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#1864306 - 03/18/12 06:36 PM sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences  
Joined: Mar 2012
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musicendeavour Offline
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Wellington, New Zealand
Hi all

29 Year old self teaching guy here. Having taken lessons at a young age (did john thompsons), I am able to read from C3 to C5 (the two octaves aroud middle C) quite quickly and naturally. Anything above or below that, I am finding myself having to stop and decode.

I have done alfreds book one and found it quite comfortable. I also realised that in order to improve my sight readting, I am having to read by intervals rather than what actual note it is. I have got Snell's Essential repetoire pre, 1 and 2 and I think these are great just to naturally program in the sight reading skills.

What are people's experience in this transition from working out the notes and learning the higher/lower areas of the staff. Also if people are reading by intervals, how do people deal with intervals that are larger than a 5th? Does it comes naturally after a lot of practise?

The answer I guess is practise more. Which I intend to do thoroughly. Just got a new p155 and loving it. My Goal is to be able to play lots of computer game/film music (zelda/mario/lotr etc) and also Grieg's Piano Concerto 2nd Movement (my favorite piece ever, just beautiful).



My blog tracking my progress as I learn the piano.

http://www.pianoendeavour.blogspot.com
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#1864338 - 03/18/12 07:49 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
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Eglantine Offline

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Eglantine  Offline

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Joined: Aug 2011
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Another Country
Dan, I was in a worse position than you are just six months ago. Now I can read G1 to B6 fairly easily.

I think the problem with the notes at the further reaches/the ledger lines is that we just play them/read them less than A4 or C5. I've been doing pieces that contain a lot of these notes, singly and in chords, forcing myself to keep on reading them every day.

What I did find initially, with the outer reaches, was that while for common notes, C5 etc., I would know that the note is C immediately and play it immediately, for outer reaches I'd get to know where to play it without knowing/realising immediately what it was called by looking at the music. On paper, I'd still be doing the calculation. I'm trying to rectify that now.


Currently working on: F. Couperin - Preludes & Sweelinck - Fantasia Chromatica
J.S. Bach, Einaudi, Purcell, Froberger, Croft, Blow, Frescobaldi, Glass, Couperin
1930s upright (piano) & single manual William Foster (harpsichord)
[Linked Image]
#1864373 - 03/18/12 09:14 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: Eglantine]  
Joined: Mar 2012
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musicendeavour Offline
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Wellington, New Zealand
now that I think about it, if I were to transpose all pieces that I have been practising on so that right hand where up one octave and left down one, that might be a good way to program in that instant note recognition.

Not many beginner pieces have notes up in that register so that once people start playing more advanced things (lets say after alfred 1) then it can seem a lot harder.

maybe these higher notes should be approached from a completely basic level as well similar to how we are started at middle C. Almost like having two learning phases to bake in the knowledge.

Does anyone know of any resources to read higher/lower notes in the staff at a basic level? Maybe it can be a project of mine to create some exercises.


My blog tracking my progress as I learn the piano.

http://www.pianoendeavour.blogspot.com
#1864448 - 03/18/12 11:46 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
Joined: Dec 2008
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tangleweeds Offline

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Portland, OR
I use software to give me a workout on this sort of thing. Check out this multi-platform Java software: PrestoKeys. You can set it up to quiz you on notes within certain boundaries, like only the ledger lines, and you can make it very easy or very hard. If you find that you enjoy it, the paid version lets you play the notes through MIDI on your digital piano, instead of using the standard little on-screen keyboard.

Also try the exercises section of Teoria.com. The site will teach you a lot of stuff about note reading, chords, etc. and then the exercises will quiz you on it.


Please step aside. You're standing in your own way.

intermittent piano blog
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#1866316 - 03/21/12 11:30 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
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Bluoh Offline
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Canada
Note reading takes time. I practice with my students on a whiteboard or on worksheets; most of them find note-reading exercises enjoyable, actually.

You be able to find note-reading worksheets and games online if you hunt around.

#1866361 - 03/22/12 12:47 AM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
Joined: Oct 2010
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Ovidiu M Offline
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Ovidiu M  Offline
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Romania
Originally Posted by danmarell
Hi all

The answer I guess is practise more.


Thats the magical answer. No way around it.

#1866391 - 03/22/12 02:32 AM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
Joined: Apr 2011
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Rostosky Offline
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Rostosky  Offline
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Lost in cyberspace.in the UK.
The answer that I have just been given last week on the telephone to my piano teachers father, who used to be the organist at Westminster Cathedral may surprise everyone.

