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#992398 - 01/10/09 06:58 AM Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
I've read and contributed to quite a few threads on the subject of sight reading and there has been much valuable advice therein. However, as I see it, one of the most crucial issues has not been addressed satisfactorily, as far as I my searching can determine...

Where can one find a large amount of PROGRESSIVE[/b], graded music which will provide adequate - subjective I know - material to enable one to make meaningful progress in improving this skill? On recommendation I've bought a couple of 'jumbo' volumes of easy arrangements which help to an extent. But, these are not progressive. I know that ABRSM publish books of graded sight reading practice pieces and this is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. The ABRSM books do not however provide enough pieces and are relatively expensive. Bartok's 'Mikrokosmos' is progressive but is also not ideal for the purpose of improving sight reading, imo.

Does anyone know of a source of a large number of graded[/b] pieces (perhaps for download?) for sight reading improvement which has helped them? I've made this my major goal for 2009 and as such I want to proceed with maximum efficiency and effect. Randomly chosing 'easier' pieces - from hymnals etc - is, I believe, not the most productive way to make progressive, efficient improvement.

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#992399 - 01/10/09 08:12 AM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11645
Loc: Canada
Cruiser, I can't help directly with the question. I'm using what I have at hand. One is "Easy Classics to Moderns" which is edited by Denis Agay whose way or arranging seems to be respected by a lot of teachers (per some PW teachers). It is not progressive per se, but it moves chronologically from music in the mid 1600's to modernish times of the mid 1900's. So as you play through the pieces the style shifts.

I picked up free Bergmueller studies during a conversation. I suppose they should be used as studies, but I used them as sight reading for the time being because they are there. They were different from the first group and I found that to be helpul.

I am also interested in answers to your question.

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#992400 - 01/10/09 01:45 PM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1269
Loc: Portlandia
The Keith Snell Piano Repertoire series is graded, offers 3 books per level (Baroque & Claasical, Romantic & 2oth Century, and Etudes), and the books are relatively inexpensive.
_________________________
Oops... extremely distracted by mandolins at the moment... brb

neglected piano blog

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#992401 - 01/10/09 10:59 PM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I don't believe this is a valid concern.
Graded or ungraded, if you're "practicing
sight-reading" it's going to be with
material below your level, and that's
where I see a problem. This is similar
to a swimmer or runner doing all his
workouts at 1/2 effort. He will never
improve his times that way, because you
can't improve by doing something you
can already do easily. By practicing s-r
with material below your level, you're
doing what you can already do easily,
and this is not going to help you at all.
You can do this for years, and all the
time and effort you put in will be
wasted, because you'll be at the same
place as where you started, that is,
practicing s-r with material below
your level, because that is the only
thing you can s-r, that is, material below
your level, because "your level" is
by definition what you can't s-r and
must work up methodically.

Yet people keep on trying to do it this
way, because that is what books on
s-r improvement recommend, practicing
with material below your level. But
I see this as a marketing gimmick.
By practicing with material below your
level, you of course will be able to
do it well, because it's something that
you can already do easily, and so you
think the book is helping you, when
actually you're accomplishing nothing.

Moreover, there is the implication in
all this is that by starting s-r practice
with material below your level, you'll
be able to gradually improve to where
you can s-r at your level. But that
is nonsensical, because you can never
s-r at your level, because your level
is what you can't s-r. The only way you
can raise your s-r level is by raising
your level itself (and that's difficult),
because then the level of what you can s-r
is correspondingly raised.

Thus, you're wasting your time doing what
you're doing, in my view.

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#992402 - 01/11/09 04:17 AM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
cruiser Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/19/07
Posts: 1171
Loc: Cornwall, England
Gyro, thanks for your reply. Suffice it to say that I don't agree with you.

I will say again, however, that I believe the lack of advice in this and the teacher's forums (apologies if I've missed something) with regard to learning sight reading progressively speaks volumes. As I see it, we need to master reading music at grade 1, grade 2, grade 3 etc. etc. ie, progressively[/b]. For those - few - of us doing graded exams this is probably not a problem. For the rest of us, I believe it is. I'm convinced that this is the key to efficient progress. My original question remains... where can one find lots of graded music to practice?

...so far, this is all I've managed to find.

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#992403 - 01/11/09 05:05 AM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
hi cruiser,

as you too are a collector of sheet music, there may be more progressive works already embedded in your collection than you realize, e.g. inside Henle editions of Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart Sonates & Klavierstucke, Beethoven bagatelles, Schubert dances etc. One solution can thus be to just start opening books and start skimming for pages with more white page than black ink (or lots of black ink but a largo indication), plomp them down on your music stand and then follow the same routine each time:

1. Quick Scan
- what is the style, likely mood?
- what is the time signature, approp. tempo, feel?
- what key are we in? what does that mean?
- which bits look the most challenging and why?
- how does it start & how does it end?
- what parts are repeated, same or similar?
- what abstract structures can I identify that go beyond "lots of individual notes", e.g. a ha! there is an e minor scale, there is a G major chord, that is a chromatic run, that is a Bflat major broken chord, etc. Those you don't have to read them as notes anymore.
- listen to the music in your head as you scan (or attempt to hum or sing it if you can't)

