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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Question1:
Do you always look to the sheet music and never, never ever take your eyes from the sheet music and rely on muscle memory your fingers find the right keys, even if your hands must jump?
I look at the keyboard whenever I need to. How often depends on how 'jumpy' the notes are. Some pieces for example, have fast consecutive chords in both hands that leap more than an octave. With others, for example those from the Classical era, I might hardly ever look down.



Quote
Question2:
Do you only read the notes you are currently playing or do you read a few notes ahead? And if you read ahead, do you know exactly each note or do you just see a vague direction if the following notes are higher or lower for making a better fingering?
Depends on the piece, its patterns of notes (if any), my familiarity with the patterns (or lack of) etc.

For instance, a piece with a straightforward arpeggiated pattern in LH that changes every bar and RH melody (whether in octaves or chords or single notes) can be 'read' one bar in advance, because it just takes one glance. But a piece with chords in both hands that keep changing will be read one beat at a time, like this famous one (in its outer chordal sections):



Quote
Question3:
About chords, someone said to always go bottom-up. Reading the lowest note, recognize the pattern of the chord and then the hand knows what to do. Makes sense for the right hand, absolute agreed! But do you do it also for the left hand? I made up my mind about it and found reasons for going bottom-up and also for top-down:
Actually, I read chords whole, both hands at the same time - as in that Rach prelude above. I'm used to reading big chords in both hands, because I've played (sight-read or learnt) so many pieces that contain them.

Note that I'm just giving my answers as they apply to me, as you requested. If I was giving advice to a beginner, they would be somewhat different.


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It is interesting op when I was a child I used to write the letters under every note as you are doing. I quickly learnt most of the notes. I however still use the for notes far away from the stave. I'm not sure how I transitioned. Also a very difficult chord I will put in the letters next to it. A few times like with Rachmaninoff pieces, as you can see, my teacher helps he identify the chords and if it's chord with a name sometimes will write the names like rG minor 7 etc. I remember a very complicated cadenza (Chopin c sharp op 45) and my teacher explained the chord pattern and wrote out the chord pattern. I need help with this one as I'm not very strong at identifying chords but hugely helpful as at times it can make a crazy note system into an simple pattern. All strategies that you can use. I notes many people hear memorise everything so you'll get differences of opinions but I use the score and mark it to help. Don't be afraid to use any strategy if it help you !

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Originally Posted by parapiano
Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
I am really curious how you would answer this question for your own without reading other people opinions, because this often causes to copy a statement from a member who is widely respected. (And the opinion snowball starts in either this or that direction)
In my opinion as a skilled sightreader, nothing is more important than note recognition. Think of how touch typing trains your brain to respond to a visual stimulus by reaching for the correct key on the keyboard without conscious thought. That's the fundamental skill of sightreading at the piano keyboard, and it's a prerequisite to recognizing intervals and chords.
Wouldn't interval recognition be equally fundamental, as it would eventually allow you to see large chunks of sheet music based on recognizing patterns?

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Thanks a lot, everyone. There is a lot of information coming in this thread without drifting offtopic. And really every comment was contributing very good information.

Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
...
many lines later
...
Sorry for the long rant. I wanted to give a glipse into my thought process when reading music.
Rant?? No way! Your thoughts had been very valuable for me. Thanks for sharing them with so much details. thumb

@Parapiano: Your advice with flash cards is obviously good and nobody else talked about. But I guess everyone took it as granted to do this as a kind of learning the letters of the alphabet before reading whole words. Advice-Upgrade: drop flash cards, go for an app on your smartphone. This is more fun, faster, you have it always in your pocket and it can come as a game with highscores and some entertainment.... Basically same idea, but with smartphone.
Generally your post is really great, it's like you summed up this video.. Especially about fingering during sight reading. wow


Bottom line: if I read through the answers, the short form of the summarized summary looks like this (if I made a summary of that summarized summary):

