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Sightreading technique #915721
04/26/03 11:53 AM
04/26/03 11:53 AM
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benedict Offline OP
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I find it very difficult to read both hands at the same time when the soprano voice is very high and the bass very low.

I did not find a translation of "portee" the five lines one in treble key and bass key.

My question is can you see the two "portees" at the same time or to you scan back and forth
vertically ?

confused

I once had a friend staying over from the USA.
She saw I had a Mozart's sonatas and she just sat down and just played at normal speed and said :
Oh, that's nice. I didn't know that one...

She never knew how close she had escaped death.
laugh


Benedict
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Re: Sightreading technique #915722
04/26/03 02:41 PM
04/26/03 02:41 PM
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BruceD Offline
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benedict:

The French portée in English is correctly known as "staff" (pl. staves), although some pianists may refer to the right hand staff as the "treble clef" and the left hand staff as the "bass clef".

The secret in learning to sight-read well is to always read as much as a bar ahead of where you are actually playing. Yes, it is possible to read the two staves at the same time.


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Re: Sightreading technique #915723
04/27/03 05:39 AM
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benedict Offline OP
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Thank you Bruce D.
smile


Benedict
Re: Sightreading technique #915724
04/27/03 12:52 PM
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I have tried to read one bar in advance, but I stopped reading altogether.

I wonder if it is not like reading books. At first, you read one letter at a time, then one "syllabe", then one word, then one part of sentence, then one sentence, then one line etc.

Do you think this advance comes naturally with a lot of practice ?

There is so much joy in sightplaying.
I suppose somebody who is illeterate and that can finally throught hard work and enthusiasm read anything he wants from his newspaper to novels or the words of his favorite cartoons must feel he/she is the king of the world.

I have had seven piano teachers : none of them had a clue about sightplaying. They all emphasized memorizing. I have had to build everything anew on sound basis. It has taken years. But it was worth it.

But I still need advice on specific points.
And encouragement. smile


Benedict
Re: Sightreading technique #915725
04/27/03 02:06 PM
04/27/03 02:06 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by benedict:

But I still need advice on specific points.
And encouragement. smile
Go get 'em ben.

Actually, I'm really with you on this one. I'm dead set on improving my sight-reading, I'm just not exactly sure how to. Thing is try to do most is just to hack my way through as many pieces as I can find, no matter the difficulty, adjusting my speed appropriately. I make sure I can play the melody first, then the bass, and whatever chords or else happens to arrive during the course of the read come third. I've no idea how to read more than about a half-bar ahead, though...guess I'll just have to keep trying.

Peter

Re: Sightreading technique #915726
04/27/03 02:37 PM
04/27/03 02:37 PM
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Benedict--
When we learn to read, much of it is through repetition. Children who experience difficulty are asked to re-read the same book several times until it becomes fluid. Their decoding skills becoming more automatic with practice. For a child who is still developing his/her skill, we would never expect them to read a book on that "emerging" level with pure grace. There will be stumbles. What we will hope for is that the same child can read with greater fluency on a level one or two steps below where he/she is practicing. That builds confidence as well as increased practice in word recognition. As the child increases his/her level of expertise, the ability to read fluently on lower levels also increases. So what is my point? When my daughter takes her Trinity exam in piano, there is a sightreading component. She is never tested on whether she can sightread on the same level for which she has practiced her exam. Her sightreading section is always tested at a level below her performance proficiency. I believe there is a reason for this. If the giants that be who created these exams expected people to sightread at the same level they could perform, that's how the exam would be. Your friend who sat down and just sightread Mozart--no doubt impressive (of course I'm wishing that I could do the same thing!!)--but my guess is her skills were on a level higher than that piece. Likewise, if you approached a piece to sightread that was a level below your ability, my guess is you would do well. I think you are too hard on yourself. How do you do sightreading a piece that is below your performance level? As for encouragement--I think you're the best cowboy around and I'm convinced that you can conquer sightreading!! smile

Praetorian--maybe I missed this, but how did you do on your A levels? I hope that everything worked out for you.


"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever"
John Keats
Re: Sightreading technique #915727
04/27/03 02:39 PM
04/27/03 02:39 PM
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benedict Offline OP
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Praetorian,

Thanks for your encouragement. I have fought that battle so long, I thought I would never win.

I have lately found a method that works very well for me : I use Pischna exercizes (I like it because they go through twelve keys) and I read them.

The key, I have found is the rythm.

I count absolutely every subdivision .
I have the little Pischna and the real thing.
The little Pischna, I count :
One and two and three and four And one
or One ee and ah Two ee and ah Three..

