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Sight Reading Book - Update? #2771750
10/12/18 07:37 AM
10/12/18 07:37 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,637
Florida
cmb13 Online content OP
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cmb13  Online Content OP
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Florida
I'm looking to get more serious about sight reading. I believe my sight reading is far below the "2 levels below" my grade that is commonly quoted; either that or I'm seriously fooling myself about my perceived grade level. Regardless, it's time to begin working on this more earnestly. (As I've mentioned previously, I'm trying to fill in the gaps in my toolbox).

That said, I'm wondering which resource everyone likes. I see there are sets including the RCM series, and the Paul Harris series, and while not that expensive, I may get the whole set and start from the beginning. Are there better alternatives? Is one preferred?

Btw, no online resources please, just hard copies. I have an acoustic upright, so the programs like pianomarvel (?) won't work.


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
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Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771758
10/12/18 07:52 AM
10/12/18 07:52 AM
Joined: Feb 2016
Posts: 1,594
Orange County, California
bSharp(C)yclist Offline
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Hi cmb13,

I use the RCM Sight Reading and Ear Training series. I started with the RCM 2 grade. The purchase of the book gives you access to the ear training tools if you are interested in that, although those exercises are geared towards what the exam would ask but I thought it was good for me. I can certainly recognize intervals a lot better than I used to.

Other than that, I'll just find random easier music and try to play it or parts of it. I just try to read something new on a regular basis.


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Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771764
10/12/18 08:03 AM
10/12/18 08:03 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,637
Florida
cmb13 Online content OP
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Thanks, bSharp, I knew you used and and was thinking of pm'ing you to see if you were happy with the series. At the university where I am taking lessons, they have a bin of old throw away sheet music they're giving away....I was thinking of looking through it to see if anything could be of use in this regard.


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771770
10/12/18 08:18 AM
10/12/18 08:18 AM
Joined: Apr 2018
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by cmb13
That said, I'm wondering which resource everyone likes.

I've been atrocious at sight reading and failing every chapter sight reading exercises in the method book I am being taught from. Assuming those sight reading exercises are indeed two grades below the rest of the chapters they are in, then I'm just a sight reading failure. The new sight reading workbooks I was just assigned is this series of 12 workbooks. I am almost halfway through the first workbook and it's confidence inspiring. I am finally able to sight read entire pieces. Admittedly, they still are 4 finger pieces, so it builds slowly, but I can see from my Internet research on this series, that by the 12th workbook, it is quite advanced already. I've been suggested to do two exercises a day in the first 4 volumes to catch up to my level. I like the series because it gives narrative and exercises about what you are to do along the way. Sight-reading suggestions and hints, exercise by exercise.


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771790
10/12/18 09:10 AM
10/12/18 09:10 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 2,400
Costa del Sol
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I use the Paul Harris series and the ABRSM Join the Dots series. I like both equally. The Paul Harris has rhythmic exercises that are quite good, and the ABRSM series includes exercises to get you thinking in a key, such as transposing and improvising.

Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771793
10/12/18 09:18 AM
10/12/18 09:18 AM
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bennevis Online content
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Originally Posted by cmb13
At the university where I am taking lessons, they have a bin of old throw away sheet music they're giving away....I was thinking of looking through it to see if anything could be of use in this regard.

The trick to sight-reading competence (and mastery wink ) is to sight-read any and every piece of keyboard music you can get your hands on, out of sheer curiosity, and for fun. In fact, not just keyboard music - have a go at anything you can fit on two hands. It doesn't matter if it's technically beyond you - you're only trying to read it, not perform it. So, grab the whole lot and have a go.

The same way you'd pick up a trashy novel at the airport to read for fun (or not, as the case may be.....). You want to keep reading it to see what happens (did the heroine get who - or what - she wants?). Similarly, you pick up a sheet of music, and you want to know what it sounds like.....all the way to its conclusion. Real music is so much more fun (and educational) than computer-generated stuff in sight-reading books, and there's the extra bonus of coming across something you really like and want to learn properly. I found lots of great stuff that way, when I was a student - for example, movements of Schubert sonatas, often full of chords and (sometimes) tricky figuration, but the slow movements have beautiful song-like tunes that made me want to return and learn them. And I was a frequent customer at the local music shop which had a sales bin of old sheet music which were sold for pennies (which were all I could afford then): I frequently just bought as much of it as I could without even looking at their titles. In a Persian Market, Macbeth and the Witches, Marigold, May Night anyone?

Don't try to find the piece on YT to hear how it's supposed to sound first - that will mean you're going to know when you're going wrong from already knowing it from listening, rather than from reading the notes properly. You can listen to the YT afterwards to check.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now.......


"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 - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771797
10/12/18 09:33 AM
10/12/18 09:33 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,637
Florida
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Thanks folks...Bennevis, I've heard you mention this before, and just had to laugh at the thought of walking out of the music college with 3 crates of old music! I do have a lesson tomorrow morning (Sat) and might just grab what I can without feeling like a moucher!