Q1:Is looking down strictly forbidden?
(Try to) Avoid looking down as good as you can and as long the situation allows (but if you must look down, then do it)

Q2: Lookahead?
Various answers like
"if look-ahead comes from alone, great. If it is not there, don't force it" (this releases learning pressure, thanks)
"use it to recognize broken chords, so you have read a short melody sequence in a glance" (great one)

Q3: Different opinions:
"only bottom-up"
"sometimes bottom-up, sometimes top-down, it depends"
"I catch everything at a glance, but I can't tell how exactly I manage to do this"

Originally Posted by Sam S
An actual experiment using eye-tracking: Where pianists look when they play
Wonderful video. The teachers playing from memory settled final my decision for Q3: I will learn to read LH chords top down! IMHO there is no reason not to do, but a very good one to do so:
Half a second before a hand jump, his eye goes to the position of the thumb. (Or the point finger, if the inner note isn't played with the thumb) In this time the brain programs the movement of the hand. (Similar like one can catch a flying tennisball, even if the eyes are closed shortly before really catching it.) This hand movement has its eye's focus point always at the future thumb position. (Or whatever finger he uses to press that key) And for the left hand, it is always the top note of the chord.

Only exception: If the new hand postions is only required to play a single note on the outside of the keyboard, then he focuses only this position and he uses the pinky. (0:54). But well - this is not about chord playing, so there is no exception to his looking behaviour.


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OP - if you're looking for an app to help with note recognition I've found the Tenuto app pretty good!

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Originally Posted by Moo :)
I think this is the 10,000th thread about sight reading OP - you will win a price. A grand piano of your choosing !!! Whoooop
thumbyippie but sorry, you can read in my endless trolling in DP forum, I don't have the place for an acoustic frown

I've crossread many of the other recent sight reading threads, but honestly I didn't find the answers as I did in this thread. Most of them drifted offtopic. Or it was just an endless discussion about the difference between sight-reading and reading. And IF sight reading is important at all. And if solo concert pianists should do it or not. But none of them handled about what is happening in the head during (sight-)reading.

Last edited by Wie Waldi; 08/23/21 07:36 PM.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
OP - if you're looking for an app to help with note recognition I've found the Tenuto app pretty good!
Thanks. Didn't find it for Android. But I use a very simple one at home, one I can bluetooth connect to my piano for note input. It's basic, but it comes very close to flash cards - and it's free.

And I have another one in the style of a computer game like "bartender". Notes are coming from right side and I have to hit them before they reach the left side. Increasing speed and 3 difficulty levels. This I can play while waiting for the bus.

And after I learned this note-alphabet, I ll dive into "Sightreading & Harmony" book. Someone recommended this to me smile


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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Originally Posted by fatar760
OP - if you're looking for an app to help with note recognition I've found the Tenuto app pretty good!
Thanks. Didn't find it for Android. But I use a very simple one at home, one I can bluetooth connect to my piano for note input. It's basic, but it comes very close to flash cards - and it's free.

And I have another one in the style of a computer game like "bartender". Notes are coming from right side and I have to hit them before they reach the left side. Increasing speed and 3 difficulty levels. This I can play while waiting for the bus.

And after I learned this note-alphabet, I ll dive into "Sightreading & Harmony" book. Someone recommended this to me smile

This may well have been me!

Actually, a further thing which I've recently discovered, is that there are a load of sight-reading pdfs on Scrib'd. Might be worth trialling it for a month and downloading loads of free pdfs to your device!

