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#2232470 - 02/16/14 09:41 AM Methods of sight reading  
Joined: Jul 2010
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TheodorN Online content
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TheodorN  Online Content
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There's no need to mention the importance of sight-reading for pianists, or at least being able to carefully look over the sheet music of some piece and sit down and play it from the sheet, preferrably without looking down at the keybed. Don't know if the latter is actually sight-reading.

How do I get better at it? By online sites and sight-reading software, or simply by playing with sheet music in front of me? We were discussing this briefly in another thread, but since it was outside of the thread's topic, I decided to start a new thread, dedicated to this subject.

Sightreadingfactory.com was mentioned, and a custom made tool by a PW member, supertorpe. These tools seem very good, different, but what they have in common, is that they generate sequences of notes in a certain key, according to certain music theory rules.

Now if that's the case, isn't it just as good to practise sight-reading on real songs? Certainly more fun, since software generated measuers on the grand staff, are not as good as the works of the classical masters or contemporary musicians.

Now what's your take on this, kind PW member?

Last edited by TheodorN; 02/16/14 11:00 AM.

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#2232498 - 02/16/14 10:33 AM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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I have to say that I do not usually use the tool I started building.
One of the few advantages to using this type of tool is that you can generate a lot of material to practice certain types of exercise isolating one difficulty at a time.
Recently I started to compile a list of free resources for the sight-reading, and I use that list to practice, instead the automatic generator. I still have work to sort all material complexity:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet...FdfdE9Oc3d4TFdVOXc&usp=sharing#gid=0

Edit: the tool doesn't generate a totally random sequence of notes. It constraints to certain rules to try to generate not dissonant music.
Although much could be improved so that it would generate meaningful musical phrases.

Last edited by supertorpe; 02/16/14 10:37 AM.

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#2232505 - 02/16/14 10:57 AM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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TheodorN Online content
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Sorry that I described your software incorrectly. It's a great tool and I highly respect anyone simply for the idealism to provide a free useful tool for sight-reading practice, and respect it even more, when it's a good tool. I will change my original post to accommodate your corrections. I'll also check out your website and bookmark it.

Last edited by TheodorN; 02/16/14 11:02 AM.

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#2232556 - 02/16/14 12:47 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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supertorpe Offline
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Don't worry! and thank you very much for your generous words.
I agree that sight-reading the work of classical masters is better, musically speaking, than one of these tools. Although, as I said above, these tools can fill a gap when it comes to designing specific exercises to address certain types of particular difficulty that is difficult to find in such masterwork pieces.


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#2232730 - 02/16/14 06:32 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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I only started piano fourteen months ago so I am no authority but sight reading is one of my key interests. I have asked the question before on how to get better at sight reading and the answer always is do lots of it. This includes reading music from different genres and styles. I dont think where that material comes from is important whether it be actual music, book exercises or computer generated as long as you dont rely on just one.

As I said in another post I use sightreadingfactory.com as one of my sources. Being able to use a source with unlimited exercises geared to my level I have found to be most beneficial. But an online program or any exercise method are only aids. They are no substitute for real music so in addition I have plenty of books pdfs etc which I also use. Most importantly any material you use must be much simpler than your playing level.

I have a daily practice session just for sight reading and rarely miss a day. I enjoy it so much I will often have several sessions a day and go well beyond the recommended 20mins per day sometimes going for an hour and a half. My biggest revelation in the whole process was unlike piano where I could attempt and sometimes play more advanced pieces, with sight reading I had to start at the very bottom and build on any improvements at a very slow steady pace. I have the patience of a saint but sight reading sure does test me.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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#2232733 - 02/16/14 06:39 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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Wow, that's a great tool supertorpe


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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#2232779 - 02/16/14 08:44 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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"[The trick to life isn't] just about living forever. The trick is still living with yourself forever."
#2232782 - 02/16/14 08:47 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: Bobpickle]  
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I would agree but do you think it wise to point beginner sight readers to Bach Inventions?


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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#2232863 - 02/16/14 11:53 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: earlofmar]  
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Originally Posted by earlofmar


I would agree but do you think it wise to point beginner sight readers to Bach Inventions?


Of course not, but then I don't necessarily plan on critiquing any and all specific posts or referenced resources therein with which I may disagree. Wading through advice that's good and advice that's not-so-good and learning to differentiate between the two is homework the OP has to do himself if he really wishes to go about learning the in's and out's of sight-reading pedagogy.


"[The trick to life isn't] just about living forever. The trick is still living with yourself forever."
#2232925 - 02/17/14 04:24 AM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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http://www.amazon.com/Super-Sight-Reading-Secrets-Innovative-Step-By-Step/dp/0961596309

Sight reading, by Faith Maydwell. (progressive, on real pieces)


Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
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#2232952 - 02/17/14 07:23 AM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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TheodorN Online content
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Thanks for all suggestions.


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#2232980 - 02/17/14 08:43 AM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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mabraman Offline
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As I'm at the very beginning of my sight-reading learning, I'm doubting, which of the two mentioned above should I start with?
Maydwell's is very well explained and gives a list of progressive literature to keep a good pace, starting from Mikrokosmos I-IV.
Richman, on the other hand, gives you some preliminary drills (basic notation, note and rythm recognition, spacial orientation drills...).
And then, when you have accomplished these, you start actual sight-reading.
I find this approach very clever, and consistent with all that researchers show about complex tasks management.
Most (every other?) methods start just sight-reading elementary materials, and is my experience that it causes a great amount of tension. In fact, just recognizing/playing a single note implies some sub-tasks, and these are which Richman works on first.


Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
Kawai ES7.Kawai K-200
#2233007 - 02/17/14 10:03 AM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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supertorpe Offline
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A book that has been recommended in this forum many times (and I join the recommendation) is "Progressive Sight Reading Exercises for Piano (Hannah Smith)".

Then you can continue with basic stuff like I linked in a previous comment. Another book that is also recommended in the forum for the early stages of sight-reading is "An introduction to Classics to Moderns" (Denes Agay).


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#2233115 - 02/17/14 12:53 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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Hannah Smith's book is essential, if only because there are 500 exercises in it! The Mikrokosmos series is interesting, but only volume 1 can be used for sight-reading by a beginner.

There is also a sight-reading book by Schaefer available on IMSLP, but its 50 exercises progress a bit too quickly for my taste. Still worth a look!

Same for Beyer's op. 101, very basic at the beginning. Czerny's op. 599 can also be sight-read up to a certain point. The bad thing of these two is they use two treble clefs for a long time and this can be confusing.



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#2233215 - 02/17/14 03:33 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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Grazie mile!


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#2233263 - 02/17/14 04:52 PM Re: Methods of sight reading [Re: TheodorN]  
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Trouble with Super Sight Reading Secrets is you really will spend a long time on the drills, perhaps a year or more to get to an acceptable level if you are just starting out. Then he has you go to Bach Chorales which will be well above the playing capability of many students never mind their sight reading ability.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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