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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Animisha
[...]
I chose pieces that are well below my level, and work with them until they are almost at performance level, which doesn't take very long. I even make a recording of the nicest ones. I work with all kind of pieces, and I encounter lots of new stuff. And I learn the rhythms, and I learn the note patterns, and it feels as a true learning experience. cool

This suggests to me that the pieces you are working on that you say are "well below [your] level" are pieces that actually represent your current level. If this is not the case, then how do you work on new pieces that are at what you consider your level?

Regards,

Hi Bruce!

With easy pieces, I go rather quickly from playing them badly to playing them well. I work on them maybe fifteen minutes per day, and have them at performance level usually in less than a week. I feel that it is a learning experience because there may have been some struggles, usually with rhythm or with coordination, and usually it both takes me a bit of time to figure out how I should play and then to practise to play this well.

With pieces at my level, this is quite different. Hands separately for several sessions, one phrase at the time. Sometimes one motif at the time - or even less. Lots of focused practising of difficult spots. Dynamics, phrasing, it all needs work. Then a phase in which I alternate hands separate and hands together. Finally the polishing phase. Half an hour per day for three to five weeks (more or less). And my teacher is usually satisfied with my work, if not the first time I submit a piece, then the second time. So I don't think these pieces are above my level.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
Half an hour per day for three to five weeks (more or less).

Cannot edit any more. But on second thought, usually not quite that much. Two to three weeks maybe?


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Originally Posted by Animisha
With easy pieces, I go rather quickly from playing them badly to playing them well. I work on them maybe fifteen minutes per day, and have them at performance level usually in less than a week. I feel that it is a learning experience because there may have been some struggles, usually with rhythm or with coordination, and usually it both takes me a bit of time to figure out how I should play and then to practise to play this well.

With pieces at my level, this is quite different. Hands separately for several sessions, one phrase at the time. Sometimes one motif at the time - or even less. Lots of focused practising of difficult spots. Dynamics, phrasing, it all needs work. Then a phase in which I alternate hands separate and hands together. Finally the polishing phase. Half an hour per day for three to five weeks (more or less). And my teacher is usually satisfied with my work, if not the first time I submit a piece, then the second time. So I don't think these pieces are above my level.
I think you should consider learning pieces in between these two levels. The first seems inappropriately easy and the second may be too hard. All this should be discussed with your teacher if you have one.

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Advanced pieces I don't expect to get to a performance level reading the first time. Every piece has a learning curve from a few days to a few months.

Fortunately a majority of pieces a student would play other students & teachers already posted recordings online. We don't need to learn "Minuet in G" from scratch. We can listen to other recordings first to get some idea how fast the tempo should be, the dynamics & phrasing, etc.

My last piece the counting is in 12/8 but has a regular pulse. Once you get the beat, it's straightforward. The piece has a lot of sustained notes. You see long notes with shorter notes over them. Have 4 fingers available when holding a long note.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Animisha, I'm doing the same thing you are (in addition to regular sight reading). I call it "quick studies". Basically, you take a piece well below your normal learning level and learn it for a week or so then change it. Something similar to the 40 piece challenge. It alows you to work on A LOT of material. I have almost 200 pieces under my belt after doing this for a few years and I am convinced that this method has helped me learn pieces very quickly.
thumb I love the term "quick studies." It hits the nail on the head. Everyone should have quick studies as part of their practice routine.


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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Sidokar, in this and in previous posts I'm confused about your use of the terms 'sight-reading' and 'reading'--you seem to blend the two, which may be how it works in practice, but in talking about it, the terms do matter.

Hi Stubbie,
Pianoloverus already responded on the definition. But in practice, I dont see that much difference between a piece you sight-read the first time and the pieces you read the subsequent times. Of course you have a little more familiarity with it but as long as you havent really practised it but simply reading it, there isnt that much difference.

Another very different case is when you read for playing a piece which you have practiced for a certain time for performance.

