Let's sight read - material and tips

Posted by: Veelo

Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/07/12 09:58 AM

Here's a compilation of free music sheet that I have found useful for practicing sight reading.

http://makingmusicfun.net/htm/printit_piano_sheet_music_index.htm
http://www.freesheetpianomusic.com/
http://www.gmajormusictheory.org/Freebies/freebies.html
http://www.capotastomusic.com/piano-sheet-music.htm
http://www.8notes.com/piano_sheet_music.asp
http://www.music-for-music-teachers.com/beginner-piano-music.html

And here is a real gem (Download the pdf "Hymns made easy"):
http://www.lds.org/cm/display/0,17631,8763-1,00.html
It's 80 pages of hymns written in an easy arrangement.

Also I'd also like to share what has worked for me. I've been practicing sight reading now for about 2 years, that's also when I began teaching myself to play the piano. My role model is Tom Brier who is truly an inspiration:



Currently, I'm using the "Hymns made easy" book. I play a piece only once or twice such that no memorization takes place. After I've played the 80 pages I start again from page 1.
Posted by: supertorpe

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/07/12 11:22 AM

Indeed, I recently printed scores of MakingMusicFun and "Hymns made ​​easy" to practice sight-reading.

- Here is another collection of hymns (325 pages)
- 140 pages of hymns
Posted by: Cookie74

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/07/12 05:02 PM

I would also check out the LDS Children's Songbook, even if you aren't LDS. Most of the songs are in the easy to intermediate level and they are great for sight reading. Here is the link:

http://www.lds.org/cm/display/0,17631,4766-1,00.html

I'm not sure how to just print the whole songbook, but maybe someone can figure it out. You can also buy a book copy. It's $20. (or, if you have an LDS friend, just ask them to give you a copy and they'll probably do it).
Posted by: ukbuk

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/08/12 09:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Cookie74
I would also check out the LDS Children's Songbook, even if you aren't LDS. Most of the songs are in the easy to intermediate level and they are great for sight reading. Here is the link:

http://www.lds.org/cm/display/0,17631,4766-1,00.html

I'm not sure how to just print the whole songbook, but maybe someone can figure it out. You can also buy a book copy. It's $20. (
or, if you have an LDS friend, just ask them to give you a copy and they'll probably do it).


I'm using that! Its pretty good and gets me a load of kudos with the in laws at the same time (they are LDS - i'm not)
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/08/12 10:22 AM

While it's not my priority, I'm working on sight reading. I've been using Mikrokosmos recently, the Keith Snell repertoire books and a Methodist Hymnal.

The hymnal is very good. The routine is to analyze the harmonic structure, play the soprano, then the bass part separately, then fill in the chords. The goal is to get the chords and hand shapes coordinated.

Slowly but surely it is working.
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/08/12 03:48 PM

Thanks for the links! If you know more material please post them.
Meanwhile, here are some things that helped me:

Tip #1: Use a metronome
It is often said that we must not stop when sight reading even if we make mistakes. If we stop then we will get into trouble when playing in a band or in a duet. Now, the steady beat of the metronome emulates the band. Try it out, it will be easier to keep going if you listen to the beat.
The funny thing is when I first started with the metronome I could not hear the beats. I would get off beat pretty quickly. I was even convinced that the metronome was wrong! Thus, I learned to actually listen to what I'm playing.
If I don't use the metronome (sometimes I do this in order not to get too dependent) I will tap my foot.

Tip #2: Look ahead by playing slowly
Looking ahead sounds impossible for beginners. How can we look ahead 1 or even 2 bars if we cannot decipher the notes in lightning speed and translate them into finger movements. The answer is: Play slowly. I set the metronome to 40 bpm where one beat is a quarter note. It's slow? Yes, but we've got to start somewhere.
Only then I was able to play the notes and look somewhere else. For example, when you play half notes you have plenty of time to look somewhere else. You don't have to fix your eyes on these long notes. That way you can look ahead. (Most of the time I can only look half a bar ahead. I guess the 1 to 2 bar region comes with experience).
Now, you will probably laugh about this misconception that I had: I thought that in order to read two staves at once I had to keep my eyes in between the two staves. Of course, this does not work. I noticed that now my eyes keep jumping in all directions: I jump ahead, then back again to the place I'm currently playing, then from bass to treble.

See also Building Blocks to Effective Sight Reading by Barbara Fast
Posted by: Cookie74

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/08/12 06:38 PM

Originally Posted By: ukbuk


I'm using that! Its pretty good and gets me a load of kudos with the in laws at the same time (they are LDS - i'm not)


It's really good. I was asked to play for the children at church (primary), and I accepted even though I'm a terrible sight reader and had never accompanied anyone. After about three months, though, my sight reading had improved tremendously, and it was just from playing from the Children's Songbook for about an hour a day.
Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/09/12 09:13 AM

Tip: When practicing sight-reading study the score first, but vary the time of the pre-play study from 30 seconds (as in a sight-reading exam such as ABRSM etc) to a full in-depth review (20 minutes or thereabouts) away from the piano.

You can use this Extreme Sight-reading Pre-study Checklist as a guide.

I find formally working through this check list helps what you can gleam from the score in shorter times.
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/10/12 05:00 AM

Tip #3: Pre-scan the music
Before playing have a look at the piece you are going to play. I use the STARS method (link1, link2) which stands for:
S - key signature
T - time signature and tempo
A - accidentals
R - rhythm and repeats
S - signs (dynamics, etc.)
These things are important to check since you don't want to be caught off guard e.g. when the key signature suddenly changes or the bass clef is replaced with a treble clef.