He stopped being the cathedral organist and went into teaching and has also made an albumn in the past of his piano playing.

Let me just say at this point, that he is elderly, and on the phone he gave me an example of himself sight reading at his piano whilst I listened on the phone.

I have been waiting for a good time to share his advice and this appears to be perfect to help folk.

As I listened on the telephone, he went and played at first sight, a piece by shultz with such virtuosity and vigour I was rooted to the spot, and can honestly say, I was floored.

I have allways believed in life, if you dont know how to do something, no matter what it is, and you find someone who can do what you want to do, then observe carefully and listen well to what they say, even if its not what you want to hear, such is the best way to learn, from a master at their chosen craft.

This was his advice on sight reading: 101 from the begining.

Pick a stave, draw a note on it anywhere. lets say a G in the treble clef.
play it.
Do you have to think about it? answer yes? then start again.

Once you have that G note, where your finger goes straight to G without thinking " er G" then, only then add an F below the G, then an A above it.

Make some little excercises of g, f a , nothing else, in as many variations as you can .
Over and over.

Then add a B above the A and an E below the F .

again, make many little excercises, that contain these notes, things like g,g,ff,bab, ee a,f,f,a,b,g,

When you are playing these excercises, the first time you have to thinK "er is that a?" whilst looking at the score you have written,

You have made ( in his words) "a horlicks of it" and have to start again.

The deal is that step of "is that an A or is that a G?" has to be removed, you have no time for it.

gradually bit, by bit, you add notes at the top and at the bottom, and repeat the making of excercises step.

Your fingers have to go to what you see on the stave, Without the "thinking step"

So, I personally am taking his advice, and allthough this means for me starting further back than I wish too,
I know I will improve faster as a result, but more importantly, if this is the way to learn to be able to do what he can do, then I want in big time.

He has also sent me a book, that he thinks will also help, I will share the name of it when I get it tommorrow.

He stressed, "you have no time to be "thinking" what the notes are" "You must avoid that step"

I hope this helps folk, and can promise, I personally will be employing this technique.


















Rise like lions after slumber,in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew
which in sleep has fallen on you. Ye are many,they are few. Shelley

Founder and creator ofRostoskys 13th crystal skull project
#1866418 - 03/22/12 04:39 AM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: Rostosky]  
Joined: Aug 2008
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Gary D. Offline
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Gary D.  Offline
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South Florida
The bottom line is that a completely solid link has to be formed between every written note and the key that matches it.

If you even have to THINK about the name of a note while reading, or name an interval, or do anything similar, you are not yet truly reading.

It's very similar to reading a book. If you have to think of phonics, or grammar, or verbs, or ANYTHING, you are stumbling.

And the only way to get better at reading is to read. The method you described is one path. There are others.


Piano Teacher
#1866420 - 03/22/12 05:31 AM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: Rostosky]  
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 263
Maechre Offline
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Maechre  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2012
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Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted by Rostosky
The answer that I have just been given last week on the telephone to my piano teachers father, who used to be the organist at Westminster Cathedral may surprise everyone.

He stopped being the cathedral organist and went into teaching and has also made an albumn in the past of his piano playing.

Let me just say at this point, that he is elderly, and on the phone he gave me an example of himself sight reading at his piano whilst I listened on the phone.

I have been waiting for a good time to share his advice and this appears to be perfect to help folk.

As I listened on the telephone, he went and played at first sight, a piece by shultz with such virtuosity and vigour I was rooted to the spot, and can honestly say, I was floored.

I have allways believed in life, if you dont know how to do something, no matter what it is, and you find someone who can do what you want to do, then observe carefully and listen well to what they say, even if its not what you want to hear, such is the best way to learn, from a master at their chosen craft.

This was his advice on sight reading: 101 from the begining.

Pick a stave, draw a note on it anywhere. lets say a G in the treble clef.
play it.
Do you have to think about it? answer yes? then start again.

Once you have that G note, where your finger goes straight to G without thinking " er G" then, only then add an F below the G, then an A above it.

Make some little excercises of g, f a , nothing else, in as many variations as you can .
Over and over.

Then add a B above the A and an E below the F .

again, make many little excercises, that contain these notes, things like g,g,ff,bab, ee a,f,f,a,b,g,

When you are playing these excercises, the first time you have to thinK "er is that a?" whilst looking at the score you have written,

You have made ( in his words) "a horlicks of it" and have to start again.

The deal is that step of "is that an A or is that a G?" has to be removed, you have no time for it.

gradually bit, by bit, you add notes at the top and at the bottom, and repeat the making of excercises step.

