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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
dogperson #3040426 10/28/20 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
It also only includes Bach, which is not as ideal as playing s variety of music.

Well, I don’t think anyone is suggesting it’s the only sightreading one should do. At the end of the day it’s about learning the mechanics of reading and playing and the exact genre or composer is less important.

It seems to me that the pieces in the book are deliberately selected for rhythmic simplicity, so that the focus is on pitch. There are no dotted notes or rests, for example. Some might complain that this is a limitation. Personally I have no difficulty with rhythm - note pitch recognition is what I struggle with. So I value a resource that isolates and drills that problem.

Because the pieces are counterpoint, the voices move all over the place in a non-obvious manner. You have to read every note of all voices, every time. You can’t cheat by seeing a couple of chords and kind of switching the left hand onto autopilot like you tend to do with other genres.

Strikes me that if you could read this type of music you could read anything.(Excepting more complex rhythms, which is a whole other story.)

The other good thing about it is that four bars per piece is a nice achievable amount per practice session. You can tick one off complete every day for a small amount of effort.


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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
dogperson #3040431 10/28/20 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Pikka
Originally Posted by scirocco
My sight-reading and reading in general is poor. The resource I've found most helpful is Cory Hall's (Bach Scholar) Sight Reading and Harmony book. This is deliberately structured to teach sight-reading.

It has about 150 four-bar snippets of Bach chorales. Each is arranged into four levels of difficulty starting from one note in each hand, half and quarter notes only, up to two notes per hand with eighth notes included.

The beauty of this system is that it lets you pick exactly the right level so that it's hard enough that you are challenged but easy enough you can mostly do it without looking down at your hands. Getting this level right is really, really important to make progress.

If you are reasonable at reading to start with there may be better resources but I think this is really good for someone at a very basic level. It's counterpoint, too, so it doesn't easily stick in the memory, and you can go back to pieces you've played before and it's almost as if they are new.

I got my copy on Amazon but a PDF is also available.

I considered that book. It is expensive!!


It also only includes Bach, which is not as ideal as playing a variety of music.
Definitely true, and since it only includes chorales this makes it IMO boring as well. The best thing is to choose a variety of music you enjoy playing. Most of the best sight readers never "practiced sight" reading.

Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Matze #3040486 10/28/20 11:17 PM
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I have found the Paul Harris series of books Improve Your Sight Reading to be invaluable. They are just small exercises and each book is graded to gradually introduce new concepts. I particularly found the clapping exercises beneficial in helping me to improve my rhythm.


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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
earlofmar #3040489 10/28/20 11:59 PM
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Actually, i bought that exact series, earlofmar. Currently working through book 2, planning on getting all of them

Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
scirocco #3041094 10/30/20 02:13 PM
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I agree this is a good resource and i've been using Bach Scholar (within Piano Marvel) for a while with great success. I am having a bit of a hard time getting pass level three though. I think I am ok enough to move on, but the test is so inconsistent. Next time i take it i'm quite sure i'll pass, but it goes from easy quarter notes to long chopped up scales. Still working at it.

Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Matze #3041162 10/30/20 05:28 PM
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BachScholar’s book is terrific. I share Josh’s Wright’s opinion that it is probably the best sight-reading resource available. And since it’s Bach, even the easier levels sound beautiful and dignified. I use the PDF version on my iPad via the forScore app and spend 15 minutes every morning practicing sight reading. Been doing this for over a year now.

I should mention that if one does the exercises as suggested in the book it will take several years to get through it. It’s not a silver bullet. But it does offer a system that provides consistent incremental improvement over time. Bach Chorales are a great learning tool for this since in their full form (upper levels) there are 4 voices moving independently of each other, which makes sight reading quite challenging, at least for beginners like me.

