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Thanks everyone for your replies.

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If it's some help, I'll try to answer some of your questions here.
Originally Posted by kanefsky
The problem was that I couldn't keep more than a couple of pieces memorized at any given time or for very long without constant practice.
I think that either explicit or implicit understanding of music theory and form is behind a lot of long-term memory. A practical suggestion I would have is to always play the scale you're on, along with the I, IV and V chords before you read or play something. Gradually, you will begin to see those chords immediately in a lot of easy music.

Originally Posted by kanefsky
The thing I don't get about PM and most other methods I've seen is how they train you to think in terms of fixed hand positions and finger-to-note assignments for so long and then you're supposed to throw that all out and learn to think a completely different way? It makes it almost harder than if you were starting all over from scratch. I can memorize a piece where my hands are moving all over the place but it's a totally different story when you're trying to sight read without looking at your hands.
Learning a lot of pieces (not on PianoMarvel) will help a lot with this. I wouldn't worry about keeping them in your memory long term, just get through each until you can perform it without stopping, preferably in 1-2 weeks and then move on to the next one. Now, I'm not sure how this works when it comes to sight reading as that is something I am still contending with, especially when both hands keep changing positions every few measures in non-obvious ways (that is, not a simple scale or arpeggio).


Originally Posted by kanefsky
I do ok on the SASR tests as long as they stick to a few basic hand positions but after that it's hard to imagine how it's even possible to figure out the fingering for a piece you've never seen before in just 20 seconds.
At least on PianoMarvel, chords. Most everything is variations of I, IV and V chords in certain positions. Learn the fingerings for each of the inversions of those chords so that you can do it without thinking. Then, you scan the page in the 20 seconds and make note of the hand position using the highest note and lowest note on each stave, and the chords which you will gradually observe immediately just from their shape.

Originally Posted by kanefsky
Even if one manages to rewire their brain to think in terms of relative intervals instead of absolute finger-to-note relationships, I'm not sure how that's supposed to work in any key besides C (or A minor, D dorian, F lydian, etc.) since you still need to be aware of where the sharps and flats are for the key you're in at all times.
This is why most start out with easy key signatures. In PianoMarvel, it is rare to encounter more than 2 sharps or flats below 550 on the SASR, roughly speaking. Also, everything is in a major or minor key. So, you will only have to remember, say that the F is sharped.

Originally Posted by kanefsky
There's also something weird about the way the SASR tests are scored.
Based on what I've seen, they use a simple formula. Consider the equivalent score of each grade, for example 4E=480, 3C=340 etc. Even if you score perfect on a 3C piece, your score will never go beyond that score (340). On the other hand, if you are at 300 and get a 3E piece which you get 65% on, you will still be jumped up to say 350. If you score perfectly on a certain level, it will immediately jump up the difficulty of the next piece (so for example from 3E to 4E), and the next piece is where your score will increase.

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Originally Posted by Sarah65
Originally Posted by ranjit
I know this thread isn't super active, but I thought I might give it a shot and ask here anyway. Does anyone have some tips to get from 600 to 700 in the SASR? It seems to get much harder and I'm not sure what I can practice to improve.

Use the Sight-Reading Samurai books in the library. They go from level 1 to 18 and are a good preparation for the SASR.
The problem I have with this is that the pieces are largely the same which I end up memorizing without trying, and also beyond 650 or so, you simply need to develop new skills, like playing 4-part harmony and shifts in hand position which simply learning a lot of new pieces doesn't seem to solve.

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Originally Posted by Del Vento
My speculation is that "there is more" that is needed by people who can read (not necessarily sight read, just plain read) decently. Probably nobody knows what this "more" is consciously, hence nobody tells, and we poor souls without it struggle.
This is my best stab at the answer to this question: I think visualization is important -- that is, being able to see the scale and which notes are sharp and flat in your mind's eye. Audiation is also a part of it, eventually you will be able to audiate a few notes from the scale using relative pitch, and sometimes it feels obvious whether the next note in the scale is sharp or flat. You can "pre-compute" some common patterns such as the I, IV, V chords in the key etc.

