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Learning to sight read
#2971822 04/26/20 01:51 PM
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I am trying to improve my sight reading by going through a sight reading series by Paul Harris. He keeps saying "try to hear it in your head" before playing. I find I can't "hear it" without playing it. Is there any way to learn this?

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Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2971832 04/26/20 02:12 PM
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Perhaps try solfege?


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Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2971844 04/26/20 02:30 PM
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Similar to ‘solfege’ , but simpler: try singing it with any sound/word you like. It will not be accurate (or pretty), when you first do this—- but keep at it and it will get easier and better.

The trick to improving at sight reading is to simply sightread LOTS of music. Is there some style of music you like but rarely play? Get an anthology, and play away. When I took piano as a kid, lessons were only classical but I played around with current pop, pop anthologies and Broadway music at home. Lots of it.

Looking for music? The internet and eBay are good resources: the internet for free arrangement and eBay for cheap, bulk boxes of scores.


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Re: Learning to sight read
dogperson #2971849 04/26/20 02:45 PM
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I am studying the music from the beginnings of jazz and blues and I want to be able to sight read the music that has been scanned and put in digital libraries. One problem that I have with singing the tones is that I have a narrow voice range and I run out slightly above middle C. It is confusing for me to try to sing it an octave lower.

Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2971860 04/26/20 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by George S
I am studying the music from the beginnings of jazz and blues and I want to be able to sight read the music that has been scanned and put in digital libraries. One problem that I have with singing the tones is that I have a narrow voice range and I run out slightly above middle C. It is confusing for me to try to sing it an octave lower.


Don’t worry about the notes you can’t sing—- you are not trying to develop your singing skill. Sing the notes you can reach and keep moving


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2971866 04/26/20 03:30 PM
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I'm not sure what he means. He wants you to be able to sightsing to help you sightread? Sightsinging is a lot more difficult (for pitch), and I don't mean going outsideyour vocal range. You need to at least hear the pitch in your head when you see a note on the page. That's harder for most people to do than being able to press the right key.
Piano sightreading is difficult cos it's both hands together, each hand may be playing chords. How do you sing both hands and chords (in your vocal range)?

Last edited by wszxbcl; 04/26/20 03:32 PM.
Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2971882 04/26/20 04:18 PM
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While the ability to sight sing a melodic line might be useful for sight reading(if the piece has a singable melodic line), I think it is a separate skill and not something one should emphasize when working on one's sight reading.

Re: Learning to sight read
dogperson #2971893 04/26/20 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
The trick to improving at sight reading is to simply sightread LOTS of music.
Shampoo, rinse, repeat; shampoo, rinse, repeat; etc., ad infinitum.

Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2971906 04/26/20 04:51 PM
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Agree with most people's disagreement of hearing it in your head (as I'm not sure how this translates to finger movement), and also agree with lots of practice.
One thing to aim for is knowing your way around the keyboard by feel, only looking down to make large leaps, and keeping your eye on the music, chin up.
Another thing to aim for is to read notes not in isolation but in relation to the note previous to it (ie identifying the interval).
Both things take lots of practice.
Ensure you know the key/time signature of the piece and any changes to those within the music prior to starting.

Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2971989 04/26/20 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by George S
I am trying to improve my sight reading by going through a sight reading series by Paul Harris. He keeps saying "try to hear it in your head" before playing. I find I can't "hear it" without playing it. Is there any way to learn this?
,
Yeah this confused me as well when I first started these books years ago. While some people can audiate, I am not sure I could put the required work into developing this skill, or that it would substantially contribute to my end goals.

What has changed over the years is while I don't pre-hear the exercise par se, I now have such a good handle on the rhythm that there is a ''monotone play through'' going on in my head as I approach an exercise. For a long time I concentrated on note and interval identification and not enough time on the clapping exercises in the book. Having changed my approach has really helped.

Only the newer Paul Harris books note this but as most of mine are older I did not know this until recently. You can hear and download recordings of all exercises here


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Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2972006 04/26/20 08:54 PM
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There really isn't a mystery as to how to learn to site read: site read.

Between my 20s, when I stopped classical lessons, and my 50s, when I started jazz lessons, I was too lazy to practice, but I loved to play. So I bought (no Internet back then!) tons of sheet music. Great American song book, pop, broadway, etc. If I could site read a tune, I did. If it was too hard, I skipped it. After several years, I became a very good site reader. I never tried to hear the music in my heard, although tunes were easier to site read if I knew them.

Re: Learning to sight read
jjo #2972157 04/27/20 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by jjo
After several years, I became a very good site reader.

This is an important element. It takes time. Don't expect to notice any relevant improvement in a couple of months

Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2972170 04/27/20 08:39 AM
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The ability to 'hear the music in your head' from looking at the score is of no relevance when it comes to sight-reading a piece on the piano.