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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Matze #3041177 10/30/20 06:21 PM
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IMHO: Here are some of the reasons I would venture to other sight reading pieces. Keep the BachScholar if it works for you, but add other styles:
- add pieces with arpeggios
- add pieces with more triads and quads
- add pieces with jumps
- add pieces with varied rhythms and time signature

The goal of sight reading is that it builds your mental library of different rhythms, patterns and styles , making every subsequent time you see that quad, that arpeggio or that run, your recognition is quick. You can’t do that if you stick to one style.


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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Matze #3041206 10/30/20 08:48 PM
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If you can play schubert impromptu then I assume you are reasonably experienced? They are all around grade 8 or actl diploma level so I'm sure your sight reading must be at a reasonable level. It would be strange to be playing sight reading very easy from Paul harris book 2.

I have noticed most adults memorising so this might be the problem. Those of us who never memorise probably have better sight reading as we always read scores. It probably a reflection of poor score reading skills if you struggle to sight read and it's much lower than your playing abilities.

The exam board books gives a few bar example of music and for the first few grades I think this is ok. I did paul harris books until grade 6. Surely book 2 paul harris is very easy, only grade 2 standard?

I think maybe you can get too advanced for this and at your level you can just play different music. I have never played bach carole's or bartok.

Some pieces are sight readable for an intermediate level pianist. I found schubert easy to sight read as it has patterns so why not get a book of schubert. I have one and like to play through them. Often skipping the complex parts!

You could try the other impromptu - the second D899 is scales, the third voice projection and the last rapid right hand passages. You can pick a few bars from this which is fun.

Last edited by Moo :); 10/30/20 08:56 PM.
Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Moo :) #3041242 10/31/20 02:03 AM
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i progressed relatively fast (haven't been playing for two years yet) due to me doing lots of music prior to that (played bass and guitar in bands for 18 years), so i know how to practice, i know how to analyze the structure of a given piece and i am good at memorizing (craming 60+ songs into your head for performance does that). And all of this without former education, couldn't read a single note prior to starting piano in january 2019.

All of that comes together to my sight reading being pretty bad compared to what my repertoire looks like to the point its embarassing. So yeah, that level 2 book is appropiate for me, sadly. Just normal reading is fine though, if i can take my time, there isn't much issue. But pattern recognition and playing under pressure is whats causing me issues

Last edited by Matze; 10/31/20 02:10 AM.
Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Matze #3041295 10/31/20 08:21 AM
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Sightread means different things in different cultures. In Italian (and IIRC French), it is "first sight reading", so it's like reading a book for yourself, perhaps silently. In British, you can skim the material without the instrument before attempting to play. In the part of the USA I've been exposed to, you can play it 7 times and it's the 7th which tells how did it go (perfect = song was too easy, still struggling = song too hard, ok'ish = right level).

These are related, but separate skills, think of reading a book for yourself (first sight), versus reading an announcement to a large group of people (option to skim it before), versus proper public speaking, which verge towards performance, without being fully like that.

In any case, both for language and for music, the very basics is the same: be able to identify AUTOMATICALLY the basic building blocks and AUTOMATICALLY MERGE them into higher level constructs. While you are reading this sentence, you do not "see" the individual letters, and if you are decently good not even the individual words: you get the sentences! Same should be for music but sadly seldom is.

The best way to achieve that BASIC skill I mentioned at the previous paragraph is the same for music and for English: get some "stories", become emotionally attached to them, have somebody read them over and over to you, and then attempt to read them over and over yourself. It works great for both adults and kids, but usually adults can't stand it. Cute furry bear doing funny things, anybody? If you can stand it, you will learn (both a language you don't currently read or music). Ask me how I know it...

Since I suspect you will not be able to stand it, the second best option is to give it some "unnatural" structure, instead of focusing on the meaning and on the emotion as I wrote in the previous paragraph. For that, this book really gets it right and has helped me a lot: https://www.richmanmusicschool.com/products/super-sight-reading-secrets it used to have a printed version https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K2WJGMI/ which you may find in your local libray.

