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#936080 - 12/05/07 05:51 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi klutz,
An old fogey like you is obviously clever by a half ... and way ahead of the game ... but what about fresh newcomers to the keyboard.

Would appreciate your full attention being given to the bleat about sight-reading hassles ... and
would value your solution to the problem.

I'm at the profitable age of having the grandchildren over in short spells ... much as I value their presence ... it is such a balm to eventually hand them over to mother's apron strings... they get read the riot act ... anybody who touches my musical scores gets 'hung, drawn and quartered" ... well, the threat seems to work!!

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#936081 - 12/05/07 06:04 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Much of sight reading is about knowing your technique when you see it.

I'm waiting for some wiz kid programmer to come up with something better, though looks like I may have to do it myself. I thought an old seadog like yourself would have it sorted by now.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#936082 - 12/05/07 07:36 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
The observations of the learned researchers into sight-reading fluency are all very ducky ... but after we’ve all been made aware of:

1. Reading note patterns over individual notes
2. Anticipating and mentally correcting musical errors
3. The meaning of musical symbols
4. Sight-reading becoming more intense with complex music
5. Developing a tactile sense (to avoid looking away from the score)
6. Note duration errors being responsible for 70% of rhythm errors
7. Developing an aural imagery (mental shape)
8. Snapping up the space between notes (intervallic)

... but where is the grand solution to sight-reading woes?
[/b]
Out of these statements it is no.6 which I would disagree with most. Where does the 70% come from? All rhythmic errors are note duration errors aren't they?

Anyway, it's not about knowing and understanding note lengths. Rhythm problems are down to not being able to feel and maintain the pulse whilst trying to cope with statements 1-8. Ask your students to clap and count a single melody line and they don't have much difficulty. Now ask them to play it along with the accompaniment in the other hand and the rhythm goes out of the window.

So what about the grand solution? You're not going to like it. Practise, experience, time and patience etc.

It may of course be possible to develop some software to help practise sight reading. I would doubt that anyone would invest the time and money into something which most people feel is not necessary. Unfortunately music literacy is fairly low priority. If they did I would be interested. But....it would have to be based on the system of notation we know and use.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#936083 - 12/05/07 10:46 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Putting a steady beat into place about 2 measures before you start (a "precount") will help you to set and maintain a steady beat througout. You don't have to count metrically, you can just listen to a steady "heartbeat" as we all have one of those within. MM 60 is a good tempo for studying music, you can bring it up to tempo later when you have constructed it carefully. A faster tempo comes as a "gift" to you because you have prepared well for accuracy and steady tempo.

There are no surprizes in music - with training we can accomplish it all. It helps to have an educated listener who can help us identify problem areas and inconsistencies on our part. The structure we get in lessons goes a long way to understanding the "thinking games" and "observations" that go on in music reading.

I disagree with #4, and agree with #5. All the other things should be done in preparing the piece. Preparation is so unlike performance, but good performance depends on good preparation. Do the work, get the rewards.

So, in my mind, rhythm problems are about knowing your note lengths, and having a dependable counting of duration system, keeping a steady beat throughout, avoiding stopping and falling apart by knowing the music well, and our best intentions as we do it, without placing ourselves as obstacles to the music making.

Betty

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#936084 - 12/11/07 05:20 PM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
Eternal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/06
Posts: 1285
Loc: Posts: 80,372
I can touch type - and usually score in the high 90 's as far as WPMs (words per minute). For me the break-thru to learning how to type, was practicing without looking at the keyboard (I would just turn off lights in my room). It's actually mentioned in he article at the beginning of this thread: "the fewer times a student looks down at the keyboard while reading, the better the sight-reading will be".

My eyes never leave the sheet. Initially I had to use a piece of cardboard, to block my view of the keyboard, because I was so used to glancing down, but now I've conditioned myself to never "cheat" by looking down.

Another thing I noticed is, that I no longer think of the notes in terms of their names, but rather of where they are located on the keyboard. Again - analogical to computer keyboard. I couldn't even tell you what letter is located where, without having to think about it. But the moment I want to type something, my fingers just know where to go. I'm sure it's the same for all touch typists.

Basically, what I'm trying to say, is that if you taught yourself how to type - apply similar approach to learning how to sight read.

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#936085 - 12/11/07 10:40 PM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
There is no time in sightreading ("Prima Vista" is the first reading)to be identifying by letter names. It is done by distance (intervals) and direction (up, down, the same) rather like graph paper, in my mind. If you turn the music page so that the clefs are at the top of the page, and look at the music with the treble clef on the right, and the bass clef on the left, you will get some insight into how the pianists hand looks like guitar tablature. It makes more sense because the lines and spaces are now in the correct perspective for reading accurately and seeing the design of finger shaping.

