signatures. This is a good trick, especially when in addition to timing issuses you are burdened by complicated fingering.
(3) An naturally, the last and often the most difficult of all: adding expression. It is almost impossible to explain how to add expression to a piece: the best my teacher said: " Don't just play, LISTEN to yourself, do it as of you were singing.."
Peter

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#915777 - 05/01/03 05:16 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Linda in PA Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/02
Posts: 767
Loc: PA - USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by OlderGuy:
play the whole piece on one key with one finger
Peter[/b]
. . . what a great idea! \:\)

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#915778 - 05/01/03 08:13 PM Re: Sightreading technique
subarus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 215
Alot of good advise arose from this thread..

However, there is no mention of sight-singing at all. The pianist read the score, hum or sing the right part then the left if necessary then play !! This technique is interesting hybrid of sight-reading and sight-playing because :
1) to be able to sing from the score , you need to be able to read.To some ppl, reading and singing is a relatively easier combination to Reading and Playing

2) To be able to sight sing, you need to be able to count.. to some ppl its more interesting to singing than to count

3) once you 'sang' the score, you still need to read ahead but it is easier because you already know how it sounds like. You also know the articulation , phrasing and expressions involved as you know how the whole piece should sound like.

4) Commanding the fingers to play the right notes comes from ability to play scales, chords, experience.

A person who can sing a score does not necessarily has the skill to sight sing, point to a random location on the score to sing to test if one can really sight sing.

Sight sing requires relative pitch ability (perfect pitch is better but not neccesary). That is why I think sight reading is easier than singing. However, I just couldnt help but feel inspired when it was demo'ed to me.

I wouldnt go as far to say that sight-singing is a technique but rather is a suppliment to sight-reading/playing.

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#915779 - 05/01/03 08:41 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ibiza Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/29/03
Posts: 8
Hi Benedict,

I'm assuming the two books "The Little Pischna, 48 Prepatory exercises" and "technical studies, 60 exercises" are two of the books you speak of?

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#915780 - 05/02/03 03:11 AM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
i had a conversation with my teacher today about this thread and pischna. benedict, you might be interested to know that she does not recommend pischna for me. she says it is mainly to improve finger independence, and my fingers are already quite independent and strong.

she also pointed out two other factors that might be of interest here. the first one i still do not really understand and if someone here wants to take a crack at explaining it to me, i would be grateful: what is important is to always know what beat you are on in the measure, to always know exactly your location, rhythm-wise, as you play. i.e. to always know "now i am playing on the third beat of the measure." i really don't know why i have to be conscious of this, but she insists that it is very important.

the other point she made, which i am beginning to understand, is that in order to sight read well you also have to be able to rely on your ear. you need the kind of ear that can hear ahead and anticipate what the music will do, even music you have never heard before. (she assures me i have that kind of ear--whew!)

so, successful sight-reading is a combination of being able to read the music fluently, but also the ability to hear and anticipate with one's hearing. so, having a good ear is not a handicap after all, but an asset!

her recommendation for improving sight reading is to sight read a new piece every single day.

i am working very hard on my chopin waltz now and hoping to get her approval to play it at our next piano gathering (her adult students).
_________________________
piqué

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