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Sight-reading... yawn... This topic seem to sky-rocket these days.

I am a beginner who can decipher sheet music. And with decipher I mean to look up the notes I don't understand and write their names into the sheet music. Then I play the music by reading the letters only. The rest is just repeat and repeat until it is memorized. Mostly muscle-memory. The problem is, this takes an eternity to get into a new piece and this will make my learning come to a halt quite soon.
Let's make it short: I am convinced I need to learn sight-reading, or be be more precise: READING.

And here I have some questions: what exactly do you guys and ladies do with your eyes?

Question1:
Do you always look to the sheet music and never, never ever take your eyes from the sheet music and rely on muscle memory your fingers find the right keys, even if your hands must jump? (Please don't tell me something like "only playing beginner level that does not need to change hand position". In this case it is obvious where my eyes are placed and I wouldn't have asked this question.)

Question2:
Do you only read the notes you are currently playing or do you read a few notes ahead? And if you read ahead, do you know exactly each note or do you just see a vague direction if the following notes are higher or lower for making a better fingering?

Question3:
About chords, someone said to always go bottom-up. Reading the lowest note, recognize the pattern of the chord and then the hand knows what to do. Makes sense for the right hand, absolute agreed! But do you do it also for the left hand? I made up my mind about it and found reasons for going bottom-up and also for top-down:
Pro LH bottom-up:
- Chords are named for the lowest note. E.g. a C-triad start with a C as the lowest note. But there are also inverted C-triads with an E or G is the lowest note. So this reason is maybe not so good anymore.
- maybe it is easier for my brain if I do same bottom-up reading for both hands => easier to learn?
Pro LH top-down:
- The top LH note is the closest to the lowest RH note => information is more compact => less eye movement => faster
- If I need to look to my hands, it's best to concentrate to the inner fingers (thumb). It is nearest in my viewing field and it is not covered by the rest of the hand.
- maybe it is easier for my brain to just mirror left and right hand concept. Thinking always from inside to outside => easier to learn?


I am really curious how you would answer this question for your own without reading other people opinions, because this often causes to copy a statement from a member who is widely respected. (And the opinion snowball starts in either this or that direction)


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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
And with decipher I mean to look up the notes I don't understand and write their names into the sheet music.

I think you'll need to start with note recognition. I see it as a prerequisite to sight reading. The way I have trained this is by finding pieces that I have not played, with single notes in both clefs, and I have played the notes hands separately while singing their names. This has helped me quite a lot even though I have never arrived at the stage of automatic note recognition.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question1:
Do you always look to the sheet music and never, never ever take your eyes from the sheet music and rely on muscle memory your fingers find the right keys, even if your hands must jump?

No, my eyes alternate between the sheet and the keys.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question2:
Do you only read the notes you are currently playing or do you read a few notes ahead? And if you read ahead, do you know exactly each note or do you just see a vague direction if the following notes are higher or lower for making a better fingering?

I read ahead only when I have become acquainted with a piece.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question3:
About chords, someone said to always go bottom-up. Reading the lowest note, recognize the pattern of the chord and then the hand knows what to do. Makes sense for the right hand, absolute agreed! But do you do it also for the left hand?

I am not capable of reading chords, and I always write the names of all chords in the score.


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Quote
Question1:
Do you always look to the sheet music and never, never ever take your eyes from the sheet music and rely on muscle memory your fingers find the right keys, even if your hands must jump? (Please don't tell me something like "only playing beginner level that does not need to change hand position". In this case it is obvious where my eyes are placed and I wouldn't have asked this question.)

I'm actively trying to keep my eyes on the music more and more these days whilst sight-reading.

Quote
Question2:
Do you only read the notes you are currently playing or do you read a few notes ahead? And if you read ahead, do you know exactly each note or do you just see a vague direction if the following notes are higher or lower for making a better fingering?

