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Topic: How can i improve my sight reading?  (Read 4623 times)

Offline Jacey1973

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How can i improve my sight reading?
on: August 07, 2005, 04:13:00 PM
Dear Piano forumers,

I will have to do some sight reading when i do music college auditions (for masters) and i was wondering whether anyone has tips on how to improve it.

I'm ok at sight reading but not brilliant. I was always just told to sight read as much new music as possible which i do quite often, but is there anything else that could help? Any methods etc to be applied?

Also, has anyone got any idea what kinda level of sight reading i would be expected to do for a masters degree audition at a music college? Would it be especially difficult?

Any links to past topics on sight reading also appreciated.  :)

Many thanks,

"Mozart makes you believe in God - it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and then passes after 36 yrs, leaving behind such an unbounded no. of unparalled masterpieces"

Offline pianonut

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Re: How can i improve my sight reading?
Reply #1 on: August 07, 2005, 04:38:04 PM
try various levels - the hardest for me, being sightreading a page of a concerto, or something by rachmaninov.  try to not care if you miss one note, and attempt to read the whole page without stopping.  it is tiring.  then try for two pages.  go at a slow pace and just attempt to hit as many right notes as possible.

you can probably get away with playing a quick scale in the key that the piece is in.  and, take your time starting - scanning the music like a printer  ;D  once you have scanned it, make note of the places that you think are difficult and imagine the speed you might be able to play it best at.  then, attempt the piece below speed if necessary!  that's my two cents.  they are impressed at how far you can get!  not ALL THE NOTES.  or maybe a combo of the two.  just don't stop unless you have to.  i thought they would stop me, so i stopped myself after a page and a half and asked (is this enough?)  BAD!  don't do that.  just keep going until they ask you to stop. 
do you know why benches fall apart?  it is because they have lids with little tiny hinges so you can store music inside them.  hint:  buy a bench that does not hinge.  buy it for sturdiness.

Offline Mayla

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Re: How can i improve my sight reading?
Reply #2 on: August 07, 2005, 07:37:20 PM
"The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving"  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Offline invictus

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Re: How can i improve my sight reading?
Reply #3 on: August 10, 2005, 09:38:38 AM
I am trying to be modest but failed, I am actually quite good at sightreading.
I learnt to read the staves before i started learning piano, like at 4 or something, its all about experience and how fast your brain can interpret the signals, just read scores in the bathroom and in the bus ride to work or school or anything.
Long term it would be good for your health

Offline whynot

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Re: How can i improve my sight reading?
Reply #4 on: August 11, 2005, 12:23:30 AM
Another idea to try once in a while is to take something so difficult that there's NO WAY for you to truly read the notes, and play an approximation of the piece.  I got this from "A Soprano on her Head," but it's similar to something I did growing up, and I'm a very strong reader now.  For this exercise, the more "unreadable" it appears, the better.  Look at the piece and think like a four-year-old, and play the shapes and moods of the piece, sort of like a child "playing" a thunderstorm.  Imitate the shapes of the lines but only by playing made-up nonsense, no real note-reading.  If the notes are high, play something high.  If there are loud and dramatic chords, pound away in the general region of the written notes, but don't actually read the notes-- only the shape of the line.  If it's a fast scale run, just scurry around quickly for the correct amount of time.  Play in tempo, more or less, because it forces your eyes to keep moving steadily forward.  You can't do this with anyone around!  It's too bizarre-sounding.  The points of the exercise are to periodically remind us:  1.  that written music is just an approximate map or drawing of how to make the desired sound, 2. that we are capable of taking in larger pieces of information than one note or chord at a time, and 3. that when we take in larger segments by following the shape and character of the piece, we can understand pretty quickly how even a very complex piece works.  Then when you go back to your normal reading material, you would of course try to look for the shapes, shifts and moods.  It sounds like that's more work than reading in bits at a time, but actually, noticing the larger shapes helps to shift the note-by-note stuff into more automatic pilot.  Anyway, just an idea.  Best of luck on your audition. 

Offline Aziel

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Re: How can i improve my sight reading?
Reply #5 on: August 11, 2005, 02:53:18 AM
Hi jenni, well here are a bunch of links.  Sightreading is currently a thing I am working on as well.   I have found Bernhard's posts on the Grand staff and Mental Practice to be helpful in my endeavors with this (also, teaching it this way helps my own reading abilites quite dramatically) and I have also purchased Richmann's book.  I think that between these things, you will be able to find the information you are looking for, as well as new inspiration.

Mayla  :)


(Reading notation – Richmann’s book – Cambridge word scramble example)

(Sight reading – Richmann’s book)

(the grand staff)

(Keyboard topography – how to find notes by touch)

(Teaching bass clef – the full explanation for the grand staff)

(detailed explanation of the sight-reading process)

(Sight reading techniques – Good post by faulty on the folly of pedagogues)

(music to develop sight reading from scratch)

(how not to look at the keys – Richmann’s reviews)

"Reading bass key habit... good or bad ?"
(Reading both staffs as a single grand staff - Reasons for working on scales - Detailed discussion of Richmann’s book)

(Looking at the keys: Good or bad? exercises to help finding notes by touch. Good contributions by Chang).

(accompanying as a way to teach sightreading)

(the score is tabs for piano)

(Sightreading – Comparison with reading – St Augustine reading skills)

Holy crap, you're the next Bernhard.  Hmm, looks like you're no longer Ms. Foxy...
 ♪...Aziel Musica... ♪

Offline brsmpianist

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Re: How can i improve my sight reading?
Reply #6 on: August 11, 2005, 06:44:47 AM
Hi Jenni,

My school actually requires 2 semesters of sightreading class, which helped me out a lot, so i could share some of the tips that i learned...
It may sound pretty obvious, but the biggest thing is to practice these methods (at least a half hour a day) to get better.

First, when they present you w/ the music take as much time as you need to scan the music.  Should note key sig, time, etc.  Look for spots where you might get tangled and think about what youll do when you get there in advance.  Also look for key changes, etc.
Practice reading at least a measure ahead in anything you sightread... and start off with something really easy ( none of that rach concerto stuff) even if its a bach minuet, and go SLOW, as slow as you need, because the most important thing is reading ahead.
Try to read the staff vertically, not horizontally... so your eyes should be constantly scanning the music from the top down.
Try to keep your eyes on the music at all times, and keep the keyboard in your peripheral vision only.
DONT try to play everything on the page; skip trills, mordents, etc.  Say if the bass has jumping octaves, chances are if your sightreading you wont be able to hit them, so just play the bass notes... or if theres some elaborate technical passage in the rh, just substitute w/ the right chord or scale.
Obviously, keep going no matter how badly you mess up.  I think this is important with the judges, that you dont just flounder when you hit a wrong note and get lost.  To do this one needs to be counting constantly in his/her head.
As i said up there, count constantly, and sing a few measures inside your head before you begin playing.
Finally, if your sightreading vocal music its important to note some of the vocalist's marks beforehand, such as rubatos that they need you to do.

My professor also made us practice hitting P5's, 4's, octaves, etc, with our eyes closed, so that we know what our hand span is and we wont have to look down when we're playing. 

Well!  I hope this incredibly long post has helped you somewhat and I didnt tell you things that you didnt know already... anyways good luck with your auditions :)

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