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Can anyone recommend a good methodical sight-reading app for the advanced student? My son will be playing chamber music in college and wants to look better in front of the string players...

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Not an expert, I haven't played in that world, but I have two suggestions.

Yes you should become a good sightreader but in chamber music i wouldn't think you would often do it. The repertoire is probably finite, just learn them all. It's not professional to sightread anything that you have the opportunity to get beforehand and learn. Plus, sightreading tends to be genre specific and learning this type of piece thoroughly will greatly improve sightreading similar ones. Also you should spend some time on score study and know what the other parts are doing and how you fit in, like any orchestral musician does.

Secondly, if you haven't done much ensemble playing, sightreading is the least of your problems. Maintaining a tempo that matches other musicians, rather than forcing them to follow you, is the real challenge. This is a learned skill that many pianists struggle with.


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Originally Posted by TimR
Yes you should become a good sightreader but in chamber music i wouldn't think you would often do it. The repertoire is probably finite, just learn them all.
You cannot be serious.

Leaving out Baroque (though many chamber musicians do play Baroque on piano), just look at the amount of chamber music involving piano by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Hundreds of hours of it. Haydn alone composed at least forty-three piano trios. Mozart wrote at least 36 violin sonatas.
Add Romantic and you have thousands. A lot of them very popular and regularly played, especially by amateurs.

To the OP, my advice is for you/him to download from IMSLP (or buy) the complete Haydn sonatas, Mendelssohn's Lieder ohne Worte and Grieg's Lyric Pieces and use them for sight-reading practice. That should cover Classical and Romantic quite broadly. Apps have no relevance in real music - don't touch them with a barge pole.

And yes, chamber musicians often do sight-read, or almost sight-read new music when they get together: much easier for string and woodwind players than for pianists - and the former often don't realize how tricky it is for a pianist to sight-read dense figuration on two staves when all they have to do is read one line of music and play in time.......


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Maybe tim meant the ones often performed are a much smaller subset.

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Originally Posted by EinLudov
Maybe tim meant the ones often performed are a much smaller subset.
The ones performed by professional chamber ensembles are usually the big popular ones that sell tickets - and they are often difficult, even virtuosic (think Kreutzer, Ghost & Archduke, Schubert trios, Mendelssohn D minor, Franck violin, Tchaikovsky trio), whereas the ones learnt and performed by students in colleges (and by amateurs) are the Haydns, Mozarts and other easier ones which are rarely heard in concert by professionals.

The OP was talking about college chamber ensembles.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
The OP was talking about college chamber ensembles.

In a college course there will likely be a syllabus. I would be surprised if there were a dozen works in a semester, maybe in a year.

A symphony orchestra has thousands of pieces in the library but they play a small fraction in any given season, and those few are known at the beginning of the year.

Yes some groups will be adventurous and pull pieces out of the files to read. But you certainly prepare what you can.

Professional groups play more, but also they've been doing it longer and they play a high percentage of very familiar pieces.

I agree about the app, though, I don't see an app helping with this. A metronome might................

Last edited by TimR; 05/04/21 01:22 PM.

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PS i don't actually know the chamber piano repertoire - it's very possible I'm just completely wrong and you do have to sightread all or most of it.

I've played many a dinner dance sightreading all the music for 3 or 4 hours. (but always in an extremely familiar style, so the predictability makes it easier. What makes it hard is the road map in some styles.)

Or, I can sit in with any community wind ensemble, playing a wind instrument, and it's likely I've played 90% of the pieces many times, often all of them.


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Originally Posted by TimR
PS i don't actually know the chamber piano repertoire - it's very possible I'm just completely wrong and you do have to sightread all or most of it.
The classical chamber rep encompasss a huge range. Some are eminently sight-readable and technically easy, like this short yet profound piece (one of the first I sight-read through with a violinist friend when I was a student):


....to this huge virtuosic work, beloved by the big hitters:


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Thank you all, and to Bennevis for clarifying the situation. Since string players usually prefer the romantic repertoire the pianist does not get away with a little Haydn or Mozart. Even those would be difficult for him to play prima vista. Furthermore the string players grow up and are used to playing with accompanists which is a professional specialty discipline. My son is an advanced player, (e.g.Prokofiev’s sonata No.7 and Chopin’s Ballade No.4) and got accepted at a well-known conservatory. However, he has very limited experience with chamber music and sight reads like a bean. I was hoping that by now there would be an app that systematically cranks up the difficulty and complexity to train him. Scores he has a lot at home and can of course download more. I was angeling for a kind of online class but not only for beginners. Those are abundant.

Thank you

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Originally Posted by Klavimaniac
Furthermore the string players grow up and are used to playing with accompanists which is a professional specialty discipline. My son is an advanced player, (e.g.Prokofiev’s sonata No.7 and Chopin’s Ballade No.4) and got accepted at a well-known conservatory. However, he has very limited experience with chamber music and sight reads like a bean.

Thank you

That's a good observation about other instrumentalists. I suspect most of them play with other people much more than a piano student does. Hey, Mike, bring your piano over to my house tonight so we can play duets, said noone ever.

So there are two separate skills: sightreading, and ensemble playing.

Is the best route to do both at once? I'm thinking there might be an advantage in working on them separately.


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So (I am coming here from the Piano Forum, where this question was also posted) it seems you're looking for a training app, not a device to facilitate accessing the score, turning the pages etc.

