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Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2833364
03/31/19 12:24 PM
03/31/19 12:24 PM
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by Elian
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by KevinM
I was assuming with a self taught learner the OP was probably just thinking of sight reading as learning to play a piece by reading the sheet music. I could well be wrong with my assumption.

Yes, based on context, I also just assumed the OP accidentally misused the term "sight-reading" and was only referring to "reading."

nope, I literally meant like playing a piece I've never seen before. smile

So you are only counting the first time you try the piece and not any subsequent attempts? Well then, indeed that is sight-reading!


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Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2833381
03/31/19 01:10 PM
03/31/19 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Elian
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by KevinM
I was assuming with a self taught learner the OP was probably just thinking of sight reading as learning to play a piece by reading the sheet music. I could well be wrong with my assumption.

Yes, based on context, I also just assumed the OP accidentally misused the term "sight-reading" and was only referring to "reading."


nope, I literally meant like playing a piece I've never seen before. smile

As some others have said, if you're a beginner, there's no need to worry about sight-reading too much. That will improve with developing reading skills. Incidentally, it's not just intervals, you also need to recognise actual individual notes on the staves and know where they are on the keyboard without having to 'count notes'.

But again, that comes with familiarity - with the topography of the keyboard as well as the location of notes on the staves, and the location of accidentals. Get used to playing in the easy keys (no more than one accidental) first, including their scales.

Incidentally, if you look at the ABRSM syllabus (https://gb.abrsm.org/fileadmin/user_upload/PDFs/Piano_Syllabus_2019___2020_complete.pdf ), you'll see that at Grade 1 (which takes the average student one year to achieve), the pieces and sight-reading tests only require one accidental. And the pieces are mostly single notes in each hand. Only at Grade 2 is D major included.

So, I think you're also suffering from the common adult malady of expecting too much of yourself, far too soon.


"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: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2833510
03/31/19 06:37 PM
03/31/19 06:37 PM
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I play in the music group. The group leader makes us play the scale of the piece we're working on with our instruments. When we're doing a piece in D with 2 sharps, we'd run the scale a few times to get the notes in our heads.

Once you get the F# & C# in your head, every time you come across the F or C with nothing beside it, you automatically play a black key. Part of it is ear training too. The first thing I'd read is the Key Signature so I have an idea which notes should be played with a black key. You run the piece enough times you get the tune in your head and you know when you played a white key that is supposed to be a black key. You just don't get the right sound. The end of the day ear training is as important as sight. When I play a chord I know right away if it doesn't sound right 1 of the notes must be wrong. In the beginning practically everybody write in names of notes or finger numbers. I still circle notes and write in # & b for jazzy pieces that has a few sharps & flats added in. If you know a piece well you can just fill-in the notes off your head without doing much reading.

Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Morodiene] #2833566
03/31/19 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
How long have you been playing? How many pieces have you played with sharps or flats in the key signature? Sight reading is all about recognizing patterns - which includes scales and chords in a particular key - but if you haven't learned a lot of pieces in those keys, then sight reading them will be very difficult.

Sight reading is one of those things that I think many adult students obsess about unnecessarily. It is far more important in the first few years to learn lots of music on a deep level. Then the sight reading will be much easier to work on because it becomes a matter of recalling what you've already played somewhere else.



This is my favorite post ever about sight reading!


Learner
Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2833590
03/31/19 10:30 PM
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Sight Reading is just one of those things that takes lots of DAILY practice. I doing lots of reading you develop the skill of keep the key signature in the background of your mind. Sight Reading also is more about training your eyes to see and recognize rhythmic patterns, chords, arpeggios, scale fragments, intervals and to do that is a matter of reading a lot. Good sight reader are reading measures ahead of where they are playing so to do that you have be able to see and recognize common rhythms and etc I mentioned. You basically learn to scan music recognizing common things so you can spot the unusual and give it some time to mentally work it out. You got to a studio session, band, and I imagine a orchestra is the same when music is passed out you hear silence as everyone starts scanning the music for the minute(s) they have looking for those unusual bits. Once again that is skill you develop from reading a lot of music and reading daily.