Prescanning a piece everytime before you play it takes some discipline.

EJR, that's an excellent checklist. I've stumbled upon your other blogpost too:
Sight-reading: YouTube Tutorials, Notes and Thoughts which contains alot of tips.

Besides, how is your sight reading practice going?

And if anyone knows of more videos showing sight readers please post them. I've only found the ones by Tom Brier.
Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/11/12 04:31 PM

Hi Veelo,

"how is your sight reading practice going?"

It's currently 'on hold' at the moment frown

Lately I've been focussed on technique. However, I've been downloading tons of graded materials and loading them onto a cheap Android tablet for sight-reading (your links were very useful).

So I'm about to hit it again big time! grin
Posted by: kathykeys

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/13/12 06:58 PM

Hey there, I just wanted to say thank you for the links!
Posted by: piano_deb

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/14/12 03:24 AM

Very useful resources and tips. Thanks, everyone!
Posted by: Rusty Fortysome

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/14/12 07:45 AM

I read somewhere about a guy that learned piano and sight-reading by taking every piece of music he could find and going for it. Not sure if that was a true story, but he claimed after stacks of music he was fluid with sight-reading.

After 2 years of playing, I can read music and play it. Super-slowly. It isn't a problem of reading the notes, but getting hands in place. If I play a piece 6x or so, it's then able to be anticipated and ironed out, if it isn't a very complex piece. Every year I get better and better at sight reading, so it really does take practice; I can imagine after 10 years of this study it would be rather easy to sight-read and play all those pieces on "Making Music Fun" without pausing or stumbling.
Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/14/12 08:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Rusty Fortysome
I read somewhere about a guy that learned piano and sight-reading by taking every piece of music he could find and going for it. Not sure if that was a true story, but he claimed after stacks of music he was fluid with sight-reading.


I suspect if you bashed your head against every object you could find eventually you would find you could break through a wall. Or end up unconscious.

For those who find sight reading comes easy (and this is one of those areas where I do believe that some natural inclinations to way s of working - call it talent if you must - can make some people just run with it) that approach may work. For the rest of us, nothing beats working with simple material you can play rather than struggling with stuff you can't.
Posted by: supertorpe

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/14/12 09:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
For the rest of us, nothing beats working with simple material you can play rather than struggling with stuff you can't.


I belong to that group of people.

Although one of the tricks is to practice reading material that are above your sight-reading level, so you force to practice making decisions about which stuff to ignore, which is also valuable.

For example: I can't sight read 4 voice chorals, but I try to play only the bass and soprano and try to add 3th or 4th voice here and there (where I can).
Posted by: supertorpe

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/14/12 10:18 AM

Some recommended books on several posts of this forum:

Introduction to Classics to Moderns (40 pieces, 32 pages)
Joy of First Classics 1 and 2 (60 pieces, 80 pages each)
- Easy Classics to Moderns (142 pieces, 160 pages)
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/14/12 01:05 PM

I just purchased a copy of Selected Works by Gurlitt that looks like great sight reading material.

Joy of First Classics is very good.
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/14/12 02:59 PM

Thank you for the links and recommendations! Please post more laugh

Meanwhile, here is an interesting thesis on sight reading:

A survey of the development of sight-reading skills in instructional piano methods for average-age beginners and a sample primer-level sight-reading curriculum
by Dirkse, Scott, M.M., UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 2009

Chapter 4 (page 47) with an actual sight reading curriculum is a must read!


Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/14/12 03:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Veelo
Thank you for the links and recommendations! Please post more laugh

Meanwhile, here is an interesting thesis on sight reading:

A survey of the development of sight-reading skills in instructional piano methods for average-age beginners and a sample primer-level sight-reading curriculum
by Dirkse, Scott, M.M., UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 2009

Chapter 4 (page 47) with an actual sight reading curriculum is a must read!




Thanks for the link; I'll have to study it a little. Glancing at chapter 4 it seems they emphasize keyboard topography. I believe that is my weakest area ... I have very little spacial acuity - at least down the accuracy of a single key.
Posted by: Maechre

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/16/12 12:41 AM

I'm using the "levels" at this website as a guide. They give plenty of suggestions for books at each sight-reading level.
http://www.soundfeelings.com/products/music_instruction/sight-reading_books.htm

I'm using Level 2. Now I know that I can expect a good sight-reading level of music from "big note" piano books. From the list I bought the "100 Best Loved Piano Solos" book and the "Fun to Play Christmas Songs". I also bought a big-note/easy piano "The Disney Collection", which is slightly harder, but not by much.

I feel confident that there are a good number more books out there that are suggested on the website if I don't feel ready to move up for a while. But I've seen a good improvement in my sight-reading.

I also have "The Joy of First Classics", "The Joy of First Classics 2", "Easy Classics to Moderns" and "More Easy Classics to Moderns". But I feel I'm not quite up to those. Right now I'm very comfortable with the level I'm working at, even if it's not always perfect. (It's sight-reading, what do you expect?)

I'm sight-reading 3 pieces a day, one from each of the big-note books I bought.
______________________________

I have a proposal if anyone would be interested. We could post videos here of our sight-reading, like a sight-reading piano bar -- or make a new thread where we can all post videos of our sight-reading.
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/16/12 05:57 PM

Thanks for posting the link to that sight reading thesis, Veelo. Lots of interesting stuff there.

