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#1245068 - 08/06/09 09:12 PM HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING?  
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charliehornsby Offline
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Guys, my sightreading is attrocious and i really need to work on it to learn more licks and to transcribe. are there any sites online? or anything that you can recommend doing so that i can work on this on my own? money unfortunately is an issue and i can't afford hiring a teacher to help me with it right now. how can i do this? are there any online sites?

computer programs?

please help! thank you!

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#1245095 - 08/06/09 09:59 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: charliehornsby]  
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Do you have access to a lot of sheet music?

When I was younger I was in the same boat: I couldn't read music for s*** and would always just memorize things as quickly as possible so I would never have to worry about reading them again.

Fortunately, my father had a very extensive sheet music library that I had my way with and I literally went through almost every book and tried playing every song, even if they were too hard. At first I had to write in a lot of notes but eventually I didn't need to. I was unknowingly giving myself the ability that I have today of being a quick sightreader. After several months I realized I could play pretty much anything I wanted to, and it didn't take me that long to learn it.

I think that might be your best bet: find music and play it. All of it. Anything you can get your hands on. Always fresh music you've never seen before.

The results won't come fast, but it's worth it. Just be diligent. To me, reading music is like reading another language. It takes lots of time and lots of practice before you can get it right. Hang in there, I know it's frustrating but eventually you will amaze yourself at how fast you can read music!


"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau
#1245310 - 08/07/09 11:15 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: charliehornsby]  
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Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Toejam +1

Oh and regarding
Originally Posted by charliehornsby
money unfortunately is an issue

We're all musicians here, so I'm pretty sure most of us understand that!! lol


It is better to be kind than to be right.

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#1245313 - 08/07/09 11:17 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: toejamfutbol]  
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Ebony and Ivory Offline
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Originally Posted by toejamfutbol
Do you have access to a lot of sheet music?
Oh, there are several places online to download free music if you don't.

Just doing it over and over, like she said, is going to help you. smile


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
#1245361 - 08/07/09 01:04 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]  
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getting access to sheet music is not the problem, but i need to be able to work with someone, or something, who can tell me what's right and what's wrong. understand?

i can sit down and try to play lots of sheet music, but if i don't know what i'm doing then, i'm not improving or learning. so i need a program or a teacher or something to let me know if i'm reading and playing what's on the page, correctly.

right?

#1245394 - 08/07/09 01:57 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: charliehornsby]  
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Originally Posted by charliehornsby
but if i don't know what i'm doing...
CH, what is it that you are having trouble with, exactly?
From reading your original post, I got the impression that you just weren't good at it.

If there are actual *problems* then we need more information in order to help smile


Originally Posted by charliehornsby
I need a teacher or something to let me know if i'm reading and playing what's on the page, correctly.
Are you unsure about the ornaments and notations etc...?

I'm sorry, I don't understand your troubles smile


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
#1245418 - 08/07/09 02:55 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]  
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in sight reading you must know what keys to play and their rhythms for each note represented, i am having problems with all that. IE. how long a dotted quarter note is held, etc. or in other words, if you look at a sheet of sheet music and you ask me to play it, i have problems with that.

is that more clear.

#1245425 - 08/07/09 03:17 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: charliehornsby]  
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Oh! So you basically have trouble with reading music, period. Right?

In that case there are lots of games and such that you can do online.
I love one called Music Ace, but I don't think that's free.

Yes, you do need to learn all of that before you can succeed at reading the music. Think of it as learning your letters before you read.

Google "learn to read music games", I got a lot of hits on that one. Also try "learn to read music notation". Sounds like you need to learn the note names and how they relate to the keyboard too. Try googling: "read notes on the staff"

I'm afraid this way will be harder than learning it with a teacher, but we will help you as much as we can!!


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
#1246501 - 08/10/09 12:35 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: charliehornsby]  
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If money is an issue, go to your public library. Every one that I have visited had many piano/vocal songbooks. Play all the way through each one. When you have completed all the books in the library, either try another library or start over again.