My old buddy from my working days as a guitar played in Don Ellis Jazz big band which mainly did very complex polyrhythmic music and it was all written. He buddy after he left Don Ellis got into doing studio work and even after Don Ellis he would still practice sight reading everyday even if only for a a little bit. Sight reading is one of those skills that if you don't use it you start losing it.

I'm still a beginner on piano, but on guitar and bass I can say practicing sight reading not only developed that skill, but I learn so much about my instrument and its layout. Because when you're sight reading you can't be looking at the piano in this case and be looking at the music, you have to one learn to use the piano in your head and to keep track of where you are and develop you subconscious ability to know where you are on the fretboard or keyboard so you only have to peek for big movements.

So practice sight reading daily and remember it mainly about training your eyes.

Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: malkin] #2833695
04/01/19 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by Morodiene
How long have you been playing? How many pieces have you played with sharps or flats in the key signature? Sight reading is all about recognizing patterns - which includes scales and chords in a particular key - but if you haven't learned a lot of pieces in those keys, then sight reading them will be very difficult.

Sight reading is one of those things that I think many adult students obsess about unnecessarily. It is far more important in the first few years to learn lots of music on a deep level. Then the sight reading will be much easier to work on because it becomes a matter of recalling what you've already played somewhere else.



This is my favorite post ever about sight reading!


+1
Imo, practicing sight reading without an understanding of music is similar to trying to fluently read aloud a book written in an unknown foreign language. If a reader knows the graphical symbols, he would be able spell out individual letters, then syllables and, with experience, maybe even read aloud individual words in a convincing way. However, the reader will never be able to automatically identify and predict words, outline whole sentences and the logical structures behind them. The worst part of it s that the reader would not understand the underlying meaning of what he is reading and will have major issues articulating and intonating the spoken text in a convincing way. This applies from reading aloud a children's book to a poetry book. So, unless the results are supposed to sound like a cold and robotic interpretation, I believe that there are plenty of requirements for playing music prima vista that need to be deeply learned first...

Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2833701
04/01/19 06:35 AM
04/01/19 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

So you are only counting the first time you try the piece and not any subsequent attempts? Well then, indeed that is sight-reading!


That's certainly what the ABRSM exams mean by "sight reading"! You get 30 seconds to look at the music, and then you have to play it.


Chris

Yamaha P-515, Yamaha Reface CP.
Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2834857
04/03/19 01:56 PM
04/03/19 01:56 PM
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So practice is key. OK, got it, so an honest thanks to all those of you who tried to help and formulated your answers in order to be as complete and friendly as possible. smile

I kinda suspected patience-practice-perseverance was the holy trinity here, but wasn't sure if that's how piano pros do it in order to be able to sit at the piano and play something they've never seen in their lives or if it's some sort of technique they teach you in music school.

Oh, and for those of you who mentioned having music theory knowledge, 'walk before you run' type of thing, I do have a good grasp on music theory (studied it for almost 12 years) and most certainly know how to read notes when I see them. I just needed some guidance applying music theory to playing an instrument, that's all. smile

Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2834874
04/03/19 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Elian
So practice is key. OK, got it, so an honest thanks to all those of you who tried to help and formulated your answers in order to be as complete and friendly as possible. smile

I kinda suspected patience-practice-perseverance was the holy trinity here, but wasn't sure if that's how piano pros do it in order to be able to sit at the piano and play something they've never seen in their lives or if it's some sort of technique they teach you in music school.

Those 'piano pros' who can sit down and just play whatever someone plonks down on the music rest have had years and years of reading unfamiliar music. BTW, not just pros, but most amateurs who love to play through music they've never seen or heard before (and have played through lots and lots of it, over years and years) can also do it.

Just like you can plonk a volume of Anna Karenina on your music rest and read it straight off (assuming you've never read it before) - because you've had years and years of practice at reading English.

Quote
Oh, and for those of you who mentioned having music theory knowledge, 'walk before you run' type of thing, I do have a good grasp on music theory (studied it for almost 12 years) and most certainly know how to read notes when I see them. I just needed some guidance applying music theory to playing an instrument, that's all. smile

I hate to say it, but deep knowledge of music theory won't help you with sight-reading, except possibly with playing from lead sheets, where you're actually reading chord indications, not actual notes on staves - and even that relies on complete familiarity with the keyboard's topography.