For anyone it may help, here's a list of easy music books to use as sight reading fodder, which I which I wrote up and posted several months ago during a major bout of of insomnia.
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/17/12 08:36 AM

Here is more free material:

1) http://www.soundswell.co.uk/pages/swsightr.htm
It's a collection of sight reading exercises divided into four sections: First Steps, Early Stages, Intermediate, Advanced

2) And here is a sight reading book by Faith Maydwell: Sight Reading Skills
which you can download for free!

@Maechre and tangleweeds: Thanks for the links!
@Maechre: I like the idea of sight reading videos. Come on you excellent sight readers, take out your cameras and motivate us!



Posted by: maduro

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/17/12 08:44 AM

the best method for sight reading I have ever done was to take a Bach invention and sight read measure by measure or half bar by half bar (looped) ie you just keep playing measure one over and over. then do measures one and two until up to tempo
then measures one two and three etc

while singing and saying the letter names of first right hand then left hand then both.
all while playing hands together. you may spend a half hour saying just left hand while playing both hands then you will sing and say letter names of right hand while playing both

it is incredibly difficult and grueling but after a few months you will literally hear the music in your head when you see the notes.

truly amazing and your ability to sight read even complex material will improve dramatically

you should do this in conjunction with playing simpler pieces at sight.
Posted by: Maechre

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/17/12 10:09 AM

maduro: I'd be interested to try that out!
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/17/12 10:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Originally Posted By: Veelo
Thank you for the links and recommendations! Please post more laugh

Meanwhile, here is an interesting thesis on sight reading:

A survey of the development of sight-reading skills in instructional piano methods for average-age beginners and a sample primer-level sight-reading curriculum
by Dirkse, Scott, M.M., UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 2009

Chapter 4 (page 47) with an actual sight reading curriculum is a must read!




Thanks for the link; I'll have to study it a little. Glancing at chapter 4 it seems they emphasize keyboard topography. I believe that is my weakest area ... I have very little spacial acuity - at least down the accuracy of a single key.


Andy, that is indeed an interesting topic. I would like to discuss this below:

Tip #4a: Keyboard topography (for beginners)
As a beginner try this: Close your eyes and create a mental image of the keyboard. Now, in your imagination hit the keys C,B,A,G,F,E,D,C and name them. Do you see the geometry of the black and white keys? In the beginning I couldn't do it.

I learned it the hard way: I tried to sight read without(!) looking down the keyboard. The only way I could do this was to use my tactile sense, e.g. when I had to play a G, I would try to feel the group of 3 black keys and I knew that G is next to F#. As you can imagine I was very frustrated at the beginning since what I played did not resemble music at all but rather stuttering. I already wanted to give up but I am glad that I didn't.

I think this helps me with relative position. Consider this example with the left hand: if I had to play a C with my thumb and F# (to the left of C) with my pinky, I know immediately where F# is.

Someone has compared this with the Braille method for blind people.
---

Tip #4b: Keyboard topography (advanced)
Advanced means you have an absolute sense of position. If I told you a note, for example G, you could hit the right key with your eyes closed.

Examples:
Have a look at Tom Brier's left hand. It's godlike! Look at those jumps.

Tips on how to acquire this advanced skill? Unfortunately, I don't have this absolute sense of position. My guess is that ragtime or stride piano is a good way to achieve it since it involves large jumps.

Here is another video of Tom Brier where a woman covers his sight to the left to check whether he peeks down (@4:25). Tom also explains "how" he does it (@3:25) laugh

Another example is the amazing blind pianist Derek Paravicini. In this video he plays the Maple Leaf Rag also involving large jumps.
---

Now here is a question for you:
a) Has anyone taken the same (frustrating) route as me with respect to the "Braille" method
b) Does anyone here have this absolute sense of position? If yes, how did you practice it?

Posted by: Maechre

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/17/12 11:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Veelo

@Maechre: I like the idea of sight reading videos. Come on you excellent sight readers, take out your cameras and motivate us!

I think earlier sight-readers should also be welcome to contribute -- anyone who wants to. We can support each other! I will gladly start a new thread with my own example if more people are interested. smile
Posted by: Maechre

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/17/12 11:06 AM

Veelo: I haven't yet worked on my tactile positioning, but I need to! It's okay for me to glance down with these simpler pieces but I could be doing much better if I didn't have to look at all -- or more rarely at least.
Posted by: piano_deb

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/17/12 12:29 PM

Originally Posted By: maduro
the best method for sight reading I have ever done was to take a Bach invention and sight read measure by measure or half bar by half bar (looped) ie you just keep playing measure one over and over. then do measures one and two until up to tempo
then measures one two and three etc

while singing and saying the letter names of first right hand then left hand then both.
all while playing hands together. you may spend a half hour saying just left hand while playing both hands then you will sing and say letter names of right hand while playing both

it is incredibly difficult and grueling but after a few months you will literally hear the music in your head when you see the notes.

truly amazing and your ability to sight read even complex material will improve dramatically

you should do this in conjunction with playing simpler pieces at sight.

I'm not sure I understand.

Are you saying to work with a new invention each session, or to keep going back to the same one until complete? If returning to it, doesn't that turn more into a memorization/learning process and less a sight-reading exercise?

Why is it necessary to keep going back to measure one over and over again? It seems that that would, again, simply lead to learning of the piece?

