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#1238640 - 07/28/09 01:56 AM Any Sight reading tips  
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Oblacone Offline
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Oblacone  Offline
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Norway :D
Hey Teachers!

Im a piano student that has played now for a bit over half a year. However i can't really read sheet music, and I'm playing things that are around level 5-6 and i really want to learn sheet music.

Is there like any kind of trick to help learning sheet music faster, any kind f activity maybe? Or just tips on how to remember the different notes would help too laugh

Any help is much appreciated laugh Thanks

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#1238650 - 07/28/09 02:15 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Oblacone]  
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Chris H. Offline
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Chris H.  Offline
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If you can't read sheet music then how did you manage the Chopin and Beethoven?


Pianist and piano teacher.
#1238720 - 07/28/09 07:05 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Chris H.]  
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Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Ebony and Ivory  Offline
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I don't understand your problem. Reading sheet music is no different than reading any other music.

Are you talking about that 3rd staff that is not played on the piano? Cover it with sticky notes.

Do you usually play by "ear"? Then you need to start from the beginning and learn to read ALL music.

Originally Posted by Chris H.
If you can't read sheet music then how did you manage the Chopin and Beethoven?

I'm wondering the same thing...

Sorry, I can't be of more help until I understand your question better.


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
#1238816 - 07/28/09 10:15 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Ebony and Ivory]  
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I suspect you memorize easily but would like to learn to sight read more proficiently Some students are quick to memorize and others have difficulty memorizing anything and prefer to depend on the sheet music. Finding a balance is tricky for a teacher.

Are you wanting to sight read accompaniment music or performance pieces?

I believe the key to sight reading is a clear understanding of theory. Looking for the primary chords and patterns in the music. Starting with rhythm patterns is also important. Hear the rhythm before you start. .

Learning to sight read is similar to a child learning to read words, you start with letter names, then sounds, then whole words. Some students who struggle at sight reading approach piano like a typing lesson. They process each individual note name and play it. That only works for beginner students.

Try this exercise. Take a few measures of the music and study it until you get a snap shot of that measure in your mind. Use your understanding of chord structure ( whole word). Look for intervals. Then attempt to play it without looking at it. Continue this process. Soon you will see the chords in the music and sight reading will improve. This works well for accompaniment music.

This is not as easy when playing classical and baroque era music, Bach’s theory was especially… dense.

So another suggestion is chose pieces that are just below your level and practice them without stopping. …. Don‘t go back and hunt for the correct note. Keep moving even with the mistakes, never breaking tempo.

I hope this helps. BTW I coach students to play auditions and competitions and I think it is easier to teach a student who memorizes to read proficiently than it is a proficient reader to memorize. Keep it up.
…..


Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.

#1239241 - 07/28/09 08:37 PM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Mrs.A]  
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Karisofia Offline
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I will echo Mrs. A's last suggestion. The best way to learn to read is to do it. But it helps to read things below your level so it isn't so overwhelming. You can even be mean to yourself and turn on the metronome to keep yourself going.

Have fun!


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#1239398 - 07/29/09 01:21 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Mrs.A]  
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Gary D. Offline
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Gary D.  Offline
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Originally Posted by Mrs.A


I believe the key to sight reading is a clear understanding of theory. Looking for the primary chords and patterns in the music. Starting with rhythm patterns is also important. Hear the rhythm before you start.

I would say that the key to reading is reading. To say that theory is the key is a bit like saying that grammar is the key to reading a language.

I also think that it can't be repeated often enough that good sight-readers are good readers. Sight-reading is merely a special sort of reading involving no prior knowledge of what is being read (not having heard it either should be part of it).

However, the moment good reading skills are developing, I totally agree that theory greatly improves reading. Natural readers often absorb the patterns normally stressed in theory in a totally subconcious manner, enabling them also to be better than you might expect at playing by ear without knowing how it is being done.

Also, I think teaching a natural reader, weak in memorization, how to memorize better is no more or less difficult than teaching a natural memorizer, weak in reading, how to memorize better. In extreme cases one skill or the other may make developing the other VERY difficult.


Piano Teacher
#1239435 - 07/29/09 04:58 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Chris H.]  
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Oblacone Offline
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Oblacone  Offline
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Norway :D
Originally Posted by Chris H.
If you can't read sheet music then how did you manage the Chopin and Beethoven?