The book is pretty short on exercises (it describes how they should be, but does not give many), and especially lame on the rhythmic part. For rhythm, I used this other book, which is also short on exercises, but is fantastic for the explanation: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1575605155 -- if you struggle even a little bit about rhythm (while reading or not), this book will help a lot.

With these two resources, any random sight reading series you can find on the internet, e.g. Paul Harris' Improve Your Sight-reading! series will be good enough, besides a couple of missing exercises.... For the rhythm one, you can just ignore the pitch of the "random sight reading book" and play only the rhythm. For the pitch, I wrote myself an Android app (which I did not release publicly, at least not yet), but now I digress....

Best of luck!

Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
JJHLH #3041296 10/31/20 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by JJHLH
I should mention that if one does the exercises as suggested in the book it will take several years to get through it. It’s not a silver bullet. But it does offer a system that provides consistent incremental improvement over time. Bach Chorales are a great learning tool for this since in their full form (upper levels) there are 4 voices moving independently of each other, which makes sight reading quite challenging, at least for beginners like me.
The fact that there are four voices is no different from reading any chord with four voices. One does not read the voices independently just because they form a nice melodic line. It's not as if one has to read, for example, the alto line independently when reading the music.

It's good that this book apparently works for you or at least it works better than whatever approach to sight reading, if any, you used before. But I don't think it's particularly desirable for several reasons:
1. There is no rhythmic variety at all to the chorales so that part of sight reading is not developed.
2. I think many people would become incredibly bored sight reading such a limited variety of music even if partly by one of the greatest composers. Bach only wrote the harmonization not the actual hymns. The book is far more limited in scope than sight reading even just the easiest works by Bach, for example. So I think any benefit is limited.
3. Because the focus is so limited, I think any real general sight reading improvement will be limited. One will mostly get much better at sight reading Bach Chorales. I don't think any sight reading improvement will be as great as if one read a much larger variety of music.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/31/20 08:46 AM.
Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
pianoloverus #3041305 10/31/20 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The fact that there are four voices is no different from reading any chord with four voices. One does not read the voices independently just because they form a nice melodic line. It's not as if one has to read, for example, the alto line independently when reading the music.

It's good that this book apparently works for you or at least it works better than whatever approach to sight reading, if any, you used before. But I don't think it's particularly desirable for several reasons:
1. There is no rhythmic variety at all to the chorales so that part of sight reading is not developed.
2. I think many people would become incredibly bored sight reading such a limited variety of music even if partly by one of the greatest composers. Bach only wrote the harmonization not the actual hymns. The book is far more limited in scope than sight reading even just the easiest works by Bach, for example. So I think any benefit is limited.
3. Because the focus is so limited, I think any real general sight reading improvement will be limited. One will mostly get much better at sight reading Bach Chorales. I don't think any sight reading improvement will be as great as if one read a much larger variety of music.

I respectfully disagree.

The book is inexpensive, much less than a single piano lesson. For something as important as learning how to sight read people could do far worse than to buy a copy to see if it works for themselves. I don’t think they can do better.

It’s also a great way to become comfortable playing in many different key signatures, something that can be intimidating to beginners at first.

And there is a lot of variety to the note values: sixteenths, eights, quarters notes, half notes, dotted notes etc.

I wouldn’t think people would get so easily bored with Bach unless they dislike some of the greatest music ever composed.


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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
JJHLH #3041319 10/31/20 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by JJHLH
I respectfully disagree.

The book is inexpensive, much less than a single piano lesson. For something as important as learning how to sight read people could do far worse than to buy a copy to see if it works for themselves. I don’t think they can do better.

It’s also a great way to become comfortable playing in many different key signatures, something that can be intimidating to beginners at first.

And there is a lot of variety to the note values: sixteenths, eights, quarters notes, half notes, dotted notes etc.

I wouldn’t think people would get so easily bored with Bach unless they dislike some of the greatest music ever composed.
OK, but
1. Bach didn't compose this music; he just harmonized the melodies. They are IMO far less interesting than his real compositions.
2. What you describe as variety to the note values is still far less complex the rhythms in most music.
3. The key signatures have far less variety than much of the piano literature.