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Originally Posted by Wie Waldi
Q1:Is looking down strictly forbidden?
(Try to) Avoid looking down as good as you can and as long the situation allows (but if you must look down, then do it)

Q2: Lookahead?
Various answers like
"if look-ahead comes from alone, great. If it is not there, don't force it" (this releases learning pressure, thanks)
"use it to recognize broken chords, so you have read a short melody sequence in a glance" (great one)

Q3: Different opinions:
"only bottom-up"
"sometimes bottom-up, sometimes top-down, it depends"
"I catch everything at a glance, but I can't tell how exactly I manage to do this"


Regarding looking ahead, It is not something one can force but it is a consequence not a cause. I.e if you recognize patterns quickly enough and you can execute them easily and you can remember what to play, then you can move on to the next bar. Otherwise you'll stay with the current bar.

I often see advice for people to read ahead, but that makes little sense. Reading ahead is the consequence of your ability to read fast. If you cant manage to read fast enough the current bar, then you cant go to the next.

As one become a faster reader, then anticipating becomes natural.

Q3: I dont specifically look at any particular note in the chord. I just recognize the chord itself, but the bass line is always important to keep your attention on.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
There are a few misconceptions here about reading chords. First of all, I don't need to know what chord it is to play it and most of the time I don't even need to know all the notes. Reading chords is mostly about reading patterns. For example, let's say I see this:
[Linked Image]
Source: Heller op. 45, no. 15

I don't care that it's a D minor chord nor do I need to. I just look at the pattern of notes and find the notes intuitively. For the RH I place my 1 on F and intuitively feel the interval of a sixth. For the LH the first thing I see is an octave starting on D so I start by placing my hand in the shape of an octave on D, then I place my finger 2 on the note in the middle, which is a fifth above the lower D or a fourth below the upper D. Reading chords is more about associating the particular patterns of notes on the page to a particular hand/finger pattern in this manner than about knowing the specific notes of the chord.

2 mistakes :
I bet you $ 100 bucks that 1) if you didn't know that this is a D minor chord, and 2) if this chord hadn't sounded in your head beforehand, it would take you more time to find all the notes.Since you cannot, for natural reasons, test it for yourself, then test it on the students.

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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
There are a few misconceptions here about reading chords. First of all, I don't need to know what chord it is to play it and most of the time I don't even need to know all the notes. Reading chords is mostly about reading patterns. For example, let's say I see this:
[Linked Image]
Source: Heller op. 45, no. 15

I don't care that it's a D minor chord nor do I need to. I just look at the pattern of notes and find the notes intuitively. For the RH I place my 1 on F and intuitively feel the interval of a sixth. For the LH the first thing I see is an octave starting on D so I start by placing my hand in the shape of an octave on D, then I place my finger 2 on the note in the middle, which is a fifth above the lower D or a fourth below the upper D. Reading chords is more about associating the particular patterns of notes on the page to a particular hand/finger pattern in this manner than about knowing the specific notes of the chord.

2 mistakes :
I bet you $ 100 bucks that 1) if you didn't know that this is a D minor chord, and 2) if this chord hadn't sounded in your head beforehand, it would take you more time to find all the notes.Since you cannot, for natural reasons, test it for yourself, then test it on the students.

How do you know the key signature?

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[Linked Image]

The first example is straightforward. Just by looking at the score we can tell it's in 2/4 and assumed to be in C major. There is a lot of repetition that we don't need to read every note and can anticipate what comes next.

[Linked Image]

The second example is far more complex like a Bach fugue. Before coming to the last bar with LH & RH chords, the bar before is not something many people would be able to play accurately reading the first time. The Time Signature is in 12/8 with 4 groups of triplets. And there are tie notes that make counting confusing for beginner and intermediate players. And then there are notes with different beat values overlapping and notes with ledger lines.

The first example beginner & intermediate players should be able to learn the notes in an hour. The second example at least 2 or more practice sessions.

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An hour for intermediate on the first exercise? It all seems quite arbitrary but I can't fathom why you'd think an intermediate would take so long.

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Originally Posted by fatar760
An hour for intermediate on the first exercise? It all seems quite arbitrary but I can't fathom why you'd think an intermediate would take so long.


Shouldn’t an intermediate player be able to sight-read the first example immediately?