If Rhythm is an issue, focus on the songs in the songbooks that are familiar to you. Use your knowledge of the songs to reproduce the rhythm and associate it with the written chart. These same libraries will have CDs that contain many of these tunes. Listen to them to get a sense of the rhythm.

Hop


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#1246596 - 08/10/09 08:28 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Hop]  
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Get some flash cards. They cost you about $5 and it's well worth the money. On one side they show a note on the staff, and on the other side they not only tell you the note name, but they show you which key it is. I recommend that you name the note, then find it on the piano and play it, then turn over the card to see if you're right. That way you are seeing, doing & hearing. Whenever you do something that involves all three of those, you are getting the most out of the activity. Also, the more different ways you approach something, the better the learning.

You can also do websites like www.musictheory.net which has a note trainer which is helpful. Reading notes isn't rocket science, like most things it has its rules and once you figure those out, it can be repeated and it is predictable.

I'll post more later, my computer is acting weird and I need to reboot frown


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#1246611 - 08/10/09 09:24 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: charliehornsby]  
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Originally Posted by charliehornsby
getting access to sheet music is not the problem, but i need to be able to work with someone, or something, who can tell me what's right and what's wrong. understand?

i can sit down and try to play lots of sheet music, but if i don't know what i'm doing then, i'm not improving or learning. so i need a program or a teacher or something to let me know if i'm reading and playing what's on the page, correctly.

right?


Well, working with someone isn't an option, because that would be a teacher, which you've said you can't afford.

My suggestion for the next best thing would be to get some of the Christopher Norton Connections books. It's a graded series in popular and jazz styles that includes downloadable backing tracks. You could start wherever you believe your skill level is, and since you're already a gigging musician, you can just use your ear to see if what you're playing matches up with the backing track.

You can get more information here:

http://www.christophernortonconnections.com/


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1246613 - 08/10/09 09:30 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Morodiene]  
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OK, this is my third try, so if my computer freezes once more, I'm going to give up. Sorry if this is too elementary for you, but you don't really indicate what you know and what you are having trouble with in regards to reading.

Treble Clef, or G Clef, which looks like a cursive G, is usually for notes above Middle C (to the right of). Bass Clef, or F Clef, looks like the cursive F and is usually used for notes below Middle C (to the left). Most often your right hand will play in Treble clef and the left hand in bass clef, but not always. Treble and Bass clefs are just used for figuring out which note to play, not necessary which hand or finger to use, because you can play any note with any hand and any finger on the keyboard.

Reading Treble is different than reading Bass. For Treble clef notes that are on the spaces, (always from the bottom up) are F-A-C-E, so remember space=face for Treble. For Treble lines, you can make up any acronym you like, but one is: Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, where the capital letters are the note names, and always start on the bottom line and go up.

Bass clef spaces (bottom up) are: All Cars Eat Gas and lines (bottom up) are: Good Boys Do Fine Always. In between Treble and Bass clef there is always space, and this is where you find Middle C. Middle C has the one line through it. Above Middle C is a space note, Dangling D, and below Middle C is a space note, Bottom B. If these notes in the middle are closer to the Treble staff, then you are to play it with your RH, and if they are closer to Bass staff, play with your LH. There are notes beyond these, but just work on getting these down for now.

You will notice that when you start on say, the bottom line in Treble (E) and play up to the very next note (F), you are going from a line note to a space note. Moving in stepwise motion is always from line to space or space to line. When you are playing, often you won't have time to read every note you are playing like C-D-E etc. This is where intervallic reading comes in. The interval of a step, or a 2nd, is the easiest to pick out. So once you find a starting note in a piece and put the appropriate finger to begin with (most good method books will give excellent fingering suggestions), you just read from that starting point: does the note go up (higher on the page), down (lower on the page) or repeat? Up means you play the next note to the right, down means the next note to the left, and repeat it will remain on the same line or space. Be sure to pick music that doesn't have any leaps. Just play these for a while until it becomes easy.

