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#915721 - 04/26/03 12:53 PM Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
I find it very difficult to read both hands at the same time when the soprano voice is very high and the bass very low.

I did not find a translation of "portee" the five lines one in treble key and bass key.

My question is can you see the two "portees" at the same time or to you scan back and forth
vertically ?



I once had a friend staying over from the USA.
She saw I had a Mozart's sonatas and she just sat down and just played at normal speed and said :
Oh, that's nice. I didn't know that one...

She never knew how close she had escaped death.
\:D
_________________________
Benedict

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#915722 - 04/26/03 03:41 PM Re: Sightreading technique
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18131
Loc: Victoria, BC
benedict:

The French portée in English is correctly known as "staff" (pl. staves), although some pianists may refer to the right hand staff as the "treble clef" and the left hand staff as the "bass clef".

The secret in learning to sight-read well is to always read as much as a bar ahead of where you are actually playing. Yes, it is possible to read the two staves at the same time.
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#915723 - 04/27/03 06:39 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Thank you Bruce D.
\:\)
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Benedict

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#915724 - 04/27/03 01:52 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
I have tried to read one bar in advance, but I stopped reading altogether.

I wonder if it is not like reading books. At first, you read one letter at a time, then one "syllabe", then one word, then one part of sentence, then one sentence, then one line etc.

Do you think this advance comes naturally with a lot of practice ?

There is so much joy in sightplaying.
I suppose somebody who is illeterate and that can finally throught hard work and enthusiasm read anything he wants from his newspaper to novels or the words of his favorite cartoons must feel he/she is the king of the world.

I have had seven piano teachers : none of them had a clue about sightplaying. They all emphasized memorizing. I have had to build everything anew on sound basis. It has taken years. But it was worth it.

But I still need advice on specific points.
And encouragement. \:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915725 - 04/27/03 03:06 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Praetorian_AD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/01
Posts: 717
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by benedict:

But I still need advice on specific points.
And encouragement. \:\) [/b]
Go get 'em ben.

Actually, I'm really with you on this one. I'm dead set on improving my sight-reading, I'm just not exactly sure how to. Thing is try to do most is just to hack my way through as many pieces as I can find, no matter the difficulty, adjusting my speed appropriately. I make sure I can play the melody first, then the bass, and whatever chords or else happens to arrive during the course of the read come third. I've no idea how to read more than about a half-bar ahead, though...guess I'll just have to keep trying.

Peter

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#915726 - 04/27/03 03:37 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ob1knabe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 141
Loc: New Jersey
Benedict--
When we learn to read, much of it is through repetition. Children who experience difficulty are asked to re-read the same book several times until it becomes fluid. Their decoding skills becoming more automatic with practice. For a child who is still developing his/her skill, we would never expect them to read a book on that "emerging" level with pure grace. There will be stumbles. What we will hope for is that the same child can read with greater fluency on a level one or two steps below where he/she is practicing. That builds confidence as well as increased practice in word recognition. As the child increases his/her level of expertise, the ability to read fluently on lower levels also increases. So what is my point? When my daughter takes her Trinity exam in piano, there is a sightreading component. She is never tested on whether she can sightread on the same level for which she has practiced her exam. Her sightreading section is always tested at a level below her performance proficiency. I believe there is a reason for this. If the giants that be who created these exams expected people to sightread at the same level they could perform, that's how the exam would be. Your friend who sat down and just sightread Mozart--no doubt impressive (of course I'm wishing that I could do the same thing!!)--but my guess is her skills were on a level higher than that piece. Likewise, if you approached a piece to sightread that was a level below your ability, my guess is you would do well. I think you are too hard on yourself. How do you do sightreading a piece that is below your performance level? As for encouragement--I think you're the best cowboy around and I'm convinced that you can conquer sightreading!! \:\)

Praetorian--maybe I missed this, but how did you do on your A levels? I hope that everything worked out for you.
_________________________
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever"
John Keats

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#915727 - 04/27/03 03:39 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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

Thanks for your encouragement. I have fought that battle so long, I thought I would never win.

I have lately found a method that works very well for me : I use Pischna exercizes (I like it because they go through twelve keys) and I read them.

The key, I have found is the rythm.

I count absolutely every subdivision .
I have the little Pischna and the real thing.
The little Pischna, I count :
One and two and three and four And one
or One ee and ah Two ee and ah Three..

For the big Pischna, it is more trick :
O-ne ee-ee a-and a-a Two so as to place the triple croches (32nd ?).

The result : it liberates my mind from the name and the notes and even looking for them on the keyboard. It sort of creates an automatic pilot mode which improves every day with incredible speed.

I think we should not bother about reading ahead. It certainly comes with practice. A child walks slowly at first and suddenly, he rans and nothing can stop him.

After the Pischna, I have tried to see the result on my sightplaying real pieces.
As my goal is Bach, I started with Ana Magdalena.
I was very happy.
Then the Little Preludes. Great.
Yesterday, I said : enough of the childish stuff, now is time for the real stuff.
And I took my old WTC.
I was happy.

This morning I said : let's see how my method does for a Prelude I do not know.
Since I know C (Prelude and Fugue), I figured the next one should be G major (next in the cycle of fifth).
It is a strange time signature :24/16.
I tried first hands separate.
The result was amazing : I just played. As simply as that.
I tried the soprano voice of the fugue : same.

