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#942568 - 06/28/05 07:17 PM Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1520
What advice or technique do you offer advanced students for improving their ability to simultaneously sight read both the bass & treble clef together with advanced grade material, such as Bach's Two Part Inventions or The Well Tempered Clavier?

I know a pro jazz pianist who is great at sight reading just the treble clef alone and also great at sight reading the bass clef alone. But when he has to read classical scores and both clefs simultaneously, he slows down. He says his eyes are not able to capture the wide vertical gap between the treble and bass clef fast enough at a glance. He finds his eyes having to scan down and up. He reports that he gets better results when the chord changes are penciled in above the score, like on lead sheets.
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#942569 - 06/28/05 07:40 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1520
Conventional wisdom on sight reading basics says:

1. Before playing, study the music silently, note the key signature and time signature.
2. Play the scale in which the piece is written
3. Notice any tricky rhythms and perhaps clap them
4. Keep your eyes on the score at all times
5. Move your hands only when neccessary
6. LOOK AHEAD
7. Read from the bass upward

However, reading from the bass upward when sightreading could mean risking losing the melody and I think the melody should be the last part to drop out. If anything, I think it's best to have the middle voices drop out briefly.
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#942570 - 06/29/05 06:10 AM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
Is this pianist truly "sight-reading" the bass clef or just improvising over chord changes? Try getting a piece with a complicated bass line. If he knows the bass and treble well and just can't "put it together" try reading 4-part harmonies like choral works or hymns. If he practices these for 10 minutes everyday you will gradually build up your ability to take in information in both the staves. Before you even start playing "read through the music" (like a book) and have him name all the notes bottom to top as fast as he is comfortable at an even tempo. When he can do this very rapidly just start working on the playing mechanism also, and this is huge, make sure that he isn't having to look at his hands. This is probably one of the biggest reasons people slow down and stutter when reading. I have been using these methods for about three weeks now and my sight-reading has gotten much better. I am still a rank beginner but the general ideas should work for more advanced players as well. Remember sight-reading is a skill just like playing, you have to practice everyday by immersing yourself in material you've never seen before.

~pianocliff

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#942571 - 07/01/05 05:08 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
gilad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/05
Posts: 271
Loc: south africa
i'm a beginner and the idea of reading and sudying the piece before playing always seemed silly to me, but as i browse forums i'm realsing that most musicians dont simply sit down, open a new piece and play it perfectly. Like a formula 1 race car driver studies the track he will race on to be ready for tricky turns and bends, so i see a pianist should do the same when going about their course.very enlightening and makes me realise how much more i could be doing to improve on my reading and ultimately my playing.

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#942572 - 07/05/05 01:25 AM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi rintincop,
The comment of your jazz pianist friend bears a sight-reading second thought.
"He says his eyes are not able to capture the wide vertical gap between the treble and bass clefs at a glance". Join the club!!

But even if we joined the two clefs about Middle C the jazz pianist would still be faced with his (and our) worst nightmare.

His mind reads the treble clef notes in relation to Middle C ON THE LINE but then has to do a simultaneous mental somersault (within a micro-second)in reading the bass clef notes in relation to the lower C now IN-BETWEEN THE LINE.
Not possible! - and us with ten fingers.

If only our musical forebears had the foresight to settle for an EVEN 8 instead of and UNEVEN 7 alphabetic notes we'd have sidestepped the hassle.
Better still 12 to eliminate accidentals.

C's in all octaves would then fall neatly ON a line - the 6+ keyboard staves would be identical - no ledger lines - and there'd be no reason to split treble and bass staves.

Just a thought.

But in the meanwhile you are sadly obliged to have your student join the patient sight-reading motley and face the reality of unstinting dedicated practice and memorisation to attain worthy keyboard performance with the Two-Part Inventions and WTC of Bach.

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#942573 - 07/05/05 04:06 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
Laurens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/05
Posts: 193
Loc: The Netherland
Maybe a stupid remark from a real beginner. Are you using a 'large font' music sheet where there really is a large gab between the treble and base staves? How about trying to reduce the sheet with a photocopier.

I'm almost convinced this will not help, but who knowns.

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#942574 - 07/05/05 07:25 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Good to have you aboard Laurens.

The gap between the clefs is rather like the public of Amsterdam deliberating about where to put a new fire-escape door to the room housing Rembrandt's "The Night Watch".

Imagine one crazy suggesting cutting the 4.45m long masterpiece in two to squeeze a fire-escape door between the severed halves.

Do you think your idea of photocopier reduction would help the resultant split image.?

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#942575 - 07/06/05 02:27 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1520
A gap between the staffs was a good idea, it's harder to identify notes on staffs with additional lines. And reducing the size of a score only makes it harder to read for me. I use photocopy machines to enlarge scores.
_________________________
1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#942576 - 07/07/05 04:29 AM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Hi rintincop,

Many teachers think that enlarging the score makes the sight-reading that much easier to comprehend - but what you are doing is clogging the brain-cells with a monster inflated image - which for the moment might elucidate a small detail - but in the long run disorientates the brain from taking in that more edifying telescopic image.

You little realize what an interesting (cat-amongst-the-pigeons) concept your jazz pianist added to the mix - but top marks to Laurens for picking up on the logic of distance improving insight.