Then you can move onto reading other intervals. A skip, or a 3rd, skips over the next note. For example, bottom line in Treble Clef, E, goes up to the 2nd line, G, skipping that space note F. 3rds are always line to line, or space to space. You usually will skip a finger playing these as well (i.e., finger 3 to 5). A 4th is a line to space again like the 2nd, however you can tell it's not going to the very next line or space, but the following. Treble E on the bottom line to 2nd space A.

From there, intervals just continue to increase by one number and one more note in between. That website I referred to before has an interval trainer as well that can help you.

One last thing, intervals can be played melodically, or one note at a time, or harmonically, at the same time. If they are stacked vertically on the staff, that means to play the notes simultaneously. If they are side-by-side, then you play them one at a time like you're singing a melody.

I hope this is not too rudimentary.


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#1246623 - 08/10/09 09:43 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Morodiene]  
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If you work through the training here, you'll have the tools for the things you mentioned: Music theory net


#1246635 - 08/10/09 10:16 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: keystring]  
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According to the original poster's website, he has some musical training at Southern Methodist University, the University of North Texas, and Berklee. I'm guessing he already has the basics down and is looking to improve upon a fairly good foundation.

I suggested the play-along idea because his jazz piano background should have given him a good ear for hearing how a piano part fits in with a jazz/pop ensemble.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1246718 - 08/10/09 12:21 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Aside to Morodienne -

It may not be just your computer. There's a thread in the piano forum about some glitches here. Maybe some of them will be similar to the problem you're having. Here's a link:
Forum problems thread

Cathy


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#1246998 - 08/10/09 10:40 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Kreisler]  
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Kreisler's suggestions sound good to me. Remember that reading (whether at first sight or not) involves more than knowing what note is which - there's the whole rhythm aspect too, and in my experience people are at least as likely to be having real problems with this as with note identification.


Du holde Kunst...
#1247054 - 08/11/09 01:03 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: charliehornsby]  
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Originally Posted by charliehornsby
in sight reading you must know what keys to play and their rhythms for each note represented, i am having problems with all that. IE. how long a dotted quarter note is held, etc. or in other words, if you look at a sheet of sheet music and you ask me to play it, i have problems with that.

is that more clear.
If your knowledge is really as basic as that, then you probably do need the sort of basic theory link keystring posted, as well as the ideas suggested by Kreisler.


Du holde Kunst...
#1247220 - 08/11/09 11:16 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: currawong]  
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I'd like to explain about my previous suggestion. It happened to me that I was relatively advanced in some areas of music and nobody realized that I was missing some very basic things. I should not have been able to do what I could do without them but somehow I was. The thing is that if you can already get at the music in some other fashion, you're going to keep bypassing the thing that's missing and only have a vague idea of what you're missing.

What worked for me once the missing things were identified was to go after them in a very dry manner and away from music, and then put them into music. The reason I wanted to stay away from music is that I'd automatically get into the music through other means. I was making mistakes because of what I was missing, so those basics were needed, but I could also wing it rather well. When I worked on ultra basic things they very quickly became part of what I already could do; it was like suddenly getting a pair of glasses, or good running shoes for an athlete.

When I read the part the Currawong quoted, the site I suggested came to mind, just in case it might be a case of similar "holes".
(bowing out again)

#1247586 - 08/11/09 10:29 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: keystring]  
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There's a fun game on Facebook, called (I think) pianonotes.


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#1247766 - 08/12/09 08:02 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: bluespianofan]  
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I am a good sight reader, and I believe I got there because of my habit of playing through old hymnbooks when I was younger. I would be frustrated because we never seemed to sing at church the songs I liked the best, so I would come home and play them myself. Because I knew what the songs were supposed to sound like, I was able to catch mistakes in notes, keys, and rhythm. when my daughter was having trouble with sight reading, I had her do the same thing.

The hymns have pretty regular rhythms, and tend to use just a few keys (Ab is popular for some reason.)

Obviously this won't work if you don't know / like hymns, but the principal - finding songs you know, with basic rhythms and keys - might help get past the fact that you have to do it without a teacher.

The other thing that helped me - my parents were mediocre pianists, but enjoyed singing. So we had a lot of sing-a-longs around the piano with me playing. Reading music cold, and not being able to stop in the middle, also helped.