So indeed for me signt-reading or reading a piece, whether that is the first time or not, is about the same, as long as it is not a piece that has not been worked out. I dont see anything wrong about re-reading pieces that have been sight-read some time ago, as long as you dont do it every day ....

For the purpose of the OP, sight-reading or simply reading would yield about the same benefits. Sight-reading is just a little more difficult as you tackle pieces you never saw before.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Sidokar, in this and in previous posts I'm confused about your use of the terms 'sight-reading' and 'reading'--you seem to blend the two, which may be how it works in practice, but in talking about it, the terms do matter.

Hi Stubbie,
Pianoloverus already responded on the definition. But in practice, I dont see that much difference between a piece you sight-read the first time and the pieces you read the subsequent times. Of course you have a little more familiarity with it but as long as you havent really practised it but simply reading it, there isnt that much difference.

Another very different case is when you read for playing a piece which you have practiced for a certain time for performance.

So indeed for me signt-reading or reading a piece, whether that is the first time or not, is about the same, as long as it is not a piece that has not been worked out. I dont see anything wrong about re-reading pieces that have been sight-read some time ago, as long as you dont do it every day ....

For the purpose of the OP, sight-reading or simply reading would yield about the same benefits. Sight-reading is just a little more difficult as you tackle pieces you never saw before.
I agree. When people say they want to practice sight reading and then state they will only read a piece once as if additional read throughs will not benefit their sight reading, I think that's a misconception. It will be easier to read the notes and rhythms the second or tenth time one reads a piece, but one will still be practicing their note and rhythm recognition for quite a while after the initial sight reading.

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Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
But - and bear in mind this comes from me, who is quite bad at sight reading - I don't think that conscious "knowing" which notes sit on/near the various lines in the sheet is necessary. The way I see it, this "knowing" should be unconscious. In other words, if you filter the sheet music through your conscious mind, before it reaches the fingers, you are performing a non-necessary step. Instead the music should flow directly from the eyes to the fingers, bypassing the conscious mind.

Yes! I agree. It just requires practice and practice and practice. And for adults, probably even more practice. But it is a very useful skill to acquire, and certainly worth all the effort.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
My suggestion, which may have come up in another recent thread, would be to always play with the music. I think every time you do this you are reinforcing note and rhythm recognition even if you're quite familiar with the piece.

I absolutely agree with this and would recommend it strongly.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Sidokar, in this and in previous posts I'm confused about your use of the terms 'sight-reading' and 'reading'--you seem to blend the two, which may be how it works in practice, but in talking about it, the terms do matter.

Hi Stubbie,
Pianoloverus already responded on the definition. But in practice, I dont see that much difference between a piece you sight-read the first time and the pieces you read the subsequent times. Of course you have a little more familiarity with it but as long as you havent really practised it but simply reading it, there isnt that much difference.

Another very different case is when you read for playing a piece which you have practiced for a certain time for performance.

So indeed for me signt-reading or reading a piece, whether that is the first time or not, is about the same, as long as it is not a piece that has not been worked out. I dont see anything wrong about re-reading pieces that have been sight-read some time ago, as long as you dont do it every day ....

For the purpose of the OP, sight-reading or simply reading would yield about the same benefits. Sight-reading is just a little more difficult as you tackle pieces you never saw before.
I agree. When people say they want to practice sight reading and then state they will only read a piece once as if additional read throughs will not benefit their sight reading, I think that's a misconception. It will be easier to read the notes and rhythms the second or tenth time one reads a piece, but one will still be practicing their note and rhythm recognition for quite a while after the initial sight reading.

This issue stems from piano exam syllabi.

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Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
My situation is quite similar; I see no point in going for excellence in sight reading as such, since I do not aim to become a human juke box. What I would love, however, is to be faster at reading music, because it would speed up learning new pieces (albeit not by much, the memorization of the music takes much more time, and for me memorization is required).

But - and bear in mind this comes from me, who is quite bad at sight reading - I don't think that conscious "knowing" which notes sit on/near the various lines in the sheet is necessary. The way I see it, this "knowing" should be unconscious. In other words, if you filter the sheet music through your conscious mind, before it reaches the fingers, you are performing a non-necessary step. Instead the music should flow directly from the eyes to the fingers, bypassing the conscious mind.