Also, why Bach inventions in particular?

(Hope this doesn't double-post. I replied earlier but the post disappeared into the internet ether.)
Posted by: Maechre

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/17/12 01:50 PM

piano deb: I'm not sure about the exact intention of that kind or re-reading, but if it is memorisation -- having memorised music plays a part in sight-reading as it helps you quickly translate familiar notes into sound.

I would like to see maduro's explanation.
Posted by: mcasl

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/18/12 04:10 PM

They have a free app for iPad , just check LDS in the AppStore . It has both the Hymns and the children songs
Posted by: Bluoh

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/18/12 05:33 PM

More great material on sight reading:

Quick Tips for Accurate Sight Reading

Why Isn’t My Sight Reading Improving?

Practice Sight Reading

How to Sight Read

Sight Reading-- A Trying Time for Teacher and Pupil

Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/22/12 09:05 AM

More stuff to download but it isn't free.
If you register over on the "Darkside" (Pianostreet.com) they have a large number of downloadable scores.

These are ranked Easy, Intermediate, Advanced. But they also have "Levels" there seems to be Level 1 to 8 (and an 8+) so around 9 levels in total. You can sort searches by Level.

When I last looked there were about 3000 pieces:

Easy*: 403
Intermediate*: 1310
Advanced*: 2244

*There are several levels to each category so 9 in total

What's fun though, is that you don't have to be a member to search the system, and it shows a preview of the score, many also have a audio track. So you use this for some mental practice, read the score preview, try to imagine how it sounds, then play the track as a check.
Posted by: maduro

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/22/12 01:01 PM

you would need to try it before intellectualizing it.

you will be surprised how difficult it is to sing and say the notes while playing them by the time you feel you are memorizing then you go to the next measure

you do the same invention until it is finished
this is an exercise to increase your speed at completing the three neurological connections
eye to brain brain to hands

Inventions are chosen because it is two linear lines
so it is easy to sing both right and left hand
other types of song have the occasional stacked notes which make the exercise more difficult then it already is

by forcing yourself to sing you are training ear and adding another neurological connection by inserting your mouth (singing_) you are increasing the difficulty
when you go to play a regular piece you wil be amazed at how easy it will be to play a piece

this method is to be done in conjunction with other sight reading drills
such as reading a piece of music from beginning to end then moving on to the next

look at this exercise like doing stretches or push ups before doing a sport
the pushups are not the sport they make you better at doing the sport
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/22/12 02:22 PM

Originally Posted By: maduro
look at this exercise like doing stretches or push ups before doing a sport
the pushups are not the sport they make you better at doing the sport


well actually it's debated whether stretching before exercising holds any non-detrimental value and the same could be argued about the pushups depending on the type of exercising

that being said, though, I liked the rest of your post smile
Posted by: malkin

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/22/12 08:49 PM

I can't get anything from the LDS music site to print. I get a header and footer only.

I guess they know what a heathen I am.
Posted by: maduro

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/22/12 10:23 PM

show me a tae kwon do or northern shaolin martial artist that doesent stretch their legs and he will pale in comparison to his equally trained peers who do

show me a mma guy or boxer who does not do push ups or some other similar exercise and you will see a guy who lacks core and punching stamina

every art whether it be music or kung fu
has its exercises that although preparatory in nature or basic in function hold the keys to mastery.

I used to stretch 2 hours per day before throwing 800 kicks per work out
I used to do 100 pushups before commencing with my punching drills

would I have been equally as competent without these drills I wouldnt have wanted to find out I am 45 now and still rather flexible and can still throw a mean double kick

and can still pound out some push ups
and throw a pretty hard punch


so to will this drill give you abilities that will be long lasting.

whatever you do

Dont suck
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/23/12 12:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Veelo
Originally Posted By: Andy Platt
Originally Posted By: Veelo
Thank you for the links and recommendations! Please post more laugh

Meanwhile, here is an interesting thesis on sight reading:

A survey of the development of sight-reading skills in instructional piano methods for average-age beginners and a sample primer-level sight-reading curriculum
by Dirkse, Scott, M.M., UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 2009

Chapter 4 (page 47) with an actual sight reading curriculum is a must read!




Thanks for the link; I'll have to study it a little. Glancing at chapter 4 it seems they emphasize keyboard topography. I believe that is my weakest area ... I have very little spacial acuity - at least down the accuracy of a single key.


Andy, that is indeed an interesting topic. I would like to discuss this below:

Tip #4a: Keyboard topography (for beginners)
As a beginner try this: Close your eyes and create a mental image of the keyboard. Now, in your imagination hit the keys C,B,A,G,F,E,D,C and name them. Do you see the geometry of the black and white keys? In the beginning I couldn't do it.

I learned it the hard way: I tried to sight read without(!) looking down the keyboard. The only way I could do this was to use my tactile sense, e.g. when I had to play a G, I would try to feel the group of 3 black keys and I knew that G is next to F#. As you can imagine I was very frustrated at the beginning since what I played did not resemble music at all but rather stuttering. I already wanted to give up but I am glad that I didn't.

I think this helps me with relative position. Consider this example with the left hand: if I had to play a C with my thumb and F# (to the left of C) with my pinky, I know immediately where F# is.

Someone has compared this with the Braille method for blind people.
---

Tip #4b: Keyboard topography (advanced)
Advanced means you have an absolute sense of position. If I told you a note, for example G, you could hit the right key with your eyes closed.