For the big Pischna, it is more trick :
O-ne ee-ee a-and a-a Two so as to place the triple croches (32nd ?).

The result : it liberates my mind from the name and the notes and even looking for them on the keyboard. It sort of creates an automatic pilot mode which improves every day with incredible speed.

I think we should not bother about reading ahead. It certainly comes with practice. A child walks slowly at first and suddenly, he rans and nothing can stop him.

After the Pischna, I have tried to see the result on my sightplaying real pieces.
As my goal is Bach, I started with Ana Magdalena.
I was very happy.
Then the Little Preludes. Great.
Yesterday, I said : enough of the childish stuff, now is time for the real stuff.
And I took my old WTC.
I was happy.

This morning I said : let's see how my method does for a Prelude I do not know.
Since I know C (Prelude and Fugue), I figured the next one should be G major (next in the cycle of fifth).
It is a strange time signature :24/16.
I tried first hands separate.
The result was amazing : I just played. As simply as that.
I tried the soprano voice of the fugue : same.

This is the greatest day of my life : the Well Tempered Clavier is mine for all the years to come.
I feel like Jonathan Livingston Seagull who spent so many years looking for the way to fly higher.
smile

And the conversations (often heated) on this forum have helped me incredibly.

So, I guess I will follow your advice and got get them.

I am sure that the method I followed would work miracles for you.
The secret is to train not on the real pieces but like in golf on a practice.
I find Pischna works nicely. They sort of free my conscious mind and let my unconscious mind do the work without effort.

But I will write some exercizes for a beginner friend who asked me to help her.

I think I will use children and folk songs (Sur le Pont d'Avignon, Ah vous dirais je maman..) and do a very progressive (step after step) series using each song and bass line in every of the tones with sharps going up and with flats going down. Like this she will know absolutely all the tonalities without having made the least effort.

I hope this long post gives you food for thought.
smile


Benedict
Re: Sightreading technique #915728
04/27/03 04:08 PM
04/27/03 04:08 PM
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benedict Offline OP
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Ob1Knabe,

Such a pleasure to read you here.
The two posts crossed.

What you say is so true.

When the piano education is done intelligently, the sightplaying is established till memorization becomes natural. Then there should not be a tremendous difference between sightplaying and playing by memory.

The problem occurs when too much emphasis is made on learning by memory and repetition.
Then the two processes get dichotomized and the trouble start.

I was in that rut and the more I worked hard to play the magnificient pieces my teachers proposed me (Bach, Satie's gnossienne 1), the worst it became though the playing sounded fine.

It took me years to undo everything and I just feel I can start afresh today.
But I had to put everything apart till it made sense.

It made me think of Milton Erikson, a great source of inspiration for me. He suffered from the sequels of poliomelytis and at one point in his life, he had to learn how to walk again.
He said that it was incredibly difficult because he had to organize everything for himself.

I felt the same.

I once had a graduate from Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris : our highest musical institution.

He took the same book of sonatas by Mozart and played at professional level. And I know he first sightread them.

If the two processes of sightreading and memorizing are intertwined, that is how it should be.

Richter practiced sightreading extensively since he was accompanist for shows. His sightreading and playing were absolutely similar.

In a few months, I probably will understand more about the inner connexion between memory and sightreading. But I feel absolutely sure that sightplaying is a great way to achieve confidence and autonomy.

Not only for cowboys. laugh

I wish you the best Ob1Knabe.
smile


Benedict
Re: Sightreading technique #915729
04/27/03 07:25 PM
04/27/03 07:25 PM
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Benedict - it seems you always worry about sight reading. You are probably a good sight reader. If you see the 2nd B above middle C enough times you will know exactly where it should be. If you play it enough times you will be able to feel where it is easily. All we need is more time.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
Re: Sightreading technique #915730
04/27/03 10:28 PM
04/27/03 10:28 PM
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benedict,
it was a joy reading about your experience and of your overcoming your earlier limitations because of poor training. your story is very much like my own, and my teacher also gave me the gift of learning to rely on rhythm. i hope i will soon experience the progress you describe!


piqué

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Re: Sightreading technique #915731
04/29/03 04:27 AM
04/29/03 04:27 AM
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benedict Offline OP
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Pique,

You will undoubtedly.

Once you have understood that rythm is predominant, you have the tools to progress at your rythm.

This morning, I found that a note has two names :
the name of its place on the keyboard (A4, C#5 etc)
and its rythm name :

Like if it is the fourth sixteenth note its rythm name will be aa (one ee and AA).

My brain is happy to concentrate on the rythm name and not on the keyboard name.

I read the fugue in C minor of WTC 1 this morning.
And instead of playing by memory, the reading process took charge.