This is the greatest day of my life : the Well Tempered Clavier is mine for all the years to come.
I feel like Jonathan Livingston Seagull who spent so many years looking for the way to fly higher.
\:\)

And the conversations (often heated) on this forum have helped me incredibly.

So, I guess I will follow your advice and got get them.

I am sure that the method I followed would work miracles for you.
The secret is to train not on the real pieces but like in golf on a practice.
I find Pischna works nicely. They sort of free my conscious mind and let my unconscious mind do the work without effort.

But I will write some exercizes for a beginner friend who asked me to help her.

I think I will use children and folk songs (Sur le Pont d'Avignon, Ah vous dirais je maman..) and do a very progressive (step after step) series using each song and bass line in every of the tones with sharps going up and with flats going down. Like this she will know absolutely all the tonalities without having made the least effort.

I hope this long post gives you food for thought.
\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915728 - 04/27/03 05:08 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Ob1Knabe,

Such a pleasure to read you here.
The two posts crossed.

What you say is so true.

When the piano education is done intelligently, the sightplaying is established till memorization becomes natural. Then there should not be a tremendous difference between sightplaying and playing by memory.

The problem occurs when too much emphasis is made on learning by memory and repetition.
Then the two processes get dichotomized and the trouble start.

I was in that rut and the more I worked hard to play the magnificient pieces my teachers proposed me (Bach, Satie's gnossienne 1), the worst it became though the playing sounded fine.

It took me years to undo everything and I just feel I can start afresh today.
But I had to put everything apart till it made sense.

It made me think of Milton Erikson, a great source of inspiration for me. He suffered from the sequels of poliomelytis and at one point in his life, he had to learn how to walk again.
He said that it was incredibly difficult because he had to organize everything for himself.

I felt the same.

I once had a graduate from Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris : our highest musical institution.

He took the same book of sonatas by Mozart and played at professional level. And I know he first sightread them.

If the two processes of sightreading and memorizing are intertwined, that is how it should be.

Richter practiced sightreading extensively since he was accompanist for shows. His sightreading and playing were absolutely similar.

In a few months, I probably will understand more about the inner connexion between memory and sightreading. But I feel absolutely sure that sightplaying is a great way to achieve confidence and autonomy.

Not only for cowboys. \:D

I wish you the best Ob1Knabe.
\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915729 - 04/27/03 08:25 PM Re: Sightreading technique
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Benedict - it seems you always worry about sight reading. You are probably a good sight reader. If you see the 2nd B above middle C enough times you will know exactly where it should be. If you play it enough times you will be able to feel where it is easily. All we need is more time.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#915730 - 04/27/03 11:28 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
benedict,
it was a joy reading about your experience and of your overcoming your earlier limitations because of poor training. your story is very much like my own, and my teacher also gave me the gift of learning to rely on rhythm. i hope i will soon experience the progress you describe!
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#915731 - 04/29/03 05:27 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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

You will undoubtedly.

Once you have understood that rythm is predominant, you have the tools to progress at your rythm.

This morning, I found that a note has two names :
the name of its place on the keyboard (A4, C#5 etc)
and its rythm name :

Like if it is the fourth sixteenth note its rythm name will be aa (one ee and AA).

My brain is happy to concentrate on the rythm name and not on the keyboard name.

I read the fugue in C minor of WTC 1 this morning.
And instead of playing by memory, the reading process took charge.

The rythm name made everything simple.

And when the reading was less easy, the rythm engine slowed considerably while concentrating on the rythm name.

I hope what I write makes sense to you, Pique.

So that when my reading of the rythm will be correct, the rythm will be correct. I will then (and only then) check with a metronom.

I feel it is important that the natural rythm skill gets confident and sort of...happy to live.

Like a natural dancer.

I sincerely hope this helps.

It is a work in progress. But I sense that like in a childbirth, the most difficult part is over when the head of the baby is out.

And playing Bach is some baby.

\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915732 - 04/29/03 08:37 AM Re: Sightreading technique
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18131
Loc: Victoria, BC
Does anyone else understand Benedict's concept of rhythm name? I didn't understand a word of it.

If you're going to stop to think about the name (pitch name, rhythm name - whatever)of every note you play before you play it, it's going to take a week to get through a short Mozart sonata!

And what happens when you want to play something "up to speed"?

(confused)
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#915733 - 04/29/03 09:19 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Bruce D

Why don't you ask me ? \:\)

I'll answer anyway.

1°The idea is to NEVER say the pitch name.
If you have difficulties with the pitch names of a particular piece, there is another technique which I can give you if you need it.
Of course, that technique will be used best without the piano so as not to be a problem at all. It is impossible to look for a pitch name and then play the key. This process has to be automatic.

2° The technique of the rythm name is useful only for pianists who do not master sightreading or if a piece is difficult rythmwise.
Take the fugue in C major of WTC 1.
The basic rythm is 16th notes with a difficult that comes from the 32th note which gives it its charm (and which apparently had not been written by JSB but by his son-Wanda Landowska dixit).

If I want to read the rythm of the first bar, here is what I do :
It starts on the upbeat of the first time :

And two and three aa-aa (to give the exact space to the two 32nd notes) four and.

Second bar :
One and ee and aa three ee and aa four ee and aa
(it is no use reading the rythm of the soprano voice)

I hope it is clearer.