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#942577 - 07/20/05 03:29 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by gilad:
i'm a beginner and the idea of reading and sudying the piece before playing always seemed silly to me, but as i browse forums i'm realsing that most musicians dont simply sit down, open a new piece and play it perfectly. Like a formula 1 race car driver studies the track he will race on to be ready for tricky turns and bends, so i see a pianist should do the same when going about their course.very enlightening and makes me realise how much more i could be doing to improve on my reading and ultimately my playing. [/b]
I do just that. I think nothing of taking a music book off my shelf and sitting on the couch and reading it just like any novel. Maybe I'm lucky in that I can hear the key that the piece is written in and can hear the melody as I'm reading through the music.

This also helps when you go to play the piece for real because you've worked out tough spots (well sort of...lol) in your head - kind of like your racecar dude. He's read through the route manual before he got on the road.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#942578 - 08/07/05 01:49 AM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
bach enthusiast Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 847
Loc: Tucson Arizona
number one, reading the welltempered clavier by sight is very hard and some really great readers can't even do it. Number two, so much of piano/music learning is all about breaking a problem down into its smaller constituents. first make sure you can recognize all notes instantly. then read bass clef alone and then treble clef alone. only then try em together. obviously don't look at your hands no matter how slow your tempo and don't stop either. this will help you learn to look ahead.
_________________________
JOHN

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#942579 - 08/07/05 11:41 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by bach enthusiast:
number one, reading the welltempered clavier by sight is very hard and some really great readers can't even do it. Number two, so much of piano/music learning is all about breaking a problem down into its smaller constituents. first make sure you can recognize all notes instantly. then read bass clef alone and then treble clef alone. only then try em together. obviously don't look at your hands no matter how slow your tempo and don't stop either. this will help you learn to look ahead. [/b]
Good points on reading...This is how I learned, and eventually it all came together. I agree too it is very difficult to sight-read the WTC. There are a lot of things happening in Bach's Preludes and Fuges that do not meet the eye initially.

As I've said elsewhere, sigh-reading and first reading is like looking at the tourist brochure for a trip. The brochures mention the hightlights of the place, but don't go into details. You don't really appreciate the journey until you do the actual driving and exploriing the details when you are actually there.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#942580 - 08/11/05 03:36 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4977
Loc: boston north
Learning theory pays off!

What I am about to suggest does not just apply to sight reading, but learning a piece in general.

Learning chords and recognizing the notes in their many positions really helps.

Reading hymns is a good example of this.

What I really mean is - knowing the notes of the chord to recognize them in their written form as well as in their playing form.

Example:

C major, 3 note form:

Triad position: C E G, or first inversion: E G C, or second inversion: G C E

Knowing these inversions of chords WRITTEN as well as played really helps.

Then knowing 'Open Chords' (middle note left out of one hand but shows up in the other hand)

Between the hands: LH might play C G while the RH plays E. Can you still recognize it as C major?

As well as knowing the chords, there are repititious 'Chord Progressions' that help us in reading music.

Example:

If you know that a G 7 chord usually goes to C (dominant to tonic) at the end of a piece, then it helps while you are reading that G 7 chord to know what is coming next. You can almost guess at what the next notes will be. This is a minor example - other progressions are as familiar once you learn to recognize them.

Example:
When you learn that the Leading Tone of a scale -then 7th note - goes most often to the Tonic - the 8th; your ear, mind, and fingers almost automatically do this. Play C D E F G A B and see if your mind and ear say that the next note should be high C!

I have simplified, but I hope this helps with those who are learning to play, read, and sight-read.

Its THEORY which helps.


;-)


Enjoy,
Roberta
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#942581 - 08/11/05 06:20 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21264
Loc: Oakland
I prefer to have the music desk set as far from me as possible, so I can see more of it in the middle of my vision. I just got a set of music glasses made to accomodate my aging eyes. They are reading glasses, but focused farther away.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#942582 - 08/12/05 04:51 PM Re: Simultaneously sight reading bass & treble clef
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by lilylady:
Learning theory pays off!

What I am about to suggest does not just apply to sight reading, but learning a piece in general.

Learning chords and recognizing the notes in their many positions really helps.

Reading hymns is a good example of this.

What I really mean is - knowing the notes of the chord to recognize them in their written form as well as in their playing form.

Example:

C major, 3 note form:

Triad position: C E G, or first inversion: E G C, or second inversion: G C E

Knowing these inversions of chords WRITTEN as well as played really helps.

Then knowing 'Open Chords' (middle note left out of one hand but shows up in the other hand)

Between the hands: LH might play C G while the RH plays E. Can you still recognize it as C major?

As well as knowing the chords, there are repititious 'Chord Progressions' that help us in reading music.

Example:

If you know that a G 7 chord usually goes to C (dominant to tonic) at the end of a piece, then it helps while you are reading that G 7 chord to know what is coming next. You can almost guess at what the next notes will be. This is a minor example - other progressions are as familiar once you learn to recognize them.

Example:
When you learn that the Leading Tone of a scale -then 7th note - goes most often to the Tonic - the 8th; your ear, mind, and fingers almost automatically do this. Play C D E F G A B and see if your mind and ear say that the next note should be high C!

I have simplified, but I hope this helps with those who are learning to play, read, and sight-read.

Its THEORY which helps.


;-)


Enjoy,
Roberta [/b]
Absolutely! It's like having a road map so you can predict when the next exit is coming up on the freeway. This also goes along with the style and period that the piece was written. Strictly Baroque and Classical period pieces are fairly easy to predict what's going to follow along next. With some of the Romantic and later pieces, it gets kind of hard to figure out which way they are going.

I find that knowing scale fingerings helps too you can get the fingers lined up for the proper key the piece is in.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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