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#915781 - 05/02/03 06:24 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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. \:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915782 - 05/02/03 06:29 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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.

\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915783 - 05/02/03 06:32 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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.
\:\)
_________________________
Benedict

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#915784 - 05/02/03 06:59 AM Re: Sightreading technique
benedict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

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.
_________________________
Benedict

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#915785 - 05/02/03 11:00 AM Re: Sightreading technique
Nina Offline
6000 Post Club Member

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
Full Member

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
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17671
Loc: Victoria, BC
Nina and subarus:

I agree!

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190 in satin ebony
Writing from Paris until 15 May, 2014

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#915788 - 05/02/03 12:07 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
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.
_________________________
piqué

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#915789 - 05/02/03 01:11 PM Re: Sightreading technique
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
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.
_________________________
piqué

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#915791 - 05/02/03 03:31 PM Re: Sightreading technique
piqué Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
so, ryan,
what are your recommendations for students wanting to improve their ability to accurately read notes "period" ?
_________________________
piqué

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#915792 - 05/02/03 04:14 PM Re: Sightreading technique
LudwigVanB Offline
Full Member

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 beginners opinion. It is the emotional aspect of the music and if the emotion is not there then I just practice. Cant be emotional every time I sit down to practice. Some days Im 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, Ive 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: 5483
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:


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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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