Of course, one you can sightplay without any problem, the only reading that is required will be the times : One two three four. And the speed is the speed you feel comfortable with.

After a while, your brain will memorize the whole program without the least effort.

The only investment is starting very slowly
Which is one thing all teachers and musicians agree with.

I'm not there yet, but I think it won't be long because practicing like that is NEVER automatic. So my brain really learns.

3° The whole idea of rhythm reading is to free the mind of the pitch names (especially for those unfortunate enough to have caught the habit).

4° I developed these tools because no teacher or musician or book or website or forum could help me
get out of the groove I was stuck in.

When the period of tests will be finished (and successful), I intend to develop a website for those who think sightplaying is the good basis for autonomy and discovery.

Of course, everything I write is for people who are "inner-directed" and do not take their motivation from recitals, competitions or exams.
I expect that those master the zen art or sightplaying and its relationship with easy memorizing (though I'm not 100% sure this is the case).

If something is not clear in what I write, I apologize for the clumsiness of my explanations and I would appreciate that you ask me directly to make myself more clear.

It is not easy to write in a foreign language since I have always read about music in French.

Hope this makes it more clear for you.

I am not "selling" anything and I do not prove anything.

I just answered Pique's post because I felt she had the same motivation as me.

\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915734 - 04/29/03 10:33 AM Re: Sightreading technique
Praetorian_AD Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/01
Posts: 717
Loc: England
 Quote:
Originally posted by ob1knabe:

Praetorian--maybe I missed this, but how did you do on your A levels? I hope that everything worked out for you.[/b]
No - you didn't miss it, I just didn't really post it up. I'm doing my A-level exams right now as a matter of fact, and they should be over by the end of June. If you're enquiring about the A-level music recital I posted up - I got an A on it!! (23/25) I was pretty chuffed! I was gonna post it up but I felt silly because the thread about the recital had spun off in some other direction (as they do) Thanks very much for asking!!
\:\)

Peter

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#915735 - 04/29/03 10:47 AM Re: Sightreading technique
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

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

I think I am following what you are saying. Let me try: when we read words, we don't stop and say, "Letter A, sounds like ah, letter P, sounds like 'pah'" and piece it together that way. (Even though that's how we all learned, the process becomes automatic pretty quickly.)

In the process of learning to read language, we quickly transfer from letter identification to sounds, then on to words, etc.

So, when reading music, you're saying you move from a conscious thought ("the note is C#, let me find it on the keyboard,") to an automatic identification of the note and the physical movement necessary to locate it on the keyboard.

And, if I'm on it so far, that process is made a lot easier for you by paying attention to the rhythm, not the note identification itself.

Makes sense to me. I'm thinking about my own sightreading, and I don't stop and identify the notes at all (except for the occasional note way off the staff, where I have to count those itty-bitty lines :p ). The challenge for me is linking the notes with the rhythm, as well. Until that is completed, it's just a mishmash of notes and sound.

Rhythm is at the essence of music, IMHO.

By the way, I'm a big fan of Pischna also. I think we may be the only two... seems like the other forumites use Hanon or Czerny more, if they use exercises at all.

Nina

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#915736 - 04/29/03 11:08 AM Re: Sightreading technique
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18131
Loc: Victoria, BC
Benedict:

I'm sorry I misunderstood what you were trying to say.

I've never heard of a method of (piano) study where one recites the pitch names of notes as (or before) one plays them. Certainly, I would never use (or need) such a system. Perhaps it would work for children starting out at the piano, otherwise it seems counterproductive.

As for determining rhythm, it did not occur to me that, (using your example of the WTC Prelude No 1) one would think of counting each sixteenth note in a quadruplet in 4/4 time. It is such a regular, straightforward rhythm, that it seems to me infinitely easier - and much more conducive to the flow of the piece - to simply count out the four beats and play four evenly spaced notes in each beat.

As I understand what you are saying - and it's possible I do not understand - this is making a straightforward rhythm more complex and par conséquent more difficult.

I guess the bottom line is: if it works for you, then you should use it.

Ah, well, that's the difficulty - some times - about trying to talk about music. It's difficult to accurately portray in words what we do in practice.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#915737 - 04/29/03 11:57 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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

What makes this forum both rich and complex is the differences of levels, experiences,goals.

From what you write, I gather that you can sightread any fugue of the WTC 1 (and probably 2) by opening the book and starting at the first bar.

That puts you in a very different league. So I suppose you can skip my posts which will have been useful if one person has related to them and find that a door which was closed before has begun to open.

A long time ago, I started a thread "Piano for dummies" and got a lot of negative feedback.
Well, here we are. There is a very little number of "dummies" around. I hope the haves are merciful.

About saying the names of the pitches, that is what I have done for many decades because I took the habit as a child and was NOT ONCE corrected by the seven teachers I've had.
As you say rightly, it slows down the whole process.

So for me rythm is an antidote and a way to debug the whole cognitive process.

Je viens de lire que tu etais prof de francais.

Content de te connaitre. \:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915738 - 04/29/03 12:11 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Nina,
"Rhythm is at the essence of music, IMHO."

IMHO too.

I wonder if rythm is not at the essence of Nature.

Somebody who likes Pischna and the Piano Shop on the Left bank cannot be all bad.
\:D

You understood me quite well : thanks to concentrating on the rythm, the process of reading pitches and putting the right finger on the right key is done unconsciously.

