Sight reading

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

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Nutroast
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Sight reading

Post by Nutroast » 24 Mar 2015, 13:04

Yes, that old chestnut! It seems to be Cutlet's achilles heel as well. Has anyone found particular methods or books helpful, or is time and practice enough? I've been looking at the "Joining the Dots" books that get great reviews, have you tried them? I was wondering, if they are good, whether you can start with the book for the grade you are on, or do you have to start a book 1 to be able to follow the method?

Any suggestions welcome!

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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 24 Mar 2015, 18:15

If you look at Gizzy's posts I believe she had a recommendation. Can't think what it was though...
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dave brum
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Re: Sight reading

Post by dave brum » 24 Mar 2015, 19:01

That would be 'Piano Sight Reading 1' by John Kember which is part of a series. Now this is purely a personal opinion, what is bad for me may be good for Babynut, but the JK is just more of the same old same old that I've tried, it's not a 'fresh approach' as it proudly states on the cover. Have a shufty through its reviews on Amazon if you're unsure. Plus it's rather geared to adults. I know kids grow up very quickly in 2015 so she MIGHT like it...

Here are all the SR methods I know about (tried all of these) You could google them all:

1. Sight Reading For Today (Joan Last - series)
2. Improve Your Sight Reading (Paul Harris - series)
3. Sightreading Folk (Laura Shur - series)
4. Right@Sight (TA Johnson - series) This one is okay for kids and adults
5. Piano Time Sight Reading (Pauline Hall - 2 volumes) Okay for kids
6. Play at Sight (Christine Brown) a green book
7. Guided Sight Reading (Helen Lockhart - 3 volumes)
8. Read and Play Beginners Tunes (TA Johnson) this is an Edition Peters vintage one I found for 99p whilst farageing around in a secondhand bookshop
9. the John Kember one.

I have some of these to recycle if you're interested Nutty. Funnily enough Joining the Dots is the only SR method I've not tried.
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Re: Sight reading

Post by dave brum » 28 Mar 2015, 18:31

Just had a thought. In all the years I've been playing (and struggling with sight reading) I've always looked at a note and thought 'erm, that's a (say) D' rather than 'D'. Not being able to identify a note straight away. Is that the hallmark of a bad sight reader?
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 29 Mar 2015, 19:54

A traumatised one, I'd say. But no longer!!!
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Re: Sight reading

Post by dave brum » 29 Mar 2015, 20:17

Gill the Piano wrote:A traumatised one, I'd say. But no longer!!!
Dunno about that. I shall struggle with sight reading as long as I am alive. But I downloaded some flash cards last night. I'm only using two (both in the treble, bottom space F and fourth line up D) whilst looking at the piano keyboard and seeing how long it takes me to identify them and find them. That shouldn't spoil the other things. If I'm still doing that in 2019 then so be it but to still be doing it then would be better than to have given up within the next 7 days or so.
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Re: Sight reading

Post by dave brum » 30 Mar 2015, 11:35

Wondering if there is such a thing as musical dyslexia, i.e inability to translate printed dots into notes/letter names/places on the piano?? Would be good to put this on the ABRSM forum for debate, if I hadn't been banned from there three times.
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 30 Mar 2015, 16:45

:shock: Blimey, what did you do?
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Re: Sight reading

Post by dave brum » 30 Mar 2015, 16:55

Gill the Piano wrote::shock: Blimey, what did you do?
Two things. 1) Get up their noses 2) Dare to be different (why they are all such a conservative and blinkered lot on there, generally). Gizzy will know what I mean, she also posts on there.
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 31 Mar 2015, 16:57

'You are the awkwardest person I have ever had the misfortune to teach me.'
Dave Brum.
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Re: Sight reading

Post by dave brum » 31 Mar 2015, 17:34

Gill the Piano wrote:'You are the awkwardest person I have ever had the misfortune to teach me.'
Dave Brum.
Aah, but I'm not a teacher. I don't have eight grades and a B.Mus like Biddy Bagshawe does!
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Nutroast
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Nutroast » 07 Apr 2015, 17:37

Thanks for your replies and thanks for that list DB and the kind offer, but I've been thinking this over with my pea-like and I think I often make the mistake of trying to fix 'hard stuff' with a book, when what's needed is good old fashioned practice. I don't think Cutlet is as bad as she thinks she is, if she takes it slowly and carefully, she's OK, especially if she can get around the fact that new stuff always looks hard and sight reading by its very nature, is new stuff...