Every time you read through a new piece (whether easy or hard), you improve your sight-reading skills, because you gain a little more familiarity at transferring squiggles on paper to keys on piano keyboard.


"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: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: bennevis] #2835552
04/05/19 06:43 AM
04/05/19 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Those 'piano pros' who can sit down and just play whatever someone plonks down on the music rest have had years and years of reading unfamiliar music. BTW, not just pros, but most amateurs who love to play through music they've never seen or heard before (and have played through lots and lots of it, over years and years) can also do it.

Just like you can plonk a volume of Anna Karenina on your music rest and read it straight off (assuming you've never read it before) - because you've had years and years of practice at reading English.


Yes, that is exactly what I wanted to find out, if it's the years of reading music or if they have certain shortcuts or trade secrets so to speak. smile
It is now very clear to me that it is indeed how I suspected and those people have been reading sheet music and playing piano for many years.

Originally Posted by bennevis
I hate to say it, but deep knowledge of music theory won't help you with sight-reading, except possibly with playing from lead sheets, where you're actually reading chord indications, not actual notes on staves - and even that relies on complete familiarity with the keyboard's topography.

Every time you read through a new piece (whether easy or hard), you improve your sight-reading skills, because you gain a little more familiarity at transferring squiggles on paper to keys on piano keyboard.


Yep, that I know. However, I consider music theory (at least at a basic level) to be the building block for playing any instrument. The only reason I mentioned music theory was because I noticed some replies hinted towards it and I wanted to be clear for everyone I do have a good grasp on music theory, so the lack of it isn't what's hindering my progress. smile

Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2835560
04/05/19 07:35 AM
04/05/19 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Elian


Yep, that I know. However, I consider music theory (at least at a basic level) to be the building block for playing any instrument. The only reason I mentioned music theory was because I noticed some replies hinted towards it and I wanted to be clear for everyone I do have a good grasp on music theory, so the lack of it isn't what's hindering my progress. smile


The theory in itself is not necessary helpful but what is, is the anticipation of harmonies and chords or even melodic movements. The prior acquaintance with the style of a composer helps as well as it reduces the number of "surprises". The cadential movements follow usual patterns in a given period/composer. So obviously in classic music you would expect some form of II-V-I to appear when performing a PAC. Similarly for half cadences and so on. That is also part of experience and years of practice.

Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2835705
04/05/19 12:41 PM
04/05/19 12:41 PM
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First thing I'd recommend is to find a good teacher. Even if you only see him/her once a month they could offer some good guidance and help steer you toward pieces and exercises best suited to your needs.
If this isn't an option, then I second what many people have already suggested: practice the scales and get comfortable with them. Another thing that might help is to follow the circle of fifths with the pieces you learn (i.e. one piece in C major, next in G, next in D, etc.). This type of thing just takes time. Keep at it and you'll eventually get it. Good luck!

Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: D959] #2835711
04/05/19 12:57 PM
04/05/19 12:57 PM
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LarryK Online content
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Originally Posted by D959
First thing I'd recommend is to find a good teacher. Even if you only see him/her once a month they could offer some good guidance and help steer you toward pieces and exercises best suited to your needs.
If this isn't an option, then I second what many people have already suggested: practice the scales and get comfortable with them. Another thing that might help is to follow the circle of fifths with the pieces you learn (i.e. one piece in C major, next in G, next in D, etc.). This type of thing just takes time. Keep at it and you'll eventually get it. Good luck!


I agree with the idea of finding a teacher, although I don’t know how easy it will be to find one for only once a month. I found a teacher who will see me twice a month. After my first lesson, I can say that I’m glad I spent only a few months trying to teach myself and not longer, as it is clear that I have no idea what I’m doing and have already picked up bad habits.


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Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: LarryK] #2835714
04/05/19 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
although I don’t know how easy it will be to find one for only once a month.

I highly doubt one could find a teacher who is not themselves a student (say at the conservatory) who would agree to just one day a month. That would entirely trash the schedule of most anyone who is teaching professionally and earning their primary income from teaching piano.


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"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2835791
04/05/19 04:00 PM
04/05/19 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by LarryK
although I don’t know how easy it will be to find one for only once a month.

