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sight reading help #2777474
11/02/18 11:52 AM
11/02/18 11:52 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 3
London
J
James1996 Offline OP
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James1996  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2018
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London
Hey people of Piano Forum, first time poster here smile

I have recently started reading music. I am progressing very slowly and I still can't read and play 2 hands with each other very smoothly. Can play one hand pretty smoothly, keeping time.

I have purchased a grade 2 test music booklet and I'm just playing pieces from that over and over, there are around 50 so enough that I don't start to remember them and play them by ear.

My question is, is this the correct approach? I try to keep in time where I can but often don't, I get stuck on a note or 2 for a good few seconds sometimes and I seem to making really slow progress. Progress yes, just really slow.

I don't really have enough money to afford a piano teacher at the moment. Any help on this would be very much appreciated, if I haven't given enough information please feel free to ask me anything.


smile
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Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2777485
11/02/18 12:34 PM
11/02/18 12:34 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,394
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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Morodiene  Offline
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Originally Posted by James1996
Hey people of Piano Forum, first time poster here smile

I have recently started reading music. I am progressing very slowly and I still can't read and play 2 hands with each other very smoothly. Can play one hand pretty smoothly, keeping time.

I have purchased a grade 2 test music booklet and I'm just playing pieces from that over and over, there are around 50 so enough that I don't start to remember them and play them by ear.

My question is, is this the correct approach? I try to keep in time where I can but often don't, I get stuck on a note or 2 for a good few seconds sometimes and I seem to making really slow progress. Progress yes, just really slow.

I don't really have enough money to afford a piano teacher at the moment. Any help on this would be very much appreciated, if I haven't given enough information please feel free to ask me anything.


Welcome to the forum! I understand that you can't afford a teacher, but please keep in mind that you may be able to afford to have a lessons once a month or once in a while to help, and it is well worth it if you find a good one. So please don't dismiss the idea because there are options other than weekly.

As a beginner, you probably shouldn't be playing hands together/simultaneously. I recommend a beginner method book of some kind. Many here like to use the Alfred.

Also, the term "sight reading" refers to your ability to read a piece and play it accurately and up to tempo the first time or two you ever play it. Sight reading is a subset of regular music reading. I'm assuming you are talking about music reading, but in case you mean sight reading, that is not something a beginner should be concerned with yet.

Regardless of which definition you meant, your approach at this point needs to be focused on playing music that is at your level. You should be able to learn pieces within a week of daily practice, spending no more than 20-30 minutes per day for beginning repertoire - and by "beginning" I mean simple melodies, one note at a time distributed between the hands, but not much if any simultaneous hands together playing.

Learn this music well enough so that it is easy to play at the correct tempo. Most of reading music involves recognizing and remembering patterns you've learned before. So the more pieces you learn on a deep level, the better your reading (and sight reading) will be. smile


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2777491
11/02/18 12:45 PM
11/02/18 12:45 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 75
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Michael P Walsh Online content
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There are some books by Paul Harris called 'Improve your sight reading'. They go from pre grade 1 right through to grade 8. Pre grade 1 and grade 1 books are hands separate. Hands together doesn't come in until the grade 2 book. You can buy used copies on ebay or amazon for not very much.
I wouldn't worry about slow progress, some of us are painfully slow.

Last edited by Michael P Walsh; 11/02/18 12:47 PM.
Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2777507
11/02/18 01:52 PM
11/02/18 01:52 PM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 5,569
Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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Originally Posted by James1996
I have recently started reading music. I am progressing very slowly and I still can't read and play 2 hands with each other very smoothly. .


Without knowing what you're doing and how long you've been at it, we can't really assess whether your progress is very slow. You might be doing a lot better than you think. Sight reading is hard hard hard....


-- J.S.

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Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2777519
11/02/18 02:19 PM
11/02/18 02:19 PM
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 3,908
Pennsylvania
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dmd Offline
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Joined: Apr 2009
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Pennsylvania
Go to a local music store and ask the clerk to suggest a method book for an absolute beginner and then start with it on page 1.

Go through it 1 page at a time and be sure you can do things VERY WELL before moving to the next page.

Always try to play while looking at the notes you see on the page while you are playing.

Try not to look down at the keyboard but look back and forth now and then if you feel the need.

Keep working at that skill.

Without a teacher …. you have 2 strikes against you but if it must be it must be.

Good Luck


Don

Duane Shinn 52 Week Crash Course - Completed Chapter 5

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Re: sight reading help [Re: Morodiene] #2777679
11/03/18 02:00 AM
11/03/18 02:00 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 3
London
J
James1996 Offline OP
Junior Member
James1996  Offline OP
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J

Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 3
London
Thanks for the responses!