Examples:
Have a look at Tom Brier's left hand. It's godlike! Look at those jumps.

Tips on how to acquire this advanced skill? Unfortunately, I don't have this absolute sense of position. My guess is that ragtime or stride piano is a good way to achieve it since it involves large jumps.

Here is another video of Tom Brier where a woman covers his sight to the left to check whether he peeks down (@4:25). Tom also explains "how" he does it (@3:25) laugh

Another example is the amazing blind pianist Derek Paravicini. In this video he plays the Maple Leaf Rag also involving large jumps.
---

Now here is a question for you:
a) Has anyone taken the same (frustrating) route as me with respect to the "Braille" method
b) Does anyone here have this absolute sense of position? If yes, how did you practice it?



Just a short bump on keyboard topography. I found this interesting blog post: Fear, Part II which discusses why large jumps are so difficult. One reason seems to be our fear of hitting wrong notes. It is further described that a good exercise to enhance body awareness is to play with eyes closed.

This reminds me of a Schaum piano book that had a big piece of paper in it. The paper had a hole through which you could slip your head. The purpose of this paper was to block your sight to the keyboard. I don't know the English name for it but in German it's called "Schaum Tastenfinder".
Posted by: supertorpe

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/25/12 01:32 AM

Originally Posted By: malkin
I can't get anything from the LDS music site to print. I get a header and footer only.

I guess they know what a heathen I am.


Try this URL to download the pages of Children Songs Book.

If you have access to Linux/Unix, you can get all the PDF's with this command:

Quote:
wget -U "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:15.0) Gecko/20120427 Firefox/15.0a1" -r -l1 -A.pdf http://www.lds.org/cm/display/0,17631,7329-1,00.html


...and join all the pages into one PDF with:

Quote:
gs -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -q -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=children_book.pdf *.pdf


This is the URL to download Hymns made easy.
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/28/12 02:47 PM

Tip #5: Be patient and have fun
I think this is the most important tip. How many times have we gotten frustrated because we expect our sight reading skills to suddenly make a leap. Nope, it's not going to happen. I compare sight reading to actual reading. Think back and remember how many years it took you to become fluent in reading a book. You were first learning about letters, then words and then sentences. With sight reading it's the same.

I consider myself to be in "elementary school" level with my sight reading and I am willing to work on it. Also, I just enjoy it. I love playing a new piece of music and suddenly recognizing the melody. My sister has this thick book with folk songs with the melody line and the chord symbols above it. I could play the chords on the guitar but I didn't know the melody which bugged me for years. Guess what, now I play them on the piano, and it's super fun!

Tip #6: Read at the right level
We should read pieces that are not too hard and which we can read with comfort. Don't be too proud to take easy pieces. Just to give you an idea, I started by grabbing a children song book and playing only the melody line.

Here is a nice video where Valery Lloyd-Watts talks about a woman who is an excellent sight reader. And the woman became so good because as a child she played 50 books of level 1 and 50 books of level 2.

Tip #7: Sight read on a daily basis
Do it regularly. I try to sight read at least for 15 minutes a day.
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/28/12 03:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Veelo
Tip #5: Be patient and have fun
I think this is the most important tip. How many times have we gotten frustrated because we expect our sight reading skills to suddenly make a leap. Nope, it's not going to happen. I compare sight reading to actual reading. Think back and remember how many years it took you to become fluent in reading a book. You were first learning about letters, then words and then sentences. With sight reading it's the same.

I consider myself to be in "elementary school" level with my sight reading and I am willing to work on it. Also, I just enjoy it. I love playing a new piece of music and suddenly recognizing the melody. My sister has this thick book with folk songs with the melody line and the chord symbols above it. I could play the chords on the guitar but I didn't know the melody which bugged me for years. Guess what, now I play them on the piano, and it's super fun!

Tip #6: Read at the right level
We should read pieces that are not too hard and which we can read with comfort. Don't be too proud to take easy pieces. Just to give you an idea, I started by grabbing a children song book and playing only the melody line.

Here is a nice video where Valery Lloyd-Watts talks about a woman who is an excellent sight reader. And the woman became so good because as a child she played 50 books of level 1 and 50 books of level 2.

Tip #7: Sight read on a daily basis
Do it regularly. I try to sight read at least for 15 minutes a day.



quoted for truth
Posted by: Maechre

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/28/12 11:52 PM

Veelo: That video you linked (I don't even have to follow the link to know it's the right one) has my favourite sight-reading tip/anecdote of all time. The one you mentioned -- read 50 books at level one, 50 books at level two.

Now if only I knew how to get 50 books at each level, I would actually commit to reading all of them level by level.
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/30/12 07:32 AM

Tip #8: Play in a duet
Playing in a duet has two effects:
- It forces you to keep going. You can't just stop while your partner is still playing.
- You will learn to listen to the rhythm of your partner.

Also, playing duets can be so much fun. Have a look at the following videos:





I wish I had a duet partner. Alas, the only partner that I have at the moment is the metronome.

Tip #9: Learn how to count
You must be able to count while playing. At first it will be awkward but once you can do it the reward is a better sense of rhythm. Have a look at this teacher-student duet where both are counting



I learned how to count with the help of this book:
Music Reading For Keyboard: The Complete Method (Essential Concepts) by Larry Steelman.
It's available on amazon for $13.

