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#477040 - 02/17/08 10:31 PM Four Star Sight-reading  
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Age_of_Anxiety Offline
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Okay, this sight reading book series I've been borrowing one book at a time from my teacher

It goes from book 1 to I believe book 10. The early books are rather short and the ones near 10 are still no more than 100 pages.

The process is to sight read one page of the book a day. In book one you have easy, single staff melodies. In the last one, you have much harder stuff with big arpeggios in the left hand with chords and everything. Stuff not to far below my repertoire level.

I'm guessing that, ideally, it would take no more than 3 years to complete the series going 1 page per day. Each page takes maybe 2 minutes. That's very roughly about 33 hours of sight reading. How can you go from beginner to professional in 33 hours?

The book says "read one page per day."

Does that mean a MAXIMUM of 1 page? as well as a minimum?

I've tried the series. It's not very well paced. It'll be moderato with quarters in C major and three pages later allegretto with eighths in E major.


What do you think?

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#477041 - 02/17/08 10:38 PM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Danny Niklas Offline
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Don't ruminate too much about the amout of hours.
Sight-reading has a lot to do with learning patterns and so the amount of patterns you get exposed to is more important than the amount of time you spend sight-reading. If a series of sight-reading books tries to cover most patterns then whether you take 10 hours or 100 hours to learn them is rather irrelevant.

More important than how much time you spend doing something is how many days in which you do a bit of that something are spent. Learning happens on a daily basis from one day to the next not on the spot and is not really that dependent on number of hours.

#477042 - 02/17/08 11:13 PM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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The books are supplementary material. It's not a complete sight-reading course, it's just a guide that you can use to check yourself as you progress through the Canadian syllabus.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#477043 - 02/17/08 11:26 PM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
The books are supplementary material. It's not a complete sight-reading course, it's just a guide that you can use to check yourself as you progress through the Canadian syllabus.
A complete sightreading course - - Is there such a thing??


Slow down and do it right.
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#477044 - 02/17/08 11:30 PM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Danny Niklas Offline
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There a complete sightreading course by Yoke Wong:

http://www.sightreadingtips.com/

#477045 - 02/18/08 12:39 AM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Kreisler Offline
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I don't believe such a thing is possible. I'm actually giving a lecture on the subject next month, so I've been thinking a lot about it lately.

Something I was thinking about today is that sight-reading isn't really a skill. It's a particular way in which many different skills come together. Cognitive and motor skills are used, and there's a certain type of focus and concentration that comes into play as well.

When I get a handout put together I'll try to post some stuff here.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#477046 - 02/18/08 12:47 AM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Danny Niklas Offline
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Sight-reading can be summarized as good keyboard geography plus good elements of music gathering from the printed music.

So a course could focus on these points by teaching daily exercises to improve keyboard geography, theory to better highlight the rhythmic, fingering and pitch elements of the sheet, exercises to learn to read ahead and general peripheral reading methods plus material to practice.

#477047 - 02/18/08 01:05 AM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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keystring Offline
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Quote
Something I was thinking about today is that sight-reading isn't really a skill. It's a particular way in which many different skills come together. Cognitive and motor skills are used, and there's a certain type of focus and concentration that comes into play as well.

When I get a handout put together I'll try to post some stuff here.
Such a thing would be very welcome. Please do!

#477048 - 02/18/08 02:55 AM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Age_of, your in danger of losing the plot. I've just read through Thomas Roseingrave's entire keyboard output (though not all to speed) to see what he was about. It took a number of hours and I learnt some interesting info.

The need to explore is what drives sight reading not fulfilling a wish to improve on a technical skill.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#477049 - 02/18/08 07:25 AM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Yes, but how can I explore enjoyably without enough skill?

Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
The books are supplementary material. It's not a complete sight-reading course, it's just a guide that you can use to check yourself as you progress through the Canadian syllabus.
I'd have to do 4 hours a day to keep up with their pace.

or more

#477050 - 02/18/08 07:54 AM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:

When I get a handout put together I'll try to post some stuff here.
Yes, please!


Slow down and do it right.
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#477051 - 02/18/08 10:07 AM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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I have always considered myself a poor sight reader. I often wonder if I have some cognitive defect that limits how much information my brain can process at one time. I must confess that I don't practice sight-reading and I am never forced into situations where I have to sight-read. I usually learn a piece by carefully working out the fingering first and learning one hand at a time. Still I would like to be more fluent at sight-reading so I can play the four-hand and chamber music literature with other musicians.

These are the situations that cause me the most difficulty:

1. Key signatures with many sharps and flats (especially four or more sharps or flats). Even though I can play all the major and minor scales I often make mistakes in remembering how the key signature "modifies" the information conveyed by the note's position on the staff.

2. Lots of accidentals. For example, I have been learning the Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor from Book II of the WTC. I calculate there are an average of nearly six accidentals per measure in the prelude. It's driving me crazy!.

3. Notes with more than two ledger lines above or below the great staff. I invariably have to stop and think: 1 is A, 2 is C, 3 is E, etc. I wish I could experience some kind of instant recognition.

4. Chords with more than three notes or unusual chords.

5. Big shifts in hand positions. Looking at the keyboard is fatal when sight-reading.

6. Complex rhythms

7. Strings of notes for which the optimal fingering is not obvious. I have no problem with scales and arpeggios but I can't seem to work out good fingering "on the fly" in situations where a different pattern works better. I often wind up with thumbs on the black keys or I run out of fingers.

