Sight reading

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

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Gill the Piano
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 25 Jun 2009, 23:21

A moderator who is a beginner would be an excellent moderator. As opposed to an jaded bitter ole bag who's forgotten what it's like to be a beginner! :mrgreen:
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

Gill the Piano
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 26 Jun 2009, 18:32

Brum is closer than Hereford, but it's still not close enough for me to come and smack you....examine that last statement for negativity. Then STOPPIT! Mental attitude has an enormous amount to do with how well someone plays, particularly adults. Adjust your mental attitude (I can do this, and I'm going to) and you'll find it amazing how things change.:D
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

Gill the Piano
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 27 Jun 2009, 19:30

Bollards; practice and positivity! :D
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

markymark
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Re: Sight reading

Post by markymark » 28 Jun 2009, 15:54

Sight reading does take some practice and using the note recognition game will help develop the "snap shot" reading technique that I think Paul Harris talks about.

You should try using the metronome on your keyboard (low speed to start) and try playing your sight-reading. Keeping a steady beat is also part of the process because it helps prepare you mentally for what is coming up next, specifically, helping you look ahead in the music.

The biggest mistake I find in sight-reading learning/teaching, is the over-emphasis on getting everything just perfect in the first go which will not happen consistently in the early phases. Your sight reading exercises are there to help practice sight reading, not really to help you work out your note recognition issues. Use Fanzine for that was well as other repertoire.

Obviously, you are aiming to play the sight-read music as accurately as possible, but don't stress on it so much that you are double-checking yourself after playing the notes you just read. The important thing to do is to play other things and try sight-reading them and then go over it and see if it sounded the way it did when you had a go at sight-reading. The important thing, though, is to get exposure to new music and not the same stuff otherwise you are simply rehearsing music (which involves memory) and not developing real sight-reading at all.

Gill the Piano
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 28 Jun 2009, 16:48

dave brum wrote:But your hands should be nice and soft tho, pianists' hands are compared to shed erectors' hands :? :? :?
But piano tuners' hands aren't soft, particularly; a nice rough lump on the side of my left hand that rests on top of the piano and a bent callused little finger on the right hand from repeated octaves. Playing the guitar (badly) gives me toughened fingertips on my left hand. Add to that the unladylike hobby of stonecarving...and no, I haven't got soft hands! So I can smack quite hard...:D
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

markymark
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Re: Sight reading

Post by markymark » 29 Jun 2009, 13:22

If sight reading is such a concern for you at the moment, Trinity Guildhall would have been a better option as sight reading is not a compulsory element until Grade VI. In place of sight-reading, pupils can opt for musical extemporisation and improvisation. It requires a good understanding of conventions of music and is by no means a cop-out. The idea behind it is to allow pupils with other musical skills to showcase and develop these, specifically with regards to improvisation. This is a skill that all musicians will have to encounter across the board (unless they're going to be concert pianists and need to stick legally to music) be you a teacher, lecturer, band member, composer... ABRSM is causing its pupils to miss out by not encouraging its teachers to think along these lines.

HOWEVER, If I were teaching to the new Trinity Guildhall syllabus now, I would still be developing the sight reading skill in my pupils but having the option to opt out for the first grade is a nice option so that the pupil can get used to the exam process.

There is a good book which I came across a while ago (and currently own) called "Super Sight Reading Tips" by Howard Richman. He was someone who struggled with sight-reading despite getting to a high performance standard in his musical training. In the opening pages, he talks about being able to play Chopin's Noctures at high speed, yet struggled to play a children's song from sight. The book isn't very expensive but makes good reading for someone like yourself who is struggling to make a breakthrough in their sight reading. It IS a very important skill to have and one that is best developed alongside your other skills. As Richman found, it was a very humbling experience for others to see such a gaping hole in his music ability and going backwards to go forwards was tough work.

markymark
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Re: Sight reading

Post by markymark » 29 Jun 2009, 14:39

That's what she's getting paid for!

