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Re: Sight reading book [Re: Qazsedcft] #2741726
06/03/18 07:42 AM
06/03/18 07:42 AM
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New York City
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
As disappointing as this may sound the best way to improve your reading ability is in fact to "just do it" as most advanced readers suggest.
Practicing sight reading doesn't become a chore or homework if one uses great music at an appropriate level of difficulty. Most of the best sightreaders never "practiced" sight reading.

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Re: Sight reading book [Re: NuggetSC] #2741728
06/03/18 07:45 AM
06/03/18 07:45 AM
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Ireland (ex England)
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Faith Maydwell's book offers the three most helpful approaches she has found to sight-reading, viz. guided reading, keyboard orientation and reading the text.

Since reading Charles Cooke's Playing the Piano for Pleasure back in the eighties I have tried unsuccessfully to add ten minutes of sight-reading each day to my practise. The psychology of keeping this up, despite my utter failure to either improve or, if I did, to notice the improvement, was such that it never became an established part of my practise. I resigned myself to the fact that I just couldn't do it.

One of the things that make readers better is playing with others and another is their ability to keep their eyes on the score. I always thought playing with others was a timekeeping thing. Always, when I played guitar I was keeping time when I played with others or when using a drum machine so I figured I didn't need help in that area. When I learnt Bach pieces, I worked them until I could play them blindfold with each hand separately and hands together so I figured I knew the keyboard, too.

I audiate from scores, even full orchestral scores, so I didn't think I needed any help reading the signs either. What was stopping me was obviously my playing ability or some other key to sight-reading success. I though I just didn't have the necessary gene.

The guided reading is not about timekeeping. It's about keeping up. Not playing in time but reading fast enough and far enough ahead, about discarding the notes that couldn't be read or played in time and carrying on. I didn't have a teacher to help my guided reading and I didn't have the scores to easy enough pieces to keep up with CDs. But I did have a drum machine that kept my place in the measure and if I missed a beat it would throw out the rest of the piece.

When I followed Faith's advice to use a device that would prevent me from seeing the keyboard I discovered how little I could get around without vision when playing unfamiliar music.

The two things that helped me the most were playing through a series of progressive pieces, including much of the recommended collections in Faith's book, with a blotting board that sat nicely between the reading stand and the base of my neck, and keeping time with my drum machine. I started finding my way around the keyboard quickly enough and starting noticing progress - in about a week as I recall, it wasn't long. So I kept it up. After a month or so it was clearly working and I didn't need the blotter.

These days I regularly pick up collection of scores, regardless of difficulty, and just play, poorly but happily, through some.

Just doing it didn't cut it for me. This book did.


Richard
Re: Sight reading book [Re: Qazsedcft] #2741732
06/03/18 08:01 AM
06/03/18 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
As dissappointing as this may sound the best way to improve your reading ability is in fact to "just do it" as most advanced readers suggest.

thumb

As boring as it may sound, the best 'skill' one can have (or develop) is musical curiosity - the urge to try out everything one can get one's hands on (no matter how haltingly or slowly), just to see 'how it sounds'.

To take a few well-known intermediate pieces that students often learn - Bach's Two-Part Invention in A minor BWV 784, Mozart's K545, Beethoven's Für Elise, Schumann's Von fremden Ländern und Menschen, Chopin's Prelude No.4 and Grieg's Arietta Op.12/1, you can see that they require very different aspects of sight-reading skills. The Bach has no chords, the Chopin is all chords. The Mozart has Alberti bass and scales & arpeggios in various keys throughout, the Beethoven has a mixture of various things. And so on.

In other words, pattern recognition is the key to fluent sight-reading (assuming that you can already read single isolated notes and know basic theory), and that is developed by sight-reading & playing a wide range of music. Not plugging away at one small aspect (like scales or chords in all keys and inversions) ad nauseam. For example, once you have developed familiarity with a common arpeggio pattern, you immediately recognize it when you next see it and know immediately how to position your hand and fingers. Ditto for Alberti bass. And appearance of chords in all their myriad configurations (and remember, they are rarely straightforward as in inversions and 7ths - look at Brahms's Intermezzo Op.117/1 for instance).