It's worrying that I can see a lot of myself in her! Bl00dy impatient and thinking that if I can't do it right now, that I'll never be able to do it blah blah blah. Low self-confidence is the main hurdle. Wonder if I can get a book on that :mrgreen: :wink:

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Re: Sight reading

Post by gizzy » 08 Apr 2015, 13:46

dave brum wrote:
Gill the Piano wrote::shock: Blimey, what did you do?
Two things. 1) Get up their noses 2) Dare to be different (why they are all such a conservative and blinkered lot on there, generally). Gizzy will know what I mean, she also posts on there.
I think it was because you mailed and told them whereup they could stick their something-riddled something-infested something-ridden forum, actually :D though daring to be different - there are one or two (I don't know whether you still lurk there) who do seem to think you have to have a particular kind of mindset to post there, and anyone who seems to have a different kind of agenda some of them immediately post thinly veiled things about, suggesting they are trolling. These people are particularly odious about the fact that someone posts appearing to have a problem, they make all sorts of suggestions and, well I never, they don't appear to be heeding them or even grovellingly grateful. I've almost given up saying "look, you lot, this is not a helpline we're operating here, people are free to come and express their worries and still have them". I bet half the time they think it's you anyway LOL

Sight-reading - hmm. I don't much like any s/r books as a solution to reading problems, and up to a point I'm heretical enough to think you can either do it or you can't. This does NOT NOT NOT mean you can't work out in tiny detail, including expression, a piece which you're musically and technically and theoretically equipped to play, but in you own good time; I do believe some people fall a bit, or a lot, short in whatever it is that facilitates the ability to go from eyes to fingers "on the fly" as it were. A couple of skills do help, one is the ability to hear in your head what you are about to play, (silent sight-singing if you like) and the other is the ability to play what you can hear in your head (playing by ear) but both of those mainly stem from experience.

As far as nutkin is concerned, reading very easy music that you want to play does improve the ability. It's this keep going even when it's wrong thing that puts the kybosh on that process. Don't listen to anyone else, it DOESN'T matter if you stop and go back unless you are playing with other people or doing an exam.

I do now, though, do a bit in lessons using the Kember book, and have a process which at first sounds terrible. There might seem at first to be no point in showing people where they played it wrong. However:

In school if you did something wrong, the teacher might ask why you did it, and this is rarely because they actually want to know the reason, usually it's either to get a confession from you that you are an evil little toe-rag or it's so they can ridicule and humiliate you when you mumble "don't know". But after a s/r exercise, I often say "you got this bass bit wrong, any idea why?" and I do not want to hear "because I'm a carp sight-reader", I want to get the pupil to ask themself the question, and find an answer. It could be "I realise I don't identify bass stave positions by name fast enough" or "I wasn't focused enough to notice whether it was a line or a space" (vision or concentration?) or "I realise now I was estimating the interval instead of reading it properly" or one of half a dozen reasons. This, hooefully, would help the pupil to work out where some very specific strengths and weaknesses are, and what needs improvement. Sometimes it's as simple as realising they are not in fact following the musical line consistently, but letting their eyes wander, and like so many other things, you don't realise you're doing it one way until you do it differently, then you notice that you were - often my kids really, really think they're reading a bar I ask them to try again and agsin, but it's only when eventually they change something and get it right, that they realise they weren't reading but looking through the page and letting their fingers do what they wanted.

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Re: Sight reading

Post by dave brum » 08 Apr 2015, 17:59

I did indeed remind them in a quintessentially British fashion which orifice would give them the maximum amount of benefit to assertively place their forum, but I also dared to criticise their Board, their examiners and their intimidating ways. Or at least what a long term sufferer of all the things I've detailed would consider as intimidating and downright scary. Or questioning what benefits their music exams are to people with MH difficulties would bring and suggesting that their exams are definitely not for MH sufferers solely due to the 'holier than thou' attitude of their examiners. For that I have been labelled as either a leftwing revolutionary or an anarchist. The fact is just thinking about doing another one of their exams would give me the willies!

I don't even look at their forum, leave the buggers to get on with it is my philosophy and the best of British luck to them! In actual fact I've had 3 different accounts with them and every one has been blocked by them. So yes, if anyone posts anything slightly different to their perception of 'the norm' on there, would I be surprised if they might think it's that miserable old scroat from Brum that posts on the UK Piano Page?

Music is elitist and snobby and they would rather that it was kept that way. :wink:
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Jabarr » 11 Jun 2015, 18:45

I have trouble seeing music sheets with smaller print,thinking different bulbs in lamp or page magnifier or a music stand closer where I could still see the keys.Im using a Yamaha PG235, any thoughts would appreciated,, jabarr

Gill the Piano
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Re: Sight reading

Post by Gill the Piano » 11 Jun 2015, 18:54

A friend of mine photocopies the music in a larger format to help her read. In the exam I think they have a special book for people with sight problems. Are you learning alone or with a teacher? Another option is to read music on a tablet and blow it up to your preferred size. Some people find daylight bulbs are helpful. Lots of pianists have special 'piano glasses' which they've got the optician to make up for them for the distance unique to pianists!
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Re: Sight reading

Post by markymark » 14 Jul 2015, 00:36

Super Sight Reading Secrets by Howard Richman is very good and cuts through all those overly cumbersome practices you hear others using which really only copes with the issue as opposed to fixing it. He comes from the background of someone who could perform at a high standard but couldn't even play a simple melody from sight.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Super-Sight-Rea ... 0961596309

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