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Originally Posted by Sarah65
Originally Posted by kanefsky
Originally Posted by Sarah65
Use the Sight-Reading Samurai books in the library. They go from level 1 to 18 and are a good preparation for the SASR.

How much does the material in these books overlap with the actual SASR test material? I wouldn't want my SASR scores to improve simply because I've practiced most of the pieces on the test before. One of the tips PM gives for improving SASR scores is to take the test every day. I did that for several days but then I decided that there are probably better ways to practice sight reading and that taking the test over and over would probably improve my scores more because of becoming familiar with the test material than anything else. I've been exploring some other materials like PM Boot Camps, Sight Reading Factory, Mikrokosmos, Bach Scholar, Sound of Emotions, etc. but I'm not sure what will work best for me yet.

For me it was Mikrokosmos and Bach Scholar. But I think it's normal that you regularly encounter a plateau in the SASR test. It also depends on what you do further from method and technique. And how often you take a book just to read music notes.
Oh yes, I should go through Mikrokosmos as well. Thanks for the suggestions, I'll keep them in mind.

Originally Posted by trooplewis
Originally Posted by ranjit
I know this thread isn't super active, but I thought I might give it a shot and ask here anyway. Does anyone have some tips to get from 600 to 700 in the SASR? It seems to get much harder and I'm not sure what I can practice to improve.

I've been stuck in the 650-700 range forever it seems like.
Let me know if you find a solution...
Amen.

Last edited by ranjit; 01/16/22 09:10 PM.
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I wouldn't worry about the SASR test, it's like buying a lottery ticket, you never know in advance if you're going to win something... fate decides that.


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Originally Posted by Sarah65
I wouldn't worry about the SASR test, it's like buying a lottery ticket, you never know in advance if you're going to win something... fate decides that.

Sure, but if you average the scores over time or just throw out the occasional outlier score I think it gives a reasonable indication of your progress.

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Originally Posted by Sarah65
I wouldn't worry about the SASR test, it's like buying a lottery ticket, you never know in advance if you're going to win something... fate decides that.
I think it's a reasonable indicator. If you do 5 years and average it out, it is likely to remain pretty consistent.

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I think I know how to increase your SASR score from the 650 slump, I used to be there. BachScholar's Sight-Reading and Harmony was a huge help for me to learn how to read 4 part harmony. Essential!! 😊 After that, I started using the Piano Marvel Sight-Reading book. Since then, I actually helped develop the Sight-Reading Samurai which is what I currently use. There are SO many songs in the Samurai and I think that going through all of them will definitely help to improve our skills. I initially was going through the "old version" of the Samurai (Piano Marvel Sight-Reading) and tried to get 100% on everything. I did that for a while but recently stopped focusing on getting 100%'s. I now focus on the method of practicing each piece/excerpt which is:

1. Try it in "Practice" mode (what used to be called "Prepare").
2. Slow it down *usually by* 20 bpm and play the song in "Play" mode (what used to be called "Assess").
3. Speed it up 10 bpm and play it again.
4. Finally, speed it up to the original tempo.

In level 10, I am scoring usually around a 90%-95% on each song with this method. I think the playing the excerpt in Practice mode first helps me to HAVE to play all the difficult patterns I am not used to and to KEEP READING which you hear so many people say when you start researching how to practice sight-reading. Playing at slower speeds allows me to try and play the excerpt as written, but also helps me determine what might not be playable for me. By the time I get to full speed I usually have some small mistakes or just have to leave out notes that are not possible for me to play and I think that is ok. If you read from some of the people who helped us level these songs you will see this gets said by people like soon-to-be Dr. Kaden Larson: https://pianomarvel.com/sight-reading-project

Hoping this helps! If you have any questions, please be sure to send them my way. My email is josh@pianomarvel.com

I work for Piano Marvel and would be happy to help any way that I can!


Best regards,
Josh

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Originally Posted by millsj1134
Since then, I actually helped develop the Sight-Reading Samurai which is what I currently use. There are SO many songs in the Samurai and I think that going through all of them will definitely help to improve our skills.