The rythm name made everything simple.

And when the reading was less easy, the rythm engine slowed considerably while concentrating on the rythm name.

I hope what I write makes sense to you, Pique.

So that when my reading of the rythm will be correct, the rythm will be correct. I will then (and only then) check with a metronom.

I feel it is important that the natural rythm skill gets confident and sort of...happy to live.

Like a natural dancer.

I sincerely hope this helps.

It is a work in progress. But I sense that like in a childbirth, the most difficult part is over when the head of the baby is out.

And playing Bach is some baby.

smile


Benedict
Re: Sightreading technique #915732
04/29/03 07:37 AM
04/29/03 07:37 AM
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Does anyone else understand Benedict's concept of rhythm name? I didn't understand a word of it.

If you're going to stop to think about the name (pitch name, rhythm name - whatever)of every note you play before you play it, it's going to take a week to get through a short Mozart sonata!

And what happens when you want to play something "up to speed"?

confused (confused)


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Re: Sightreading technique #915733
04/29/03 08:19 AM
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benedict Offline OP
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Bruce D

Why don't you ask me ? smile

I'll answer anyway.

1°The idea is to NEVER say the pitch name.
If you have difficulties with the pitch names of a particular piece, there is another technique which I can give you if you need it.
Of course, that technique will be used best without the piano so as not to be a problem at all. It is impossible to look for a pitch name and then play the key. This process has to be automatic.

2° The technique of the rythm name is useful only for pianists who do not master sightreading or if a piece is difficult rythmwise.
Take the fugue in C major of WTC 1.
The basic rythm is 16th notes with a difficult that comes from the 32th note which gives it its charm (and which apparently had not been written by JSB but by his son-Wanda Landowska dixit).

If I want to read the rythm of the first bar, here is what I do :
It starts on the upbeat of the first time :

And two and three aa-aa (to give the exact space to the two 32nd notes) four and.

Second bar :
One and ee and aa three ee and aa four ee and aa
(it is no use reading the rythm of the soprano voice)

I hope it is clearer.

Of course, one you can sightplay without any problem, the only reading that is required will be the times : One two three four. And the speed is the speed you feel comfortable with.

After a while, your brain will memorize the whole program without the least effort.

The only investment is starting very slowly
Which is one thing all teachers and musicians agree with.

I'm not there yet, but I think it won't be long because practicing like that is NEVER automatic. So my brain really learns.

3° The whole idea of rhythm reading is to free the mind of the pitch names (especially for those unfortunate enough to have caught the habit).

4° I developed these tools because no teacher or musician or book or website or forum could help me
get out of the groove I was stuck in.

When the period of tests will be finished (and successful), I intend to develop a website for those who think sightplaying is the good basis for autonomy and discovery.

Of course, everything I write is for people who are "inner-directed" and do not take their motivation from recitals, competitions or exams.
I expect that those master the zen art or sightplaying and its relationship with easy memorizing (though I'm not 100% sure this is the case).

If something is not clear in what I write, I apologize for the clumsiness of my explanations and I would appreciate that you ask me directly to make myself more clear.

It is not easy to write in a foreign language since I have always read about music in French.

Hope this makes it more clear for you.

I am not "selling" anything and I do not prove anything.

I just answered Pique's post because I felt she had the same motivation as me.

smile


Benedict
Re: Sightreading technique #915734
04/29/03 09:33 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by ob1knabe:

Praetorian--maybe I missed this, but how did you do on your A levels? I hope that everything worked out for you.
No - you didn't miss it, I just didn't really post it up. I'm doing my A-level exams right now as a matter of fact, and they should be over by the end of June. If you're enquiring about the A-level music recital I posted up - I got an A on it!! (23/25) I was pretty chuffed! I was gonna post it up but I felt silly because the thread about the recital had spun off in some other direction (as they do) Thanks very much for asking!!
smile

Peter

Re: Sightreading technique #915735
04/29/03 09:47 AM
04/29/03 09:47 AM
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Hi, Benedict:

I think I am following what you are saying. Let me try: when we read words, we don't stop and say, "Letter A, sounds like ah, letter P, sounds like 'pah'" and piece it together that way. (Even though that's how we all learned, the process becomes automatic pretty quickly.)

In the process of learning to read language, we quickly transfer from letter identification to sounds, then on to words, etc.

So, when reading music, you're saying you move from a conscious thought ("the note is C#, let me find it on the keyboard,") to an automatic identification of the note and the physical movement necessary to locate it on the keyboard.

And, if I'm on it so far, that process is made a lot easier for you by paying attention to the rhythm, not the note identification itself.