Also look for melody patterns, harmony patterns, and rhythm patterns as you are reading. Look for FORM. That can be a quick glance of ther music before you start, as well as the key signature, and whether there is an abundance of accidentals added, key changes, or any other "device" being used. Octaves? Broken chords? This ANALYSIS helps clarify the difficulty of the tasks you will be doing. Look at the title, the composer, the tempo markings and any directions on the page, if there are lyrics read them through, set the mood and tempo in your mind.

Be careful of the typing idea from the point of view that it is a very mechanical touch, you don't want to play every note alike - there is expression and touch and dynamics to think about.
Typing is usually a pounding motion on the keyboard - piano playing are graceful gestures, while attacks producing accents and fortes. There are upstrokes and downstrokes to choose from, phrasing, legato, staccato. Many choices according to the markings in the music.

Sight reading at a level you can handle well, or even below your level of playing. The idea is to be as fluent and steady as possible with the music you are producing.

Betty

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#936086 - 12/12/07 12:42 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Must give Eternal a thumbs up for his tactile approach to piano-playing ... an offshoot of a touch-typing skill which enables full sight-reading concentration on the score ... without looking away at the keyboard or the hands.

With this sight-reading advantage in mind ... I thought I’d share a rough sketch of my domain which exploits Eternal’s bonanza a stage further.

If it is not necessary to see the hands ... why not place a table-top over the keyboard (about 100mm clear of the notes to give free reign to the hands) ... and use the surface for all the other important adjuncts (see sketch) ... and allow the music in hand to be viewed MUCH CLOSER than previously ... a bonus for those with spectacles.

As you will notice ... the 200mm (8") wide shelf stretches across the full length of the keyboard supported by a 100 (4") mmm block each end ... making a marvellous repository for

1. Piles of music
2. Music in hand
3. Zoom H4
4. Marmalade the cat (optional extra for company!!)

Having all the cunning gadgets within arms length allows for the music to be comfortably read ... Zoom H4 switched on ... the recording then heard through the piano top speakers ... and if a reasonable rendition ... left on for aural scrutiny while taking a break over a cup of tea.

Yesterday’s delight was Debussy’s Golliwog’s cake walk.

web page

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#936087 - 12/12/07 03:22 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I like it. How many cup-holders does it have?
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#936088 - 12/12/07 03:32 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
What a thing of beauty! Trouble is one big Chopin or Grieg up-chord and the whole thing will be sent flying - cups an'all.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#936089 - 12/12/07 04:48 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4263
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Who are these Grunge and Choppin' chappies anyhow?
... an occasional snack might find a rare perch on the mantlepiece ... but anything of the hot liquid kind is strictly taboo ... now a stiff whiskey on the otherhand could just prove a lifesaver when trying to make sense of one of those dratted Brahms keyboard concoctions ... presently busy with the Waltz in Ab.

You chaps obviously aren't touch-typists ... the masking shelf will prove a sight-reading hindrance to blokes from those rainy Manchester and London chapters.

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#936090 - 12/14/07 07:30 PM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I wonder how much of sight reading is actually reading. It occurs to me that over time, you'll see familiar musical patterns. Do you think that one reads note for note, or does the mind interpret these familiar patterns from a quick glance. The best analogy I can think of is when you are reading. The eyes do not see and interpret letter by letter. They see groups of letters and interprets them as words. I also think the mind is capable of seeing what it wants to see and perhaps even fills in the blanks.

Example:

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

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#936091 - 12/14/07 11:56 PM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Akira,

I think it more like connecting the next note to the present note like connecting dot to dot drawings in childrens art activities. You notive whether the connecting line is straight across (the same note). at an angle upward (a higher note - how far away?), at an angle downward ( a lower note - how far away?


The "how far away?" is the "interval" (counted distance)between notes.

Can you describe them on the music staff?
One line to the next space - 2nd
line to next line - 3rd
line to next line plus space - 4th
line to next line to next line - 5th
6ths? 7ths? 8ths

On the keyboard let's work it out with white notes:
Middle C to E 3rd (1 unplayed white note between)
Middle C to F 4th (2 unplayed white notes between)
Middle C to G 5th (3 unplayed white notes between)
Middle C to A 6th (4 unplayed white notes between)
Middle C to B 7th (5 unplayed white notes between)
Middle C to D 8th (6 unplayed white notes between)

Another clue you want to look for is whether the notes is on a line, or a space and then whether it is the 1st line (bottom line of the clef you are looking at - being 5 lines and 4 spaces).
The 2nd line is the next line up, 3rd line is the next line up, 4th line is the next line up, 5th line is the top line of the clef sign) Same thing with the other hand and clef, the bottom line is the 1st line. Yes?

