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The sight reading war

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

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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Blodwen » 30 Dec 2010, 23:31

I know what you mean brummers, I wish I could just go to a piano and play a piece! Im so slow when it comes to sight reading, but I guess practice makes perfect!
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 31 Dec 2010, 19:09

DON'T change teachers and DON'T get hysterical. If I were nearer I'd come and slap your face and administer smelling salts. Try a different sightreading book; Mark will tell you what's around and what's good. Everyone has one area which bugs them - mine was that of scales - but you just slog away. One day the light bulb will come on! :idea: A customer of mine had a lightbulb moment when her teacher told her that when sightreading, look at the gaps and distances BETWEEN the notes, not just the notes themselves. Try it! Calm down, dear, it's only sightreading... :mrgreen:
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Blodwen » 01 Jan 2011, 09:59

Brummers, whats this nonsense you are talking?? giving up?? what you on about!!

Sight reading is only a small part of the exam, if you scrape it then you scrape it! dont worry about it! You must have some natural talent as you passed grade 2 with distinction! Im sure you play really well! Im hopeless at sight reading! Im just assuming thats one thing that will get better as I progress (well hoping anyway)

I bet when you first started playing the piano, you never thought you could play the things you are playing now? Keep at it hun, youre probably better than you think you are xx
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 01 Jan 2011, 15:59

Do you remember learning to read as a brat? I do...and I remember looking at my dad reading the paper and thinking 'How does he DO that? He isn't using his finger, he isn't moving his lips...' and now I read the paper without a moment's thought. I'm back at the mouthing and fingertip tracing now I'm learning Welsh. But with patience I'm sure I'll get beyond that one day! As Blodwen says, the sightreading is a tiny fraction of the exam, and you can get zippo for sightreading and still pass!
I don't know why you feel you have to change teachers; it isn't Anna's fault that PHarris and you haven't clicked! Go into a decent music shop and ask them about other sightreading courses. But the more screwed up about it you get, the harder it'll be; relax!
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 01 Jan 2011, 16:39

Sorry, corporal punishment is what i do best... There's a series called 'Right@Sight' in all grades, published by Edition Peters at a fiver a throw. It isn't the book i was thinking of - I can't find that one - but it looks as though it might be a good course.
Did you see 'Ten Amazing Free Tips for sightreading' on google? Some yank called Howard something. They were good, clear concise hints. He has a downloadable book, but start with those ten tips.
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Blodwen » 02 Jan 2011, 10:25

I bought the Right@Sight book for grade 2, the pieces were harder than what they expect you to play in the exam but I think thats a good thing! It's good!
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Blodwen » 03 Jan 2011, 19:00

talk about annoying!!

I bought my grade 4 books the other day, so started trying to sight read my way through Minuet in G by Beethoven, which Ive sort of managed but at a snails pace! My mum and dad just popped over to view my attempt at decorating my house, my dad goes straight to the piano and plays it from start to finish as if he knew it off by heart!

Grrrr!! Ill get there one day! sooo jealous!!
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 03 Jan 2011, 21:49

I had an uncle who did that to me when I was 5, and I'd played the Minuet in G by Bach. Not that I was a bad loser or anything, but apparently I told my mum that uncle Bill wasn't allowed to touch my piano any more...
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Books that teach technique?

Postby markymark » 04 Jan 2011, 02:21

Sight reading just develops with your music experience. As you become exposed to various styles of music - or just music in general - as well as doing scales, broken chords, arpeggios, you start to detect patterns in the music.

As well looking for scale patterns (ascending and descending) in the pieces and also look at intervals. If you can spot a third for example and you know that the lower note is C, then the upper note shouldn't require any working out. Progress to spotting fourths then fifths which will help speed up your sight reading.

But for most of the Baroque or even Classical pieces you encounter, you will notice the scale-like pattern in their composition.
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 04 Jan 2011, 17:53

Actually, for five years' learning you're doing bloody well, Dave. Adults tend to learn far slower than children, don't forget. Instead of wasting time moaning here, use the time to practise! :D I thought the tips in that list saying about just concentrating on pitch for a session, then rhythm for another was quite good. Takes a little of the anxiety off you.
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Feg » 06 Jan 2011, 12:09

Can I offer another solution to the sight-reading problem?

Give up doing exams! Continue with piano lessons which you enjoy, just cut out the stressful bits like sight -reading infront of a complete stranger. Scales etc are good for technique and for aural training which in the end will help you to play new music at the first (or second, or third etc) attempt.

