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Topic Options
#933286 - 03/01/08 09:30 AM Help!--Help!--Help!
J. Francis Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/29/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Pittsburgh PA
I am a senior and just started piano lessons 2 months ago. Need to acquire better technique for reading notes as I read them one at a time and do not read ahead. This is slow, cumbersome, and unproductive. Would like to able to read a full measure, plus be able to glance to the next measure to see what is comming. Realize what I am asking might be difficult to do on a very complicated piece but should not be impossible on the simple beginner passages. My piano teacher knows I have this problem but does not sugggest any solution other than flash cards and counting. I know notes quite well but sense that using flash cards will never help me sight read whole measures. If I continue with what I am now doing (like typing a character at a time with one finger) I will never get to really enjoy a piece nor will my wife!!!

Can some kind soul out there help me by suggesting techniques and learning tools I can purchase that will help me solve this problem. For example titles of good piano books on this subject, and personal techniques any of you have employed.

Will be eternally grateful as I love the piano.

J. Francis
j. Francis Valvo

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#933287 - 03/01/08 10:02 AM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
Kreisler Offline

Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13826
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Flash cards can help you gain speed with note recognition. If your recognition is already automatic, then I'd suggest a study of intervals and chords - seeing patterns in groups of notes.
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)


#933288 - 03/01/08 11:32 AM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7639
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
In addition, please reflect back on 1st grade recall that you didn't learn to read English any faster. In fact, by the end of the year, after litterally hundreds of hours of repetative reading, your reading skills were still quite elementary. \:D

In other words, patience and practice will help you achieve what you're attempting.
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

#933289 - 03/01/08 08:13 PM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 13323
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree. Be patient with yourself. Adults often are eager, which is great, but then they set unrealistic expectations for themselves. It will take time. One thing that you could do at home to help, though is if your wife can read a little music, she could take a sheet of paper and cover up the measure as you play it, which will force your eyes to look at the next measure. Start of course with the very easiest of pieces. Since you've only been playing for 2 months, I don't think this is something you need to worry about, however.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#933290 - 03/02/08 07:49 AM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
J. Francis Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/29/08
Posts: 7
Loc: Pittsburgh PA
Thanks much for your replies to my Help--Help--Help. Encourging to know others have traveled the same route and overcome.
j. Francis Valvo

#933291 - 03/02/08 01:05 PM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
Lillystar Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 20
I highly recommend you purchase a book by Mary Gae George titled: Artistry at the Piano: Intro to Music. http://www.shop.artistryalliance.net/product.sc?categoryId=10&productId=22

This intro course will familiarize you to the concepts of intervals, which is essential to becoming a good sight reader, as well as teach you beginning piano theory. \:\)

In a Nutshell: An interval is the distance between notes on the staff. On a staff, an interval of a 2nd is line to space or space to line. An interval of a 3rd is space to space or line to line. All odd numbered intervals are line to line/space to space. And all even numbered intervals are space to line/line to space. Once you train your eyes to read intervals (as well as train your fingers) reading ahead will become easier.

A practice tip is to practice slowly enough to be able to read the intervals in the next measure. Tell yourself "C (first note in the measure), then "up a 2nd, down a 3rd, repeat (same note repeated)..." ***See the George book for more training in this.***

Once you learn the basics, the next thing will be to play music daily. Invest in a variety of books at your level and select a new piece to play. Do this daily. There is no substitute for this! Once you've played the music go over them again. Try the library for additional music. And yes, go over your flashcards too!

Some of my favorite beginner books with interesting music to practice sight reading with are:

Artistry at the Piano Level 1 Musicianship and Level 1 Repertoire. They come with CD's.

Mastering Music by Janet Vogt Level 1A

Schaum Making Music Method Primer,Level 1 and 2

Hal Leonard Solos Level 2

William Gillock Piano Technic level 1B

Faber Goldstar Performance solos.

Don't forget Christmas books level Primer and Level 1.

Of course, as you master this level you can move up to a slightly more difficult set of books.


#933292 - 03/02/08 09:07 PM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7639
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Lillystar, how nice of you to join the forum. At first, I breezed by, thinking you were LillyLady, but then I realized, no, it's a NEW name. Anyway, welcome on board.
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

#933293 - 03/03/08 10:21 AM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
Lillystar Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 20
Thank you, John v.d. Brook, for your very kind welcome!!

#933294 - 03/04/08 12:35 AM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
calvinc Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 4
Sight-reading skill is a never ending process. It takes time to develop. It is important to recognize that while your sight-reading skill is increasing (often unconsciously) so is the complexity of the piece of music you are working on. This tug of war goes on forever. I am an ARCT student and also a piano teacher. I still have to struggle through an ARCT-level piece like a beginner when I am doing it for the first time. Just be patient with yourself and you will get there one day.

#933295 - 03/04/08 12:55 AM Re: Help!--Help!--Help!
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Keep in mind that reading the notes is only half of sight-reading. You can read all the notes in the world, and it will all be silent if you don't actually *play* those notes.

So flash cards, drills, practicing reading notes *is* very important -- but so is learning your way around the keyboard... so is learning to be able to just move your hands wherever they need to go without even looking. That doesn't mean, either, that you should never look at your hands -- but you should be able to play that way, because when you are looking at the sheet music to read the notes, obviously you can't be watching your hands at the same time.

So try some drills that are similar to the note reading flashcards, but actually *play* them. Start with your hands around middle C; if the card says G, then try to play G without looking. Once you get to G, keep your hand there -- don't move it back to C. If the next card says Eb, then try to move to Eb from G. Then from Eb, go to where the next card says, and see if more and more you can do it without watching your hands.

This will make you a better player anyway, not just when you are sight-reading. Personally, I've spent so many times practicing pieces when I've memorized the notes but my hands couldn't get to those notes easily enough. When that's the case, it's clearly not the reading of the notes that's the problem -- because I've *memorized* the notes! It's rather the moving of the hands around the keyboard geography that's requiring me to practice. If you become more familiar with the keyboard, in terms of getting your hands to the right places, then you will learn pieces much more quickly, you will sight-read much more quickly -- and besides, even if you are always watching your hands, you really can only watch one hand at a time... which means that one hand you cannot watch, and you must be able to move it to the right places without watching.


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