Your fingers have to go to what you see on the stave, Without the "thinking step"

So, I personally am taking his advice, and allthough this means for me starting further back than I wish too,
I know I will improve faster as a result, but more importantly, if this is the way to learn to be able to do what he can do, then I want in big time.

He has also sent me a book, that he thinks will also help, I will share the name of it when I get it tommorrow.

He stressed, "you have no time to be "thinking" what the notes are" "You must avoid that step"

I hope this helps folk, and can promise, I personally will be employing this technique.















I'm eager to hear what book it is.


I love sight-reading! One day I will master it.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Acrozius?feature=mhee
#1866434 - 03/22/12 07:00 AM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 804
Eglantine Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 01 2013
Eglantine  Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 01 2013


Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 804
Another Country
Good post, Rossy.

I think you need to know instantly what the note on paper is on the keyboard, AND you need to know immediately what the note is called. Maybe we could call it a triangle of virtue (as opposed to a vicious circle). :-)


Currently working on: F. Couperin - Preludes & Sweelinck - Fantasia Chromatica
J.S. Bach, Einaudi, Purcell, Froberger, Croft, Blow, Frescobaldi, Glass, Couperin
1930s upright (piano) & single manual William Foster (harpsichord)
[Linked Image]
#1866444 - 03/22/12 07:40 AM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 3,339
Rostosky Offline
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Rostosky  Offline
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Posts: 3,339
Lost in cyberspace.in the UK.
I will let you know what book he has sent me tommorrow when I get back from my Piano lesson, it is there waiting for me.




Rise like lions after slumber,in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew
which in sleep has fallen on you. Ye are many,they are few. Shelley

Founder and creator ofRostoskys 13th crystal skull project
#1866457 - 03/22/12 08:08 AM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: Eglantine]  
Joined: Feb 2010
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supertorpe Offline
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supertorpe  Offline
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Spain. Cadiz.
Originally Posted by Eglantine
you need to know instantly what the note on paper is on the keyboard, AND you need to know immediately what the note is called


If you play only by note-names, you need to know what key/note is under each finger at all times.
If you play only by intervals, you can lose everything from a small error.
I think you need a holistic approach, becoming aware of both the notes and intervals.


Started learning piano: 01 March 2010
- Ex: Yamaha P-85, Kawai ES-4
- Current: Kawai CA-63
- Videos
- soundcloud
#1866478 - 03/22/12 09:05 AM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
Joined: Feb 2012
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zrtf90 Offline
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Joined: Feb 2012
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Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted by danmarell
(did john thompsons)

My sister went through JT's books, while I just dipped. She took the books to the US when she moved there after Univ. so I haven't seen the books for thirty-odd years but I still play some of them (Offenbach's Barcarolle, Burgmuller's Ballade). Some I've now got the scores for (Clementi's sonatinas) and some of them I've learnt the original versions of (Liebestraume, Schubert's serenade - play the Schubert version, working on the Liszt). Good course!

Originally Posted by danmarell
I am having to read by intervals rather than what actual note it is...The answer I guess is practise more.

I'm not sure I understand this interval business. When I read, it's an automatic reaction. I'm comfortable following a full score to a symphony as well as just piano music. I sight-sing in my head and can sight read Mozart's sonatas etc. one hand at a time. But when it comes to reading both staves while controlling both hands at the piano, I struggle with the Anna Magdalena Notebook.

Whenever I hear people recommending more practise I automatically think 'practise what?'.
So, practise following scores to sonatas and such while listening to the music. It helped me reading the timing as well as the notes.
Practise sight reading melodies and sing along with them at the same time. This will develop the ability to both sight-sing and to play by ear (which is helpful when you've memorised the song in your head but not at the piano).
Practise sight-reading easy material (the better you get the easier it is to find suitable source material but the harder it is to find material you haven't played before).

And welcome to the forum!


Richard
#1866652 - 03/22/12 02:42 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: Rostosky]  
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
Kymber Offline
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Kymber  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 1,358
MA
Originally Posted by Rostosky
The answer that I have just been given last week on the telephone to my piano teachers father, who used to be the organist at Westminster Cathedral may surprise everyone.

He stopped being the cathedral organist and went into teaching and has also made an albumn in the past of his piano playing.

Let me just say at this point, that he is elderly, and on the phone he gave me an example of himself sight reading at his piano whilst I listened on the phone.

I have been waiting for a good time to share his advice and this appears to be perfect to help folk.

As I listened on the telephone, he went and played at first sight, a piece by shultz with such virtuosity and vigour I was rooted to the spot, and can honestly say, I was floored.