I use midi... if you dont know what that is: I dont know what it is in technical terms but i use a program called synthesia, that program opens midi files e.g. Chopins nocturne and it shows in green the right hand and in blue the left hand, its like stripes hitting the keys on the program. a bit like guitar hero. (i do not play guitar hero)

Thanks Mrs.A, I'll try, what i did was, I made note flash cards... but it didn't go too well laugh

Last edited by Oblacone; 07/29/09 05:09 AM.
#1239503 - 07/29/09 08:10 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Oblacone]  
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Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Ebony and Ivory  Offline
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Minnesota
Originally Posted by Oblacone
Originally Posted by Chris H.
If you can't read sheet music then how did you manage the Chopin and Beethoven?

I use midi... Chopins nocturne and it shows in green the right hand and in blue the left hand, its like stripes hitting the keys on the program.:D


So you're not reading the music at all then? Just copying what it is showing you on the keyboard? If that is the case the first thing you need to do is learn your notes. It's no different than reading, you can't read if you don't know your letters.

Keep up with the flash cards. You absolutely have to know the notes if you want to learn to sight-read. There is no short cut to it. It is not hard, just put in a few minutes a day, and you'll have it in no time.

There are lots and lots of worksheets you can "fill in the blanks" and make stories out of the missing notes, maybe you could look into getting a book of those. I like them, because it is immediately obvious if your answer is right or wrong because you are making words/stories. If it says "DAD AtE thE [EFF] At thE CAFE" you know you wrote Fs instead of Gs! smile It might seem elementary, but they're fun anyway wink


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
#1239579 - 07/29/09 10:54 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Ebony and Ivory]  
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davidneuen Offline
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Wow there have been some great answers on here! Ebony & Ivory's in particular. If you want some more help try the site below.


David Neuenschwander

Learn to Read Music Fast!
#1239587 - 07/29/09 11:05 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Ebony and Ivory]  
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Oblacone Offline
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Oblacone  Offline
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Norway :D
I do know how to read it a little, but it takes a long time. However magically enough, today i seem to be getting better. I will just keep doing flash cards, easy pieces and some other elementary exercises and we'll see how it goes laugh Thanks a lot for the help... and david .. no im not buying that stuff

#1239673 - 07/29/09 12:41 PM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Oblacone]  
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Personally I use a very simple method. Learn the spaces for each clef (ACEG and FACE)and middle C. Forget the lines (other than middle C). Draw them out and stare at these notes for a few minutes every day until you can identify any space on the stave without stopping to think first. Once you've done this, you can also memorise the lines EGBDF etc. if you want to. However, don't confuse it by doing all of these at the same time! That turns finding notes into a slow process of decoding, rather than simple associating with ingrained reference points. It's better to know your spaces flawlessly than confuse things- and end up having to labour over every single note. This way, when you come on to the lines, you may not even need to memorise "Every Good Boy deserves Football" etc. You just think up a letter or down a letter from your reference points. It's this relative approach top reading that is the key. Don't get too bogged down in letters as if each one is a separate process. Think distances. It's the distance that reveals the letter, rather than the process of finding a letter that reveals the distance. This is the secret to reading thick chords. The only thing is to avoid throwing out the letters entirely. Some students end up thinking relatively, but get thrown off if one note goes wrong. You need some awareness of both, not just one or the other.

For example, if you saw 5 ascending notes from C to G you should think firstly about the obvious pattern. Use that to provide each letter on the way (after having established a reference point of C), rather than reading every letter and using that to reveal the pattern. The pattern tells you letters rather than the letters giving the pattern. This may seems like a slight difference, but I'm sure that it's a big thing. Some people are too obsessed with decoding each note to spot the obvious pattern. That would be far too slwo. However, some people only follow the pattern, which limits familiarity with the letters. You need both to make progress.

Also notice the fact that going up a distance corresponds to going to the right and down corresponds to the left. The bigger the distance on the page, the bigger the physical distance on the piano. Those who struggle with music almost certainly fall into the trap of thinking of notes as a separate process of decoding a letter then finding that letter on the piano. You need awareness of the letters, but relating distance on the page to distance on the piano is the real secret.

When counting up a big interval count in the thirds by the way, never single notes. Notice ACE especially.

Any thoughts? I've never come across this approach elsewhere. The explanation given here is slightly complex, but the actual method is very simple. I feel certain that it's far easier to prod students into relative thinking when they only learn the spaces first. When they think this way, it stops them falling into the trap of having to count their way up the lines or spaces on each and every note. Even passages on leger lines become easy, as long as you can find the first note to get things going. In order for this basis work though, you really have to know the spaces inside out, so daily practise is needed on memorising them.