That is what I have experienced.

I think sightplaying Pischna is an incredible help.

What I am trying to create is a sheetmusic which will allow me to sightplay all scales in the chromatic order or the cycle of fifths.*
Thanks to Ryan's advice (whom I thank once more \:\) , I sightplay scales which puts an end to the nightmare of automatic memory playing which kills any joy.

My dream is to be the Hanon of sightreading. That would be a great revenge on standing for so long at the gates of Heaven outside.

The problem with Hanon IMHO is that they are two monotonous so that you memorize them and play mechanically easily. But the idea of a ritual that will develop technique is not bad.

Czerny ? I once asked on this forum. I got no reply.

Pischna is pleasant because it is based on the same idea as Hanon : a set of exercices that cover the basic skills. But the two hands do not play the same thing and it goes through seven keys so that when I sightplay it, a lot of things are processed by my brain while I just read the rythm.
_________________________
Benedict

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#915739 - 04/29/03 01:00 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
 Quote:
Originally posted by nina:
"Rhythm is at the essence of music, IMHO."[/b]
To expand on the same idea, to rhythm I would add pulse and pace, without which music is not music.

Czerny is great! I had a friend that could sightread pretty much anything by Czerny at or faster than the given tempi, which is really saying something because the metronome markings are usually pretty insane. This guy was the best sightreader I have ever seen. He was a natural, but he further developed his skills by reading lots of Czerny and anything else he could get his hands on.

Ryan

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#915740 - 04/29/03 01:06 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Ryan
 Quote:
to rhythm I would add pulse and pace, without which music is not music.
Of course. I take the word rythm in the broadest sense. The pulse is of course the basis, both a motor and a soul of music.

I will try and read Czerny see if it is fun.

\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915741 - 04/29/03 01:33 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
i have never heard of pischna. would you please post his full name and the names of some of the exercise books? i will also ask my teacher about him. i have been using bartok's mikrokosmos series for sight reading.

that is amazing, benedict, that you invented this antidote on your own. i learned about it from my teacher. she kept telling me i needed to always be aware of what beat of the measure i was playing, not which note. this i found very confusing. then, one day, when i was struggling note by note (yet again!) through some difficult mendelssohn, she taught me to name each of the sixteenths with the rhythm: "one ee and a two ee and a three ee and a four ee" and to say it out loud as i played!

with my focus moved to the rhythm, to my utter amazement, i was able to read right through the piece, in time, with all notes correct. it was miraculous, and my ability to read has been forever changed. i was so excited, it was very much like being able to read a book for the first time, after years of only seeing the individual letters.

she now says she is going to use me as the poster child for all her adult students. \:D

it has been described to me also this way: the music is a moving train, the rhythm is the engine, you feel the rhythm in your own pulse and you hop aboard the moving train and go for a ride.

works great for me!
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#915742 - 04/29/03 01:48 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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

Please congratulate your teacher (and yourself) : I have never met anybody who had started thinking about the question.

With Pischna, you read 32nd notes o -ne e-e a-and a-a.Which allows you two read any problem like Fugue 1 of WTC 1 which has a strange rythm (strange for Bach : probably changed by his son Karl Philip Emmanuel to fit the spirit of the time).

[URL=http://www.google.fr/search?q=pischna&ie=ISO-8859-1&hl=fr&btnG=Recherche+Google&meta=]http://www.google.fr/search?q=pischna&ie=ISO-8859-1&hl=fr&btnG=Recherche+Google&meta=[/UR L]

(you can copy and paste in your navigator)

Good luck.
And welcome in the Pischna fan club ! \:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915743 - 04/29/03 04:10 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
I don't know what to say... this is of course most useful stuff. But how are people not taught it in their piano lessons?!?! I start my students counting the rhythms out loud from day one. There is also singing, clapping, marching, knee slapping, etc. My wife was laughing the other day because she heard our son practicing his quarternote rest exercise "ta ta ta shhhh" in the back seat of the car \:\)

Anyway, congrats on your discoveries! I am stunned, though, that it wasn't taught by your first teachers \:\(

Ryan

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#915744 - 04/29/03 04:15 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Ryan, I'm with you. But great that folks are getting it.

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)

Particularly with Mozart, I find myself singing "enchilada enchilada enchilada" when working out a lot of his 16th note passages (and with Mozart, there are a LOT of these!)

Nina

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#915745 - 04/29/03 05:02 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Ryan,

The system in France separates music education called "solfege" and practice of an instrument.

In schools, music classes are usually those where children do not pay any attention and throw things at one another.

Because it is more theorical and historical than practical.

French education has this tendancy to rely very much in formal knowledge and intellectualization.

There is absolutely no singing (choirs) or youth orchestras in the education except in some private schools.

My children went to such a school so they had a class orchestra and they developed good musicals skills without any theory whatsoever. But they are good natural musicians.

In the conservatories, children have to study two years of solfege before beginning the instrument.

My own experience is of a very long time ago. But I am not sure, things have changed very much.

The piano teacher relies on the solfege class to deal with rythm and reading pitches.
So, he concentrates on interpretation and not on the process of learning the piece.

I have had 7 teachers since my childhood : from the conservatory when I was 8 to the Ecole Normale (founded by Cortot where I started again with Mikrokosmos), two students of Yvonne Lefebure and two Julliard School graduates.