2. Test Run
- play the start slowly
- play the end slowly
- try out HS the difficult bits

3. Go for it
- set an appropriately slow tempo & stick to it
- start playing (focusing on getting the idea across above hitting all the notes)

4. Analyze
- what worked well, what didn't?
- was I ready for this (was it PROGRESSIVE for me?), why or why not, where yes, where no

Repeat for the same piece again, with learnings
Repeat for the same piece again next week

Spending 15-30 minutes of this kind of sight reading practice EVERYDAY (especially never skipping step 1, even if you never go beyond step 1 at times) will bring you dividends to no end (and expose you to lots of interesting music fragments)

The ABRSM sight reading books are often horrible examples of music but do have the advantage of being good indications of what to expect on an exam.

Some useful additions to your collection beyond the core literature mentioned above might be:

- early method books from Alfred, J Thompson, etc.
- the past exam books (& of course the alternative lists from the syllabus which are often filled with great music) from ABRSM at grades that are one or two under your current level
- ABRSM Baroque keyboard collections 1, 2, 3
- Heller
- Kuhlau sonatines
- Oscar Peterson Jazz exercises, minuets & etudes
- Norton MicroJazz collection

If quick & proper reading of rhythms is a challenge, you could look into doing some remedial work with:

- Sight-read any rhythm instantly by Mark Pillips
- The Rhythm Bible, Dan Fox

Finally, this repertoire grading spreadsheet can be used as an index into your existing collection or of works that you might download from IMSLP, etc.:

http://mshartman.iweb.bsu.edu/downloads.htm

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#992404 - 01/11/09 05:33 AM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
Gerry Armstrong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
 Quote:
Originally posted by cruiser:
Gyro, thanks for your reply. Suffice it to say that your view is so self-evidently ludicrous that I will not waste time on elaborating my response.

I will say again, however, that I believe the lack of advice in this and the teacher's forums (apologies if I've missed something) with regard to learning sight reading progressively speaks volumes. As I see it, we need to master reading music at grade 1, grade 2, grade 3 etc. etc. ie, progressively[/b]. For those - few - of us doing graded exams this is probably not a problem. For the rest of us, I believe it is. I'm convinced that this is the key to efficient progress. My original question remains... where can one find lots of graded music to practice?

...so far, this is all I've managed to find. [/b]
A few links to some sight reading series of books...

http://www.musicroom.com/Browse/Series.aspx?seriesid=series628

http://www.musicroom.com/Browse/Series.aspx?seriesid=series1427

http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/039814/details.html

http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/023077/details.html

http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/060198/details.html

http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/0442282/details.html

http://www.musicroom.com/Browse/Series.aspx?seriesid=series806

If you want to go the graded music route rather than series of books, you could try Piano Street. They have a library of 2,000+ pieces which are graded by difficulty.
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#992405 - 01/11/09 06:01 AM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
I don't really see sight reading (playing something cold) for the sake of it as very beneficial. The key to easy playing is good fingering and that takes time and, for the early grader, guidance. Don't go for quantity, go for quality.

More experienced players should have enough interest in a composer to play through whole volumes in order to study their development or play something unknown out of curiosity - that's when the ability to cold sight read is invaluable.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#992406 - 01/11/09 06:21 AM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
Gerry Armstrong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 214
Loc: Cumbernauld, Scotland
Apologies - when I was talking about sight reading, I was refering to "reading music", not "reading at first sight" i.e. playing something cold. I know it actually means the latter.

I'm trying to improve my reading skills, which hopefully mean my sight reading skills will also improve in time for my first exam in June!! \:D
_________________________
Gerry Armstrong

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#992407 - 01/11/09 04:34 PM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
Octavia Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/11/05
Posts: 283
Loc: California
My teacher uses the sightreading series from MTAC, obviously not free or downloadable, and I don't think each book has a particularly large number of pieces. But it is progressive and tops out at level 7:

http://www.mtac.org/shopping/
_________________________
"These are the good old days" --Carly Simon

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#992408 - 01/11/09 08:21 PM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
the only way to improve sight reading is to sight read regularly. just do it everyday in 10-15 minutes, pick 1 or 2 easier pieces. my teacher suggest it to me, but i didn't follow it strictly, while my constant learning new pieces for lessons in past 3 years actually made my reading skills improved for better.

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#992409 - 01/12/09 01:52 PM Re: Improving your sight reading - PROGRESSIVELY!
ProdigalPianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/07
Posts: 1049
Loc: Phoenix Metro, AZ
You could use any graded piano series...it doesn't have to be specifically for sight reading. Just pick up one or more graded piano series (ones that you didn't use to learn to play the piano, obviously ;\) )

Used bookstores sometimes have used series books cheap...
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Adult Amateur Pianist

My only domestic quality is that I live in a house.

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