I'll often skim the bass clef before playing. Whilst playing I'll take any moments I can to look ahead. You have to keep looking ahead to keep playing. How far I can look ahead depends on how difficult/fast I'm finding reading the notation.

Quote
Question3:
About chords, someone said to always go bottom-up. Reading the lowest note, recognize the pattern of the chord and then the hand knows what to do. Makes sense for the right hand, absolute agreed! But do you do it also for the left hand? I made up my mind about it and found reasons for going bottom-up and also for top-down:

Always bottom-up for me. The bass note often gives a massive indication on the harmonic progression (accidentals fill me in on non-diatonic chord progressions). In terms of recognising the inversion of the chord - that's not something I do easily. Triads in root are easy to spot but mostly I'm recognising the notes quickly. For me, though, I tend to sight-read music outside of the normal inversions.

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If you guys wouldn’t mind a couple of suggestions?

Don’t worry about how far ahead you read music until you can read the notes you are playing in a timely manner. Eventually, yes, you want to look ahead , but not now

Writing the note names in the score: you will develop better skills if you don’t write in the name of the note and then learn by reading what you have written in. Force yourself to pair the note on the score with the location on the keyboard everytime you play it. Yes, initially it will take longer—- but you will be developing your reading skills for both individual notes and chords. The only exception might be ledger lines more than two/three


"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
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Disclaimer: I am nowhere near what you may call a proficient sight-reader but I can read and learn early advanced pieces (e.g. Clair de lune, Pathetique 2, Scarlatti K 27) from the music in a fairly short amount of time (1-2 months) so I would say my general reading ability is good.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
I am a beginner who can decipher sheet music. And with decipher I mean to look up the notes I don't understand and write their names into the sheet music. Then I play the music by reading the letters only. The rest is just repeat and repeat until it is memorized. Mostly muscle-memory. The problem is, this takes an eternity to get into a new piece and this will make my learning come to a halt quite soon.
Let's make it short: I am convinced I need to learn sight-reading, or be be more precise: READING.
Ineed. That is a very bad habit that you have to break immediately even with very easy pieces. You have to treat the notes themselves as your "letters" and stop trying to convert them.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question1:
Do you always look to the sheet music and never, never ever take your eyes from the sheet music and rely on muscle memory your fingers find the right keys, even if your hands must jump? (Please don't tell me something like "only playing beginner level that does not need to change hand position". In this case it is obvious where my eyes are placed and I wouldn't have asked this question.)
No, of course not. But as you get more fluent you don't need to look as much. It's not something I do conciously. Over time I noticed that I can find the keys more easily by intuitively feeling where they are.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question2:
Do you only read the notes you are currently playing or do you read a few notes ahead? And if you read ahead, do you know exactly each note or do you just see a vague direction if the following notes are higher or lower for making a better fingering?
Well, this is where I think I need more work. I know I should be looking ahead more because when I don't I start stumbling. If I read something very simple I can keep ahead even a whole measure but for more difficult pieces I'm mostly looking at the notes I'm playing.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question3:
About chords, someone said to always go bottom-up. Reading the lowest note, recognize the pattern of the chord and then the hand knows what to do. Makes sense for the right hand, absolute agreed! But do you do it also for the left hand? I made up my mind about it and found reasons for going bottom-up and also for top-down:
Pro LH bottom-up:
- Chords are named for the lowest note. E.g. a C-triad start with a C as the lowest note. But there are also inverted C-triads with an E or G is the lowest note. So this reason is maybe not so good anymore.
- maybe it is easier for my brain if I do same bottom-up reading for both hands => easier to learn?
Pro LH top-down:
- The top LH note is the closest to the lowest RH note => information is more compact => less eye movement => faster
- If I need to look to my hands, it's best to concentrate to the inner fingers (thumb). It is nearest in my viewing field and it is not covered by the rest of the hand.
- maybe it is easier for my brain to just mirror left and right hand concept. Thinking always from inside to outside => easier to learn?
There are a few misconceptions here about reading chords. First of all, I don't need to know what chord it is to play it and most of the time I don't even need to know all the notes. Reading chords is mostly about reading patterns. For example, let's say I see this:
[Linked Image]
Source: Heller op. 45, no. 15