None, I repeat, none ever took one second to concentrate on the rythm. So I learnt the pieces by memorizing by repetition. And I used the names of the pitches to memorize.

If one of them had understood the mechanics of learning a piece, they would have stopped me straight away and shown me a process like the one I had to develop painfully. It took me more than 10 years !

I have read all the books I could find about sightreading. None ever spoke about what this thread is about.

So the reality is that both your experiences Ryan and Nina and mine are real.

If a child begins with what you do with him and you apply it to every piece he learns, the skills will be part of him for all his life.

If you don't or if you separate solfege from playing pieces, then the result will be much more left to chance.

I have noticed that many good musicians do not sightread naturally. In my opinion, the reason is that they jump too soon to memorization.

Of course, this is my idea now. I might change in a few months.

It is nice sharing with you.

And the proof is in the hard work at the piano.

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.

There still is much discovering to do. But now that I feel autonomous, every minute is a minute of joy.

\:\)
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#915746 - 04/29/03 05:13 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
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Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Benedict,

Yes, I am aware that your experience is all too real. I have seen it before. I am just saddened by it. A good *teacher* should have been able to see what you were doing and help you fix it at the ground level.

I am quite pleased that the scales helped. \:\)

Ryan

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#915747 - 04/29/03 05:26 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Thank you, Ryan.

I think good teachers do the right thing with children or beginning adults.

Once the adult has some practice, even if it is completely bugged, the teacher will concentrate on the piece without using the same process that he uses for a beginner.

I think a good process should be useful at all levels and any age.

If one level of the skill is not correct, you have to go down one level and iterate to go right at the bottom if necessary.

And then you can move right at the top by checking that each level is debugged.

I hope I am clear.

Today, I sowed tomatoes seeds on my balcony garden. I hope I will eat good tomatoes in September.

What has it got to do with scales or sightreading ?

\:D
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#915748 - 04/29/03 10:32 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
yes, my experience was much like benedict's, with former teachers. i just returned to my "good" teacher, the one who taught me how to read, after her year's sabbatical, because my new teacher was making the same mistake all the previous teachers made: thinking that we just focus on interpretation and painful process of memorizing instead of learning how to learn, learning how to read.

my "good" teacher commented that it was a real shame that no one had taught me this before. i think many teachers believe an adult student won't be willing to return to kindergarten level to correct a faulty foundation. the new teacher made this same mistake, even after i insisted that i didn't want to focus on interpretation when i didn't yet have my learning skills fully developed. she thought it was babyish for me to go back and fill in the blanks of the things i never learned.

i found this with my earlier teachers, too.

i believe it is one of the hazards of being an adult student. it also didn't help that i don't *need* to be able to read, i can do a lot just with playing by ear. but i finally reached a level of music where that couldn't help me so much any more.

i interviewed a lot of teachers in the past few years. most of them, once they hear me play, think they don't really need to teach me techniques of music, that i just need "coaching." they are unperceptive. they think that all i have to do is memorize because i am able to play musically. they don't see what i huge handicap i have. those are the teachers i walk away from.

thankfully i am finally back with the only one who has been able to help me make *genuine* progress.
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#915749 - 04/30/03 06:57 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Pique,

We have had exactly the same experience.

I used to play Satie's Gnossienne n°1 and I put so much feeling into it that people thought I was an accomplished pianist.

And when they asked me to play other pieces, I just couldn't.

I then memorized WTC 1st Prelude and fugue.

My Julliar teacher found it very good.

And I was begging : teach me how to read, for Heaven's sake.

He didn't have a clue what I was talking about.

We seem to be on the same road now : sightplaying has to been conquered at normal speed for the pieces you love (for me it's WTC 1) and then, I'll concentrate on the process that leads to fluent sightplaying to playing without the sheetmusic. But without the horrible process of memorizing like I have done it up to now.

I have the intuition that memorization will be a joy. But the next step on my roadmap is : fluent sightplaying.

One step at a time is the perfect rythm once one has the right tools.

\:\)
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#915750 - 04/30/03 10:42 AM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
 Quote:
Originally posted by benedict:
Pique,

We have had exactly the same experience.

I used to play Satie's Gnossienne n°1 and I put so much feeling into it that people thought I was an accomplished pianist.

And when they asked me to play other pieces, I just couldn't.

I then memorized WTC 1st Prelude and fugue.

My Julliar teacher found it very good.

And I was begging : teach me how to read, for Heaven's sake.

He didn't have a clue what I was talking about.
....

One step at a time is the perfect rythm once one has the right tools.

\:\) [/b]
yes, exactly!

these teachers can hear that i am a musician, but fail to notice that i am not a pianist. they are dumbfounded when the lessons begin and after six months i am still stumbling through the same works we began with without confidence.

then they compound it by continuing to focus on musical ideas and interpretation--which i am already light years ahead of most of them on, anyway--and neglecting the basics. even when i insist on the basics, they are clueless!! how much time was wasted, and how discouraged i have been.

my current teacher respects my ear, respects my musicianship, and also uses flash cards if necessary for the skills i don't have. my progress with her is breathtaking to me.

i want to know everything you have learned about reading, benedict. i could not find the link you posted on pischna. please just type in here his full name and the correct names of some of his works or books. i would be very grateful.
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#915751 - 04/30/03 10:52 AM Re: Sightreading technique
Nina Offline
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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
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Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Pique,

I just typed Johann Pischna in google.
\:\)
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#915753 - 04/30/03 12:38 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
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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
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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. \:\)
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#915755 - 04/30/03 01:09 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
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!
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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
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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 haven’t 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, I’ve 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 Bach’s Minuets, Beethoven’s Sonatina in G and I’m just starting Fur Elise to play in its entirety. I’m 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. I’ve had 2 teachers so far and they didn’t 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? I’m 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. I’m attempting to do this with sight reading because I’ve always had trouble with it. Is sight playing the scales a way to simply the learning experience?