Aural skills, audiation, sight-singing - all those are separate skills which all musicians should develop (especially if learning an unpitched instrument). But when it comes to sight-reading a piece on the piano, what matters is the ability to quickly take in and relate what you see on the page to the keys on the keyboard.

Sight-reading skills develop gradually, from lots of........sight-reading. Sight-read everything you can get your hands on. It's never been easier to get hold of free sheet music (especially from IMSLP).


"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: Learning to sight read
George S #2972278 04/27/20 01:19 PM
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Most of the best sight readers never "practiced" sight reading.

Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2972391 04/27/20 06:34 PM
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There's reading and there is sight reading. Where, when I came up sight reading meant available for someone to hand you a piece of music you get to scan it for a minute and then play it and nail most of it first time through. A lot of becoming a good sight reading is what I call 'eye training" learning to look at music and recognize rhythms and melodic fragment as a unit, like reading this post you not see r-e-a-d-i-n-g you seeing the whole word and instantly know the word and what it mens. Sight reading you need to be able to look at rhythms and know them like reading a word in print. Look and the notes and see scale fragment, arpeggio, chord X, gliss from here to there, the more you can look and recognize instantly the more you can look ahead of where you're playing. Now building up that vocabulary of rhythms and melodic fragment comes from reading lot and lots of music and training your eyes to recognize those things like if recognizes the words I'm typing. Sightreading is also like working out in the gym if you don't do it everyday for a bit you start losing the skill. Good sight readers like people with really good ears tend to be people with excellent memories. The better your memory is the better tyou remember pitch and musical fragments and know what they sound like.

Now I'd say most people who say they can sight read read mean they just read music and with some time can take the ink and play it.

Re: Learning to sight read
MrShed #2972398 04/27/20 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MrShed
There's reading and there is sight reading. Where, when I came up sight reading meant available for someone to hand you a piece of music you get to scan it for a minute and then play it and nail most of it first time through.
"Nailing it" has nothing to do with sight reading. Even if you make many errors you are still sight reading the piece but just a poor level. That's why it makes sense to say there are good sight readers and bad sight readers.

Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2972577 04/28/20 09:00 AM
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Thanks for all the information. There is a lot for me to think about here. One question that occurs to me - is this related to what they call mental practice? I have read that I am supposed to be doing this, but I have never had any great success in this.

Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2972583 04/28/20 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by George S
Thanks for all the information. There is a lot for me to think about here. One question that occurs to me - is this related to what they call mental practice? I have read that I am supposed to be doing this, but I have never had any great success in this.
No, don't get sidetracked by fancy stuff dreamt up by people who're better at dreaming than playing.

You need to familiarize yourself with the topography of the keyboard so that you have a position sense of where the notes are (proprioception) and you have to keep practicing - preferably playing real music with appealing melodies, not computer-generated rubbish that you find in so-called "sight-reading practice" books which have little relevance to real music.

That's because after you've got the hang of individual notes (so that when you see a G4 in the score, you can instantly play that note on the piano without reference to anything else, like counting intervals or keys from a familiar one) and their note values (don't forget that's equally important), the next step is getting familiar with patterns: chords of two notes, then three notes, then four notes; and scalar ones (which is why knowledge of your scales help in sight-reading) and arpeggios (ditto). The sort of stuff that abounds in real music.

Experienced sight-readers see groups of notes (vertically and horizontally) and instantly know how to play them, just like you can read & understand the word "incomprehensible" immediately without having to 'see' each individual letter.

Therefore, keep sight-reading - every day. For fun. There is no substitute for regular sight-reading to become good at sight-reading.


"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: Learning to sight read
George S #2972585 04/28/20 10:07 AM
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One thing that I take from all the comments is that sight singing, audiation, and sight reading (or sight playing) are separate skills. While these skills are complimentary, most of the time you need to concentrate on one skill to have any success in learning it. Several people connect the recognition of repeated patterns with sight reading. Doesn't this depend on the type of music you play? I primarily play blues and jazz and the sight reading exercises are mainly classical. May I should concentrate on sight reading jazz?

Re: Learning to sight read
George S #2972587 04/28/20 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by George S
Several people connect the recognition of repeated patterns with sight reading. Doesn't this depend on the type of music you play? I primarily play blues and jazz and the sight reading exercises are mainly classical. May I should concentrate on sight reading jazz?
Blues & jazz is all about chords.

You might be better off studying jazz harmony and chords, and learning to play from lead sheets, and playing by ear.

If you have no interest in classical, I recommend that you ask the same question in the Non-Classical Forum to find out how the jazzers, poppers, bluesers etc do it. They all reside there.


"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."
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