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Posted By: David_J

Pedagogy - 05/16/03 10:38 AM

I'm curious is there any interesting music out there composed for the purpose of improving sight reading? It seems there's music written for other technical aspects, but I think my sight reading could do with a boost...

Any ideas?
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/16/03 10:56 AM

I just bought a software to edit music to write workshops that will improve first sight reading and sight playing.

What I find is important is not only the music itself but the process that will allow usto read absolutely fluently so as to be able to open a song book by our favorite singer or folk music that make us feel in touch with our roots or open one of the masterpieces of classic music.
Or blues, or jazz.

What delight !

Posted By: Annihil8or

Re: Pedagogy - 05/16/03 11:28 AM

Probably useless info, but Ravel's Prélude was composed for a sight-reading competition.
Posted By: kawai9046

Re: Pedagogy - 05/16/03 12:32 PM

What's the name of the software you purchased?
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/16/03 12:56 PM

Posted By: Linda in PA

Re: Pedagogy - 05/16/03 02:40 PM

Hello, David_J:

My teacher suggested that I get a hymnal to use for sight reading practice (he specifically mentioned that Episcopal hymnals were good). I'm guessing that the value lies in that fact that the songs are written with multiple voices - and there are lots of songs in those hymnals, so you'll have a wealth of fresh material with which to work for a while. So, if the thought of playing hymns is not offensive to you from a belief standpoint, then a hymnal might be an inexpensive investment.

Good luck with you sight-reading efforts!

. . . Linda
Posted By: BJenkins

Re: Pedagogy - 05/17/03 12:54 AM

My teacher suggested that I get a hymnal to use for sight reading practice
Yeah hymnal's do wonders. I learned on a hymnal smile but seriously I can sight read better then people that have played 10 years longer then me, (im 16 and have been playing for 2 laugh ). My techinique is horrible but thats just because I'm inexperienced but I can sight read just about anything (within reason of course). Really I've been playing for church for a year now and I can tell you it's amazing what a hymnal can do for your site reading abilities. Read through it a few times each day maybe 5 hymns a day, then just keep going through it until you've played everyone. Then go back and start over. I really can't emphasize enough how much it has helped my sight reading!
Posted By: Linda in PA

Re: Pedagogy - 05/17/03 01:00 AM

Hey, ThEmUsIcMaNBJ:

That's encouraging news. Glad to hear that the hymnal practice is working for you!

Posted By: RachFan

Re: Pedagogy - 05/17/03 01:02 AM

Annihil8or is correct on the Ravel "Prelude for Piano". But after you've sight read it, do study and learn it. The piece is short, not difficult, very charming, and characteristic of Ravel's idiom. You can't help but like it, guaranteed.
Posted By: David_J

Re: Pedagogy - 05/17/03 08:27 AM

Linda: I'm Catholic so hyms are no probs to me :p
Probably will scare the daylights out of my parents...

Interesting idea. I'll print off a few dozen and sight read a few daily. Thanks smile

Rachfan: I probably will learn something by Ravel soon (my repetoire is lacking anything serious post Chopin). But my to do list is too long! frown
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/17/03 01:03 PM

Can anybody help me choose ?



What about Bach's four voices chorals ?
Posted By: David_J

Re: Pedagogy - 05/18/03 02:42 AM


Just download them all and print them off... and sight read them through...

If it works I'll go to the store and buy every book of hyms they have smile

My parents will think I've gone mentally unstable, mind you :p
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/18/03 07:14 AM

What do you mean :"if it works".

Of course, it will work. With God on my side, how could I fail ? laugh

Can't you find Catholic hymnals ?

Anyway, there is only one God.

Though you must not say this to a Chinese or Indian or Japanese or Korean or...

They haven't heard yet.

The hymns seem basic enough musically to be a good introduction to polyphonic sightreading.

Let's go to work.

And do not pay any attention to my weird irrespectful sense of humor. Religion is too serious (too ofter deadly) a subject not too be handled with humour.
Posted By: okat47

Re: Pedagogy - 05/18/03 01:27 PM

The Bach Chorales are also really good for sightreading. For added difficulty, you can also try transposing them into different keys. This is hard but also really fun.
Posted By: Roxane

Re: Pedagogy - 05/18/03 03:07 PM

Originally posted by benedict:
Anyway, there is only one God.

Though you must not say this to a Chinese or Indian or Japanese or Korean or...