I’ve 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
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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 ?
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#915759 - 04/30/03 04:13 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Penny Offline
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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
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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
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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 ! ;\)
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#915763 - 04/30/03 04:59 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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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.
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Benedict

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#915764 - 04/30/03 05:01 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Drewsman Offline
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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
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
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.
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#915766 - 04/30/03 05:24 PM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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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.
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#915767 - 04/30/03 05:43 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Linda in PA Offline
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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
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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
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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.
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#915770 - 05/01/03 01:49 AM Re: Sightreading technique
BJenkins Offline
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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
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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.

\:\)
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#915772 - 05/01/03 05:34 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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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
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#915773 - 05/01/03 02:46 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ob1knabe Offline
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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... ;\)
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#915774 - 05/01/03 03:08 PM Re: Sightreading technique
Nina Offline
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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
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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
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#915776 - 05/01/03 04:40 PM Re: Sightreading technique
OlderGuy Offline
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
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).
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#915781 - 05/02/03 06:24 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
OlderGuy,

You'll feel relieved to know that I am older than you.

 Quote:
(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.
You are lucky.
You have a very intelligent teacher.

The bug you mention is exactly the result of NOT sightreading.

The basis of sightreading (as I build my way with my fingernails) is building the rythm structure.
I will start a web site with little workshops that allow to build from the absolute beginner stage very soon.

I am still looking for the right notation program.

If you have not built these blocks, your memory will go faster that your reading.
And the more you will play like that, the more you will find yourself in the hell of pianistic powerlessness.

I have been there. It took me years in Purgatory to find my way out.

Your teacher is good. You are lucky.
Most teachers I have met did not know there was a problem.

Good luck. \:\)
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#915782 - 05/02/03 06:29 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Subarus,

 Quote:
I wouldnt go as far to say that sight-singing is a technique but rather is a suppliment to sight-reading/playing.
Thank you for your post.

I have given much thought to the question of sight-singing (this is the real meaning of solfege in French : sing the names of the notes).

The reason I do not mention it is that it is not absolutely necessary to sightplay.

But it certainly is useful, if not necessary in the process of memorizing which I will really concentrate on when the sightreading, sightplaying tools are completed and validated by absolute beginners, adulte who start again, and intermediate (when the time comes).

I am so happy of the interest you all show in this subject that is so important for building confidence and musicianship which will allow decades of happiness.

\:\)
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#915783 - 05/02/03 06:32 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Ibiza,

"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? "

Exactly. I first bought the second one and then found that studying both at the same time was very useful for the sightreading/playing process.

Plus of course all the technical training that was its primary function.
\:\)
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#915784 - 05/02/03 06:59 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
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Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 2519
Loc: European Union
Pique,

 Quote:
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.

What did she recommend for you ?

I use Pischna as a model for the sightreading/playing/memorizing workshop I am developing.

The technique is for the moment a side benefit.

 Quote:
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.

This is an extraordinary coincidence (synchronicity ?).
The whole point of building a vocabulary for each subbeat (I have gone up to 32nd notes) is this.

If our memory is like a hard drive, this vocabulary and its use with regular pieces (like Prelude in C major of WTC1) will build "cells" that will deal with each subdivision when you play.

This is so difficult for me because it requires technical terms in music and cognitive sciences and computer technology (which I do not master even in French).

What is extraordinary is that what I had an intuition of yesterday was a reality today.

Sightplaying this prelude, I noticed that my brain had memorized the One ee and aa Two... stage and now was very happy with One and Two and.

But, you see, the ee and the aa were implicit.
My brain was sort of grouping them in the One and..

But this had been made possible because I have worked for weeks on building the smallest "cells".
And the big Pischna has proved invaluable help.

What your teacher does not know is that Pischna is a great help for building this conscience of were you are in the count (not only beats but subbeats)but only if you sightplay.

Another miracle of today is that I realized that this grouping of two notes in one half time is the archetype of the memorizing process.

When I will only count beats, my mind will group all the subbeats and therefore memorize them.
In the Pischna, I will memorize eight notes in one beat.

But (this is another intuition), if I count bars one day, then I will memorize one whole bar !
Then, the reading in advance that is the basis of good sightreading/playing will come naturally because the muscle of memory will be very well trained.

But it is only the end result of a long journey that starts with one step.

 Quote:
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!
IMHO, the ability to hear will come naturally with the sightreading/playing/memorizing process.

Every time you play one note, your hear hears it, your brain memorizes it. It is the essence of playing.

So, the more one sightplays and the more one's memory will learn what sound is the result of one note on the paper. And you know what miracles true learning can accomplish.

The same is probably true of pattern recognition.

Some things must be learnt by conscious and repeated work.
And some grow naturally and should be left alone so as not to be interfered with.

