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Hands-together sight reading strategy? #2514870
02/25/16 08:37 PM
02/25/16 08:37 PM
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 635
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marimorimo Offline OP
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marimorimo  Offline OP
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Sorry this might be a stupid question but how did you develop the ability to read both clefs at the same time, while commanding your hands and fingers to do a half dozen separate things at the same moment? I can read and play the notes hand separate just fine but I'm currently struggling with playing both hands together. When I'm tired I sometimes even confuse the clefs. It feels like I have to coordinate a dozen different things at the same time and the result is just a mess. I DO end up getting it fixed, but that is after many, many attempts so no longer counts as sight-reading.

I know the ability comes with practice and exposure to a lot of repertoire, but aside from that, is there something else I'm missing? My brain can't seem to make the connection or work fast enough for both hands.

(For reference, I'm less than a year into my piano studies).


Working on: Schumann Album for the Young, Clementi Op 36 No. 1 (all movements), Various Bach, Czerny 599
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Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2514875
02/25/16 08:57 PM
02/25/16 08:57 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
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bennevis Online content
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Originally Posted by marimorimo
Sorry this might be a stupid question but how did you develop the ability to read both clefs at the same time, while commanding your hands and fingers to do a half dozen separate things at the same moment?

(For reference, I'm less than a year into my piano studies).

You've answered your own question!

Or in other words, Rome wasn't built in a day. Pianists don't become competent sight-readers in a year. Some never become competent sight readers, ever.

Developing complete hand independence takes time. Developing the ability to read two different clefs simultaneously takes time. Developing the ability to read and play from both clefs takes even more time.

BTW, that's one thing that non-keyboard musicians (except for conductors) never have to worry about......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2514877
02/25/16 09:10 PM
02/25/16 09:10 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,652
Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Online content
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Originally Posted by marimorimo
Sorry this might be a stupid question but how did you develop the ability to read both clefs at the same time, while commanding your hands and fingers to do a half dozen separate things at the same moment?


Very slowly.

Start with simpler music if you have half a dozen things going on in each hand. Avoid as much as possible working on the hands separately, as putting them together afterwards is almost as hard as starting all over again.

But the main thing is to start very very slowly. Even if you're only playing 4 - 8 beats per minute at first, and only 6 - 8 measures, get it all done right. Then do it again and again, cranking up the speed. But always stay about 10 - 20% under the speed where you start to make mistakes.

Edit: BTW, the Adult Beginners Forum here would be a better place for this.


Last edited by JohnSprung; 02/25/16 09:10 PM.

-- J.S.

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Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2514912
02/25/16 10:37 PM
02/25/16 10:37 PM
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 529
India
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noobpianist90 Offline
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These things have helped me in the last year since I seriously started sight reading:
-Go very slow. Doesn't matter if it doesn't sound musical. Speed will come with time.
-Keep going. Don't stop to correct when you make mistakes or omit notes.
-Read from bottom up. Always read the bottom clef notes first. It helps with recognizing harmony.
-Do a little bit every day. Better 15 minutes every day than 2 hours twice a week.
-Start with pieces much below your playing level. I'm currently reading from Denes Agay's "Classics to Moderns" series and "Easiest Book of Piano Classics".

There are a lot more, but these are the points I found important. Good luck smile

Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2514975
02/26/16 03:32 AM
02/26/16 03:32 AM
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marimorimo Offline OP
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Thank you so much for the concrete advice! I am going to put them to work. I would appreciate hearing more from our distinguished pianists here at the forum blush

I posted this under Pianist Corner since I would like to directly hear from the people who have had success doing it and I thought asking people at the beginner's forum might be a case of the blind leading the blind. But if that is the appropriate sub-forum, please move this thread.


Working on: Schumann Album for the Young, Clementi Op 36 No. 1 (all movements), Various Bach, Czerny 599
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Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2515005
02/26/16 06:33 AM
02/26/16 06:33 AM
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bennevis Online content
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With piano playing - as with anything else, from baseball to rock climbing to chess - you get good at what you practice. Or what you do regularly.

If you regularly read or learn pieces one hand at a time, that's you'll get good at. So, never do that, if you want to become proficient at reading from both clefs and playing from both simultaneously.

Sight-read something every day, even if it's only a few bars. Use pieces that are easy for you. If you're currently struggling with learning Für Elise, it's far too difficult. Use a volume like Denes Agay's Easy Classics to Moderns (& More Easy Classics to Moderns), which contains lots of easy, original piano pieces by great composers, including Beethoven, and sight-read through them, one by one. (They're all also worth learning to play properly, on their own. They were the basis of my repertoire for the first two years, when I was a student). Always read & play with both hands at the same time, no matter how slowly you have to do it.

BTW, when I was a beginner, as soon as I'd been taught to read notes from both clefs, my teacher always got me to sight-read through every new piece I was going to learn with both hands together. Never one hand at a time. That was from about 4 weeks onwards, when I was still using the beginner books. I got used to thinking of my two hands as a single entity, and the two staves as a single entity, early on. Even when I began learning pieces above my level (by myself, for my own satisfaction), I never read or learnt them one hand at a time.