I don't care that it's a D minor chord nor do I need to. I just look at the pattern of notes and find the notes intuitively. For the RH I place my 1 on F and intuitively feel the interval of a sixth. For the LH the first thing I see is an octave starting on D so I start by placing my hand in the shape of an octave on D, then I place my finger 2 on the note in the middle, which is a fifth above the lower D or a fourth below the upper D. Reading chords is more about associating the particular patterns of notes on the page to a particular hand/finger pattern in this manner than about knowing the specific notes of the chord.

However, don't assume that I always go bottom up because I don't. For the RH I might have started with the top note as the melody is often at the top and I'm trying to follow that as I read. It really depends on the situation. So, the answer to your specific question is "it depends".

Now coming back to reading chords, it's the same if you have a broken chord or arpeggio. Say the opening measure of the WTC:

[Linked Image]

I only need to see the patterns that the fingers are forming. The LH hand plays a third. The RH plays a second inversion triad pattern. Again, you don't need to know or care that it's a C major chord. The only important thing is to place your hand in the position of a second inversion triad (1 on the bass note, 3 a fourth above that, 5 a third above that). I read only the first 5 notes (until the top E) then I see that the rest of the measure repeats and immediately skip to the next measure. In this particular example I play the music every day so I have already developed finger memory of it (although I can't play it without the music so I am definitely reading it) but even when reading new music I use the same kind of strategy.

If you have accidentals or a key signature with sharps or flats then it's more complicated because you need to keep track of where the black notes are. This is where practicing scales and arpeggios comes in. The point of practicing your scales and arpeggios is to intuitively and automatically know where the black keys are in any given key signature and move your fingers over the black notes without thinking about it. And I really mean it when I say that it's automatic. For instance, I'm playing Scarlatti K 27 right now. It's in B minor so it has 2 sharps. When I read it (even the first time) I didn't translate anything. I automatically played all the Cs and Fs sharp. I can't really explain how I did it because I'm not sure I know the answer myself but my guess is that it's a combination of having practiced scales in B minor and having played a lot of pieces in that key and a general familiarity with the keyboard topography. In some less familiar keys (say, G-flat major) I definitely struggle more to find the right keys.

Sorry for the long rant. I wanted to give a glipse into my thought process when reading music.

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One more example because it's a good one. From the Chopin E minor prelude:

[Linked Image]

I never even bothered to check what the chords in this progression are. I just follow the changes. Here I start the LH with fingers 5-3-1 on F, A, and E-flat. Then I simply notice when the position changes. On beat 3 of the first measure I notice that the thumb goes down to D while the other fingers stay the same, then one beat later finger 3 goes down to G sharp, then in the next measure finger 5 goes down to E, and so on. This is very easy to read because your LH is just patterns like this with mostly only one finger changing places and the RH has a very simple melody.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Now coming back to reading chords, it's the same if you have a broken chord or arpeggio. Say the opening measure of the WTC:

[Linked Image]

I only need to see the patterns that the fingers are forming. The LH hand plays a third. The RH plays a second inversion triad pattern. Again, you don't need to know or care that it's a C major chord. The only important thing is to place your hand in the position of a second inversion triad (1 on the bass note, 3 a fourth above that, 5 a third above that). I read only the first 5 notes (until the top E) then I see that the rest of the measure repeats and immediately skip to the next measure. In this particular example I play the music every day so I have already developed finger memory of it (although I can't play it without the music so I am definitely reading it) but even when reading new music I use the same kind of strategy

This is all something I'd do in a retrospective way, not in the moment. Do you process everything you typed there in the moment, on a first play through?

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This in regards to reading. Not when sight reading or reading something for the first time.

Question 1: No. I mainly keep my eyes on the sheet, but at times will look at my hands.

