Breakthrough with sight reading

Questions on learning to play the piano, and piano music.

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dave brum
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Breakthrough with sight reading

Post by dave brum » 05 Apr 2014, 19:12

Okay, so many of you will know it's been a thorny one for me in the past but this week, something 'clicked' into place.

You see, on previous occasions I have learned pieces slowly, whether they've been for exams or otherwise and committed them to memory, and just had the music on the stand for show. This in itself, whilst being good for playing music, has not been good for my learning to read music because it has had quite an obvious practice of cheating about it. But not any more.

Since I restarted lessons one month ago I have learned seven easy pieces, but now I'm actually studying the patterns of printed music (the shapes of the tune, the phrases, what a fourth/sixth/whatever 'looks like') and likened it to being back in infants school learning about squares, triangles, rectangles etc. Counting throughout either in my head or aloud enables me to automatically take care of the rhythm so I can devote more time to analysing these pitch shapes.

Also, reading the music away from the piano (on the bus, in the cafe etc) gives me a chance to look out for things like musical shapes and how I can train my fingers (e.g to 'feel' what a fourth is like using 1&4 or 2&5). Looking out for phrasing also, my teacher has told me it's easier to learn new pieces by phrase rather than bars (unless it's an unexpressive Baroque type piece).

I've always been in charity shops looking for used easy piano music and pieces have always had lots of pencilling in all over them. So that is something I also try and do now, just to remind myself to use a particular finger, or even if it's just to remind me to read ahead, something else that will come with practice also.

I keep on getting these Eureka! moments these days.....
The world's unluckiest piano learner, quite possibly.

Gill the Piano
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Re: Breakthrough with sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 06 Apr 2014, 13:56

Do you remember i told you not to look at the notes, but the gaps between them? That's how you gauge an interval, and your fingers learn the feel of the interval too. Relax and have fun! :)
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Re: Breakthrough with sight reading

Post by Gooday » 08 Apr 2014, 15:50

well done with the sight-reading progress. I find that tricky still, too. I'm sure I'd learn pieces faster If I devoted more time to it. I currently spending a lot of time with shorter pieces (or pieces of longer pieces!) in different keys, that seems to be helping a little. Schumann's Kinderszenan Op.15 seems to have uncovered a real problem I have with sight reading when my hands are close together...

I suppose once you learn how to sightread - you can again look at your fingers. It amazes me to see Horrowitz on youtube. He stares down at fingers as they dance this way and that - he almost seems to be a spectator!

Off topic maybe, but calling baroque unexpressive is a little unfair. There's an awful lot of emotion in, say a Scarletti Sonata (K.466 springs to mind), perhaps more noticeably on a piano. Even Bach's C prelude in C from WTC book1 certainly starts off with something that seems like pure 'joy' to me.

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dave brum
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Re: Breakthrough with sight reading

Post by dave brum » 08 Apr 2014, 21:47

I did not mean to imply that all Baroque music is unexpressive in the sense of touch dynamics etc. and largely relating to music written before pianofortes were used widely and even invented. If Baroque 'expresses' anything, it''s grandiose and sheer opulence, usually.
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Re: Breakthrough with sight reading

Post by Gooday » 10 Apr 2014, 15:38

Hi Dave,

It's good to have you back on the forum. You've got me thinking re - " If Baroque 'expresses' anything, it''s grandiose and sheer opulence, usually."

I think the majority isn't opulent and grandiose - that it might be seen as such is probably the fault of the way it was played in the 20th century, until the period performance movement
arrived, for example http://www.aam.co.uk/#/who-we-are/aam-story.aspx.

I'm off to do more thinking about playing the piano (I get so little time to actually play it!)

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