Essentially, the goal is to learn your reference point first but don't then rely on pure rote learning. Take it as a basis for actively working your brain regarding these relative comparisons. I'm confident that this is how the most advanced readers operate.

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 07/29/09 01:13 PM.
#1239848 - 07/29/09 04:16 PM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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Gary D. Offline
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Gary D.  Offline
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi

Any thoughts? I've never come across this approach elsewhere. The explanation given here is slightly complex, but the actual method is very simple. I feel certain that it's far easier to prod students into relative thinking when they only learn the spaces first. When they think this way, it stops them falling into the trap of having to count their way up the lines or spaces on each and every note. Even passages on leger lines become easy, as long as you can find the first note to get things going. In order for this basis work though, you really have to know the spaces inside out, so daily practise is needed on memorising them.

What you do is very close the way I teach reading. Mostly I work spacially, and for this reason I do not use flash cards. They do not show the relationship of one note to another.


Piano Teacher
#1239882 - 07/29/09 04:40 PM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Gary D.]  
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Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Ebony and Ivory  Offline
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Minnesota
Originally Posted by Gary D.

What you do is very close the way I teach reading. Mostly I work spacially, and for this reason I do not use flash cards. They do not show the relationship of one note to another.


Me too. I do use flash cards though, but I also use interval flashcards.


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
#1239962 - 07/29/09 06:18 PM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: Ebony and Ivory]  
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Gary D. Offline
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Gary D.  Offline
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Flash cards are a way of teaching people to find "landmarks". I use a different method, but I understand what you are doing and why. smile

That fact is that with some student, it seems that the only thing I have to do to get them read well is not to royally screw up, as a teacher.

For most I have to be a lot more careful, always looking for holes.

Every year a have one or two students who just don't seem to respond well to ANYTHING I try. With those I just "throw ideas at them", in a desperate hope of somehow breaking through a wall that utterly mystifies me. laugh


Piano Teacher
#1240152 - 07/30/09 01:36 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: davidneuen]  
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cruiser Offline
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Originally Posted by davidneuen
Wow there have been some great answers on here! Ebony & Ivory's in particular. If you want some more help try the site below.


I've just taken a very quick look at your link, davidneuen ...in under 7 days, guaranteed? A bold claim indeed! Especially considering the overwhelming agreement amongst our learned teachers that there is no shortcut for learning sight reading. One simply has to do it, lots of it and it takes time - a lot longer than 7 days I imagine! "Guaranteed" to what level may I ask?

EDIT: I've just read through your home page and come to the conclusion that our teachers are correct - there is no 'magic formula' or shortcut for learning to sight read.


Michael
#1240174 - 07/30/09 03:03 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: cruiser]  
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Chris H. Offline
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Originally Posted by cruiser
I've just taken a very quick look at your link, davidneuen ...in under 7 days, guaranteed? A bold claim indeed!


......or your money back!

8 out of 10 pianists prefer it.


Pianist and piano teacher.
#1240219 - 07/30/09 07:20 AM Re: Any Sight reading tips [Re: cruiser]  
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Nyiregyhazi Offline
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Nyiregyhazi  Offline
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Originally Posted by cruiser
Originally Posted by davidneuen
Wow there have been some great answers on here! Ebony & Ivory's in particular. If you want some more help try the site below.


I've just taken a very quick look at your link, davidneuen ...in under 7 days, guaranteed? A bold claim indeed! Especially considering the overwhelming agreement amongst our learned teachers that there is no shortcut for learning sight reading. One simply has to do it, lots of it and it takes time - a lot longer than 7 days I imagine! "Guaranteed" to what level may I ask?

EDIT: I've just read through your home page and come to the conclusion that our teachers are correct - there is no 'magic formula' or shortcut for learning to sight read.


While there's certainly no magic formula, simply to 'do it' is not always enough. There are various methods that can improve the process, when people do not fall into the right habits by instinct. Getting to know intervals is particularly important. One thing that's worth doing is categorising intervals by those which go from space to space or line to line and those which go from one to the other. The visual difference between a 3rd 5th and 7th is enormous, as is a 2nd, 4th and 6th etc. If you read intervals instantly, whether you are conciously aware of this or not, you can be almost certain that you first classify whether the notes are on the same thing or on a line and a space. Explain this process and you remove the chance factor as to whether the student will notice this or not. When students don't get it easily, breaking the intervals into these two categories is just one of many things that can ease the process.

Merely 'doing it' provides no guarantee of improvement, if the student doesn't chance upon the right way of thinking.

Last edited by Nyiregyhazi; 07/30/09 07:31 AM.

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