Students who only pick out pieces they like on YT to learn and never bother to sight-read through lots of other stuff (i.e. real music by all sorts of composers from all eras) purely for fun that they have no intention of learning won't be developing their sight-reading skills, and every time they encounter a pattern they haven't seen before, will end up having to laboriously read every single note, instead of being able to take in a bunch of notes at a time, and play them while looking ahead at the next group and mentally prepare to play them, which is what fluent sight-reading is all about.

For instance, in the current issue of Pianist Magazine (No.102, June-July 2018), there are twelve appealing pieces (including a song by ABBA in an arrangement almost like K545, easily sight-readable by anyone fluent in reading Alberti bass) plus four etudes, almost all of which pianists of above beginner standard can have a go at sight-reading. You won't necessarily be fluent even at very slow speeds, and you might be stopping and starting frequently when something unusual or unfamiliar crops up, but playing fluently is not the point. The point is to familiarize yourself with patterns that abound in piano music of all kinds and having fun doing so. Don't listen to the CD yet - try the pieces out first for yourself before you listen to hear how they are meant to go when performed by a master pianist. Believe it or not, even the advanced piece, Rustle of Spring, is not difficult to sight-read once you realize that the RH comprises straightforward arpeggios, and the five flats in the key signature make the piece fit well under the hands.


"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: Sight reading book [Re: NuggetSC] #2741736
06/03/18 08:35 AM
06/03/18 08:35 AM
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 3,795
Florida
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@bennevis
I do agree that you gained the skill of sight reading by actually playing a large amount of music. however, I think it is easy to forget unless you are a recent beginner, There are prerequisites for being able to even read a large amount of music. Please read Richard’s email above: You can’t sight read if you’re keeping your eyes glued on the keyboard. You can’t sight read until you are very familiar with the staves. You do need to understand basic key signatures and be able to play them.


Last edited by dogperson; 06/03/18 08:36 AM. Reason: Typo
Re: Sight reading book [Re: zrtf90] #2741737
06/03/18 08:43 AM
06/03/18 08:43 AM
Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,634
Warsaw, Poland
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Warsaw, Poland
Originally Posted by zrtf90
Just doing it didn't cut it for me. This book did.

Alright, I grant you that everyone is different and some things may work for some and not for others. I'm not denying that the tips offered aren't useful but they are not a step-by-step graded process to guide you from beginner to advanced reading. These tips are more like guidance for how to approach sight reading, what to look out for, what skills should be practiced, etc.

I have had epiphany moments too where some trick suddenly resulted in a jump in ability. However, after the quick initial jump I did not experience a further increase but rather a plateau. I feel that such tricks can be useful if given at the appropriate moment when you have reached a level where they make sense but by themselves are not the thing that will make you a great reader or pianist. In order to make progress you still need a lot of practice reading different types of music and consolitating all the little skills and that simply takes years of daily practice (with sleep in between as you are fond to point out wink ).


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Re: Sight reading book [Re: dogperson] #2741740
06/03/18 08:53 AM
06/03/18 08:53 AM
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Posts: 11,243
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Originally Posted by dogperson
@bennevis
I do agree that you gained the skill of sight reading by actually playing a large amount of music. however, I think it is easy to forget unless you are a recent beginner, There are prerequisites for being able to even read a large amount of music. Please read Richard’s email above: You can’t sight read if you’re keeping your eyes glued on the keyboard. You can’t sight read until you are very familiar with the staves. You do need to understand basic key signatures and be able to play them.


I was addressing my post mainly to to those who are past beginner standard and striving to improve their sight-reading skills, not beginners. Unfortunately, I've seen some students who have the technical facility to play something like Rondo alla turca who can't even sight-read something like K1 easily.

It's a given that you need to be able to recognize notes on the staves and relate them to their keys on the keyboard. And you need to know key signatures and basic theory - like I said in my previous post:

In other words, pattern recognition is the key to fluent sight-reading (assuming that you can already read single isolated notes and know basic theory).....

Without those, nothing can happen. You can't sight-read if you cannot read. BTW, that doesn't mean glueing one's eyes to the score. All experienced sight-readers know when to look down, and when to keep their eyes on the score. And I don't know of any who deploy tricks like covering up their keyboard when practicing sight-reading - because they 'practice' by doing it........