The same as for a baby and child : the art is to know when to do something and when to step back and admire the natural processes at work (self-organization and emergence in cogitive sciences).

This sharing of experiences is so stimulating !

\:\)

I think Frank should be nominated for Nobel Prize.
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#915785 - 05/02/03 11:00 AM Re: Sightreading technique
Nina Offline
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Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 6467
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
benedict:

I think if I had to mutter DONald RUMSfeld while playing the piano, I would go insane! :p

Another wrinkle in the counting thing... with many pieces, while learning them you are playing slowly using the 1-e-and-a counting. Then, as you get them up to speed, you need to collapse that rhythm back down to 1-2 1-2 1-2, that is, cut time. Don't be freaked out! Once you're comfortable with subdividing the beats (and you are well on your way with 16ths and 32nds), I'm sure you will be able to maintain the integrity of the beat as you speed up.

My point: at some point you'll have to move away from the "full count" because you have gotten the rhythm, and notes, and the correct tempo is just too fast to think about all those subbeats.

Nina

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#915786 - 05/02/03 11:18 AM Re: Sightreading technique
subarus Offline
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Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 215
Agreed.. full count is only useful to figure out the music.. once that is done, counting is not necessary for me while playing.. counting is taught by teachers because, to read, everybody need to count.. I doubt sight readers actually count while playing, Except during challeging rests ..

 Quote:
Originally posted by Nina:

My point: at some point you'll have to move away from the "full count" because you have gotten the rhythm, and notes, and the correct tempo is just too fast to think about all those subbeats.

Nina[/b]

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#915787 - 05/02/03 11:27 AM Re: Sightreading technique
BruceD Offline
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Nina and subarus:

I agree!

Regards,
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#915788 - 05/02/03 12:07 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
benedict,
my teacher recommends i read a new piece every day. that is to improve sightreading. to improve sight playing, i only need to say out loud the rhythm of any piece i am learning.

she would not agree with you that it is good to give every single syllable of a measure a name. that is the same problem as naming the pitch. the music does not move forward. with my chopin waltz, she pointed out to me that i am counting in 12 time, which is too detailed. i need to return to 3/4 time. it is important to read in groups of notes, not individual notes.
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#915789 - 05/02/03 01:11 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
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Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Pique, I am not sure I agree with you regarding not giving each syllable of the measure a name. To internalize rhythm people need to be able to count the smallest details accurately, or else they are just guessing. They often end up playing an approximation of the notes. This is even more true with the less advanced readers, but there are many times when advanced readers will sub-divide to a fine detail to make sure their notes are correctly placed in time (i.e. even). In general (and especially for less advanced readers) I don't think it is a good idea to skip counting the fine details and move right into counting groups. Count groups later when the rhythm is internalized and the notes are correct. This doesn't mean to play without expression, it just means to play accurately and not just guess.

As far as reading a new piece every day, I think this works well for advanced readers. But I think it is more useful for less advanced readers to read through the same pieces as many times as is necessary. Actually, I think this is also useful for more advanced readers. It's like when children learn how to read books. They will often read through the same books over and over, getting better each time. But even more advanced book readers still enjoy revisiting the same books more than once. You take in more detail on each reading. This is true of reading music as well.

I think that reading a piece multiple times can still be considered to be sight-reading. You aren't breaking the piece apart and studying it at the microscopic level like you do when sitting down to actually learn a piece. Playing through it is a way of practicing taking in as much detail as possible in a read-through.

There is an aspect to reading that is more fundamental than "sight-reading", and that is the ability to read notes period. People need to be able to accurately read and play groups of notes, whether it be hands-alone, individual voices, individual phrases, or sections. Being able to fluently read a particular group of notes is so key. Without that ability it is nearly impossible to practice effectively.

Ryan

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#915790 - 05/02/03 01:24 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
thanks, ryan,
i am going to print out your post and save it. it is very helpful in clarifying some things. i'm sure my teacher would agree with you. she was probably saying that my counting was too detailed at this point in time with that piece, and i generalized it too much.
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#915791 - 05/02/03 03:31 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
so, ryan,
what are your recommendations for students wanting to improve their ability to accurately read notes "period" ?
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#915792 - 05/02/03 04:14 PM Re: Sightreading technique
LudwigVanB Offline
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Registered: 01/09/02
Posts: 152
Loc: Atlanta
Peter said:
_________________________________________________
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.
__________________________________________________

I have a little booklet titled ‘Super Sight Reading Secrets’ by Howard Richman. His first exercise is to select two notes to represent each hand and stay on these. This puts pitch aside initially and allows you to concentrate totally on the rhythm of the piece. He says to verbalize the beats and do this only about two minutes a day because it is tedious, but every day.

Also, expression must come naturally without effort in my beginner’s opinion. It is the emotional aspect of the music and if the emotion is not there then I just practice. Can’t be emotional every time I sit down to practice. Some days I’m just flat but I still want to practice. Expression probably comes most strongly when playing for someone else. So I never try to add in expression.

Ryan said:
__________________________________________________
As far as reading a new piece every day, I think this works well for advanced readers. But I think it is more useful for less advanced readers to read through the same pieces as many times as is necessary
__________________________________________________

What a relief to hear this. As a beginner, I’ve felt many times I need to redo a piece but the advice has always been to do it only once. Thanks Ryan.

