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#1221879 - 06/23/09 11:53 PM Sight reading
scmay Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/08
Posts: 47
Loc: Brisbane, Australia
Hi all,

I realized that I am not a good sight reader. Looking at a piece (which I have not previously heard of), it takes me a while to get the rhythm ( I basically have to do my manual counting ), usually after a few tries. I also have difficulty singing from just reading the music without ever trying to play them. Ok, maybe this is two separate issues, but it is more important for me to brush up my first issue.

Can anyone share how do they improve their sight reading techniques? Is it just by practise taking a random piece everytime and trying to figure out? Or am I missing something..

Thanks for sharing.
Part-time Private Piano Teacher

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#1221896 - 06/24/09 01:08 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: scmay]
ddelight Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/03/07
Posts: 9
Loc: singapore
You got to play as many pieces as possible since there's no shot cut. IMO: these might help when you choose:
- Romantic pieces like Liszt, chopin.. for chromatic notes reading.
- Rags, Jazz.. they are excellent for improving syncopated counting.
Plus sight reading technique books also help.
For singing, echo with intervals: 1-2, 1-3, 1-4 etc. and memorize the interval if you can. (easier to memorize if this reflect from the piece you're familiar)



Edited by ddelight (06/24/09 01:08 AM)
Piano teacher

#1221907 - 06/24/09 01:53 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: scmay]
currawong Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 6158
Loc: Down Under
If you were to do a search on "sight reading" you'd find about 5 zillion threads, full of everything from useful advice to full-on warfare smile

To save you the trouble, here's a recent thread from the Pianists' Corner - Sight Reading Tips
Du holde Kunst...

#1221924 - 06/24/09 02:32 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: currawong]
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Try my working memory test I just posted as a new topic.
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.

#1222144 - 06/24/09 01:27 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: keyboardklutz]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4534
First, something needs to be gotten clear. Many people
who ask this type of question are really complaining that
they can't sit down and play pieces at their level at
sight. But this is not possible, because your level
defines what you can't play at sight and have to work up

A person can only play pieces below his level at sight--
much below for most people. But then people complain:
"Why would I want to do that? I can already do that
easily with my beginner's book pieces.
What I want to do is play pieces at my level at sight."
But this is not possible, which these people can't
seem to grasp.

If you're a good composer and arranger and improviser,
and have many yrs. of playing experience, then you'd
likely be a good sight-reader, but even then you
wouldn't be able to play pieces at your level at sight.
Franz Liszt could apparently sight-read anything, but
take a look at his "level": he composed thousands
of pieces; was playing since he could walk; his father
was a top pianist and composer; he learned in an era
when the rod was not spared by teachers and parents;
he could improvise; he apparently had a photographic
memory; he played in public constantly; etc. That is,
his "level" was stratospheric, thus, sight-reading
anything was not out of the question.

If you want to sight-read the pieces at your current
level, then you're going to have raise your level
significantly, which will take yrs. of hard work.
If you're thinking that practicing s-r with material
below your level, or using a s-r improvement book
is going to help, don't even bother. You'd be wasting
your time. You'd gain nothing by doing that, because
you'd simply be doing what you can already do, that is,
s-r below your level.

#1222157 - 06/24/09 01:49 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: Gyro]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: Gyro
If you're thinking that practicing s-r with material
below your level, or using a s-r improvement book
is going to help, don't even bother. You'd be wasting
your time. You'd gain nothing by doing that, because
you'd simply be doing what you can already do, that is,
s-r below your level.

But some people cannot sight-read below their level with any facility at all. Some people are such poor readers that they must learn pieces by memorizing as they go because they cannot read along with the score fluently.

People who are disadvantaged to this degree certainly will benefit from practicing sight-reading in a methodical and deliberate manner and by following the suggestions that have been given in many other discussion threads.


#1222168 - 06/24/09 02:08 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: scmay]
J_N Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/03/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Newcastle, UK
as was said before, you can never play pieces at your level at sight... and what makes pieces you know easier is (imho) the fact that you hear it in your head and can just follow your 'internal' rhythm... that's my experience, at least... I am 'rhythmically challenged' and I am not a good multi-tasker... at any speed other than slow-as-a-snail I can't count AND figure out notes at the same time... which means as soon as the rhythm gets a bit more complicated (doted notes, for example or syncopation) I mess up... anyway some tips, that help me...

1.) take your time smile
2.) really look at the piece BEFORE you start... accidentals? patterns? position changes? etc.
3.) try to look a bar ahead...
4.) if rhythm is your main problem... try tapping or counting it before you start playing...
“The piano has been drinking, not me.”

#1223204 - 06/26/09 04:07 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: J_N]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
I think that's why it's a good idea, when following a method book, to skip some pieces at each level. Then you can come back in a month or two when your skill level has improved and try to sight-read the easier pieces. This of course only works if you haven't studied that sheet music before.
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

#1223220 - 06/26/09 04:34 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: Martin C. Doege]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 15104
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
This is something that has been covered extensively in the past. I recommend also doing a search on this, Adult Beginner Forum and Pianist Corner about sight reading. You'll find tons of advice. smile
private piano/voice teacher FT

#1223390 - 06/26/09 11:38 PM Re: Sight reading [Re: Morodiene]
ToriAnais Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 244
Loc: Australia
re trying to look a bar ahead - I had a teacher recently who for sight reading practice would get us to sight read something relatively easy, but she would cover up the bar we were playing to *force* us to be looking one bar ahead. It's a good exercise.

Also sight reading with a metranome (set at a fairly low speed obviously) to keep yourself moving through the piece.
Piano teacher since August 2008.

#1223407 - 06/27/09 12:37 AM Re: Sight reading [Re: ToriAnais]
Roxy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
To improve on sightreading, one must practice it. So every day set aside 10 to 15 min.'s pick a book that is easy. Play the piece only as fast as you can play it with the correct counting, dynamics, notes, not looking down at hands, position changing, etc. Use a metranome to help if you have a tendency to stop and correct. When the easier level becomes easier as it should because you are practicing this every day, make the pieces harder doing the same thing. You should be able to work up to a decent level of sightreading doing this if you keep practicing and increasing the level of difficulty.


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