Originally Posted by Morodiene


Welcome to the forum! I understand that you can't afford a teacher, but please keep in mind that you may be able to afford to have a lessons once a month or once in a while to help, and it is well worth it if you find a good one. So please don't dismiss the idea because there are options other than weekly.

As a beginner, you probably shouldn't be playing hands together/simultaneously. I recommend a beginner method book of some kind. Many here like to use the Alfred.

Also, the term "sight reading" refers to your ability to read a piece and play it accurately and up to tempo the first time or two you ever play it. Sight reading is a subset of regular music reading. I'm assuming you are talking about music reading, but in case you mean sight reading, that is not something a beginner should be concerned with yet.

Regardless of which definition you meant, your approach at this point needs to be focused on playing music that is at your level. You should be able to learn pieces within a week of daily practice, spending no more than 20-30 minutes per day for beginning repertoire - and by "beginning" I mean simple melodies, one note at a time distributed between the hands, but not much if any simultaneous hands together playing.

Learn this music well enough so that it is easy to play at the correct tempo. Most of reading music involves recognizing and remembering patterns you've learned before. So the more pieces you learn on a deep level, the better your reading (and sight reading) will be. smile


Will give the monthly teaching lesson some thought, good idea thank you.

I can play probably intermediate to advanced level just off learning pieces from youtube. So technique wise i'm not a complete beginner. I guess this is probably fairly important information I left out, apologies smile And I guess I am a little hazy on the difference between music reading and sight reading.. I have never actually tried but I feel that with a more complex piece of music I would be able to play it accurately given a few days with the sheet music. I think, anyway? As I mentioned I haven't actually tried; I am going to try this now. But, mostly what I am interested in is being able to look over a piece, scan it once or twice over an play it pretty well. I understand this is really advanced and I am in the baby steps beginner stages, but this is my end goal.

Originally Posted by Morodiene
Most of reading music involves recognizing and remembering patterns you've learned before. So the more pieces you learn on a deep level, the better your reading (and sight reading) will be. smile
- I think this is a key bit of info for me and in some way answers my question as a no, my approach isn't completely correct. So another question, if you wouldn't mind smile would my time be better spent purely focusing on just learning pieces of music suited to my skill level or a split between this and also practicing sight reading easy pieces. So one day I am practicing an intermediate piece, and the next day I am practicing reading out of my book, or just forget sight reading for now?


smile
Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2777694
11/03/18 04:46 AM
11/03/18 04:46 AM
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 46
S
Steven Carr Offline
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Don't drop sight reading.

But virtually everybody can only sight read pieces well below the level they can play pieces they have learned.

It takes a lot of practice.

Re: sight reading help [Re: Morodiene] #2777705
11/03/18 06:34 AM
11/03/18 06:34 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 24,053
New York City
pianoloverus Online content
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Also, the term "sight reading" refers to your ability to read a piece and play it accurately and up to tempo the first time or two you ever play it.
Sight reading refers to the first time only. It does not require accuracy, playing up to speed, and not stopping. Only the best sight readers accomplish that, but no matter how good or poor the attempt, it's still sight reading.

Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2777714
11/03/18 07:35 AM
11/03/18 07:35 AM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 3,693
Ireland (ex England)
Z
zrtf90 Offline
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Joined: Feb 2012
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Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted by James1996
...would my time be better spent purely focusing on just learning pieces of music suited to my skill level or a split between this and also practicing sight reading easy pieces. So one day I am practicing an intermediate piece, and the next day I am practicing reading out of my book, or just forget sight reading for now?
Spend a few minutes each day playing unfamiliar music that makes demands on your reading and sight-reading. If you have experience of playing then working your way through Beyer's Op. 101 shouldn't take you too long, maybe an exercise a day, by which time you may be comfortable reading through sonatinas by Clementi, Kuhlau, Diabelli, Dussek et al where many of the rhythmic elements are similar.

It's important to include easy enough music that you CAN play at sight in order to exercise the fast reading skill as well as music that you can't quite manage at tempo so you can exercise choice on what to include and what to leave out (an important element in sight reading at tempo, especially in playing with or accompanying others). Much of sight-reading includes taking a snapshot of a bar or two and playing it from working memory while reading the next bar or two. You might practise reading a bar or two of music without playing, memorise it quickly, then play it from memory. This is just to exercise your working memory for your reading, not your long term memory, and practising pattern recognition. The rhythm is far more important for good sight-reading than recognising pitches.

So much of piano learning is about doing small amounts each day, almost every day, consistently, and over months and years. This means it's better to divide your daily stint between several activities, like reading, aural training, improvising, memorising, technical drills, and repertory work, a little every day than to divide your week with one or two activites each day.