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771800
10/12/18 09:43 AM
10/12/18 09:43 AM
Joined: Feb 2016
Posts: 1,594
Orange County, California
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I'm happy with the RCM series as it also includes the ear training stuff. But as I mentioned before and as Bennevis said, just play random stuff but do it on a regular basis. There is so much available music to try. I have a bunch of old sheet music that mother had as a kid when she learned piano and I sometimes look at that.


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Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: bennevis] #2771809
10/12/18 10:15 AM
10/12/18 10:15 AM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 138
Texas
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by cmb13
At the university where I am taking lessons, they have a bin of old throw away sheet music they're giving away....I was thinking of looking through it to see if anything could be of use in this regard.

The trick to sight-reading competence (and mastery wink ) is to sight-read any and every piece of keyboard music you can get your hands on, out of sheer curiosity, and for fun. In fact, not just keyboard music - have a go at anything you can fit on two hands. It doesn't matter if it's technically beyond you - you're only trying to read it, not perform it. So, grab the whole lot and have a go.


bennevis is 100% correct here. I would add a few additional points to consider as well. (These are more for general audiences than for cmb13.)

  • How is your note recognition? Can you immediately name any note on the treble or bass clefs without having to think about it? (Bonus points - what about the C clef? I can point out some keyboard music that uses it, though it's not exactly common.)
  • How good are you with ledger line notes, both above and below each clef? How many ledger lines up or down can you recognize at sight without counting?
  • Can you recognize intervals at sight? Numerically? Qualitatively? Compound?
  • How well can you recognize chords? Triads? Inverted triads? Across both hands? Augmented/dminished/seventh/ninth/Neapolitan/Martian/etc?
  • How well can you associate the notes you see with keys on the keyboard? How much do you have to look at the keyboard?
  • When you see key signatures with lots of sharps and flats, do you approach them fearlessly? Or, like P.D.Q. Bach, do you avoid "the really hard ones"? (J.S. Bach really helped me with this one. C# major for the win!)
  • The first time you sight-read a piece at the piano, do you include dynamics, or do you layer them on later?
  • Are you scared of sixteeth notes? Thirty-second notes? Sixty-fourth notes? Dotted notes?
  • Polyphony and/or counterpoint?
  • Have you developed an instinctive feel for the rhythmic pulse of the most common time signatures? Can you at least reason it out for the more exotic compound time signatures? (They are out there...)


We could probably come up with may other points to consider as well. As with everything, and for everybody, YMMV. And even though I'm a music teacher, I still see areas in that list where I could do better... Sometimes I sit down at a fugue or sonata movement that kicks my butt so hard that I feel like I should go back to Mary Had a Little Lamb or Twinkle, Twinkle. sick


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771826
10/12/18 11:34 AM
10/12/18 11:34 AM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,637
Florida
cmb13 Online content OP
Silver Level
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Florida
Wow, Doc, what an awesome list to aspire to!! That was nice of you to imply the list wasn't for me but there is plenty to think about here!

I'm going to be as transparent as possible here.....
- Note recognition - good
- Ledger lines - good (down to low of A2, up to high of C6) - the pieces I've worked on helped quite a lot here.
Intervals - fine
- Chords - eh....needs work especially improvements. I think the broken chord work I'm doing will help, but also this is something I was wondering if the progressive series would help with.
- Associating notes - fine; looking only with change in position, improving on this over a long period of time
- Keys - no problem; the lead sheet and chord / scale / arpeggio work helps here. Also I've worked on pieces in various keys such as C#min, Db, Eg, Ab, Bb, Eb...all helps, I'm no longer afraid!
- Dynamics - learning, improving
- 16th ok, 32nd not as good, 64th forget it. Complicated rhythms tougher; the BWV 974 helped but couldn't sight read something like that.
- Polyphony - can't even say it, let alone play it wink
- Time signatures - okay with 4/4 wink. 2/4, 3/4, 6/4.....haven't gotten to tougher ones

If I can be so bold as to add to the list, I'd throw in trills, grace notes, pedaling, double sharps, key modulation. Also reading a measure ahead is a good tool. Trills get me - I have to think about them still, which notes, which fingers. Pedaling I'm okay with, double sharps also. Key modulation okay but always good to study the piece ahead of time.

Great list as I said......I think chords are my next real step. I can play them but recognizing all but a simple 1-3-5 chord isn't yet second nature. I guess thinking about it I can play an inversion more rapidly than I can recognize what it is.

How's everyone else do on this list?

Last edited by cmb13; 10/12/18 11:36 AM.

Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2771837
10/12/18 11:57 AM
10/12/18 11:57 AM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 552
Kitsap County, WA
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I've been using the Harris books for two years and quite like them. It helps me to have something that's part of my regular practice and is graduated to introduce new levels of difficulty in a way that makes sense.

I do augment with reading random pieces as bennevis recommends, though sometimes my time is limited, and I always manage to get 4 or 8 measures of reading a day in with the Harris books.