You do not HAVE to be able to sight read to be a good pianist or to get enjoyment from playing. You do not have to sit exams in order to learn to play the piano.

I am pretty sure that there are many good players out there who couldn't sight-read to save their lives, but it doesn't stop them playing well.

Please do not give up piano lessons or playing the piano just because you find one small part of a not-very-important-in-the-whole-scheme-of-things-exam more difficult than the rest of the exam.
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 06 Jan 2011, 19:32

Don't call me Gillian!!! I keep thinking I've been naughty an my mother's caught me out...
Yes, see how you get on with those books. And don't lose heart! Use other things for sightreading - the books I sent you, frinstance. Sightreading pieces which are specifically written for s/reading are usually horrible, so try s/reading something interesting! :D
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 07 Jan 2011, 18:46

But you've started having a go, anbd that's what's important. Stop whingeing and keep going, darling! :lol:
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Qcam2010 » 08 Jan 2011, 10:03

After learning for five years Dave I wouldn't be giving up now!!!

As someone suggested before, leave the exams for a while. The whole point of playing the piano is for the ENJOYMENT factor. Why make it a miserable experience when you don't have to?

Get the enjoyment factor back by playing pieces you know, learn some new ones and enjoy it.

I struggled with the sight reading at the start and now actually enjoy it.
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 09 Jan 2011, 20:48

Yep, don't 'do sightreading', just get some music you like the look of and try playing it. That's sightreading! :D
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Qcam2010 » 11 Jan 2011, 03:10

I was told at my lesson yesterday that sight reading is generally 2 grades behind everything else.

So if you're working at Grade 5 your sight reading should be at around Grade 3. Quite alot online seems to support this idea. So maybe you're being too hard on yourself Dave. I think you're working towards Grade 3? If I'm right, why not get hold of some old Grade 1 books and practice your sight reading that way. It gives you that sight reading experience whilst at the same time giving you that feeling of "being able to pick up some music and be able to play it" - which is what we're all aiming for in the end.
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 11 Jan 2011, 17:32

Feel better soon, possum!
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 12 Jan 2011, 09:17

dave brum wrote:You know the Welsh idiom croen eich tin ar eich talcen? Well, that is very apt at the moment, Gillchops!

Nope, you'll have to enlighten me...
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 12 Jan 2011, 16:47

*Gill sits memorising feverishly, ready for her Welsh class tomorrow...* :mrgreen: Love it!
So when they ask me 'Sut Mae?' I answer 'Croen fi tin ar fi talcen'?
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Gill the Piano » 13 Jan 2011, 19:41

...or get expelled from the Welsh group!
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Benslow_Music_Trust » 03 Feb 2011, 15:31

Benslow Music Trust run courses for people who find sight-Reading difficult their next one is from 8 - 10 April and titled: Boldly into the Unknown: Sight-Reading Made Easy. It will be tutored by Christopher Roberts and Susie Asquith in a relaxed two stream course, one for advanced players and one for those of more modest achievements. There is an option to be residential or non resident.
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Re: The sight reading war

Postby Colin Nicholson » 04 Feb 2011, 16:20

Dave,

Just seen this post & behind the times!

I must admit, the AB specimen sight reading tests from Grades 1-2 don't really do any favours, and immediately leap into hands together & more sharps & flats. There also isn't a book for the "between the grades" (so to speak), so I have designed my own "prelim" tests for the intermediate stages of each grade.

Just one thing that might help.... never actually look at the notes you are playing - might sound daft, but try to read ahead into the next bar & take a 'photo snap' of that bar. Also, don't stop & always count. In my sight reading notes for Grade 1 piano, I slowly introduce the key signatures, and also get my pupils to name the key.

For example, when you said that there was an E natural in B flat major - I think it might be in G minor (sharing the same key signature) - as sometimes the ascending version of the scale in pieces of music sometimes use the melodic minor scale. The, strike the chord of the key, and then play quickish the first 5 notes of the scale. You also have to "realise" what key you are in - this helps your approach better. Each of my exercises introduces a new key & each hand separate (for now). The Paul Harris books are good, and contain "exam type" examples, and then ask you questions about the music....yeh? but these are a grade higher than AB - so Book 2 Paul Harris is really around Grade 3 AB standard.

If you would like me to send you a few exercises, pm me and I'll throw a couple in the post FOC...

Hope that helps.....
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