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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
A deficiency in reading music is easily revealed when a person has not had time to decipher notation in advance. But revealing poor reading skills is not the purpose of sight reading. Several people have remarked that they never had to be taught sight reading. That's because getting the notes right is just reading fluently, you don't have to study "sight reading" as a separate subject for that.

Completely agree.


Reading Skills and Sight-Reading Skills are the same skills.

You just have to be much better at it in order to be good at Sight-Reading.

When you are reading music, you should be doing more than recognizing that "This note on the page means I press this key down".

That is a very low level of reading skill.

You also need skill at recognizing groups of notes that form a DbMinor chord so you can immediately play that DbMinor chord instead of thinking separately of the notes Db,F,Ab .... and other things like that.

Actually practicing sight-reading should probably include more than just playing piece after piece which you have never seen before.

It probably should contain "hints" from a qualified instructor as to how you could have done better had you known that certain portions of the score were made up of "chords" and could have been played easier with that knowledge.

And then .... the next piece should contain those same elements to give you an opportunity to practice what you just learned.

Playing random sheets of music is probably less effective.

Of course, any reading helps you get better even if it is presented in a less effective format.

So, if you like to "Sight-Read" .... knock yourself out ... It all helps to improve you skill at playing piano.



BTW .....I am curious about how necessary it is to actually become a good sight-reader.

I would like to see a "show of hands" of how many users have actually been REQUIRED to do sight-reading AT A PROFESSIONAL LEVEL in the last 3 months. I am guessing ... NONE.

I will define REQUIRED to do sight-reading as .....

You were not given access to the notation more than 15 minutes prior to the "GIG".


Not in the last three months, of course, since we are in a pandemic... but I was forced to sight-read an unknown hymn at a funeral. I had the name ahead of time but the score i pulled from a hymnal was not remotely related to what was sung ... except for the title


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by dogperson
... I was forced to sight-read an unknown hymn at a funeral. I had the name ahead of time but the score i pulled from a hymnal was not remotely related to what was sung ... except for the title

Well, as trying as that might have been ....

I am not clear on why you consider that sight-reading ?

If what was notated for that music in the hymnal was not what the congregation was singing ...
What were you "reading" ?


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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by dogperson
... I was forced to sight-read an unknown hymn at a funeral. I had the name ahead of time but the score i pulled from a hymnal was not remotely related to what was sung ... except for the title

Well, as trying as that might have been ....

I am not clear on why you consider that sight-reading ?

If what was notated for that music in the hymnal was not what the congregation was singing ...
What were you "reading" ?


What I was reading was a version I had never seen before but had to immediately play
What I had prepared for was completely different.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by dmd
Reading Skills and Sight-Reading Skills are the same skills.
The skills are related but not the same. It's certainly possible to be more skilled at one than the other. Sight reading refers to the first time one reads the score. Pianist A might be able to sight read better than pianist B, but pianist B might have more of the piece down after playing it x times vs. pianist A playing it x times.

Unless one is a professional or enjoys playing chamber music without preparing ahead of time, I think reading skill is more important than sight reading skill. I'd rather be able to get most of the notes and rhythms correct after several run throughs of piece and am not as concerned how well I read through it the first time.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Most of the online discussion about sight reading is really about reading. A deficiency in reading music is easily revealed when a person has not had time to decipher notation in advance. But revealing poor reading skills is not the purpose of sight reading. Several people have remarked that they never had to be taught sight reading. That's because getting the notes right is just reading fluently, you don't have to study "sight reading" as a separate subject for that.
Most, like myself, who don't think one should "practice" sight reading, say that because they think most good sight readers got that way just by playing a lot of music for pleasure. Sight reading musically as opposed to just reading the notes and rhythms like a midi comes more and more naturally as one's musical ability develops. The purpose of sight reading is not to reveal poor reading skills or poor anything.

Sight reading means playing the music with the score for the first time. It has nothing to do with how well one does that with respect to the notes/rhythms/tempo or how musical one's performance is or whether one stops sometimes. When people use the term "reading" they generally mean playing with the score whether it's the first time or100th time although if they are talking about the first time they usually say "sight reading". The phrase "prima vista sight reading" is redundant. I have never heard anyone make the distinction you gave in your post between "reading" and "sight reading" although it's good that your teacher encourages you to play musically all the time.

I think we are saying the same thing. At least we agree on the ideas. You explain it better.

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by wszxbcl
Del Vento, regarding the meaning of sight reading, the way my teacher has me sight read is very different from just reading. She emphasizes interpretation and grasping the character of the piece. It is similar to actors doing what they call a "cold reading" in an audition, where you do a scene with a script you've not seen before. A cold reading is not a test of whether you can read. Literacy is expected.

What is being tested is the ability to quickly understand the scene and get into character on the spot, and it shows how you think. Many adults can immediately do animal voices when reading to a child, without having read the book before. That's because the content is simple.

Most of the online discussion about sight reading is really about reading. A deficiency in reading music is easily revealed when a person has not had time to decipher notation in advance. But revealing poor reading skills is not the purpose of sight reading. Several people have remarked that they never had to be taught sight reading. That's because getting the notes right is just reading fluently, you don't have to study "sight reading" as a separate subject for that.


I’m sorry but you are making an assumption about how others were taught and how they were judged on sight reading. I was expected not to just know the notes and rhythm, but to play it musically and with a suitable interpretation of the music. All at sight. I ‘learned to sightread’ by playing a ton of different kinds of music. My teacher evaluated how I was doing by playing duets. She never said ‘I want to evaluate your sight reading’; she always said ‘let’s play a duet together’ and would drag out something totally new. If I did not play musically she would say “let’s start over; when you play together you should be playing it based on the dynamics and the interpretation of the peace as well as the notes and rhythm’.

This did not take special training.

Hi! Yes I was actually thinking of you when in my post I said some have remarked that this did not take special training. You supplied more details here that I think may help others.

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Originally Posted by dogperson
What I was reading was a version I had never seen before but had to immediately play

You do not happen to remember the name of that hymn, do you ?


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Originally Posted by dmd
Originally Posted by dogperson
What I was reading was a version I had never seen before but had to immediately play

You do not happen to remember the name of that hymn, do you ?


Yes , this little light of mine’
I knew one version as a child— not remotely close to what was sung at the funeral


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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I think Paul Harris has two sets of books:
1) Improve Your Sight Reading Level 1A-8A
2) Improve Your Sight Reading Grrade 1-6

Do you know if there is a difference?

I have the Bach Scholar book referenced in this thread and have finished level 3. But the snippets of the hymns that it is based on seem so dated.

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Originally Posted by Dommie
I have the Bach Scholar book referenced in this thread and have finished level 3. But the snippets of the hymns that it is based on seem so dated.

Poor old Bach. Even when he was alive he got stick for his music being old-fashioned. Three hundred years later it's still happening. :D:D


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When it comes to sight-reading, you need to be reading a new piece everyday or at least every other day. There are repertoire pieces I'm working on up to 5m. Within a week I'd learn the notes sufficiently and tend to rely on memory. There will be pieces you're working on and pieces you know nothing about just for reading exercise.

1 book I used for reading before is a beginner's book on Jazz & Rock. I'm used to listening to Classical pieces. The L & R parts in the book are easy and repetitive. The "melodies" in the book isn't all that familiar so I can practice reading. Another book in my collection is the Reader's Digest book full of church hymns and old musicals with easy L accompaniment.

Here are 2 books my teacher recommended at the intermediate level. The first book has simple exercises with a 1 page repertoire piece after.

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