Tip #10: Learn to tap your foot
My guitar teacher used to say this to me, and it's true. Tapping your foot helps to keep the right rhythm. Look at Oscar Peterson:


Here's another video of three guitar gods tapping their feet:


And here an interview with Al di Meola who stresses the importance of tapping your foot.
Posted by: Klaviersüchtig

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/30/12 08:05 AM

Maybe the method of Leonhard Deutsch is a little bit extreme, but I am sure you will find some useful tips in his book:

Piano Guided Sight Reading
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 06/30/12 05:44 PM

I ran across the Deutsch book at our public library years ago -- he seems a odd duck and quite opinionated (my favorite part is where he says that individuals for whom is method doesn't work are mentally defective). But he suggest some interesting ideas along the way.

Though I was inspired to try this by another book, I've decided to attempt to work on something which parallels his method, which is to do more sight reading either playing along with a recording, or working from method books with accompaniment tracks (for the latter I may uses transposition software to spice things up, since early method book tunes are always in easy keys).

I'm not up to accompanying anyone yet, but that's a goal of mine, and I want to approximate the experience by playing along with something (for now, something non-animate, and thus incapable of exasperation at my frequent stumbles).

I'm also hoping that this will help break my incorrigible habit of stuttering to fix my mistakes.
Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/01/12 07:15 AM

I've posted this previously, but checkout the iPad sight-reading app from WessarInternational. It comes with a 1000 graded pieces. Importantly it hides the bars played, forcing you to move forwards - so no going back or restarting..

You can find it here

Video of it in action:



Search these forums for further info and reviews (now if only I had an iPad!).
Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/01/12 07:42 AM

Checkout Anki

This is a multi-platform computer based 'flashcard' system... You can down load "Decks" of cards (and yes there's many music centric such as notes and key signatures), or create your own.

Oh it's free (for Mac & PC platforms).

The exciting bit is that under the hood it uses a Time-Spaced-Repetition algorithm. When you complete a test card you always have 4 possible answers (from very hard to very easy), it logs both the time it took to answer and how many attempts. On first use a card that's answered easily will not appear for another 3 or 7 days (depends on answer). But these periods increase with each review cycle. A very hard card will appear again in that study session a hard one in one day.

The "cards" can support many media file types and can include images and mp3 files.

I spent some time yesterday making up a set of 52 cards for all notes from 0 to 6 ledger lines above and below the treble and bass staffs (I'm pants at reading these).


Here's the first of seven demos...

Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/03/12 03:32 PM

I've been using Anki for nearly a week now. The set of ledger line notes & key signature study tasks are improving greatly. It has a useful set of analysis tools and even in less than a week, you can see that harder tasks are getting flagged up and studied more regularly, and the easier ones are already getting pushed 7-9 days into the future before the next review - so it seems to make efficient use of study time. This can also be seen from the stats in that the daily time spent completing the set of required reviews is falling. However, a 'Card' (study task) is not considered "mature" until they have review intervals of >=21 days - so it's still very early days...
Posted by: DaseinSelbst

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/03/12 04:26 PM

I love Anki, got around 4000 mature cards for various things. The android app is really nice.

Not sure how well it would work for sight reading though, since part of sight reading requires looking ahead and recognizing entire note groups. I think Anki is better suited for learning tons of stuff really efficiently rather than mastering a skill.

That's kinda why I made my android app. It displays random notes as they would be in a piece of music, but increments how many notes are possible each level so that you can focus on learning a few notes directly. Learning to sight read by playing is slow because of that lack of focus. I can recognize all the ledger lines instantly now taking only a fraction of the time

It also has different key signatures, and a mode that will switch between key signatures and clefs randomly, once you've learned them individually.

In the future I'm going to include a mode that requires recognizing patterns/groupings almost instantaneously.

I don't want to spam so I won't link to it, just thought that the learning theory I used making it might be valuable to you. Unfortunately I don't have a web-only version to help you out if you don't have android.
Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/03/12 05:02 PM

Hi DaseinSelbst,

Originally Posted By: DaseinSelbst
I love Anki, got around 4000 mature cards for various things. The android app is really nice.

Not sure how well it would work for sight reading though, since part of sight reading requires looking ahead and recognizing entire note groups. I think Anki is better suited for learning tons of stuff really efficiently rather than mastering a skill.


I think that Anki is very well suited to building skills that support sight-reading either directly or indirectly.

"...than mastering a skill..."

I have to disagree. I'm also using Anki for realtime practicing and polishing of Scales (with good results). I'd been stuck in a rut with these and it seems to be getting me up out of it. I think Anki can be used for internalising and gaining fluency in any skill or knowledge process, provided there's a means of testing/audit involved and that upfront self-assessment standards can be defined. The only thing is that the "flashcard" concept pigeon holes it a bit and I prefer to think of these as a more generic "study task" or "knowledge element".

I'm interested in your app and will take a look once I've recovered my tablet from the son whose made off with it ;-)
But an Android version of that Wessar ipad app would be cool!
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/03/12 05:27 PM

That Oscar Peterson video is fantastic.
Posted by: DaseinSelbst

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/03/12 11:13 PM

Originally Posted By: EJR


I'm interested in your app and will take a look once I've recovered my tablet from the son whose made off with it ;-)
But an Android version of that Wessar ipad app would be cool!


Make sure you give me some feedback! Unfortunately I don't have a tablet device for testing right now (should work the same though, and better with a big screen). frown
Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/04/12 12:46 PM

;-)



Posted by: malkin

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/04/12 12:50 PM

EJR, I agree!
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/04/12 01:55 PM

...perhaps because of experience reading spines of books?
Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/04/12 03:13 PM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
...perhaps because of experience reading spines of books?