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#915793 - 05/02/03 04:21 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

Thanks, I am glad that made sense. I am blushing a bit, though - I didn't think it was *that* good \:\)

Learning to read. I think this is an area that Benedict is really focusing on. There have been a lot of good suggestions made in this thread.

I'm short on time (work never ends!), but here are a few things I work on with less advanced readers.

Counting out loud while maintaining a steady pulse. Most people tend to rush and/or start playing unevenly when the going gets rough, which leads to disaster when trying to read for accuracy. Keep a steady pace.

Learn to recognize intervals and see patterns in the notes (i.e. scalar and chord shapes). Learn common cadences in all keys (i.e. drill). Keep a memory of where you just were. For example, if there are three notes in a row and the 1st and 3rd are the same, remember where the 1st was so you don't have to hunt for it again. It is amazing how many people have trouble with this.

Learn to immediately go from a written note to a note on the keyboard. This is perhaps more important than learning to call the note by name. After all, when we play music we aren't reading the note names out loud, we are translating a symbol on the page to a key on the piano. The most direct path is the best in this case. There isn't time to think the note name and then hunt for that note on the keyboard. Learn to recognize the key immediately.

Have a teacher that is a stickler for accuracy.

Read at a comfortable pace and be very conscious of what you are doing.

If you want to be very careful, play using rhythms (i.e. short groups of notes). It will really get the notes into your fingers and head, and you will be able to spot inaccuracies right away.

Hope these are useful. They were pretty much off the top of my head.

Ryan

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#915794 - 05/02/03 04:27 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5484
thanks, ryan! that called for another printout. if you have further thoughts and the time to share them here, i will be all ears! same goes for whatever else is posted in this thread by anyone. there's already a lot of great info here and i am really getting into reading and thinking about it all.
_________________________
piqué

now in paperback:


Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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#915795 - 05/02/03 09:05 PM Re: Sightreading technique
subarus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 215
Pique, I got one more for you to think about \:\) . I understand your ernestness to seek knowledge, compare notes. It does also seems that you have a good teacher. Different teachers are good in different areas.. some are good with children, some with adults, some sight read very well, some understands theory well, some can improvise..

Whatever the strength your teacher has, I would advice you to focus on it, find opportunity for her to show her skills. Once you seen it, hopefully you will be awed, impressed and believe her beyond reasonable doubts, and have full of respect for her. Then you will have never ending enthusiasm to play, you will not be swayed by other people's opinion NOT because you doubt their usefulness BUT because you have seen for yourself what your teacher can do. It also wont matter to you if your opinion is not valued by other people because you trust in yourself.

ps: some excellent teachers cannot sight-read, its perfectly ok, just make sure she doesnt try to teach you to sight read.

 Quote:
Originally posted by pique:
i will be all ears! same goes for whatever else is posted in this thread by anyone. there's already a lot of great info here and i am really getting into reading and thinking about it all.[/b]

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#915796 - 05/02/03 09:48 PM Re: Sightreading technique
subarus Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 215
Good list Ryan, allow me to add a lil bit more:

Adhere to good fingering habits. Good fingering habits can be developed by practicing scales, properly. The goal is not to entangle the fingers and not to run out of fingers to play.

Start to read with easier pieces. quite rare to find someone who can read pieces that is at or above her skill level.

Never allow small mistakes to disrupt the steady pulse. Learn to 'recover' from small mistakes and try to maintain the steady flow of the music. Best method to learn this skill is to play duet (but yucks !! \:\( )

 Quote:
Originally posted by ryan:
Pique,

Thanks, I am glad that made sense. I am blushing a bit, though - I didn't think it was *that* good \:\)
...

Ryan[/b]

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#915797 - 05/02/03 10:27 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

Thank you \:\)

Subarus,

Thanks you as well. Nice additions. I think this has been a very informative thread.

As an aside, I personally think that developing basic reading skills is more important than and more fundamental to being able to read pieces front to back. It is the basis for everything, including learning things accurately, solidly, and quickly. It also becomes the basis for being able to read through new pieces front to back. I tend to agree with Benedict that trying to read entire new works before one can read fluently and accurately is putting the cart before the horse. I would add that diving into interpretation before the music has been learned accurately is just as bad. Everybody enjoys working on interpretation of course, but it is so much rewarding if the piece has been learned accurately and isn't just an approximation. And it is often a lot easier to play the music if it has been learned accurately.

Enough rant for now \:\)

Ryan

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#915798 - 05/04/03 08:34 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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

Who is ranting ?

We are absolutely on the same wavelength as for the importance of creating an "Operating System" that will allow the pianist to have a name and a space for each subpulse.

I find that to master one hierarchic level :exemple 8th notes, it is necessary to work on the next level (16th notes). It is like this process roots the level above.

I do not know if what I say is clear.

It is strange that Chuan Chang's method which I practiced 6 months and which is based on memorization led me to the opposite because I got stuck at the beginning of the process and then, tried to get out a rut with the result of being deeper and deeper immersed in ... powerlessness.

You have noticed with your students how important it is to build the fundamental skills without bypassing any.

The great challenge is to use tools that generate even more enthusiasm than playing to quickly great works.

Somebody who cannot read will not have fun memorizing Hamlet or David Copperfield. He will want to read any book he chooses from Harry Potter to Finnegan's wake.

Enough rant. \:D
_________________________
Benedict

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