Incidentally, what I said earlier applies not just to sight-reading music - it applies to reading in general. And even reading in a foreign language. Like my music sight-reading, my ability to read English (my fourth language which I started learning at nine) improved by leaps & bounds when I got access to a library and was able to borrow almost the complete oeuvre of Enid Blyton and Capt.W.E. Johns - I read several books a week, dictionary in hand. (Very haltingly at first, but I improved rapidly when I began recognizing complete words instantly, then even complete phrases - just like in music. After a few months, I could read a complete book within a few hours.)

The same way that I ploughed through Agay's Easy Classics to Moderns by myself, as early as Grade 1.


"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: Sight reading book [Re: Qazsedcft] #2741742
06/03/18 09:02 AM
06/03/18 09:02 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,860
Tyrone Slothrop Offline
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Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,860
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by zrtf90
Just doing it didn't cut it for me. This book did.

Alright, I grant you that everyone is different and some things may work for some and not for others. I'm not denying that the tips offered aren't useful but they are not a step-by-step graded process to guide you from beginner to advanced reading. These tips are more like guidance for how to approach sight reading, what to look out for, what skills should be practiced, etc.

I have had epiphany moments too where some trick suddenly resulted in a jump in ability. However, after the quick initial jump I did not experience a further increase but rather a plateau. I feel that such tricks can be useful if given at the appropriate moment when you have reached a level where they make sense but by themselves are not the thing that will make you a great reader or pianist. In order to make progress you still need a lot of practice reading different types of music and consolitating all the little skills and that simply takes years of daily practice (with sleep in between as you are fond to point out wink ).

I think that you are overestimating beginners like me. For example, even in the ABRSM app, it teaches one to look for things like key signature, and then rhythm. An absolute beginner has no idea about this. I didn't particularly pay attention to this until the ABRSM sight reading app. Now these all may be second nature to you at your level, and you were looking for an extra boost to a higher level of sight reading -- well I can't speak about whether these books do that. But definitely they appear to be great for the beginner level where we even need a few sign posts to identify and follow!


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Sight reading book [Re: NuggetSC] #2741745
06/03/18 09:29 AM
06/03/18 09:29 AM
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 530
India
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noobpianist90 Offline
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Posts: 530
India
I found Richman's book very helpful.

I think that maybe those who say "read a lot of music and you'll get better" are naturally better suited to sight reading. I am most definitely not. I needed a system or a method to get better at it. Richman's system helped me a lot. I'm still nowhere near as good as I'd like to be, but at least now I know I'm getting there. Previously, I used to feel that I was just wasting my time.

On another note, I've found that ear training and relative pitch go a long way to improving sight reading. I always make it a point to try and imagine how the music is going to sound before I play it. Well, at least for the main melody line, or the motif. It really helps a lot.

Re: Sight reading book [Re: bennevis] #2741787
06/03/18 01:59 PM
06/03/18 01:59 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,819
Florida
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Florida
Originally Posted by bennevis

I was addressing my post mainly to to those who are past beginner standard and striving to improve their sight-reading skills, not beginners. Unfortunately, I've seen some students who have the technical facility to play something like Rondo alla turca who can't even sight-read something like K1 easily.

It's a given that you need to be able to recognize notes on the staves and relate them to their keys on the keyboard. And you need to know key signatures and basic theory - like I said in my previous post:

In other words, pattern recognition is the key to fluent sight-reading (assuming that you can already read single isolated notes and know basic theory).....

Without those, nothing can happen. You can't sight-read if you cannot read. BTW, that doesn't mean glueing one's eyes to the score. All experienced sight-readers know when to look down, and when to keep their eyes on the score. And I don't know of any who deploy tricks like covering up their keyboard when practicing sight-reading - because they 'practice' by doing it........

Incidentally, what I said earlier applies not just to sight-reading music - it applies to reading in general. And even reading in a foreign language. Like my music sight-reading, my ability to read English (my fourth language which I started learning at nine) improved by leaps & bounds when I got access to a library and was able to borrow almost the complete oeuvre of Enid Blyton and Capt.W.E. Johns - I read several books a week, dictionary in hand. (Very haltingly at first, but I improved rapidly when I began recognizing complete words instantly, then even complete phrases - just like in music. After a few months, I could read a complete book within a few hours.)

The same way that I ploughed through Agay's Easy Classics to Moderns by myself, as early as Grade 1.