For someone near the beginning of learning piano, the very simplified and restricted type of music in this book might be very good and maybe you are in that category. But I don't think this kind of book makes much sense beyond the first one of two years of study on average. I also agree with you that, for the price, one is not taking a big chance. I do suspect the are sight reading books geared towards beginners that have a lot more variety in them.

Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
pianoloverus #3041324 10/31/20 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
OK, but
1. Bach didn't compose this music; he just harmonized the melodies. They are IMO far less interesting than his real compositions.
2. What you describe as variety to the note values is still far less complex the rhythms in most music.
3. The key signatures have far less variety than much of the piano literature.

For someone near the beginning of learning piano, the very simplified and restricted type of music in this book might be very good and maybe you are in that category. But I don't think this kind of book makes much sense beyond the first one of two years of study on average. I also agree with you that, for the price, one is not taking a big chance. I do suspect the are sight reading books geared towards beginners that have a lot more variety in them.

Have you bought and used the book yourself?

I generally don’t dismiss things out of hand unless I have first hand experience trying it for myself.


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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Matze #3041341 10/31/20 11:33 AM
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Del Vento, regarding the meaning of sight reading, the way my teacher has me sight read is very different from just reading. She emphasizes interpretation and grasping the character of the piece. It is similar to actors doing what they call a "cold reading" in an audition, where you do a scene with a script you've not seen before. A cold reading is not a test of whether you can read. Literacy is expected.

What is being tested is the ability to quickly understand the scene and get into character on the spot, and it shows how you think. Many adults can immediately do animal voices when reading to a child, without having read the book before. That's because the content is simple.

Most of the online discussion about sight reading is really about reading. A deficiency in reading music is easily revealed when a person has not had time to decipher notation in advance. But revealing poor reading skills is not the purpose of sight reading. Several people have remarked that they never had to be taught sight reading. That's because getting the notes right is just reading fluently, you don't have to study "sight reading" as a separate subject for that.

Last edited by wszxbcl; 10/31/20 11:35 AM.
Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
wszxbcl #3041357 10/31/20 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Most of the online discussion about sight reading is really about reading. A deficiency in reading music is easily revealed when a person has not had time to decipher notation in advance. But revealing poor reading skills is not the purpose of sight reading. Several people have remarked that they never had to be taught sight reading. That's because getting the notes right is just reading fluently, you don't have to study "sight reading" as a separate subject for that.
Most, like myself, who don't think one should "practice" sight reading, say that because they think most good sight readers got that way just by playing a lot of music for pleasure. Sight reading musically as opposed to just reading the notes and rhythms like a midi comes more and more naturally as one's musical ability develops. The purpose of sight reading is not to reveal poor reading skills or poor anything.

Sight reading means playing the music with the score for the first time. It has nothing to do with how well one does that with respect to the notes/rhythms/tempo or how musical one's performance is or whether one stops sometimes. When people use the term "reading" they generally mean playing with the score whether it's the first time or100th time although if they are talking about the first time they usually say "sight reading". The phrase "prima vista sight reading" is redundant. I have never heard anyone make the distinction you gave in your post between "reading" and "sight reading" although it's good that your teacher encourages you to play musically all the time.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/31/20 12:16 PM.
Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
wszxbcl #3041362 10/31/20 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Del Vento, regarding the meaning of sight reading, the way my teacher has me sight read is very different from just reading. She emphasizes interpretation and grasping the character of the piece. It is similar to actors doing what they call a "cold reading" in an audition, where you do a scene with a script you've not seen before. A cold reading is not a test of whether you can read. Literacy is expected.

What is being tested is the ability to quickly understand the scene and get into character on the spot, and it shows how you think. Many adults can immediately do animal voices when reading to a child, without having read the book before. That's because the content is simple.