Is it correct that the Sight-Reading Samurai material is largely the same as the SASR test material? If so then I'm sure it would help improve SASR scores but probably not for the right reason. Ideally I'd like to use practice material that's completely separate from what appears on the tests.

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Thanks, I will try it out! As I understand it, Sight Reading Samurai is a premium feature, right? Or perhaps there is a bug -- without a premium subscription, it didn't allow me to view songs in the later sections because you can't complete the locked songs.

I am a bit wary of using the PianoMarvel book too much, because the exact same songs come in the SASR test, and bias the result a lot.

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The Samurai is a book of all the SASR songs. To be honest, I felt the same way that you did back when my boss (and the creator of Piano Marvel) told me to make a book of the SASR songs to practice so I can improve. I thought it was cheating. Who knows, it might be but if you want my opinion I think the pros outweigh the cons. Many of the pianists we used to help us level the SASR in that project (https://pianomarvel.com/sight-reading-project) I'd be willing to bet have at least heard many of the songs we threw at them. Heck, many of the songs are part of the Standard Repertoire. Bach Fugues, Mozart Sonatas, Beethoven Sonatas, etc. The test is already skewed to be honest. To a newer person who is not familiar with all that, the test is going to be harder because that familiarity is not there.

Honestly, I could sit here and try to write an entire dissertation about why this is not an issue but at the end of the day I think it has to be your choice to try it out. For me, I want to be a better reader. The better I get at reading, the better I will get at learning music faster and just being able to play music at the drop of a dime for others by reading it on the spot. The best way I can think of improving my skill is Samurai. Yes, it may skew my SASR score but I'm ok with that. I know that I can read much better than what I did 4 years ago; heck even 4 months ago! It's a continual process. The Samurai isn't all that's made me a better reader either! I think going through BachScholar's Sight-Reading and Harmony is another amazing resource! What I did before that was Piano Marvel's Method (specifically levels 3-5). I got stuck in level 6 for a while and eventually came back to finish it later on. I also have proofread a lot of music for Piano Marvel which also probably helped my note and pattern recognition. After you double check a Chopin Ballade note for note, your reading HAS to go up, right?! πŸ˜‚ So tough!

So, at the end of the day: you are completely right! I'm cheating. And I hope you will come and cheat with me! 😊

Best of luck!

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That is very encouraging. Thank you!

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Originally Posted by millsj1134
The Samurai is a book of all the SASR songs. To be honest, I felt the same way that you did back when my boss (and the creator of Piano Marvel) told me to make a book of the SASR songs to practice so I can improve. I thought it was cheating. Who knows, it might be but if you want my opinion I think the pros outweigh the cons. Many of the pianists we used to help us level the SASR in that project (https://pianomarvel.com/sight-reading-project) I'd be willing to bet have at least heard many of the songs we threw at them. Heck, many of the songs are part of the Standard Repertoire. Bach Fugues, Mozart Sonatas, Beethoven Sonatas, etc. The test is already skewed to be honest. To a newer person who is not familiar with all that, the test is going to be harder because that familiarity is not there.

Honestly, I could sit here and try to write an entire dissertation about why this is not an issue but at the end of the day I think it has to be your choice to try it out. For me, I want to be a better reader. The better I get at reading, the better I will get at learning music faster and just being able to play music at the drop of a dime for others by reading it on the spot. The best way I can think of improving my skill is Samurai. Yes, it may skew my SASR score but I'm ok with that. I know that I can read much better than what I did 4 years ago; heck even 4 months ago! It's a continual process. The Samurai isn't all that's made me a better reader either! I think going through BachScholar's Sight-Reading and Harmony is another amazing resource! What I did before that was Piano Marvel's Method (specifically levels 3-5). I got stuck in level 6 for a while and eventually came back to finish it later on. I also have proofread a lot of music for Piano Marvel which also probably helped my note and pattern recognition. After you double check a Chopin Ballade note for note, your reading HAS to go up, right?! πŸ˜‚ So tough!

So, at the end of the day: you are completely right! I'm cheating. And I hope you will come and cheat with me! 😊

Best of luck!