I think you have that rare combination of both well above average intelligence and extreme motivation. Not everybody has the time or inclination to tend to this with such dedication. That's probably why there is a search for a shortcut, but as I said above, there is no such thing as a free lunch my friends!

So what were the first three languages? Are there more beyond the forth?


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Re: Sight reading book [Re: cmb13] #2741796
06/03/18 02:36 PM
06/03/18 02:36 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by cmb13

I think you have that rare combination of both well above average intelligence and extreme motivation. Not everybody has the time or inclination to tend to this with such dedication. That's probably why there is a search for a shortcut, but as I said above, there is no such thing as a free lunch my friends!

So what were the first three languages? Are there more beyond the forth?

Let's just say that my first three languages weren't based on the Western alphabet, meaning that I learnt a, b, c etc from scratch at nine.

As for motivation, as for almost everyone, what I enjoy very much motivates me. English did for me as a kid, because I soon discovered the huge amount of literature (if you can glorify children's fiction with such a term wink ) available in English, compared to any other language. I tried to learn French and German for my travels as a young adult, but didn't get very far, despite attending a weekly evening French class for two years. That was because the only country I visited that used French was France, and my basic 'traveller's French' was enough for that. And Germans and Austrians and Swiss mostly spoke English quite well, so the only German I know now are what composers like Beethoven, Schumann, Strauss etc use, plus a little from Lieder that I love.

Classical piano music motivated me a lot, and still does - there's no limit to the amount of great piano music that one can learn, if you have sufficient technical & musical skills. The ability to sight-read fluently greatly enhances the enjoyment of the learning process, and as we know, success breeds success: the more music you read, the better you get at it, and the more enjoyment you get out of it when you can just pick up a new score and read it. Even more enjoyable when you play with like-minded friends, and you can laugh at each other's mistakes as well as your own when sight-reading a new piece together. What does it matter if you're both playing wrong notes (and different kinds of wrong notes) when you're having so much fun? grin

Whereas guitar has very little classical literature, so though I've owned a guitar since I was a teenager (unlike a piano), I never practiced at it, and never had a teacher. After all, I could easily accompany myself & friends singing Bob Dylan and John Denver songs around the campfire with no guitar reading skills, playing the right chords (only in a few easy keys) entirely by ear, so there was not much motivation for me to work at mastering classical guitar.


"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: Sight reading book [Re: bennevis] #2741855
06/03/18 06:46 PM
06/03/18 06:46 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,386
Owen Sound, Ontario
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Owen Sound, Ontario
The ability to sight-read fluently greatly enhances the enjoyment of the learning process, and as we know, success breeds success: the more music you read, the better you get at it, and the more enjoyment you get out of it when you can just pick up a new score and read it.

Thank Goodness you can start enjoying learning piano long before you become an awesome reader.

Re: Sight reading book [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2741861
06/03/18 07:32 PM
06/03/18 07:32 PM
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Australia
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Australia
[/quote]
..........extra boost to a higher level of sight reading -- well I can't speak about whether these books do that. But definitely they appear to be great for the beginner level where we even need a few sign posts to identify and follow![/quote]

similar to what Qazsedcft wrote earlier I have also bought many books, bought, and subscribed to programs looking to unlock the secrets of sight reading. My conclusion was that I had already found the sign posts I needed very early on, (similar to this list), but they had seemed too simplistic on my first reading. As the years have gone by certain skills have become more natural and secure and I wish I could go back to my earlier self and just say be patient.

The best sight reading books I ever bought as a beginner were not "how to" books but were graded material; they were the Paul Harris series and various books from Denes Agay (The Joy of First Classics and others)

The Rhythm Bible by Dan Fox was one of the best non sight reading books I bought, but really helped my sight reading. My earlier teachers had failed me in such a basic thing as counting and rhythm understanding. As mentioned earlier pattern recognition, and in this case specifically rhythm recognition is a fundamental skill.


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

Kawai K8 & Kawai Novus NV10


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Re: Sight reading book [Re: NuggetSC] #2741867
06/03/18 07:48 PM
06/03/18 07:48 PM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,386
Owen Sound, Ontario
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Owen Sound, Ontario
Was trying to edit previous note, but it timed out ... frown

... perhaps your satisfaction level (personal for you) is enhanced by the ability to sight-read to a certain level. Enjoyment level is more of a constant through all stages of learning.

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