Could be? or do you think we may be hard wired one way or the other?
Posted by: malkin

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/04/12 10:09 PM

We read English left to right and top to bottom.

The only experience I have reading bottom up is word search puzzles.
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/07/12 07:39 AM

Tip #11: Learn chords and their inversions
I recommend learning chords and their inversions. This helped me recognizing shapes faster and my hand moves automatically.

I'll give you an example: Let's say we have the chord consisting of the notes (E,G,C) in the bass clef. I will recognize the shape and I know immediately which fingers to use in the left hand.

The idea is that you don't want to waste time deciphering the chord but use "muscle memory". Also, your hand will get used to forming different "finger patterns":

Example 1: C chord in the right hand
root position (C,E,G) => fingers (1-3-5)
1st inversion (E,G,C) => fingers (1-2--5)
2nd inversion (G,C,E) => fingers (1--3-5)

Example 2: C chord in the left hand
root position (C,E,G) => fingers (5-3-1)
1st inversion (E,G,C) => fingers (5-3--1)
2nd inversion (G,C,E) => fingers (5--2-1)

On the right hand side I tried to depict the shape of our hand with the usual finger notation (1,thumb) (2,index) (3,middle) (4,ring) (5,pinky).

To get used to playing chords get a book with lots of folk songs. I have one with only the melody and the chord symbol above it. I will first play them all in root position then try to figure out how to play "economically", i.e. without much hand movement, by using chord inversions.

Here are some videos explaining chord inversions:



Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/07/12 09:57 AM

Article to read (Pike, Pamela D; 2012,Feb): Sight-reading strategies... A fresh look at a familiar topic
Posted by: EJR

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/07/12 10:08 AM

I've posted this before, but thought it worthwhile to stick under this umbrella thread...

The Diagnostic Prescriptive Sight-Reading Program

Take the "Diagnostic Prescriptive Sight Reading Test" to get your level of fluency. Call this level 1.
Then:-

Sight read 2 pages daily at "Level 1".
Study 1 page of a piece 1 level higher than Level 1 for 1 week.
Study a piece "for several weeks" two levels higher than Level 1.

So this approach roots the study of pieces firmly to that of the level you can sight-read. You take a DPSRP test every 3-4 months and then crank all the levels up (if passed). See linked article for full details. I like this approach and doing daily, weekly & monthly pieces means you cover a large amount of ground at a range of levels...
Posted by: Veelo

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 07/28/12 02:30 PM

I just learned that there is a term for the "absolute sense of position", namely proprioception. Proprioception is body awareness and in sight reading this means you know where your fingers are without looking at them.

Here are some links:

Playing Without Looking at One's Hands

8 Essential Piano Sight Reading Tips: for exams, or learning a new piece

I guess that one way to practice this is to put the sheet music high enough. This prevents peripheral vision.

Does anyone have any experience with this?
Posted by: Troubledclef

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 08/01/12 11:36 AM

This is a bit difficult but it does seem to work. I'm wondering how you go about saying the notes when you are playing flats and sharps...and playing eighth notes. There isn't much time to say or sing d, d flat, c, b flat. Any suggestions on how you do this? And how you say the two handed notes together.
Posted by: Troubledclef

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 08/02/12 07:15 AM

Originally Posted By: maduro
the best method for sight reading I have ever done was to take a Bach invention and sight read measure by measure or half bar by half bar (looped) ie you just keep playing measure one over and over. then do measures one and two until up to tempo
then measures one two and three etc

while singing and saying the letter names of first right hand then left hand then both.
all while playing hands together. you may spend a half hour saying just left hand while playing both hands then you will sing and say letter names of right hand while playing both

it is incredibly difficult and grueling but after a few months you will literally hear the music in your head when you see the notes.

truly amazing and your ability to sight read even complex material will improve dramatically

you should do this in conjunction with playing simpler pieces at sight.


This is a bit difficult but it does seem to work. I'm wondering how you go about saying the notes when you are playing flats and sharps...and playing eighth notes. There isn't much time to say or sing d, d flat, c, b flat. Any suggestions on how you do this? And how you say the two handed notes together.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 08/02/12 04:42 PM

"...I can't get anything from the LDS music site to print. I get a header and footer only. I guess they know what a heathen I am..."

It's ok, malkin, you can buy an actual hymnbook if it comes to that. There are church supply stores where heathens are welcome--- they may even especially like heathens who buy hymnals; you've heard the saying "Preaching to the choir"--- or your local music store can order one for you. You could even write to the publisher, and I'm sure they would be glad to fill even a small order. There's that other saying about "the ninety-and-nine," which means that the shepherd goes out and finds the lost lamb which is bleating in the backcountry, with hungry wolves and no hymnbook.

Oh--- you would think I'd been in a choir; maybe I should take that thing about bleating out. Never mind, I calls 'em like I sees 'em.

I have noticed that some of the various denominations have hymnal print jobs that are much easier to read than certain others. Better print, better paper, better editing. They shall remain nameless; you'll have to do your own comparison shopping.