Not sure I see the point in learning/practicing the pieces in the SASR tests, sort of defeats the whole point of trying to determine what level of sight reading you are at.
If you practice the piece ahead of time, it's not sight reading, its just reading. If your scores improve because of that, you're just deluding yourself.

Last edited by trooplewis; 01/26/22 10:54 PM.

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hi everyone - new here - and contemplating piano marvel, but i have read there are technical issues between apple and PM, that don't allow my particular keyboard to get feedback. i have been in touch with pm - and they tell me that they are having a microphone version to work with acoustic pianos coming this summer.

i guess my question is this - will PM force you to go through basics, ie, before you get advanced to next levels? i don't know where i fall on the scale, as i have had lessons scattered throughout 60 years, can play some nice things and read notes well enough. i could use the time to review all the material i suppose until i get to the point where i need it using my acoustic - and then jump in when they have this new version available. is this possible?


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Originally Posted by krumpetina
hi everyone - new here - and contemplating piano marvel, but i have read there are technical issues between apple and PM, that don't allow my particular keyboard to get feedback. i have been in touch with pm - and they tell me that they are having a microphone version to work with acoustic pianos coming this summer.

i guess my question is this - will PM force you to go through basics, ie, before you get advanced to next levels? i don't know where i fall on the scale, as i have had lessons scattered throughout 60 years, can play some nice things and read notes well enough. i could use the time to review all the material i suppose until i get to the point where i need it using my acoustic - and then jump in when they have this new version available. is this possible?

Hi krumpetina

There are no restrictions that I am aware of on the order that you do the exercises. You can start anywhere that you like on both Method and Technique.

I'd be interested to know which keyboard you have. I assume that it’s digital. I only ask because my digital keyboard is about 25 years old and connected via the midi port to my iPad it works seamlessly with Piano Marvel.


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its a yamaha p45 - i have been in touch with PM and they have told me they are waiting on an apple update - this is what they replied to me

"Yes, you can connect them using a printer cable (USB A to B) and an Apple-branded lightning camera adapter. Please make sure that it is Apple-branded, as off-brand ones frequently do not work as Apple is starting to really crack down on unsupported accessories. What version of iPadOS 15 do you have? If you do not have 15.4, I would not recommend updating to it, as there is a known issue with Apple not supporting MIDI on that version and they are working on a fix for it. " - so my ipad updated to 15.4.1 - but they haven't been able to answer whether this is the fix PM was waiting for.

they also said " subsequently - want to make you aware of a new feature that is slated to roll out in a few months.

It's an enhancement that will allow the Piano Marvel software to work with acoustic pianos without the need for any wires or connections. It should be able to assess up to six notes played simultaneously at any given time. This enhancement is currently scheduled to become available this summer.


so, since i am not new to the piano - my biggest pitfalls are precise timing/rythm and quickness - i would like to spend some time in the easier portions without ordering the ipad connections - i have a wonderful acoustic piano. i use the digital so i can be quietly making mistakes as i learn.


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I would try to avoid any acoustic piano solution unless there's absolutely no other choice. It's a very difficult thing to do reliably and will never be anywhere near as accurate as MIDI.

One thing you might try is WIDI (wireless MIDI over Bluetooth). Apple devices (iPhones, iPads and Macs) have support for that built-in, so all you should need is an adapter like this one to convert the USB MIDI on your keyboard to wireless MIDI: https://www.amazon.com/CME-WIDI-Uhost-instruments-Controllers/dp/B09GS326QW

I have the same adapter, except I have the one that connects via old-style 5-pin MIDI ports instead of USB. It works fine with Piano Marvel on an iPad with iPadOS 15.4.1 (however it's not the setup I normally use).

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Originally Posted by kanefsky
I would try to avoid any acoustic piano solution unless there's absolutely no other choice. It's a very difficult thing to do reliably and will never be anywhere near as accurate as MIDI.
I share your skepticism but I would really love to be dead wrong. If they can pull this off it should open the door to guitar and other instruments.

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idk - i have an online teacher that used piano adventures - the mic worked great on that - but i hated the app - it didn't give a pause before beginning while learning - only while recording.


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