Expert sight readers who know I am mistaken about this, please sound in!
I’m not an expert sight reader but I don’t think I agree about not recognizing the notes with your conscious mind. Doing that you are going to make a lot of mistakes. You have to recognize each note OR groups of notes (chords for example) or typical patterns of notes explicitly. But you have to be able to recognize notes and groups of notes quickly through practice and experience. The idea at least in my experience is that you are always looking ahead and studying the next note as you played the ones you saw a moment ago. You can’t do this unless you are able to read notes fluently and recognize them quickly. This takes “conscious” effort and practice. Like the runner analogy you can’t run fast if you are still looking at your feet, you are always looking forward. (But running actually is a bad analogy because for the most part it is an unconscious endeavor initiated by central pattern generators in your spinal cord and modulated by your brain- a topic for another forum ha.).


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Sidokar, in this and in previous posts I'm confused about your use of the terms 'sight-reading' and 'reading'--you seem to blend the two, which may be how it works in practice, but in talking about it, the terms do matter.

Hi Stubbie,
Pianoloverus already responded on the definition. But in practice, I dont see that much difference between a piece you sight-read the first time and the pieces you read the subsequent times. Of course you have a little more familiarity with it but as long as you havent really practised it but simply reading it, there isnt that much difference.

Another very different case is when you read for playing a piece which you have practiced for a certain time for performance.

So indeed for me signt-reading or reading a piece, whether that is the first time or not, is about the same, as long as it is not a piece that has not been worked out. I dont see anything wrong about re-reading pieces that have been sight-read some time ago, as long as you dont do it every day ....

For the purpose of the OP, sight-reading or simply reading would yield about the same benefits. Sight-reading is just a little more difficult as you tackle pieces you never saw before.
Pianoloverus' definition (and mine as well) is that sight-reading is what happens the first time through. If you're sightreading for an exam or sightreading in order to accompany someone (with no prior warning), your goal is to play through without stopping. If you are sightreading on your own, you can take as many breaks as you wish. But after that first time, you are reading the piece. For you, sightreading and reading are "about the same" (but the 'about' implies they are not the same); I see no good reason to blend the terms. No wonder so many posters are talking past each other when it comes to discussing the subject!


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My 2 cents ...

For me there are two levels to sight-reading.
1. Recognizing the note patterns
2. Recognizing the meaning (aka context)
... not necessarily in that order and many times applied at the same time ...

I started blues/jazz/improv lessons later in life and that filled in a lot of the gaps in "recognizing the meaning/context" of the music. This helped immensely for sight-reading because I now subconsciously upload the "expected" musical landscape of a piece before I play it. So instead of just reading notes, I'm looking/expecting note/harmonic/melodic/rhythmic patterns that I already know in that context. And somewhere between the classical note-reading and blues/jazz musical context practice, I found that sight-reading became a much more fun game to play (and I was one of those who found sight-reading and reading in general to be very painful).

So it's important to consider if your current approach may be lacking emphasis on many important musical skills (whether you're on the blues/jazz or classical side).

---
An academic example of "note patterns" vs. "meaning/context" using the word "PROFESSOR".

1. Note Patterns - we can all recognize the letters in the word "PROFESSOR", but all by itself it's just a word, we need more meaning/context in order to "play", improvise and communicate with it.

2. Meaning/Context - here are two examples with further refined "meaning/context", some will recognize the examples, while others may be at a complete loss. But if any two people recognize the same underlying meaning/context of the words, they can start having a conversation that goes light-years beyond anyone who only understands the "words".

a. Professor and Mary Anne
b. Professor and Jax


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There are too many levels of music and too many levels of piano ability to simplify this discussion with a yes or a no.
For instance, I can sight read just about anything from a Fake Book and make it sound good the first time through...as long as I am vaguely familiar with the song to start with.