I have allways believed in life, if you dont know how to do something, no matter what it is, and you find someone who can do what you want to do, then observe carefully and listen well to what they say, even if its not what you want to hear, such is the best way to learn, from a master at their chosen craft.

This was his advice on sight reading: 101 from the begining.

Pick a stave, draw a note on it anywhere. lets say a G in the treble clef.
play it.
Do you have to think about it? answer yes? then start again.

Once you have that G note, where your finger goes straight to G without thinking " er G" then, only then add an F below the G, then an A above it.

Make some little excercises of g, f a , nothing else, in as many variations as you can .
Over and over.

Then add a B above the A and an E below the F .

again, make many little excercises, that contain these notes, things like g,g,ff,bab, ee a,f,f,a,b,g,

When you are playing these excercises, the first time you have to thinK "er is that a?" whilst looking at the score you have written,

You have made ( in his words) "a horlicks of it" and have to start again.

The deal is that step of "is that an A or is that a G?" has to be removed, you have no time for it.

gradually bit, by bit, you add notes at the top and at the bottom, and repeat the making of excercises step.

Your fingers have to go to what you see on the stave, Without the "thinking step"

So, I personally am taking his advice, and allthough this means for me starting further back than I wish too,
I know I will improve faster as a result, but more importantly, if this is the way to learn to be able to do what he can do, then I want in big time.

He has also sent me a book, that he thinks will also help, I will share the name of it when I get it tommorrow.

He stressed, "you have no time to be "thinking" what the notes are" "You must avoid that step"

I hope this helps folk, and can promise, I personally will be employing this technique.















That's a great idea, I'm going to do it too.

I'm reminded of something I learned in an adult ed music theory class that I have to say significantly helped my reading.

I already knew all the notes on the staff but sometimes I still had to resort to using the ol' mnemonic all cows eat grass etc. (personally I think the is a terrible way to teach people how to read music and when I am helping others to learn I never use it and they learn to read SO much faster than I did!). Anyway, he told us to first identify what clef we are quizzing ourselves in and then say (in Treble clef) first line E, third line B, second space A. and so on. So I did this and before I knew it I was looking at the music and "intuitively" knowing what the notes were without even thinking about it. I was really surprised. You can do this while looking at music or even when you are away from the music. Sometimes I would quiz myself while going to sleep. (obviously in the beginning you need to make sure you are correct before you start quizzing-lol). I used to avoid ledger lines line the plague. I guess I just felt too overwhelmed. But then I realized, technically, I already know what they are (and here is another tip I got is to get used to reading in thirds etc). So, knowing that in treble clef the last line on the staff is F when then the first line note that extends above that is A. So, I just did the same thing with the ledger lines. I would envision them in my mind and the identify them. First line (beyond staff) A, second line C. You get the idea. If you don't have music in front of you it really helps to visualize it. But even if you don't i find it still helps. I'm much slower at identifying the notes that extend below the bass staff though. Guess its time to start quizzing myself on that!

I think it would be good to add your friends idea and play the notes on the piano as you are quizzing yourself but this is also a good exercise to do to if you are away from your piano.


“The doubters said, "Man cannot fly," The doers said, "Maybe, but we'll try,"
And finally soared in the morning glow while non-believers watched from below.”
― Bruce Lee
#1866740 - 03/22/12 05:04 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: Kymber]  
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 117
supertorpe Offline
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supertorpe  Offline
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Posts: 117
Spain. Cadiz.
During my first months at the piano, I always had a deck of cards in my pocket. When I was away from the piano and had a free moment, took the deck and I started to read notes, down to two lines below the bass clef and up two lines above the treble clef.
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Here you have the flashcards: treble clef and bass clef.

However, this only helps to recognize the names of the notes, but does not help the reading of the duration of the figures.


Started learning piano: 01 March 2010
- Ex: Yamaha P-85, Kawai ES-4
- Current: Kawai CA-63
- Videos
- soundcloud
#1866757 - 03/22/12 05:29 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: supertorpe]  
Joined: Mar 2012
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musicendeavour Offline
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musicendeavour  Offline
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Wellington, New Zealand
Originally Posted by supertorpe
Originally Posted by Eglantine
you need to know instantly what the note on paper is on the keyboard, AND you need to know immediately what the note is called


If you play only by note-names, you need to know what key/note is under each finger at all times.
If you play only by intervals, you can lose everything from a small error.
I think you need a holistic approach, becoming aware of both the notes and intervals.