In that case I would say you might be better off getting a teacher who knows your son's level, and having that teacher specifically work on sightreading. There are some techniques (looking ahead, reading bottom to top) that can improve with guidance first and then just brute-force practice second. Also, a good way to prep for playing with others is to use a metronome and never get lost, never lose the pulse, never go backwards in the music (i.e., no replays). Being able to drop out and come back in again... These are all skills that are relevant to playing with others and it can be very hard to develop those skills out of context (i.e., when playing alone, by yourself).

So, IMO I don't think your son needs an app, he needs a teacher who can help him learn how to do those things I mentioned above which make one more successful in playing with others.

Separate from that... How is his sightreading in general? You could certainly get a graded book or two, below his current level, and work on sightreading practice. use the metronome, be brutal with yourself and train yourself to keep up. These things will go a long way toward improving his ability to play with others.

Hope this helps!


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Knowing something about harmony is a great help.There are books on Keyboard Harmony available for practice. Perhaps there is an App which could increase one's facility in keyboard harmony.Knowing a bit about chords and how they function could be a helpful.
Still one would have to work at the piano on keyboard harmony exercises on a daily basis to improve.This may or may not work.Shiro Kuros idea of working with a teacher is a good idea.

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Right, what I meant is a teaching app.

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My advice: your son needs to know more than what any application can teach him over the summer. .
Since he has been accepted as a music major, he should already have basic skills and experience.

I would recommend:
- quit looking for an app
- contact his college to see if there is a list of ensemble music. If so, check it out from the music library or buy it. If there is no list, you have been provided some standards in this thread
-get a teacher and begin playing through the music. Each composer will have stylistic differences. His teacher can help him recognize those so that the information about these stylistic differences will transfer from one score to another. This teacher can help him understand how to be be a good ensemble player which means he will not be the leader of most groups. He needs to be a good follower.

Programs are just not that sophisticated and generally contain beginner-early intermediate material. Your son should already be way beyond that.
Read back through this thread for advice other than an app.


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+1 for everything dogperson said. Except that I am more of a catperson.


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Originally Posted by Animisha
+1 for everything dogperson said. Except that I am more of a catperson.

I’m really half cat/half dog. I usually have one of each 😺


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Originally Posted by bennevis
[quote=TimR]

And yes, chamber musicians often do sight-read, or almost sight-read new music when they get together: much easier for string and woodwind players than for pianists - and the former often don't realize how tricky it is for a pianist to sight-read dense figuration on two staves when all they have to do is read one line of music and play in time.......

Agree. People should see jazz band stuff for piano. Lucky if treble/bass clef beats line up. Recently played one chart that had a LH piano chords written in bass cleff, then one next chord went up a 1/2 step. What did the copist do? He wrote that chord in treble clef an octave higher with 8 basso written under it. What the heck?

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Dogperson's advice made me think of another approach.

How often is it that your son (the OP's son) will be handed a score and asked to start playing it with the ensemble that instant. I'm guessing that's not very likely. More likely is, there will be a significant number of pieces, and not very much time to learn them (say a week?)

In that case, I would recommend that your son work on getting faster at learning/memorizing new pieces using strategic score reading and prep, and memory tricks.

So, for example, get the score, look through it and make note (on the score) of where the sections/themes are, which sections are a repeat or slight variation of an earlier score etc. Note and key changes, time signature changes (write in a star above them to catch your attention while playing)... If the score doesn't have rehearsal marks, use your analysis of the score to write them in.

Next, figure out where the most challenging parts are -- these will usually be the hardest to sightread as well. Focus practice on those sections.

Then play/work on the piece maybe three times a day for a week -- by that I don't mean, sit down and play it three times in a row. I mean, work on it for 15 minutes in the morning. Play it (or work on it) again after lunch, do that again in the evening.

During all of this, train yourself to keep your eyes on the score and consciously *read* as you play.

This now is no longer true sightreading because it's not prima vista, but it still has the benefit of 1) improving your reading skills and 2) getting you to focus on the score and playing it as written. And by working on the piece at different times during the day, you increase the cycles of "commit to short term memory, forget, re-commit to short-term memory" and it is these cycles that allow something to move from short-term into long term memory.

This kind of approach, IMO, is what people mean when they say "work smart, not hard."

And ultimately what this is about is getting better at "read-playing" (i.e., reading along as you play a piece that is somewhat familiar to you), as opposed to getting better at "sightreading" (i.e., playing something from that score that you've never looked at before).

(Also, I realize I keep writing "you" when this is for the OP's son, so please forgive).

Hope this is helpful!


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Originally Posted by Klavimaniac
Can anyone recommend a good methodical sight-reading app for the advanced student? My son will be playing chamber music in college and wants to look better in front of the string players...
Improving sight reading seems to be the main issues.All music from the classical and romantic repertoire make use of the same chordal progressions in similar ways in the different structures and styles of the music.
An ability in keyboard harmony and chromatic harmony is a preparation in sight reading. Yes even even the most chromatic chords of Chopin and Brahms are based on the techniques of functional harmony.One can learn about the "delayed" tensions and resolutions of chords through this method.
You are therefore preparing the material that you would need to sightread before hand.
If your son is at college surely he would have some books about keyboard harmony?

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This is a YouTube tutorial to accompanying posted in another website
I have not watched the entirety so I am not recommending or not recommending it



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