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I know there are a lot of posts about sight reading, but I had one question. Is it still considered sight reading if you're familiar with the song/piece already?

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Yes, if it's the first time you've seen the score and you're playing from it. It will definitely help with rhythm and as well as getting the right notes if you're adept at playing by ear, which is why sight-reading tests use 'music' specially composed for them, not bits from existing classical pieces.

In practice, with complicated classical pieces, familiarity with the music won't help much unless you're just faking it (or if it's the start of Rach 3 wink ), but with pop etc, I'd be playing more by ear than by sight-reading from the lead sheets, if I already know the song.


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But for me this is not sight reading.

When i started sight reading in may, the first book was 64 favorite melodies for beginners. I knew most of the song.

Songs like When the saints go marching in or Aura lee or Silent night, i can almost play the right hand by ear and just read the left hand accompaniment. And they are mostly in C G F. That why I dropped the book.

Last edited by Serge88; 09/01/21 08:29 PM.


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For me depends on the difficulty of a piece. A lot of pieces already have online recordings posted. A difficult piece like the Debussy “Clair de Lune” or a Chopin Nocturne even after listening to it a few times you can’t reproduce the piece by ear or by reading without some some workout.

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Memory blackouts do happen. If you know the song but are reading the music to avoid this it's sight-reading in that respect. I saw Barry Manilow(apologetically) do this once for a song while playing live in concert.

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Originally Posted by B P 7
Memory blackouts do happen. If you know the song but are reading the music to avoid this it's sight-reading in that respect. I saw Barry Manilow(apologetically) do this once for a song while playing live in concert.


If, in your example, the music was ever learned/played with the score, if the pianist ever returns to using the score, it is called reading the music, not sight-reading the music.

Last edited by dogperson; 09/01/21 10:05 PM. Reason: Typo
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Thank you, Bennevis, that's very helpful. I realize that from listening to something most people can't reproduce all the notes, but I was curious about this because if you hear the melody, overall structure, and rhythms you're not completely figuring the music out on your own from what's written.

I have no problem with the notes or anything like that. I really don't play by ear and I'm used to reading music. But when I want to play something I usually try it out myself first and then listen to a recording before really attempting it, particularly for the rhythm. I'm not great with that for some reason. I'm not playing anything complicated enough that a recording would not be useful (playing through Easy Classics to Moderns).

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Originally Posted by Csj24
But when I want to play something I usually try it out myself first and then listen to a recording before really attempting it, particularly for the rhythm. I'm not great with that for some reason.

One thing you could do next time, is before listening to a recording, take a look at the notes and clap the rhythm with your hands. For instance, clap the right hand notes with your right hand on your knee, and LH with LH of course. If it is difficult to do both together, you can start with one hand at the time, and then both hands together. Then you listen to your recording to check if you did it correctly, or not. cool


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