8. Unpredictable patterns in both hands at the same time. It's always easier if one hand is playing predictable chords or an Alberti bass but murder if not (e.g. Bach fugues).

I have been trying to break the habit of stopping whenever I make a mistake and correcting the misplayed note. It's not an easy habit to break after so many years but I know it is essential when sight-reading.

#477052 - 02/18/08 01:40 PM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Gyro Offline
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This could easily be a gimmick, the pieces
all carefully selected to be relatively
easy to read (fall under the fingers well,
very harmonious to the ear, etc.), all
of them below your level so that you can
handle them with no real problem, etc.

Thus, you spend three effortless years on
it, marveling at how well you're doing,
but you're actually not accomplishing anything,
because the material is what you can already
handle.

#477053 - 02/18/08 02:53 PM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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Danny Niklas Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Gyro:
This could easily be a gimmick, the pieces
all carefully selected to be relatively
easy to read (fall under the fingers well,
very harmonious to the ear, etc.), all
of them below your level so that you can
handle them with no real problem, etc.

Thus, you spend three effortless years on
it, marveling at how well you're doing,
but you're actually not accomplishing anything,
because the material is what you can already
handle.
If it is meant for beginners to advantaged, then a beginner sight-reader has even problems with a single right hand and five fingers melodic line.
Hence if they start from that level they start from the level each beginner is at. It's up to the student to understand his/her level and accordingly start with the proper volume.
Anyway sight-reading material should always be way way below one's playing and practicing level.

#477054 - 02/18/08 10:09 PM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
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currawong Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Copake:
I have always considered myself a poor sight reader. I often wonder if I have some cognitive defect that limits how much information my brain can process at one time.

I must confess that I don't practice sight-reading and I am never forced into situations where I have to sight-read.
These things are related, as you probably realise.
Your list of difficulties is pretty much what most people would have some trouble with. What you actually need to do is play music that's a bit easier - just play through it, regularly.
And what Keyboardklutz says is very important:
"The need to explore is what drives sight reading, not fulfilling a wish to improve on a technical skill."
Just play through music - with a desire to find out what it's like. The skills will develop, but you can't expect it to happen all at once. And think of all the music you'll discover on the way.

And Gyro has again missed the point of using easier material to sightread. You actually increase the difficulty gradually, not just keep playing at the easiest level for ever.


Du holde Kunst...
#477055 - 02/19/08 01:48 AM Re: Four Star Sight-reading  
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,588
pianobuff Offline
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Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,588
Pacific Northwest
Quote
Originally posted by Copake:
I have always considered myself a poor sight reader. I often wonder if I have some cognitive defect that limits how much information my brain can process at one time. I must confess that I don't practice sight-reading and I am never forced into situations where I have to sight-read. I usually learn a piece by carefully working out the fingering first and learning one hand at a time. Still I would like to be more fluent at sight-reading so I can play the four-hand and chamber music literature with other musicians.

These are the situations that cause me the most difficulty:

1. Key signatures with many sharps and flats (especially four or more sharps or flats). Even though I can play all the major and minor scales I often make mistakes in remembering how the key signature "modifies" the information conveyed by the note's position on the staff.

2. Lots of accidentals. For example, I have been learning the Prelude and Fugue in G sharp minor from Book II of the WTC. I calculate there are an average of nearly six accidentals per measure in the prelude. It's driving me crazy!.

3. Notes with more than two ledger lines above or below the great staff. I invariably have to stop and think: 1 is A, 2 is C, 3 is E, etc. I wish I could experience some kind of instant recognition.

4. Chords with more than three notes or unusual chords.

5. Big shifts in hand positions. Looking at the keyboard is fatal when sight-reading.

6. Complex rhythms

7. Strings of notes for which the optimal fingering is not obvious. I have no problem with scales and arpeggios but I can't seem to work out good fingering "on the fly" in situations where a different pattern works better. I often wind up with thumbs on the black keys or I run out of fingers.

8. Unpredictable patterns in both hands at the same time. It's always easier if one hand is playing predictable chords or an Alberti bass but murder if not (e.g. Bach fugues).

I have been trying to break the habit of stopping whenever I make a mistake and correcting the misplayed note. It's not an easy habit to break after so many years but I know it is essential when sight-reading.
I like your list. It is everything problematic that goes along with sightreading, pretty much. I first would:

1.) Know your scales. All of them. Really well. This takes time. This way you are not terrified by the sight of seven flats. Instead you can just think of it as the scale of Cb Major or Ab minor. Knowing what 2 white keys to play.

2.) Also knowing your chords in different postitions.

3.) Reading really slowly so you have time to look ahead and for your brain to connect to your fingers. If you're making mistakes, you are going too fast.

4.) Practicing rhythms outside of reading music. Buy yourself a rhythm book and clap and count the rhythms.

5.) Find yourself a good sight reading book. I particularly do not care for the Four Star Series. I like Line a Day by Bastien. Practice using the fingering in the book. Start with the first book, no matter how easy and continue through the four books. Also start reading Czerny's 100 Recreations for the Piano.
Mostly in the keys of C, G and F. When you master one, practice transposing the piece into other keys.

Hope this helps! Happy Sightreading!


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member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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