One more suggestion. You might want to work on rhythm and notes separately until you're more comfortable. Clap, use a rhythm instrument, count aloud - make sure each measure matches the time signature.


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#1247805 - 08/12/09 09:09 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Lollipop]  
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I teach sight-reading by training keyboard sense, a good ear and a fluent sense of rhythm and structure first. Many people confuse fluent reading with fast decoding. A fluent reader sees the score, hears the sounds internally and plays them. If notation is approached just as a blueprint to follow and not a meaningful expression or communication then in my view this is not reading at all. Learn to speak first! Then read!

#1247917 - 08/12/09 12:30 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Phil Best]  
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That's an interesting concept Phil Best, and by your definition I am NOT a good sight reader. I equate sightreading with accurate decoding of notes, rhythm, dynamics, etc. For me, the musicality isn't instant. I think of it more like an actor reading lines in a first go-round (assuming he doesn't have to sound out each word!) versus an actor delivering lines by memory with passion. To get to that second step for me would take much thought and practice. I am impressed that you can do this.


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#1247932 - 08/12/09 12:52 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Lollipop]  
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To me, this explanation of the order in which we sight read has made sense for many years in my teaching. Start with the elementary beginning student when there is only one note given to "read". A chord or multiple notes is too large to begin with, it needs to be a one note process as the first goal. There needs to be a very good keyboard orientation so that the student know the regimen of A-B-C-D-E-F-G as applied to the white notes. Do not use accidentals until the student can find natural, white notes on the keyboard and name them correctly. Then you work within a position on the music staff - Middle C; then with Parallel C - 5 Finger Position. Working with the entire music staff - treble and bass is a "big enchilada" - I think it is best to limit the music reading area to the notes that are being taught in the books you are using for lessons. It is also, in my opinion, helpful for students to have keyboard graphics that show the notes used and the fingering of the hand shapes in their early music. Graphics are the domain of the keyboard and the music staff - it is what we build upon to make reading music possible. We have to know our way around both of them.

This is the order that makes sense to me:

1) Know the name of the note as it appears on the music staff,
2) Send an impulse to one finger and begin moving in the direction to this note on the keyboard,
3) Find the exact note (register) on the keyboard, press and hold the key for the exact duration that was expressed on the music staff. One needs to be counting with a steady pulse to start and stop the duration.
4) The eye moves to the next note on the music staff and the process continues.

This is a combination of thinking and doing and it has a steady pace to it. To develop instant sight reading of one note, one has to give oneself time to have the thoughts involved - a training period, so to speak. After much practice, the reaction and impulse time will shorten to an instant read.

There are many more ways to build upon this, but I wanted to discuss only the beginning of creating recognition of what the task of sightreading involves. It is a slow and measured activity, one can hear the thinking, keep the thoughts simple, one can feel the pace of finding. Perhaps the most important pace involved is the eye movement from one written note to the next. If one can slow down enough to examine the "ingredients" one can build a huge reservoir of accuracy in connecting pictures/symbols on the music staff to taking action on the keyboard toward creating/making sound and duration.

Hope this helps someone as I've written it as a sincere offering in this discussion, but it may not appeal to everyone. It is an exercise of high importance that improves our "jabs" at the piano to become increasingly accountable and accurate. We go from totally confused, to approximately right, to incredibly accurate when we treat music reading with the respect it deserves. There are many teaching systems of which many people are not aware that are purposeful and proven. This is one of them, in my opinion. "Methodical".

#1252304 - 08/20/09 12:41 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Betty Patnude]  
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Sorry if I dug this topic up, but I also need help with my sightreading, which is absolutely horrid. sightreading just with one hand I'm able to do fairly well, and am able to sightread a high level piece of music with relative ease. However, throw in the left hand and I can barely sight-read a simple hymn. How do people learn to bring both hands together in coordination? I think the culprit may be the fact that my first piano teacher taught me to only learn songs hand separate at first, and that probably hardwired my brain into reading music this way. I just hope I'm not permanently damaged and will be forever unable to sightread fluently... Please help!