Question 2: Yes, but more so of where I'll be starting next. Not necessarily always reading ahead, more like processing what I'm reading and then periodically look ahead.

Question 3: I look at the shape of the chord, not root / quality, or anything like that. I'll add that in, if at all, after analyzing the music.


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Originally Posted by fatar760
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Now coming back to reading chords, it's the same if you have a broken chord or arpeggio. Say the opening measure of the WTC:

[Linked Image]

I only need to see the patterns that the fingers are forming. The LH hand plays a third. The RH plays a second inversion triad pattern. Again, you don't need to know or care that it's a C major chord. The only important thing is to place your hand in the position of a second inversion triad (1 on the bass note, 3 a fourth above that, 5 a third above that). I read only the first 5 notes (until the top E) then I see that the rest of the measure repeats and immediately skip to the next measure. In this particular example I play the music every day so I have already developed finger memory of it (although I can't play it without the music so I am definitely reading it) but even when reading new music I use the same kind of strategy

This is all something I'd do in a retrospective way, not in the moment. Do you process everything you typed there in the moment, on a first play through?
Why yes. It's more of an unconcious thing. My immediate thought process is "pattern of notes on the page => hand pattern on the keyboard" but I was trying to explain how that automatic connection is formed. The part about skipping ahead when something repeats is true.

I'm curious of the thought process of more advanced sight-readers. How do you process something like the above?

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by fatar760
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Now coming back to reading chords, it's the same if you have a broken chord or arpeggio. Say the opening measure of the WTC:

[Linked Image]

I only need to see the patterns that the fingers are forming. The LH hand plays a third. The RH plays a second inversion triad pattern. Again, you don't need to know or care that it's a C major chord. The only important thing is to place your hand in the position of a second inversion triad (1 on the bass note, 3 a fourth above that, 5 a third above that). I read only the first 5 notes (until the top E) then I see that the rest of the measure repeats and immediately skip to the next measure. In this particular example I play the music every day so I have already developed finger memory of it (although I can't play it without the music so I am definitely reading it) but even when reading new music I use the same kind of strategy

This is all something I'd do in a retrospective way, not in the moment. Do you process everything you typed there in the moment, on a first play through?
Why yes. It's more of an unconcious thing. My immediate thought process is "pattern of notes on the page => hand pattern on the keyboard" but I was trying to explain how that automatic connection is formed. The part about skipping ahead when something repeats is true.

I'm curious of the thought process of more advanced sight-readers. How do you process something like the above?

My first thought in this example was to see the rhythm and how each note follows each other; then I just recognise the notes quickly. No pattern as such, although I'd instinctively put my thumb on the G and form the C major chord without recognising it as such.

I'd like to be better at pattern reading but it's never something I've been able to do in a structured way.

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An actual experiment using eye-tracking: Where pianists look when they play

First they play from memory, then at about 2 minutes in the video they try sight reading. A professor and his student.

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This.....

Originally Posted by dogperson
.... Force yourself to pair the note on the score with the location on the keyboard everytime you play it. Yes, initially it will take longer—- but you will be developing your reading skills for both individual notes and chords. The only exception might be ledger lines more than two/three

......made all the difference to me back when! That was the shift I made. I had a teacher's help. It is a different playing experience.

Btw, for ledger lines I learned a trick of eyeballing how many there are, and equating those with how many skips, also eyeballed. Though why they can't just write 8va or change clefs in some of these pieces. wink

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Q1.
Keep you eyes on the music as much as you can. You will learn the topography of the keyboard quicker and learn to be aware, subconsciously or consciously, of what notes are under your hands. Glance down at the keyboard when you need to, for leaps and hand movements, and go quickly back to the same place in the score. You will find your place quicker with more practise. You may have to deliberately remember where you are in the score before looking away but this is usually only short term.

Q2.
Glance at the lower staff for a moment. Glance at the upper staff for a moment. You need to do both things before you play the music as you can only focus your attention on one stave at a time. Try to take in as much as you can with each glance.