Makes sense to me. I'm thinking about my own sightreading, and I don't stop and identify the notes at all (except for the occasional note way off the staff, where I have to count those itty-bitty lines :p ). The challenge for me is linking the notes with the rhythm, as well. Until that is completed, it's just a mishmash of notes and sound.

Rhythm is at the essence of music, IMHO.

By the way, I'm a big fan of Pischna also. I think we may be the only two... seems like the other forumites use Hanon or Czerny more, if they use exercises at all.

Nina

Re: Sightreading technique #915736
04/29/03 10:08 AM
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Benedict:

I'm sorry I misunderstood what you were trying to say.

I've never heard of a method of (piano) study where one recites the pitch names of notes as (or before) one plays them. Certainly, I would never use (or need) such a system. Perhaps it would work for children starting out at the piano, otherwise it seems counterproductive.

As for determining rhythm, it did not occur to me that, (using your example of the WTC Prelude No 1) one would think of counting each sixteenth note in a quadruplet in 4/4 time. It is such a regular, straightforward rhythm, that it seems to me infinitely easier - and much more conducive to the flow of the piece - to simply count out the four beats and play four evenly spaced notes in each beat.

As I understand what you are saying - and it's possible I do not understand - this is making a straightforward rhythm more complex and par conséquent more difficult.

I guess the bottom line is: if it works for you, then you should use it.

Ah, well, that's the difficulty - some times - about trying to talk about music. It's difficult to accurately portray in words what we do in practice.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Sightreading technique #915737
04/29/03 10:57 AM
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benedict Offline OP
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Bruce D,

What makes this forum both rich and complex is the differences of levels, experiences,goals.

From what you write, I gather that you can sightread any fugue of the WTC 1 (and probably 2) by opening the book and starting at the first bar.

That puts you in a very different league. So I suppose you can skip my posts which will have been useful if one person has related to them and find that a door which was closed before has begun to open.

A long time ago, I started a thread "Piano for dummies" and got a lot of negative feedback.
Well, here we are. There is a very little number of "dummies" around. I hope the haves are merciful.

About saying the names of the pitches, that is what I have done for many decades because I took the habit as a child and was NOT ONCE corrected by the seven teachers I've had.
As you say rightly, it slows down the whole process.

So for me rythm is an antidote and a way to debug the whole cognitive process.

Je viens de lire que tu etais prof de francais.

Content de te connaitre. smile


Benedict
Re: Sightreading technique #915738
04/29/03 11:11 AM
04/29/03 11:11 AM
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Nina,
"Rhythm is at the essence of music, IMHO."

IMHO too.

I wonder if rythm is not at the essence of Nature.

Somebody who likes Pischna and the Piano Shop on the Left bank cannot be all bad.
laugh

You understood me quite well : thanks to concentrating on the rythm, the process of reading pitches and putting the right finger on the right key is done unconsciously.

That is what I have experienced.

I think sightplaying Pischna is an incredible help.

What I am trying to create is a sheetmusic which will allow me to sightplay all scales in the chromatic order or the cycle of fifths.*
Thanks to Ryan's advice (whom I thank once more smile , I sightplay scales which puts an end to the nightmare of automatic memory playing which kills any joy.

My dream is to be the Hanon of sightreading. That would be a great revenge on standing for so long at the gates of Heaven outside.

The problem with Hanon IMHO is that they are two monotonous so that you memorize them and play mechanically easily. But the idea of a ritual that will develop technique is not bad.

Czerny ? I once asked on this forum. I got no reply.

Pischna is pleasant because it is based on the same idea as Hanon : a set of exercices that cover the basic skills. But the two hands do not play the same thing and it goes through seven keys so that when I sightplay it, a lot of things are processed by my brain while I just read the rythm.


Benedict
Re: Sightreading technique #915739
04/29/03 12:00 PM
04/29/03 12:00 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by nina:
"Rhythm is at the essence of music, IMHO."
To expand on the same idea, to rhythm I would add pulse and pace, without which music is not music.

Czerny is great! I had a friend that could sightread pretty much anything by Czerny at or faster than the given tempi, which is really saying something because the metronome markings are usually pretty insane. This guy was the best sightreader I have ever seen. He was a natural, but he further developed his skills by reading lots of Czerny and anything else he could get his hands on.

Ryan

Re: Sightreading technique #915740
04/29/03 12:06 PM
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Ryan
Quote
to rhythm I would add pulse and pace, without which music is not music.
Of course. I take the word rythm in the broadest sense. The pulse is of course the basis, both a motor and a soul of music.

I will try and read Czerny see if it is fun.

smile


Benedict
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