Most of the online discussion about sight reading is really about reading. A deficiency in reading music is easily revealed when a person has not had time to decipher notation in advance. But revealing poor reading skills is not the purpose of sight reading. Several people have remarked that they never had to be taught sight reading. That's because getting the notes right is just reading fluently, you don't have to study "sight reading" as a separate subject for that.


I’m sorry but you are making an assumption about how others were taught and how they were judged on sight reading. I was expected not to just know the notes and rhythm, but to play it musically and with a suitable interpretation of the music. All at sight. I ‘learned to sightread’ by playing a ton of different kinds of music. My teacher evaluated how I was doing by playing duets. She never said ‘I want to evaluate your sight reading’; she always said ‘let’s play a duet together’ and would drag out something totally new. If I did not play musically she would say “let’s start over; when you play together you should be playing it based on the dynamics and the interpretation of the peace as well as the notes and rhythm’.

This did not take special training.


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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Matze #3041364 10/31/20 12:29 PM
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I agree with what you guys say about BachScholar. What Everyone is saying.

It should be one tool. My journey has been the combination of many tools - I'm about one year in.

I use Piano Marvel Technique and Method, Alfred's (on book 2), and I'm using Bach Scholar. I also work on songs in the library. (BTW I mostly just did the end of book songs on book 1. It would have taken much longer otherwise)

I think BachScholar is just a tool to be combined with other tools. It's good for predictable but consistent practice. For level 3, it's quite boring some times. Level 4 is much better (hands combined) but for strictly learning where the notes are and building that immediate memory, it has helped. But there isn't much beyond this very basic building of the muscle to help you find the notes.

I think it's useful still, after taking all of this into account.

Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
wszxbcl #3041368 10/31/20 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by wszxbcl
A deficiency in reading music is easily revealed when a person has not had time to decipher notation in advance. But revealing poor reading skills is not the purpose of sight reading. Several people have remarked that they never had to be taught sight reading. That's because getting the notes right is just reading fluently, you don't have to study "sight reading" as a separate subject for that.

Completely agree.


Reading Skills and Sight-Reading Skills are the same skills.

You just have to be much better at it in order to be good at Sight-Reading.

When you are reading music, you should be doing more than recognizing that "This note on the page means I press this key down".

That is a very low level of reading skill.

You also need skill at recognizing groups of notes that form a DbMinor chord so you can immediately play that DbMinor chord instead of thinking separately of the notes Db,F,Ab .... and other things like that.

Actually practicing sight-reading should probably include more than just playing piece after piece which you have never seen before.

It probably should contain "hints" from a qualified instructor as to how you could have done better had you known that certain portions of the score were made up of "chords" and could have been played easier with that knowledge.

And then .... the next piece should contain those same elements to give you an opportunity to practice what you just learned.

Playing random sheets of music is probably less effective.

Of course, any reading helps you get better even if it is presented in a less effective format.

So, if you like to "Sight-Read" .... knock yourself out ... It all helps to improve you skill at playing piano.



BTW .....I am curious about how necessary it is to actually become a good sight-reader.

I would like to see a "show of hands" of how many users have actually been REQUIRED to do sight-reading AT A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL in the last 3 months. I am guessing ... NONE.

I will define REQUIRED to do sight-reading as .....

You were not given access to the notation more than 15 minutes prior to the "GIG".

Last edited by dmd; 10/31/20 12:49 PM.

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Re: Your favorite sightreading resources?
Matze #3041400 10/31/20 01:38 PM
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I think in the sight reading in the exam I got to play through it once in the preparation time and then the second was for the exam. The debate into what is sight reading and what is reading I thought was a little pointless especially as I always had two goes even in the exam!

OP i think the paul harris series is helpful. You learn lots of skills - rhythms to clap, sight reading examples and then one example for the lesson with a few theory questions. I think anything else is not needed.

I think if you are sight reading at a low standard like grade 2 then probably you need these method books. I think the only other resources you need is a book with sight reading examples for the grade you are doing but really that is more than enough.

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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
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Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
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