When children learn to read they go one letter at a time. Only while most of the words are new do they continue to do that. Later they go word by word. Most readers scan words and phrases. Newspaper columns are around two inches because most people scan two inches at a time. They typically use two scans for a three and a half inch paperback while fast readers will take in the whole line in one glance.

Music is much the same. Go note by note while you need to, beat by beat when you can until you can take in a whole measure or two in one glance at each stave.

Q3.
Always go bottom up. The bass is fundamental and the most important. If you don't recognise a whole chord just by looking at it just get the bass note. If you're sight reading a new piece just play the bass note and any other notes you can pickup with it. If you're learning a piece read the whole text, notes, values, directions, other markings, etc. and go as slow as you need to for that.

Don't look at your hands. Look at the target note on the keyboard.


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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Q1. Keep you eyes on the music as much as you can.

This is what Richard thinks is the best. He presents his idea as if it is a rule. Other people, for instance my piano teacher with 18 years of studying the piano, (7 years of Academy and post-University), have quite opposite ideas. My teacher thinks that this idea to not look at the keys while playing is actually just a piano myth - which may cause a beginner to cling to the keys and to play in an expressionless 'note-typing' way.

So don't let yourself be misled by the authorative way in which some people state their personal ideas. They are all ideas. This is a forum with many ideas. You chose the ones that suit you best. cool


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Question 1:
I try to keep my eyes on the page most of the time, but occasionally look down when I have to change position or jump. I try to remember where I am on the page and keep these glances as short as possible.

Question 2:
It's a bit tricky to answer this one, but I am looking pretty much at the same measure, although I will be a couple of notes ahead in order to buffer them. Also, I don't exactly read note by note, but by recognizing patterns such as scales, arpeggios, turns, etc. So I'll be reading the next one of those patterns, and may be a couple of notes ahead literally speaking. If you have to play 4 notes in the same second, you can't be reading each one while you're playing it. I try to observe the highest and lowest notes of a phrase, always, which helps me get a vague sense of where to position my hands.

I also tend to pre-read the rhythm if I can, if and when I look ahead. It's one of the first things I make sure to get a sense of if I have a few seconds to spare. Also, the contour, yes, if I can.

Question 3:
It's not exactly about bottom up or top down for me. I recognize the chord, say a B major chord, and immediately see the shape in my mind's eye. Then, it's kind of obvious where to place my fingers since I know my chords well. If I have to explain it, I probably start with the left part of the left hand and count upwards.

Now, I'll check out what others have posted. Oh, and as to my sight reading level, I can probably read about a grade 2 piece, but I've only been learning reading for a year so it ain't bad I suppose.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by fatar760
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Now coming back to reading chords, it's the same if you have a broken chord or arpeggio. Say the opening measure of the WTC:

[Linked Image]

I only need to see the patterns that the fingers are forming. The LH hand plays a third. The RH plays a second inversion triad pattern. Again, you don't need to know or care that it's a C major chord. The only important thing is to place your hand in the position of a second inversion triad (1 on the bass note, 3 a fourth above that, 5 a third above that). I read only the first 5 notes (until the top E) then I see that the rest of the measure repeats and immediately skip to the next measure. In this particular example I play the music every day so I have already developed finger memory of it (although I can't play it without the music so I am definitely reading it) but even when reading new music I use the same kind of strategy

This is all something I'd do in a retrospective way, not in the moment. Do you process everything you typed there in the moment, on a first play through?
Why yes. It's more of an unconcious thing. My immediate thought process is "pattern of notes on the page => hand pattern on the keyboard" but I was trying to explain how that automatic connection is formed. The part about skipping ahead when something repeats is true.