They haven't heard yet.
I am an ethnic Chinese and I am a Christian. So are around 18% of the population in my neck of the woods. This 18% consists of mainly ethnic Chinese with quite a few Indians and other races thrown in. The Christian church also has a significant presence in South Korea.

Apologies for being OT, but this needed correction.

Now, getting back to the topic, contrapuntal music (e.g. Bach's WTC) is great for sight-reading; both hands are trained to be independent. 20th Century music is also good for sight-reading since there are usually many surprises. Schoenberg is interesting... wink
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 08:33 AM

okat 47
The Bach Chorales are also really good for sightreading. For added difficulty, you can also try transposing them into different keys. This is hard but also really fun.
I find reading the bass, alto and soprano voices easy. But the tenor voice is extremely difficult for me to sightready.
How do you manage to do it ?

So are around 18% of the population in my neck of the woods. This 18% consists of mainly ethnic Chinese with quite a few Indians and other races thrown in. The Christian church also has a significant presence in South Korea.

Sorry, sorry. I of course meant the Chinese,Koreans and Japanese who were not Christians

I once had a Japanese protestant friend. He was a very gentle person. Whenever we went to the restaurant near the painting academy of "La grande chaumiere", I ordered first and he always said : "Meme chose" (same thing).

What has it got to do with sightreading or hymns ?
I wish I knew. laugh

I do not understand what "my neck in the woods" mean ? I like the sound of it though.
Posted By: okat47

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 01:26 PM

Are you talking about chorales written on four separate staves? My book of chorales is in condensed score so it's all in treble and bass clef.
If you're talking about reading in open score with the tenor in the tenor clef, well I have trouble with that too. I think the key is to become as fluent in the "wierd" clefs as you are in the normal ones. I'm pretty good with tenor and alto, but soprano is still a challenge. While situations where you would actually use these clefs are pretty rare, it would seem to benefit sight-reading skills. Plus, it's kind of impressive to be able to sight-read independent musical lines in four different clefs.
Posted By: Ariel

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 02:30 PM

Salut, benedict!

I have been trying to "find" you on this site, and it looks like you may return to this thread.

I guess I will ask you here about bPhlat as I would rather he not see any more speculations he may not understand (and feel compelled to reply to) in "the thread". The same goes for Larry even more.

I arrived at the tail end of the Steinway thing (and in fact, you may recall, it was I who posted the triple posting about "ignore Peter...etc"). I never did know exactly what he "did" before (except what I can see in the archives), as I gather he deleted many threads.

My understanding is that he threatened to sic a Trojan Horse on somebody, not that he asked for help in the Coffee Room (as you said in your post today to Bb). Could you please elaborate?

I am far from convinced Bb is Steinway.

I think it is probable that he was considerably less serious about the level of his worry, than he presented it to us - that he was, actually, tossing it out kind of conversationally as a way to "start a discussion" (which, in fact, he might have found reassuring). If he had been that worried, with such "great" parents, I am sure he would have just asked them to excuse him from eating meat, that he wanted to become a vegetarian or something. Happens all the time to parents of teenagers! (Maybe not to children of Larry and JohnMoonlight.)

But I don't think he made it up out of thin air, nor that he is the "other entity". His reactions, disclaimers, and writing style have quite a different personality to me than the "entity" - which you will see yourself, I think, if you read his other recent postings. Especially in the threads he has started (yes, there are quite a lot of them - kind of a new toy, I think)...

I am also concerned that Larry is bullying him very badly, and that this can cause him emotional damage. Obviously anything I say about this, wil just attract more flak, so I won't.

My attitude is an Internet variation on "innocent until proven guilty" . Of course we can't really prove anything without computer tracing and that is impossible. Barring that, it would take more of a psychological fingerprint to convince me enough to risk putting a possibly innocent kid through this kind of harrassment and "stalking", as he put it to Larry in his other threads.

I say this fully cognizant of your having suffered considerable trauma before, which is not the case with me. It must have been awful to reach within yourelf trying so hard to help, only to find you had "had your heartstrings pulled" by a sham. I can imagine you were the last to stop trusting...

I do appreciate very much your kind advice to me and your equally kind words about me. I know you think many times over when you post, because you are aware of how fragile the human heart is, and how easily bruised.

I am sure you are a fan of le Petit Prince.

I actually do have a question for you in this thread - about the software you referred to, "Pizzicato".