If you put your thumbs on the middle line of each clef, or at middle C, you will come up with the 3 locations where you will see some "magic".

The name I gave my discovery is "Middle Lineness". With thumbs together on the line you now have 9 fingers to calculate with. Placing your fingers on adjacent keys on the keyboard with 1 on Middle C, your fingers 1-3-5's of each hand will be playing line notes. Your fingers 2 and 4 will be splaying space notes in each hand. 5 Lines: FACEG and 4 Spaces:GBDF
Or, LSLSLSLSL = FGABCDEFG

Moving your thumbs to the middle line of the Bass Clef produces:
1-3-5 (still on line) 2 and 4 on spaces
5 Lines:GBDFA and 4 Spaces:ACED
Or, LSLSLSLSL = GABCDEFGA

Moving your thumbs to the middle line of the Treble Clef produces:
1-3-5 (still on line) 2 and 4 on spaces
5 Lines:EGBDF and 4 Spaces:FACE
Or, LSLSLSLSL = EFGABCDEF

There are lots of other things to "catch" about the music staff and the keyboard orientation. Time and experience brings that along.

When you learn to analyze and calculate intervals and coordinate the fingering choices to fit the notes, you will be reading the music quite well.

You don't need to say OR think letter names when you are playing from printed music. The brain likes to look at it as a special relationship exercise.

To me, the alphabet naming is to coordinate the keyboard to the music staff - but it is not part of the process of reading music. Naming works best as an aid when moving long distances - it "announces the keyboard destination" which is expressed in "registers" on the keyboard and music staff.

You ask a few questions, they get answered, you make use of the info, then you find another question to ask. That's progress and it's learning - one new step at a time. With enough time and effort you have a fully functioning musician.

Betty

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#936092 - 12/15/07 03:34 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Betty Patnude:

To me, the alphabet naming is to coordinate the keyboard to the music staff - but it is not part of the process of reading music. Naming works best as an aid when moving long distances - it "announces the keyboard destination" which is expressed in "registers" on the keyboard and music staff.
[/b]
Yes, a lot of people seem to think that naming notes on the stave is reading music. This is something which most adults could learn to do in 10 minutes. It's just a starting point.

Akira, I like your jumbled example. The other day I was sight reading an accompaniment for the choir at my wife's school. The score contained some mistakes in the bass which I didn't really notice until later. I had played the correct notes anyway. I think it is the same thing. Experience will make you a better sight reader.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#936093 - 12/15/07 04:02 AM Re: Teaching Sight-Reading
AZNpiano Online   happy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Akira:
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? [/b]
Akira:

The above example only works if the subject has a high-school reading level, with adequate vocabulary. If I tried to take that to my middle school, kids will be just as mystified.

With sight reading notes, I make the analogy to kids who read one syllable at a time (like reading in a foreign language). A lot of kids struggle at sight reading because they 1) don't sight read regularly, 2) don't look at the score when practicing, or 3) don't play very many pieces, period. It's like a kid who doesn't like to read books--there's no way he will ever become a fluent reader!! The only real way to become a better reader, whether it is music or the printed word, is to do lots of it.

Fluent readers can look at an entire word, or a group of words, and create meaning. That's why fluent sight readers look at the "big picture" in music. Rather than scanning vertically across the page one note or one chord at a time, fluent readers can pick up GROUPS of related notes, such as one measure or phrase, and look ahead to the next measure/phrase while playing the current measure/phrase.

A more pertinent analogy is the following--

Subject A is a chess master.

Subject B doesn't play chess at all.

Ten chess pieces are randomly placed on a chess board. A and B are given 30 seconds to study the board, and then they are to "reconstruct" the board from memory.

Of course, subject A is able to reconstruct most--if not all--of the pieces because he knows the intrinsic relationship among the pieces to their location on the board. He also benefits from having the experience of working with the chess board for X number of years, and knows the function of each piece rather well.


So...what's the point of all this??

If you want to teach sight reading, then make your students do lots of it. Sight read something every day. Sight read something at every lesson. There really is no other way around it. ;\)
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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