I highly doubt one could find a teacher who is not themselves a student (say at the conservatory) who would agree to just one day a month. That would entirely trash the schedule of most anyone who is teaching professionally and earning their primary income from teaching piano.

I disagree. My teacher teaches kids at a music school but also has a private studio at home and it's obvious his schedule is not packed. There are no students before or after me. He easily accomodates schedule changes and, although I have weekly lessons, I'm pretty sure he would agree to less regular arrangements.

If you live in a decent-sized city there are many possibilities for having a teacher once a month. There might be semi-retired professors, or artists teaching as a side job, or conservatory students as you noted. Those are not bad options.


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Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Qazsedcft] #2835807
04/05/19 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by LarryK
although I don’t know how easy it will be to find one for only once a month.

I highly doubt one could find a teacher who is not themselves a student (say at the conservatory) who would agree to just one day a month. That would entirely trash the schedule of most anyone who is teaching professionally and earning their primary income from teaching piano.

I disagree. My teacher teaches kids at a music school but also has a private studio at home and it's obvious his schedule is not packed. There are no students before or after me. He easily accomodates schedule changes and, although I have weekly lessons, I'm pretty sure he would agree to less regular arrangements.

If you live in a decent-sized city there are many possibilities for having a teacher once a month. There might be semi-retired professors, or artists teaching as a side job, or conservatory students as you noted. Those are not bad options.


I guess it all depends on the teacher and how much they value a steady cash-flow. My classical guitar teacher is very flexible and sees some advanced students every few months. He’s a great player and a graduate of Juilliard. After about nine years of weekly lessons, we’ve recent switches to having lessons every other week.

Of course, what happens between lsssons is the most important part of the learning process. I’m as likely to skip a day of practice as I am to skip brushing my teeth. Even with that, I’m not a virtuoso guitar player but I am always moving forward, even if it’s only a few inches a week.

Travel can mess up consistent practice which is why I have a cheap guitar stashed in the places where I usually end up, at my mom’s, my in-laws, and I have a travel guitar. I’m new to studying piano so I don’t have a backup plan for that yet when I travel. I suppose a little Yamaha Reface CP would do the trick.

Last edited by LarryK; 04/05/19 04:46 PM.

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Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2835816
04/05/19 05:14 PM
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There's a rule of thumb that you should be able to sight read material two levels below your current grade. So, if you're at level 3, you should be able to read level 1 material. By my arithmetic, if you're at level 1 or 2, you shouldn't stress out about sight reading. You'll get to it later on. It's just not something to begin with.


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Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: Elian] #2835842
04/05/19 06:15 PM
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Travel is the killer. I visited my Mum to take her to an appointment and that meant I missed two evening practises and one morning practise this week, and I will be away from home for the next weeks so April is going to be poor. Little progress will be made.

Actually it is not even the progress, I almost don’t care, I just miss playing and practising.


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Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: KevinM] #2835879
04/05/19 07:19 PM
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I agree with the advice to regularly practice scales. I do so in 3 octaves. With my lessons on hold, I thought I'd challenge myself to use a metronome. I increase the speed by 2 each day. After a few weeks, my proficiency between the major scales with sharps vs. with flats are nearly equal.

I also found great value in participating in the 40 Piece a Year Challenge. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend getting into that type of program.

Practice every day with a specific goal in mind for the week and you'll see improvements. Have fun!


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Re: Piano beginner sight reading question [Re: LarryK] #2835957
04/06/19 03:50 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
I agree with the idea of finding a teacher, although I don’t know how easy it will be to find one for only once a month. I found a teacher who will see me twice a month. After my first lesson, I can say that I’m glad I spent only a few months trying to teach myself and not longer, as it is clear that I have no idea what I’m doing and have already picked up bad habits.


I had exactly the same experience. I thought that I was doing quite reasonably going through "Albert's Adult Piano Course" on my own, but in my first lesson, my teacher pointed out major flaws in the technique I'd developed on my own. In particular, I wasn't playing with a smooth legato style. Now that I'm doing so my playing sounds 1000x better! I think that being entirely self-taught as a complete beginner is a recipe for disaster. A teacher is essential.


Chris

Yamaha P-515, Yamaha Reface CP.
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