Gill the Piano
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 30 Jun 2009, 20:02

Everybody has ONE aspect of the exam they can't do. My scales were - indeed, are - always cr*p. Hate them, could never do them and always got bad marks for 'em. But the rest of my marks made up for it. Pull yerself together, boy...:D
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Feg
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Feg » 30 Jun 2009, 22:33

If you don't mind my sticking my tuppence worth in, Dave..............

You are overthinking this sight-reading lark :)

Sight-reading is something you do every time you tackle a new piece of music. You look at the new notes and you try to play them in the correct order keeping to a beat even if it is slow to begin with.

For my (considerable) sins, I teach descant recorder to children from the age of 7 upwards in groups of as many as ten at a time. When they first start to learn, pieces are gone through one note at a time, progressing to a bar at a time, then a line at a time - you get the picture - but within a year of starting to learn, we tackle any new piece by looking at the 'new' items - might be a new note, or new notation, or an awkward rhythm then I get them to start at the begining of the piece and we have a stab at it - SIGHT-READING :D YIPPEE! Most times, I let them run with it to the end even if it sounds more than a little chaotic because most of them will start together and end together and that is progress and it does wonders for their confidence. It doesn't take long before NEW MUSIC becomes FUN.

It's all down to taking baby steps. Forget about sight-reading as SIGHT-READING. In fact, if I were you, I would forget about sight-reading full stop for the next few weeks and instead concentrate on playing as much NEW MUSIC as possible. It doesn't have to be note perfect - it just has to be fun. NEW MUSIC is always an adventure - you don't know what the next note will be until you play it :D

Given the choice, I would rather have the fun of exploring ten new pieces than the drudgery of practicing one!!

Fiona

markymark
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Re: Sight reading

Post by markymark » 01 Jul 2009, 12:57

Again, this point about tackling new pieces is coming up!

You can get some simple pieces off the internet free of charge which would expose you to more unseen material.

Feg
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Feg » 01 Jul 2009, 21:13

Dave

http://www.8notes.com is well worth a visit. The free sheet music is graded into Easy, Medium and Hard and there is quite a varied selection of Easy pieces for piano. Alternatively, if there is a sheet music section in your local library (in Edinburgh, the main city library has music/scores etc), pick up easy arrangements of anything or any books marked for beginners.

If you get really stuck, I'll send you copies of my beginners music from the late 60's/early 70's :D :D My first book was a collection of memorable tunes (not) called 'Summer Holiday' - not a catchy upbeat one amongst the lot, guaranteed.

F

Moonlight
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Moonlight » 02 Jul 2009, 20:43

Hi Dave, :)

Do a bit of sight reading everyday! Moaning about it won’t make it happen, you need to overcome the pain barrier for this. Can you read a grade 1 sight reading piece ok without many mistakes? if you can then carry on the the grade 2 sight reading. If not I think it’s best to go back a bit until grade 1 sight reading pieces become easy. Redo the grade one book. Thats what I had to do, you have enough time.

If it’s any consolation I reckon I will do really badly at the sight reading pieces in the exam, my problem is stopping and trying to correct myself, playing it too fast, or panicking and playing anything and forgetting what the key is because of nerves. I really hate sight reading in front of someone, apart from that I don’t mind sight reading its self it too much anymore. I do it everyday so it’s part of the routine and not a chore. The grade 2 sight reading pieces are definitely sounding more musical at least now notes are played at the same time - I think the Paul Harris books are really good.
Last edited by Moonlight on 02 Jul 2009, 21:10, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sight reading

Post by Moonlight » 02 Jul 2009, 21:06

dave brum wrote: my best course of action to take would be to unofficially do a Grade 1 SSR exercise immediately before I tackle the daily G2 Paul Harris that Britney's got me on.
Yes that's a great way to see if you can do it and thats what I did. I made my teacher wait a while, I told her I was still below grade 1 sight reading when she got me to work on grade 2. So I got up to grade one sight reading as we worked on the grade 2 pieces and scales. Then a month later I was able to work on the grade 2 paul harris book after sight readin something everyday.

I stuck a message on the wall above my piano saying : ' sight read something everyday or else!' so I make myself feel guilty if I dont do some. I useally do sight reading at the worst time like when I'm tired though, then I can only do about 3 or 4 :roll: .

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