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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The first example beginner & intermediate players should be able to learn the notes in an hour. The second example at least 2 or more practice sessions.
If we're still discussing sightreading, the amount of time to 'learn the notes' is meaningless. The first example is appropriate for a beginner to sightread, and the second one is appropriate to an intermediate player, but we'll still need to know the key signature in any case.

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by fatar760
An hour for intermediate on the first exercise? It all seems quite arbitrary but I can't fathom why you'd think an intermediate would take so long.


Shouldn’t an intermediate player be able to sight-read the first example immediately?

Yes, I'd say so.

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Technical pointer: first sample is in Gmaj.

2nd sample: not easy to learn for beginners, not in2 sessions. Imho. Learning to play 3 voices and expressing each one in the right dynamics 😩


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Re the post: like many posted before me, I will look at both the keys and the score. If the score requires your hands to jump to another part of the board then I recommend your eyes move to that next note …it’s a nano second movement…makes for a smoother transition. Often it’s for one hand you do this as the other hand ‘finds’ the right note..you need to figure out which hand needs a little help.


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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
There are a few misconceptions here about reading chords. First of all, I don't need to know what chord it is to play it and most of the time I don't even need to know all the notes. Reading chords is mostly about reading patterns. For example, let's say I see this:
[Linked Image]
Source: Heller op. 45, no. 15

I don't care that it's a D minor chord nor do I need to. I just look at the pattern of notes and find the notes intuitively. For the RH I place my 1 on F and intuitively feel the interval of a sixth. For the LH the first thing I see is an octave starting on D so I start by placing my hand in the shape of an octave on D, then I place my finger 2 on the note in the middle, which is a fifth above the lower D or a fourth below the upper D. Reading chords is more about associating the particular patterns of notes on the page to a particular hand/finger pattern in this manner than about knowing the specific notes of the chord.

2 mistakes :
I bet you $ 100 bucks that 1) if you didn't know that this is a D minor chord, and 2) if this chord hadn't sounded in your head beforehand, it would take you more time to find all the notes. Since you cannot, for natural reasons, test it for yourself, then test it on the students.


Something different.

The first thing we're missing is key signature and clefs. With a key signature, the D minor chord might be D major. With different clefs, even with no sharps and flats, you could end up with B dim, or B half dim.

Meanwhile those chords within a musical context can also bring in anticipation as to what those chords would logically be.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
There are a few misconceptions here about reading chords. First of all, I don't need to know what chord it is to play it and most of the time I don't even need to know all the notes. Reading chords is mostly about reading patterns. For example, let's say I see this:
[Linked Image]
Source: Heller op. 45, no. 15

I don't care that it's a D minor chord nor do I need to. I just look at the pattern of notes and find the notes intuitively. For the RH I place my 1 on F and intuitively feel the interval of a sixth. For the LH the first thing I see is an octave starting on D so I start by placing my hand in the shape of an octave on D, then I place my finger 2 on the note in the middle, which is a fifth above the lower D or a fourth below the upper D. Reading chords is more about associating the particular patterns of notes on the page to a particular hand/finger pattern in this manner than about knowing the specific notes of the chord.

2 mistakes :
I bet you $ 100 bucks that 1) if you didn't know that this is a D minor chord, and 2) if this chord hadn't sounded in your head beforehand, it would take you more time to find all the notes. Since you cannot, for natural reasons, test it for yourself, then test it on the students.


Something different.

The first thing we're missing is key signature and clefs. With a key signature, the D minor chord might be D major. With different clefs, even with no sharps and flats, you could end up with B dim, or B half dim.

Meanwhile those chords within a musical context can also bring in anticipation as to what those chords would logically be.

It's a waste of energy making this a moot point.

The person who posted this was talking about recognising patterns and chord shapes. To flag up what is lacking in the information is an unnecessary and pointless diversion, of which the OP was looking to avoid.

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