Whilst I was practising last night, I realised that you do need to both. I've been used to mostly being in a c position which is easy if you associate notes on the staff with fingers. The tricky part now is that when I am in a different finger position, I am hitting the wrong note by using the wrong finger. One approach I am taking is to imagine in my head where i am on the keyboard without looking down and be aware of what note I am hitting and follow that on the page as well as see th intervals. It's like I'd multitasking. I think if I carry on with this, and do it slowly it will pay off.

The best way that it has paid off so far is when playing in the key of F major. I started to see all the b's of the staff as being flat because i new my finger was about to go to b and I could see it in my head in a virtual keyboard.



My blog tracking my progress as I learn the piano.

http://www.pianoendeavour.blogspot.com
#1866765 - 03/22/12 05:54 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
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#1866825 - 03/22/12 07:32 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: irocku]  
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#1867403 - 03/23/12 06:48 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: Kymber]  
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j&j Offline
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Southwest
One of the books that my piano class professor recommended for those that struggle with sight reading is "Speed-Reading at the Keyboard". It's supposed to help students masteer the art of sight reading. I looked over and worked at some of the drills in her copy and am ordering a copy from Amazon today. From the description it teaches the student how to recognize familiar musical phrases, intervals and harmonies at a glance. Although my reading skills are good, my sight-reading skills need more work. I was told you have to practice sight-reading every day. Use as many old piano books and sheet music that you can buy or borrow.

After I have the book and work on it for a few months, I'll let you know my progress. I have been practicing sight reading for the last 4 semesters and I have improved....but still a long way to go.




J & J
Yahama C3 PE
Casio Privia PX-330
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." Pablo Picasso
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#1958828 - 09/14/12 12:13 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
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cor Offline
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I only know how to sight read by reading every note. My sight reading is getting better each day but it is still not that great. (I am sight reading at an intermediete level) My teacher said I should sight read by reading intervals. Before I attempt to read this way I need to know...How are most pianists sight reading?...I am getting better reading my way but I want to know how most pianists sight read. Please can you help?

Last edited by cor; 09/14/12 12:44 PM.
#1958838 - 09/14/12 12:49 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: j&j]  
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cor Offline
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cor  Offline
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student
I just bought that book "Speed Reading at the keyboard" from Amazon.

#1958911 - 09/14/12 03:14 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
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TromboneAl Offline
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TromboneAl  Offline
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I think I can help here. My sight-reading blog has a lot on exactly this topic (see link in sig).

1. I am convinced they are important (after going through a period when I thought they weren't).

2. If you're like me, it will not just come. You have to force yourself to notice the intervals. I still have problems.

3. I created interval flash cards that I use on my iPod Touch.

For example: [Linked Image]

I've uploaded them all here:

http://s8.photobucket.com/albums/a39/TromboneAl/Intervals/


#1958914 - 09/14/12 03:20 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: musicendeavour]  
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TromboneAl Offline
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TromboneAl  Offline
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Here's a hard exercise that I think I made up: Transpose to another key. When you do that, you are forced to look only at intervals, because the notes are wrong! This works well with hymns.

For every new note, you must recognize the interval between it and the preceding note -- same for chords.

For example:

[Linked Image]

Transpose this from C to F. The key signature is now F, and you start with the lowest note being C instead of G. Now you must notice that the first interval is a fifth. For the next chord, you'll move your lowest finger up an octave, and for a third with your fingers. Get the idea?

Also, a good way to code the second measure is "The top note stays the same, and the bottom note moves down a third, then back up."

It's very hard, and you have to go very slowly, but I think it helps.

Last edited by TromboneAl; 09/14/12 03:30 PM.
#1959332 - 09/15/12 05:51 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: TromboneAl]  
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cor Offline
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cor  Offline
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student
Thanks so much Al! I tried it with a very easy beginner piece and I was able to transpose it while reading the intervals. I really appreciate you taking the time to give me this information. I will check out the link with the flash cards.

I have another question. How is it possible to read the intervals with both hands at the same time? Is this hard to do?

#1959364 - 09/15/12 07:30 PM Re: sight reading intervals vs 'decoding' learning experiences [Re: cor]  
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TromboneAl Offline
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TromboneAl  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 798
Northern, Northern California
Originally Posted by cor
Thanks so much Al! I tried it with a very easy beginner piece and I was able to transpose it while reading the intervals. I really appreciate you taking the time to give me this information. I will check out the link with the flash cards.

I have another question. How is it possible to read the intervals with both hands at the same time? Is this hard to do?


Glad that helped.

Yes, for me, intervals for both hands are hard, but many people do it with ease. It gets easier.


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