Is this exclusively to work on sight-reading and is it the kind which works with a midi-connection? We have for some time been seeking such software, to go with my son's electronic piano since his sight-reading skills are poor, owing to his having spent most of his piano study years under a "Suzuki" teacher who was particularly weak in teaching the fundamentals.

And have you tried it out yet? Does it work well? I am not quite clear about the other things you said it does (?). By the way, what is the name of the manufacturer (it may be necessary to know if it is to be ordered here). And - lastly - is it in French or Italian?

I will look for your reply in this thread - and I apologize to the thread originator for borrowing space here to use as a bulletin board! I wish there were such anoption at this web-site - I think in some places, you can send individual members private messages (and also to screen offensive posters out, so their messages don't display on your screen!).



P.S. "In this neck of the woods" means "in this neighborhood" or around here. It has a "local" feel to it.
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 02:46 PM


No, I mean Bach's choral in two staves.

There is no finger indication on my book.

If there were finger indications, I suppose I could manage.

But the tenor voice is distributed between both hands (unless you can play tenth, of course) and reading and finding out which finger to use is very difficult for me.

How do you manage ?

With the two top voices and the bass voice, I find it easy and beautiful, but less satisfying because I am not playing what Bach wrote.
Posted By: Ariel

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 02:50 PM

David J,

As I wrote above in my message to Benedict - I apologize for borrowing space in your thread for what is partly a wholly unrelated topic!
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 02:50 PM


If your neck of the wood is in the USA, I did not mean Chinese-Americans but Chinese-Chinese which would include a very tiny minority of Christians.

Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 03:23 PM


As for Pizzicato, it is a general software to edit music, compose etc. It is not meant to teach sightreading but I use it as a tool to create sightreading workshops for my friend and maybe (later) for people who want to master the art of sightreading. Pizzicato is in Frenc but will be translated at the end of the year into English.

You can have an introduction here :

If you have jewish choir music, it would work well for your son if it is four voices on two staves.

You can read what I have written on sight-reading skills to see the "rythmic" approach.
Posted By: Richard Martin

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 03:35 PM


Have a look through the chorale before you play. Bach usually keeps the gaps between Sop/Alto, Alto/Tenor within an octave to avoid the thin lack of homogeneity otherwise obtained.

The Tenor/Bass gap is different however and Bach exploits the wonderful effect of a big gap here for the texture and sonority as well as the added beauty of a trouser tighteningly high Tenor line. On these occasions you may need to play SAT with RH and B with LH.

In fact, some old hymnals were written with SAT in treble and B in bass. See Vaughan-Williams' fine "Sine nomine" tune to "For all the Saints" - not strictly a 4-part harmonisation, but you can see the effective chord + low bass structure.

Sometimes the gaps are still too big in Bach - low Bass and SAT that do not sit well with RH. Where Tenor/Bass exceeds the octave you can cheat by playing the Bass an octave up.

I agree, hymnals are good for sight-reading practise. Balance the learning of chords with contrapuntal music as well for a broad range of progression. Again, I prefer to look to Bach...!

Posted By: Richard Martin

Re: Pedagogy - 05/19/03 03:46 PM


The Bach (and any 4-part harmony in the traditional style) will sound odd with only 3 of the 4 voices played. Every now and then the voice you miss will be the 3rd of the chord and since the 3rd should rarely be doubled in a chord the resultant will be a bare 5th i.e. clangy, bare-sounding, nebulous (neither major nor minor), medievel effect!

One aspect of Bach's chorale-style was that he always aimed for full sonority of chord. E.g you can have an acceptable chord of C-major with C, C, E. Bach would strive to include the G and often breaks the traditional "leading note always goes to tonic" rule in order to include the 5th. See numerous examples of the alto line e.g. in G major, falling from F-sharp to D in a perfect cadence to fill in the 5th instead of rising to the G.

Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 07:47 AM

Richard Miller,

Thanks ever so much for this precious information.

Do you by any chance know if I could find an edition of Bach's chorals with fingering.

I started work this morning and sang one choral :
Aus tiefer Noth shrei ich zu dir "Lyrics" by Martin Luther.

You were right, the harmony is beautiful.

It is the best introduction to harmony I have ever seen.

But I would feel much better with fingerings !

Posted By: Richard Martin

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 08:44 AM



I will have a think about fingered chorales. I do have one but it is arranged for organ (i.e. 3 staves, Bass line played on pedals). They are paradoxically easier to sight read at the organ since the feet take care of the Bass and RH, LH manage more easily with SAT!