I'm curious of the thought process of more advanced sight-readers. How do you process something like the above?
Not sure if I'm advanced, but I can sight read the Bach prelude with some stumbles. I immediately see C major, second inversion. Now I'm not really even reading the notes, I'm reading whether I need to go "up" in the chord or "down". I also see the second inversion based on the distances, and try to "squeeze" together the arpeggio in my head to imagine a chord. It's not that hard, really. If the three notes are on successive lines/spaces, it's a root major triad. First and second inversions follow the patterns, 1_2 and 2_1.

Taking an online theory course massively improved my ability to see chords.

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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
And with decipher I mean to look up the notes I don't understand and write their names into the sheet music. Then I play the music by reading the letters only.

You will definitely want to get past this if you want to get good at sight reading. Someone else will probably have better advice for a beginner but you want to be moving toward being able to see the note on the staff and automatically associate that with pressing the appropriate key.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question1:
Do you always look to the sheet music and never, never ever take your eyes from the sheet music and rely on muscle memory your fingers find the right keys, even if your hands must jump? (Please don't tell me something like "only playing beginner level that does not need to change hand position". In this case it is obvious where my eyes are placed and I wouldn't have asked this question.)

I look at the score probably 95-99% of the time. I use my peripheral vision a bit, as well as quick glances down for larger position changes.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question2:
Do you only read the notes you are currently playing or do you read a few notes ahead? And if you read ahead, do you know exactly each note or do you just see a vague direction if the following notes are higher or lower for making a better fingering?

I am aware of what is coming up in the next measure or two. It happens at a pretty subconsious level. If the piece is easy enough, I might be taking note of the shape of entire sections, looking up to a page ahead.

Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question3:
About chords, someone said to always go bottom-up. Reading the lowest note, recognize the pattern of the chord and then the hand knows what to do. Makes sense for the right hand, absolute agreed! But do you do it also for the left hand?

I don’t have any awareness of how I’m reading chords—I’ve practiced so much that it is pretty automatic. But if I had to think about it, it would be bottom up.

I am really comfortable reading music and have very little awareness of how I do it, so I’m not sure how helpful my answers might be. I am curious what others answered though, now it is time to read the rest of the thread. smile


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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
I am really curious how you would answer this question for your own without reading other people opinions, because this often causes to copy a statement from a member who is widely respected. (And the opinion snowball starts in either this or that direction)
In my opinion as a skilled sightreader, nothing is more important than note recognition. Think of how touch typing trains your brain to respond to a visual stimulus by reaching for the correct key on the keyboard without conscious thought. That's the fundamental skill of sightreading at the piano keyboard, and it's a prerequisite to recognizing intervals and chords.

I recommend flash cards, and I would be surprised if somebody didn't mention them in the other current thread on this topic. Use them, for notes on staves of both clefs until you know them cold. You know you know them cold when you look at the printed note, and you automatically see in your mind's eye that exact note on the keyboard. The only thing you aren't concerned with is which finger to use on the key. Just visualize where that note lies within its octave.

In your actual sightreading practice, the finger you choose will depend on its context. It can be spontaneous, whatever feels practical, as it won't necessarily correlate to the actual fingering you would use if studying the music with the intent to learn it. Using a 'bad' fingering on a single occasion, and sightreading after all means only the very first time you attempt to read through the piece, will definitely not become ingrained or have any negative effect at all. Sure, your fingerings would optimally be ... umm, pianistic so-to-speak ... but you don't want to have to think about it because you don't need to. It would slow you down enormously for no reason when the goal in signtreading is instead to propel yourself forward even with some wrong notes and 'bad' fingering choices.)

As to the specific questions: first, there's no rule that you can't look down from the sheet to your hands. This is true whether you're sightreading or playing a learned piece from the score. Just know that the goal is to do it as little as possible because, in that manner, you will acquire knowledge of keyboard geography on your own and reinforce it. You will get a 'feel' for where notes lie in proximity to each other, and that's a good thing. It's part of muscle memory, and well worth your patience.