I can't sight read a Chopin Polonaise, I have to practice the bejeezus out of it to even get remotely close.
But unless you are talking about taking an exam, which I have no interest in, WHO CARES?
Play what you want, practice the stuff you don't know yet but want to get better at. Isn't that what learning the piano is???

ANd just for a weird side note, I stay subscribed to Piano Marvel because they have a very easy and quick way to see if I am progressing in my learning endeavors. It's the sight-reading tests. I take it about every six months just to see if my score has improved once or twice a year. It doesn't do a thing for me except tell me if I am getting better or at a plateau.


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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Pianoloverus' definition (and mine as well) is that sight-reading is what happens the first time through. If you're sightreading for an exam or sightreading in order to accompany someone (with no prior warning), your goal is to play through without stopping. If you are sightreading on your own, you can take as many breaks as you wish. But after that first time, you are reading the piece. For you, sightreading and reading are "about the same" (but the 'about' implies they are not the same); I see no good reason to blend the terms. No wonder so many posters are talking past each other when it comes to discussing the subject!

Hi, I dont dispute what the definition is. I am just saying that there isnt much of a difference, especially for beginners. If you cant read a piece then you wont be able to sight-read it either. The "first time" thing is for definition purists but practically there isnt any difference. The important is to read pieces which you havent practiced.

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Looking around, I see that 'sight-reading' is a very popular term and easy to apply to any type of reading.


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think you should consider learning pieces in between these two levels. The first seems inappropriately easy and the second may be too hard. All this should be discussed with your teacher if you have one.

Sometimes this forum is quite laughable. Instead of sight reading easy pieces for fifteen minutes every day, my experience is that I learn more when I practise easy pieces for fifteen minutes every day.
How did this discussion degenerate to disputing if I practise pieces that are too difficult for me?

Of course, I should never have replied to those questions in the first place, my bad.


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Originally Posted by Stubbie
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Animisha, I'm doing the same thing you are (in addition to regular sight reading). I call it "quick studies". Basically, you take a piece well below your normal learning level and learn it for a week or so then change it. Something similar to the 40 piece challenge. It alows you to work on A LOT of material. I have almost 200 pieces under my belt after doing this for a few years and I am convinced that this method has helped me learn pieces very quickly.
thumb I love the term "quick studies." It hits the nail on the head. Everyone should have quick studies as part of their practice routine.

Exactly! (apart from me dropping sight reading) smile


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Originally Posted by Animisha
Instead of sight reading easy pieces for fifteen minutes every day, my experience is that I learn more when I practise easy pieces for fifteen minutes every day.


I agree. I feel I've gotten more reading improvement from read-playing (Shirokura's term from a recent post).

I still like my 15-minute sight reading sessions, but now think of them as 'new music discovery' sessions. In the level 1 piano solo books, I can get through 3 or 4 pieces in a session. I mark the pieces I like with a yellow post-it flag for later inclusion in my home version of 40 pieces a year. I've been working a few of them up for possible inclusion of the beginner pieces themed recital.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Stubbie
Here's my understanding: Sight-reading is going through a piece once and only once. Wrong notes or wrong rhythm aren't an issue because your goal is to keep the piece going. And how would you know if you were playing a wrong note or rhythm, since you will not be playing the piece again (that would be 'reading' the piece)?
Sight reading is the first time one reads the music. The objective of keeping the music going is only important if one is playing with other people or singers or on some exams. If one isn't concerned with keeping the music going and is concerned with getting the notes correct it's still sight reading. If one plays a lot of wrong notes/rhythms or stops a lot, it's still sight reading but just a less than successful attempt.

Sight reading is kind of like running. Any one can do it but not everyone can do it well(or fast in the case of running).

This is what I tried to articulate earlier, but pianoloverus has described it much better.

I'd say too that depending on your goal after that first reading, staying in tempo may not even be desirable. If you're just practicing sight reading, then fine, you can keep going through mistakes, whatever. But if it's a piece you want to learn that you're seeing for the first time, IMO it's better to take it slowly enough to get things right.


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