However, I guess you are getting your fingers in a twist trying to play these things entirely legato. At the piano you can cheat by pedalling each beat and simply playing and releasing each chord as a block. At the organ, current practise dictates a detache touch anyhow to give some sense of rhythmic structure and articulation. A string player changes bow direction, woodwing tongue the notes, singers have consonants; faultless legato at the organ can be monotonous and dull.

This is easily illustrated with chorales starting with an upbeat. You can't hit the note harder for an accent on the organ so you must accent otherwise and this is mainly achieved with an agogic accent. A short, detached upbeat followed by a first beat of the next bar held for its full value sets the rhythmic structure up well. Conversely, a long upbeat slurred to the first beat of the next bar gives a false accent to the upbeat. Your fellow countryman Marcel Dupre recorded and played lots of Bach at a time when organists strove for total legato. His playing and compositions were and are sensational but his Bach is now a bit odd-sounding.

What I'm saying is that, at first, go easy on yourself and bounce of the chords using the pedal to connect. Then you can get more pianistic by experimenting with a legato Soprano line etc., taking care of repeated noted in Alto and Tenor! A beautiful, clear, singing, legato touch at the piano is a fantastic if tricky technique, so go easy on yourself at first. The point here was about sightreading not technique, if I remember correctly!
Good luck,

Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 09:50 AM

Richard MARTIN laugh

Sorry !

Thank you for this detailed lesson on the art of playing the chorals.

I have two books of Chorals for piano :

371 VierStimmige Choräle
published by De haske

published by Breitkopf (3765)

The Breitkopf is in more common keys than the De Haske.

I thought you were not supposed to use pedals for Bach.

I just received arrangements by Richard Jordan of Luthers hymns.

I do not understand how you play on the piano. There are three staves : Great, swell and bass.

I will end up playing in the local church ! laugh
Posted By: Richard Martin

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 10:47 AM

OK I think I have confused you.
There's no such thing as a standard organ, however, a standard organ (!) might consist of 3 divisions:

- lower keyboard (manual)
- principal organ sounds
- no dynamics other than adding/taking away stops
- French equivalent approximately "Grand Orgue"

- upper keyboard (manual)
- softer sounds, solo sounds, colourful sounds
- all pipes in a box with shutters that can open/close to give dynamic expression
- French equivalent approximately "Recit"

- keyboard played with feet
- highest physical key usually F above middle C
- usually for playing bass lines
- French "Pedale"

All organs are unique and will have exceptions to this. There are huge differences across nationalities and musical periods, but it's an adequate example.

Organ music is generally written on 3 staves i.e. 3 sets of the five lines as opposed to the 2 normally used for RH (treble clef) and LH (bass clef) in piano music. As you would expect, the top 2 staves are RH and LH as the piano, and the bottom one is for pedal and is written in bass clef. Have a look at some Bach organ music on the sheet music archive.

Typically, Bach pushed the boundaries of pedal playing and uses the pedals as an independent voice for a bass line, a chorale cantus firmus, a voice of a fugue.

Let's not confuse the organ pedal-board with the sustaining pedal (senza sordini) on the piano.
You are quite right - the sustain pedal is generally to be avoided in Bach due to the contrapuntal nature of his music requiring clarity and independence of line. Also Bach didn't write for instruments with this capability.

However, the chorales were for choir and organ or chamber group or whatever. For pedagogical purposes, pedalling the chorales can be forgiven and will help your sight-reading in terms of playing the right notes at the right time. A legato technique in these pieces at the piano is, as I said, tricky but nevertheless desirable. I would learn this seperate from sight-reading.

Good luck.
Sorry these posts are long.
Any more questions - I'm happy to help if I can.

Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 11:10 AM


Thank you so much for explaining all these things I didn't understand.

At Musicora, the exhibition of music in Paris, I saw a young man play on a big numeric organ. It was amazing to see his feet jumping and this music that sounded so rich.

From our conversation, I am not sure Bach's chorals are a good choice for training sightreading.

I find his keyboard music more rewarding.

When I have practiced my Pischna, scales and Chopin's Etude in C major (sightplaying of course), then I sightplay WTC1 and go further every time.

This is an incredible workshop.

I would like to find the chorals for piano with fingerings though. I find playing Luther's hymns is quite an experience for me.

Nothing could be further to my upbringing.
I find them restful and deep.

