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Sight reading tips for those who are struggling
#1927581 07/16/12 02:49 PM
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This article has grown of both my interest in sharing these tips as well as a fascination with Franz Liszt's legendary sight reading abilities (which in part has been inspired by a Piano World thread):

4 Sight Reading Tips Liszt Wants You to Know

Here is a quick list/summary of the tips in case you don't have time to read the full article:

1) Focus on rhythm
2) Don’t stop when you make a mistake
3) Let the most difficult passage set your tempo
4) Learn to look ahead

I hope any pianists who are just getting started with sight reading or who feel in a rut with it might find these helpful.

Last edited by Evan R. Murphy; 07/16/12 07:37 PM.
Re: A few sight reading tips for those struggling
Evan R. Murphy #1927599 07/16/12 03:51 PM
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You might add to that list : a quick pre-reading of the score to determine:
- key signature
- time signature
- tempo designation
- dynamic range

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: A few sight reading tips for those struggling
Evan R. Murphy #1927601 07/16/12 04:00 PM
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Thanks for sharing. I'm wondering if you could elaborate on the "don't stop" tip, which is one that I've heard very often but find very difficult to put into practice. It's hard, because if I hit the wrong notes, then my hand may not be set up properly to play the notes that follow. (An awkward stretch might be required, for example, due to my fingers landing in the wrong place. That stretch could slow things down.) Similarly, if I've plunked my fingers down in the wrong place, then I might not even know exactly where they landed in relation to where the next notes should be without pausing to figure out what's happened. Making mistakes in sight-reading can also sometimes come from losing my place in the score; if I don't know where I am in the score, then how can I just "keep on playing"?


Sam
Re: A few sight reading tips for those struggling
pianojerome #1927615 07/16/12 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by pianojerome
if I've plunked my fingers down in the wrong place, then I might not even know exactly where they landed in relation to where the next notes should be without pausing to figure out what's happened.

Yes!
My stream of consciousness: "Oops! Help!, now it's all sounding wrong! Augh! Where are my fingers??? Phooey!"


Please step aside. You're standing in your own way.
Re: A few sight reading tips for those struggling
pianojerome #1927646 07/16/12 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by pianojerome
Thanks for sharing. I'm wondering if you could elaborate on the "don't stop" tip, which is one that I've heard very often but find very difficult to put into practice.


Everyone reading this thread should repeat this to themselves over and over and over and over again:

"If you can't sight-read something at a reasonable degree of accuracy without stopping, then the material is TOO DIFFICULT."

Far too often, people try to improve their sight-reading by choosing material that's far too difficult.

You don't learn to do a 2 meter high jump by repeatedly trying and failing. That's insane, yet that's exactly what a lot of student pianists do. Instead, they should set the bar at a place that provides some challenge without being too easy or overly difficult. For a lot of people, that might mean playing through a Level 2 method book piece at tempo with only a few errors.

Sight-reading advice is worthless if you don't have the right kind of challenge on the music stand in front of you.


"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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Re: A few sight reading tips for those struggling
pianojerome #1928846 07/19/12 01:52 AM
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I agree with Kreisler that you should probably be sight reading easier music. Plunking down in the wrong place and not being prepared is only a problem if what follows is really difficult and pushing your level of ability. Getting lost in the score too tends to happen when the music is so difficult that it makes you frantic.

Do you think this could help in your case, Sam? Will you try sight reading something much easier and see if that helps with your stopping problem?


SightReadingMastery – Master Sight Reading with Real Music
Re: A few sight reading tips for those struggling
BruceD #1928848 07/19/12 01:57 AM
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You're right. Looking over the music deserves a place on the list, or maybe even it's own article. Thanks for the suggestion!


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