Eventually you can look ahead some, but don't push yourself. I would counsel to just let it fall into place knowing that it, too, is a goal as your confidence grows and proficiency builds. I find myself always looking ahead at least to the next note or chord, sometimes next measure for shapes and patterns, but I believe you have to walk before you run here as with many tasks

The third question is difficult for me. I'm confident I look at the bass clef before the treble clef, but I just don't know about the order of note recognition. i think I process multiple notes (i.e., chords) as a unit, and I personally can't remember a time when I didn't. I definitely defer to others for advice about what they find works best for them.

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Originally Posted by parapiano
Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
I am really curious how you would answer this question for your own without reading other people opinions, because this often causes to copy a statement from a member who is widely respected. (And the opinion snowball starts in either this or that direction)
In my opinion as a skilled sightreader, nothing is more important than note recognition. Think of how touch typing trains your brain to respond to a visual stimulus by reaching for the correct key on the keyboard without conscious thought. That's the fundamental skill of sightreading at the piano keyboard, and it's a prerequisite to recognizing intervals and chords.

I recommend flash cards, and I would be surprised if somebody didn't mention them in the other current thread on this topic. Use them, for notes on staves of both clefs until you know them cold. You know you know them cold when you look at the printed note, and you automatically see in your mind's eye that exact note on the keyboard. The only thing you aren't concerned with is which finger to use on the key. Just visualize where that note lies within its octave.

In your actual sightreading practice, the finger you choose will depend on its context. It can be spontaneous, whatever feels practical, as it won't necessarily correlate to the actual fingering you would use if studying the music with the intent to learn it. Using a 'bad' fingering on a single occasion, and sightreading after all means only the very first time you attempt to read through the piece, will definitely not become ingrained or have any negative effect at all. Sure, your fingerings would optimally be ... umm, pianistic so-to-speak ... but you don't want to have to think about it because you don't need to. It would slow you down enormously for no reason when the goal in signtreading is instead to propel yourself forward even with some wrong notes and 'bad' fingering choices.)

As to the specific questions: first, there's no rule that you can't look down from the sheet to your hands. This is true whether you're sightreading or playing a learned piece from the score. Just know that the goal is to do it as little as possible because, in that manner, you will acquire knowledge of keyboard geography on your own and reinforce it. You will get a 'feel' for where notes lie in proximity to each other, and that's a good thing. It's part of muscle memory, and well worth your patience.

Eventually you can look ahead some, but don't push yourself. I would counsel to just let it fall into place knowing that it, too, is a goal as your confidence grows and proficiency builds. I find myself always looking ahead at least to the next note or chord, sometimes next measure for shapes and patterns, but I believe you have to walk before you run here as with many tasks

The third question is difficult for me. I'm confident I look at the bass clef before the treble clef, but I just don't know about the order of note recognition. i think I process multiple notes (i.e., chords) as a unit, and I personally can't remember a time when I didn't. I definitely defer to others for advice about what they find works best for them.

Great post!

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1.

I think OP eye placement depends on skill but no one as far as I know sight read without looking at hands. when you are first learning you need to do a lot of looking back and forth maybe for most of the notes. It's very slow. Sometimes you can lose your place It's only when more advanced you need to look a lot less . I think most people are somewhere in between. But I'm not even sure advanced pianist look less. I think they are really very quick and it's like a reflex back and forth. Blind pianist really do struggle with jumps so I don't think anyone with sight doesn't use their Vision when they can . So that not just jumps but all complexities in sight reading sight reading.

2.

I don't think I ever could do this sight reading. I could only really read ahead only when I had the chance! A long end of a phrase where you can look at the next bar coming

3

I genuinely have no idea at all how I learnt chords. Sight reading it's probably pattern and interval recognition. I certainly don't know the chord names even in pieces in and certainly no time in sight reading to identify chords. Chords are learnt I think though practice.

I think this is the 10,000th thread about sight reading OP - you will win a price. A grand piano of your choosing !!! Whoooop

Last edited by Moo :); 08/23/21 05:40 PM.
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