Currently learning: Beethoven "Easy" Sonata Op 49 No 2, JS Bach WTC Prelude No 2 in C minor
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2771959
10/12/18 06:56 PM
10/12/18 06:56 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 1,106
In the Ozarks of Missouri
NobleHouse Online content
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by cmb13
That said, I'm wondering which resource everyone likes.

I've been atrocious at sight reading and failing every chapter sight reading exercises in the method book I am being taught from. Assuming those sight reading exercises are indeed two grades below the rest of the chapters they are in, then I'm just a sight reading failure. The new sight reading workbooks I was just assigned is this series of 12 workbooks. I am almost halfway through the first workbook and it's confidence inspiring. I am finally able to sight read entire pieces. Admittedly, they still are 4 finger pieces, so it builds slowly, but I can see from my Internet research on this series, that by the 12th workbook, it is quite advanced already. I've been suggested to do two exercises a day in the first 4 volumes to catch up to my level. I like the series because it gives narrative and exercises about what you are to do along the way. Sight-reading suggestions and hints, exercise by exercise.


I just went to Amazon to check these out. I think they are suitable for me to try. Thanks for the link.

Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2772252
10/13/18 09:22 PM
10/13/18 09:22 PM
Joined: Jul 2017
Posts: 339
Virginia
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CMB: I use sightreadingfactory.com It is a free trail for 7 days. I use it on my tablet, it is online. This auto-generates sight reading exercises, you can select the level difficulty and key signatures. My teacher recommended this and we work through exercises at every lesson. I believe it is like $40 a year.


Deb
"A goal properly set is halfway reached." Zig Ziglar
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2772589
10/15/18 01:56 AM
10/15/18 01:56 AM
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Italy
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I just bought John Kember's 3-book set, Piano Sight-Reading: A Fresh Approach. I went through Book 1 in a few days and will tackle Book 2 soon. I think this will be quite challenging. It's not very different from Paul Harris series, because it has all the usual tips and suggestions, but the increase in difficulty is organised differently, and the first hands-together exercises at the end of Book 1 are more difficult than usual - and more difficult than actual music, because they're contrapuntal and you really need to read both hands, the LH is not a simple accompaniment/Alberti bass or something like that. I still struggle to take my time to identify all the features and challenges before starting to read an exercise, I like to just dive in and see how it goes, hear how it sounds. Usually there's some tricky part near the end, some unexpected notes, or repeated notes, that trip me up.


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Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2772608
10/15/18 04:29 AM
10/15/18 04:29 AM
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Croatia
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I have John Kember's 3 books. I went through the first book and 2/3 of the second book quite quickly and then it got harder and I got lazier... That was a year ago, I should be getting back to it...
The books were really good for me, but I do not have experience with other methods to compare.

I also bought some books with easier pieces to practice with real music (I really like Piano Mysterioso by Barbara Arens)


Kawai CN41
Kawai BL51
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2772758
10/15/18 03:28 PM
10/15/18 03:28 PM
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Warsaw, Poland
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I went through all three of the John Kember books at least twice over. They are really great but the jump in difficulty between books 2 and 3 is huge. It's worth reading through them anyway even if you can't exactly sight read them.


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Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: DFSRN] #2772770
10/15/18 03:49 PM
10/15/18 03:49 PM
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Warsaw, Poland
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Originally Posted by DFSRN
CMB: I use sightreadingfactory.com It is a free trail for 7 days. I use it on my tablet, it is online. This auto-generates sight reading exercises, you can select the level difficulty and key signatures. My teacher recommended this and we work through exercises at every lesson. I believe it is like $40 a year.

SRF is good for starting to sight read. It teaches you the discipline of keeping time, looking ahead, etc. I had a subscription for a year and made great improvement, but at some point I felt that it started holding me back. You need to read some real music too. The computer-generated stuff is limited in the number and types of figurations but it's also completely un-musical. There is literally no musical style. You never have something like play this "lively" or "solemn" or "scherzando". It's always the same mechanical ploughing ahead using the same note structures. As a supplement to other exercises SRF can help but by itself it's not enough.

BTW, there is a sight reading thread but nobody seems interested in it:
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2752051


[Linked Image]
Working on:
Bach French Suite no. 2 mvt. 4
Debussy Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
Field Nocturne no. 10
Re: Sight Reading Book - Update? [Re: cmb13] #2772786
10/15/18 04:42 PM
10/15/18 04:42 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 1,637
Florida
cmb13 Online content OP
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Florida
My teacher gave me some level 1 children's books to read through at the last lesson. They're very easy. He felt this would be a good way to get an intro. I guess that's okay if they progress in a fairly linear fashion but I'm not sure if they will.

Deb I'll have to get a look at that site thanks. Also at the Kember books. I only wish there were a brick and mortar book store to browse through these options.


Boston 118 PE

Working On
Chopin Nocturne 72.1
Piazzolla Invierno Porteno

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