#1252436 - 08/20/09 08:56 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Kubalit]  
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Originally Posted by Kubalit
I just hope I'm not permanently damaged and will be forever unable to sightread fluently... Please help!


I don't think you're "permanently damaged" but it will probably take you awhile to "unlearn" your bad habit frown

The only thing you can do if you really want it, is to practice, practice and practice. Did I mention practice?!

There is no short-cut.

1. Copy your music (for your own purposes only of course).

2. Start with a simple piece that has one note in each hand (2 notes total).

3. Write in another note on the staff for your right hand. (2 notes in right hand, 1 in left hand). This way you know 2 of the notes already.

4. Add a note in the left hand (now you have 2 in each hand).

5. Continue to add more until you feel you can attack a new piece.



Kubalit, practice! wink You CAN do this!!


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#1252459 - 08/20/09 09:40 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Betty Patnude]  
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Originally Posted by Betty Patnude
This is the order that makes sense to me:

1) Know the name of the note as it appears on the music staff,
2) Send an impulse to one finger and begin moving in the direction to this note on the keyboard,
3) Find the exact note (register) on the keyboard, press and hold the key for the exact duration that was expressed on the music staff. One needs to be counting with a steady pulse to start and stop the duration.
4) The eye moves to the next note on the music staff and the process continues.



While I agree it is important to know the name of the note at some point, I think that step can be skipped in sightreading. It may even add a cognitive processing step that slows the beginner.

On the other hand, I think your comment about "counting with a steady pulse" is understated. That's probably the most critical ingredient of the entire process.

And of course, the eye can and should move to the next note before the duration of the current one ends. We can all multitask to some extent and some people can read way ahead.


gotta go practice
#1252478 - 08/20/09 10:04 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: TimR]  
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 31
_just.jose Offline
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_just.jose  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 31
California, USA
Well, this is interesting .
I can read notes- better at the treble clef, even though I sing bass
After being in choir since Kindergarten, I never played the piano until 8th grade .
I'm a freshman [ in high school ] now, and I can't sight read fluently.
I can read the notes, but not nearly fast enough to play them...
And when I actually have a chance of playing them, I don't know how to read it ._."
By that, I mean that I look at treble clef then play it, then bass, then treble... etc-
But usually, by the 4th or 5th measure, I loose myself -_-
I haven't taken formal lessons, ever, only choir...
but even then we weren't REQUIRED to know notes [piano-wise]...
Just as long as we could sing it.

I also don't know about intervals - or inversions =\
Or about half the music theory, basically.
I just know notes and how long they last.


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#1252671 - 08/20/09 02:24 PM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: _just.jose]  
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Posts: 6,379
jotur Offline
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jotur  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 6,379
Santa Fe, NM
It seems to me that the primary elements of sight-reading for me are -

1) that I read intervals and groups of notes at a time rather than individual notes,

2) I read in a "bubble"; I can see more than just the vertical set of notes I'm on. As far as I know we can all do this - it's like watching the pot on the stove and reaching out to grab the salt shaker without looking directly at the salt shaker laugh . That helps me stay ahead of where I'm playing so I can anticipate what's coming. And, as a couple of posters have said, I keep my eyes moving so that what's in the bubble of vision moves along the sheet music. And

3) anticipating what the music is going to do. Of course not all music is completely predictable or we'd be bored stiff, but nonetheless it's often possible to have a feel for what will be happening, particularly in genres with which I am familiar, or the further into the piece I play. There are often notes which I couldn't tell you what the name of is if they were out of context of the music but I can play because it's fairly obvious what they have to be. If I'm going to learn a piece note-for-note I'll check it later, but if I'm sight-reading I just go for it.

Practice practice practice. Works for me, when I do it laugh

Cathy


Cathy
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Practice what you suck at - anonymous
#1253861 - 08/22/09 04:47 AM Re: HOW TO WORK ON SIGHTREADING? [Re: Morodiene]  
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 129
Surendipity Offline
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Surendipity  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 129
To read you should first write.
Compose your own little piece and than write it onto the staff.
If you write you will read.
My students must write, and I mean MUST...


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