Richard
Re: sight reading help [Re: zrtf90] #2778638
11/06/18 04:50 AM
11/06/18 04:50 AM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 3
London
J
James1996 Offline OP
Junior Member
James1996  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 3
London
Thanks for all responses guys (insert prayer hands emoji here)

Much appreciated x


smile
Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2778754
11/06/18 01:32 PM
11/06/18 01:32 PM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 11
The Sunshine State
Halaa Offline
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Halaa  Offline
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Posts: 11
The Sunshine State
If your keyboard has midi capabilities, I would highly suggest trying out the free version of Piano Marvel. It won't replace a teacher, but since I've started it my sight reading has already noticeably improved. The exercises also slowly introduce the hands to each other, and I can play my hands together a little just after a week of practicing every day.

One of the other factors I like about PM is that I could never get the hang of the built in metronome on my keyboard, I always found it really invasive and I could not keep to the tempo at all, but the program uses the metronome in a very non invasive way, and I can now play along to it. Again, it's not a replacement for a teacher but it is very good for what it can do.

Last edited by Halaa; 11/06/18 01:33 PM.
Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2778952
11/07/18 11:25 AM
11/07/18 11:25 AM
Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 24
R
Reaper_FBB Offline
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I think the general rule is that you should sight read pieces that are 2 grades below your current grade.

Re: sight reading help [Re: Halaa] #2778967
11/07/18 12:52 PM
11/07/18 12:52 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 701
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Tyrone Slothrop  Online Content
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Originally Posted by Halaa
If your keyboard has midi capabilities, I would highly suggest trying out the free version of Piano Marvel. It won't replace a teacher, but since I've started it my sight reading has already noticeably improved. The exercises also slowly introduce the hands to each other, and I can play my hands together a little just after a week of practicing every day.

One of the other factors I like about PM is that I could never get the hang of the built in metronome on my keyboard, I always found it really invasive and I could not keep to the tempo at all, but the program uses the metronome in a very non invasive way, and I can now play along to it. Again, it's not a replacement for a teacher but it is very good for what it can do.

As far as sight reading goes, as mentioned before, PM also has a sight reading testing feature and in theory you can improve your sight reading by taking this test daily. Unfortunately, it has not really helped me. I think it wasn't designed for subnormal sight-readers like me! blush


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Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2779207
11/08/18 07:04 AM
11/08/18 07:04 AM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 83
Wuustwezel Belgium
Sarah65 Offline
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Wuustwezel Belgium
Download "scoredate", its free and a great help to learn note reading.
https://sourceforge.net/projects/scoredate/files/ScoreDate-3.2/


“The important thing is to feel your music, really feel it and believe it.” -Ray Charles
Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2779260
11/08/18 11:18 AM
11/08/18 11:18 AM
Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 24
R
Reaper_FBB Offline
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Not sure if you're a gamer but I love a bit of Minecraft and I've recently discovered the joys of note blocks.

As such, I've been using the scores from my favourite pieces to build and play the music Minecraft style. There's no sustain and some of the timing is tricky but you can make pieces sound remarkably good. I've completed Einaudi's "I Due Fiumi" and have almost finished his "I Giorni" and I'm really pleased with how they turned out.

More to the point (and back on topic), it's improved my note recognition. You have to place and set every note individually which means that you do a lot of translating from score to notes and the more you do it, the more quickly you pick out which notes are which.

Just thought I'd share something a little out-of-the box:-)

Re: sight reading help [Re: James1996] #2779279
11/08/18 01:01 PM
11/08/18 01:01 PM
Joined: Oct 2018
Posts: 12
Brittany, France
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petebfrance Online content
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Brittany, France
My suggestion would be to get the sheet music for the pieces you already play (you mentioned intermediate and advanced level) and look at them too, see how they relate to the music you know already - as has been mentioned on another thread on the subject, sight-reading (and I think learning new pieces as well, but.) is based largely on pattern recognition..


regards
Pete
Re: sight reading help [Re: Michael P Walsh] #2779453
11/09/18 04:04 AM
11/09/18 04:04 AM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,270
Australia
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earlofmar Offline
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Australia
Originally Posted by Michael P Walsh
There are some books by Paul Harris called 'Improve your sight reading'. They go from pre grade 1 right through to grade 8. Pre grade 1 and grade 1 books are hands separate. Hands together doesn't come in until the grade 2 book. You can buy used copies on ebay or amazon for not very much.
I wouldn't worry about slow progress, some of us are painfully slow.



these books are great, I have about five of them and still go back to the early ones to test myself.

for most of us progress is going to be slow, because sight reading requires a number of skills that take years to develope.


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

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