Posted By: Richard Martin

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 11:31 AM


It's a pleasure to be able to help.

I do think the chorales will help your sight reading immensely. A standard hymnal would be easier to start with, however.

From a purely musical point of view, I agree. These chorales are a vast wealth of beatiful harmony. I am amazed at how often I visit them. There is one particular short chord progression that Bach often uses to harmonize a descending scale. It was pointed out to me by a harmony teacher and is truly sublime. I will try send you it, with fingering! Do you have MS Word?
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 11:57 AM


You are helping immensely by sharing your experience and love of Bach.

Of course I have MS Word. I know that you people bring toilet paper whenever you come to France, but I can assure you that we are a modern country.
Posted By: Richard Martin

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 12:13 PM

I meant as opposed to another word processor or operating system!

Of course you are a modern country - one only has to examine the toilet facilities in any French campsite to realise this! Where's the toilet?!

Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 12:46 PM

[Linked Image]

A pint of best for me, please !

What will you have ?
Posted By: Richard Martin

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 01:50 PM

Make that two!
Nice Graemlins!

I will send that chorale snippet in MS Word but it might be next week.


Posted By: Roxane

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 04:04 PM

Originally posted by benedict:

If your neck of the wood is in the USA, I did not mean Chinese-Americans but Chinese-Chinese which would include a very tiny minority of Christians.
Pardon the continuing OT sub-thread.

Benedict, I am not in the Americas or Europe. Ethnic Chinese make up 70% of the population in my country. But you are right about China, though. Freedom of worship is still not officially tolerated, and one cannot enter China solely as a missionary; the only Christian churches are home churches.

Now, back to the topic, I agree with you, Benedict, that Bach's chorales are not as useful as his other keyboard music for sight-reading. Bach is also my favourite composer, and I spend about 30 minutes each day sight-reading his various works for keyboard. I also sight-read a lot of other Baroque music, e.g. Handel and Scarlatti. In such music, both hands usually play equally challenging parts independently.

I also sight-read 20th-century music, which is full of sudden key changes and accidentals, and thus perfect for sight-reading. However, I do not enjoy the music anywhere near as much as I enjoy Bach.
Posted By: benedict

Re: Pedagogy - 05/20/03 04:15 PM

David J

Here is what you asked for :

http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/0010588/highlight/sight%20reading%20%20piano/deta ils.html

There is a book for each grade.
Good luck.

Posted By: David_J

Re: Pedagogy - 05/21/03 08:18 AM

Thanks smile
I don't have a credit card so I'll ask my parents for it later, though knowing them they'll go to a bookstore and get the book 'the proper way'. :p

Meanwhile, hymns are working great... considering going on church roster to help with piano :p
I'll wait till I'm a little better perhaps, but hymns aren't too hard smile
Posted By: Richard Martin

Re: Pedagogy - 05/21/03 10:08 AM

I think playing at church will help a lot. I have been playing the organ at church for 10 years and have played at some pretty high profile services.

The added pressure of having to play the whole thing without stopping, warts and all, afforded by hymn/choral accompaniment brought my sight-reading and general playing on immensely.

I'm not sure I agree that Bach's contrapuntal works are specifically "better" for sight-reading practise. You need a wide range, and chorales will give you experience in harmony and chords that say the 2 part inventions will not. Handel, Scarlatti, Bach (not chorales) each have their own nuances to offer within that general style e.g. hand-crossing in Scarlatti.

As someone also pointed out, modern music or simply any different music will stretch you in a different direction.

At the moment I am blagging my way through the Scriabin Piano Sonatas for sight-reading. Slowly, of course, but the early C20 tonality, thick textures and notes at the extremities are teaching me a lesson or two in sight-reading!

Posted By: okat47

Re: Pedagogy - 05/21/03 03:24 PM

I'm glad to see other people love chorales as much as I do. I always feel like such a music nerd when I think about this, but for me, there is nothing like a good chorale. I really admire the style and elegance of a well-written chorale, especially after having struggled through many harmonization excercises in theory class.
Bach's chorales are definitely useful for both sightreading and the study of common-pracitce theory.
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: Pedagogy - 05/21/03 05:19 PM

I studied with William Beller (around 25 lessons only) at Columbia and Richard Casper(graduate of Julliard) in high school. I don'r know whom they studied with but would be VERY interested in finding out if anyone could help me. I think Casper became the director of the Cape Cod Conservatory of Music (or some school in that area).
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