It sounds like you're also having problems with hand independence. You can improve it by devising simple games to play, like learning an Alberti bass in LH (C-G-E-G, and keep repeating), then keep playing it non-stop while playing a simple tune in RH (like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star), or just a C major scale, all the while keeping the LH Alberti bass going at a steady pace, regardless of what your RH is doing. Once you get that mastered, try altering your LH to fit the harmony, with C-A-F-A and B-G-D-G. You've just made your own arrangement of a nursery tune grin.

Then switch hands - play the Alberti bass in RH and the tune in LH. (Remember, the tune must always be played louder than the accompaniment).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2515021
02/26/16 07:37 AM
02/26/16 07:37 AM
Joined: Jan 2015
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Groove On Offline
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I'll just re-iterate go slowly. Not just physically, but mentally slowly. I found it useful to stop mindfully on each measure and just absorb the whole pattern until I was ready to play it. Then do the same thing moving slowly measure by measure. Eventually overtime I got better and faster.

Another thing that was useful was to Flashcard the major and minor chords at the keyboard - in all inversions with the root in the opposite clef until my recognition and response was near instantaneous.


We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams.
Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2515047
02/26/16 09:18 AM
02/26/16 09:18 AM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 544
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MRC Offline
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Originally Posted by marimorimo
I can read and play the notes hand separate just fine but I'm currently struggling with playing both hands together. When I'm tired I sometimes even confuse the clefs. It feels like I have to coordinate a dozen different things at the same time and the result is just a mess.


It can help if you learn to think of the clefs as part of a logical whole, instead of two separate things. Here's something I posted in another thread:

[Linked Image]

The five lines of the treble clef, or the five lines of the bass clef, are selections from a set of lines that can cover the whole keyboard: every other white note has its own line.

Try printing out the diagram on a large piece of card. Or even better, make your own one: making it you will help you get the feeling how a line or a space on a staff corresponds directly to a key on a piano. Put a note or two on the staves. Look at the diagram in the orientation as shown, then rotate it 90° clockwise.

For beginners (or even non-beginners) it can help to place Post-it notes on the keys that correspond to lines. For instance, put red Post-it notes on the keys that correspond to the lines of the treble and bass staves, and yellow ones on the keys that correspond to other lines. See how middle C, while not the physical centre of the 88 key piano keyboard, is indeed the centre of the grand staff: the keys corresponding to the treble and bass clef lines spread out symmetrically either side of it.


Steinway A grand (1919), Richard Lipp grand (1913), Yamaha P2 upright (1983), Casio PX-150 digital (2013)
Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2515085
02/26/16 12:30 PM
02/26/16 12:30 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,382
western MA, USA
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hreichgott Offline
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Clap and count the rhythm HS first so you know what the rhythm is.
If the hands often play at different times then tap on the wood of the piano hands together, each hand tapping when that hand is supposed to play.

Then when reading notes go THIS slowly.

Prepare first note:
Locate right hand note silently on top of key.
Locate left hand note silently on top of key.
Check to make sure both are correct.

Play first note.

Hold both notes seemingly forever while you prepare the next note (or if a hand has to lift to arrive at the next note, let it lift.)
Prepare silently on top of keys.
Check to make sure both are correct.
Then play.

Hold seemingly forever while preparing next note.

Take as long as it takes between notes but be 100% accurate.

Over time as you become more experienced, the preparation times will get smaller until you can keep a consistent tempo while sight reading, and you'll have the self awareness to know what kind of tempo you need in order to be accurate.


Heather W. Reichgott, piano http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

Working on:
Cabaret (whole show)
12+ variations from classical ballets
Verdi: Stabat Mater
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Tangos and other fun music for piano duo

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2515292
02/27/16 01:17 AM
02/27/16 01:17 AM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 2,724
Israel
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Nahum Online content
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Israel
Here's a good way to sight reading for beginners: by using two white paper sheets obscuring the whole text, except that you read at the moment.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
etc.

Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: marimorimo] #2515389
02/27/16 01:06 PM
02/27/16 01:06 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 21,760
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Two posters have already suggested that to learn to play hands together one should practice playing pieces hands together. Practicing hands separately teaches you to play hands separately.

Practice hands together as slowly as you need to to avoid making mistakes; never speed up the tempo until you are comfortable and accurate with the current tempo.

Caveat: There are some passages that because of their difficulty and complexity, can benefit from hands separate practice; that's distinctly different, however, from practicing entire pieces hands separately.

One of my teachers did an unscientific experiment with a number of her colleagues and the result was that those students who consistently practiced their pieces hands together from the outset became much better readers as they advanced than those who always started learning pieces by playing/learning hands separately.

Regards,


BruceD
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Estonia 190
Re: Hands-together sight reading strategy? [Re: BruceD] #2515414
02/27/16 02:01 PM
02/27/16 02:01 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 221
Cali
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Terry Michael Offline
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Cali
I used to learn hands separate. But my teacher for the last couple of years has said no. And...he was right. Hands together is the best (for me).

Take reading hands together at your own pace though. If the bass is 'too many notes ' then just play the first notes in the bass of each measure. If chords just play the top notes. You'll be able to take in more as you go.


TH
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