One little tip for sightreaders. I've found it is helpful to play a few times through the scale in which the piece is written, before I tackle the piece itself. It helps the fingers and ears know where they are going, and a little warm-up is not a bad idea anyway. Some of these hymns are trickier than you think; they are scored for the SATB voices and not the piano. So I just get out my pencil and help the notes go to the hand that will be playing them. Some are surprisingly worthwhile, as music--- take a look at the index of authors' names and you will find some that are already very familiar.
Posted by: Nicholas Mihaila

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 08/02/12 06:03 PM



Quick question: According to what I read there, she's saying that sight reading entails very rapid eye movement, going forwards and backwards (up, down, etc.); however, I've always read that it should be done by "reading up," from the bass to the treble. How do these concepts fit together?
Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 08/02/12 06:22 PM

The very rapid eye movements are pretty much involuntary -- you also make them when you're reading a book without even noticing them happening.

The conscious eye movements are larger, and purposely bottom-up and forward directed (though of course your eyes might regress to catch things you've missed).
Posted by: Nicholas Mihaila

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 08/02/12 07:17 PM

Originally Posted By: tangleweeds
The very rapid eye movements are pretty much involuntary -- you also make them when you're reading a book without even noticing them happening.

The conscious eye movements are larger, and purposely bottom-up and forward directed (though of course your eyes might regress to catch things you've missed).


Oh, I see. Thank you.
Posted by: John Dickinson

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 08/04/12 08:58 PM

I've tried some of the iPad apps, but haven't found them very useful. The best guidance I've seen came from Keith Snell: Try to read and play a new piece of music every day. That doesn't mean the whole piece, and it doesn't mean play it to a level you'd want for recital. It means that you can become comfortable reading and playing music if you do it often enough with pieces you are reading and playing for the first time.

I have a pattern of looking at a new piece of music, scanning it quickly to see if it looks at all reasonable for me to learn. Then I try to play through some, or even all of it to see if I like it. If that much sight reading gets me interested, I'll work on the whole experience of the piece, using a method similar to what Deborah uses.

As far as I can see, the real point of her method is to develop finger memory out of the experience of sight reading the piece. Most music doesn't come completely naturally, and developing finger memory is important, but so is the sight reading that ultimately drives you to it.
Posted by: cheeseandpepper

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 10/27/12 10:49 AM

Check out our new sight reading iPad app. It can generate new material and evaluate your performance and give you a score. Supports 7 instruments including piano!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sight-reader/id541763153?mt=8

Try it for free!
Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 11/15/12 06:51 PM

When practicing sight-reading and there are complicated rhythms (well, they're basic beat sub-divisions, actually, but complicated for me to sight-read prima vista), is it detrimental to your practice and progress to figure out the rhythms by clapping before starting playing? It's as though the sound of the music/notes distracts me from feeling the beat whenever the pulse gets subdivided, and then I get lost. Truth be told, the problem is with single-voice reading (hands together) so I can't yet even imagine dealing with similar or more complicated two-or-more-voice rhythms simultaneously. If it's relevant, I tend to feel the beat by either tapping my foot along with it and/or instinctively feeling it. I try to orally count the beats, but lose track whenever its subdivided; it sounds silly, but because I wear headphones when I play, the closely-timed sounds of eighth-or-smaller notes overpower my voice when trying to count solely by vocals and I lose track of the pulse this way.

Also, I've yet to read much on the topic of the metronome and its part in sight-reading. How do you all employ it in your practice regimens?


On a side-note, Mark Phillips suggests in his Sight-Read Any Rhythm Instantly that you count aloud (along with every other text I've come across), but disagrees with most everyone else I think I've heard in that you should NOT subdivide the beat when counting and I was curious what you all thought of this - see his exact quote below.

Click to reveal..
Here's something extremely important to remember. When you're playing rhythms involving eighth notes - as in the example below, for instance - count only the beats ("one-two-three-four"). In spite of what anyone else may have told you or what you may have read in other books, never say and (that is, don't count "one-and, two-and, three-and, four-and") Why? Because you need to keep the steadily flowing beat numbers in your semi-conscious mind while the sound of previously memorized combinations of notes (the whole point of his book is to memorize the sounds of rhythmic patterns so that they can be easily recalled) that can occur in each beat are up front in your conscious mind. If you say and, or - even worse - if, for playing sixteenth notes, you say the popular phrase one-ee-and-uh, you can't help but bring the underlying beat from your semiconscious into your conscious mind - and if you do that, those extra syllables, instead of helping matters, will only interfere (or even clash) with the execution of your various (previously memorized) one-beat note combinations.
Posted by: Devrie

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 11/17/12 12:13 AM

Is there a suggested level for reading music vs. learning a more difficult piece?

I took piano at my high school for four years, then I took two blocks of piano lessons from my community college (back in 1997).

I have an electric piano, and I've played here and there, but I really, really want to progress. I feel I've stagnated. I spend much of my time trying to read easy pieces, but I would like to know what type of pieces I should try?

So far, I can play Moment Musical by Schubert and Solfeggietto by C.P.E Bach. (I also play Burgmuller's Arabesque and Ballad).

I can sort of sight read level 1 and 2 pieces, though not perfectly.

Should I try to learn a new piece, or am I lagging behind too far in my sight reading? Suggestions?
Posted by: Devrie

Re: Let's sight read - material and tips - 11/17/12 12:17 AM

I wonder if subdividing the rhythm is bad because the bass and treble don't always jive that way. I have the HARDEST time trying to read contemporary music such as rock and roll. It looks easy, but I keep trying to count out the beats, but the left hand doesn't match up correctly when I do that.