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The New Concept: Scores for All Stages of Learning

On the recent Music Education Expo in London, Piano Street presented a new concept for sheet music publication. Depending on your own level of experience and where you are in the learning process of a particular piece, you may need fingering, pedal markings, practice and performance tips, or perhaps the right opposite - a clean Urtext score. Read more >>

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Author Topic: how to sight read both treble and bass cleff simultaneously  (Read 26526 times)
gaurang
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« on: December 28, 2007, 03:04:00 AM »

i have been practising piano playing for a long time but lately i have realised the importance of sight reading. as a result my sight reading is like that of a beginner. i have got some basic sheet music for sight reading but what i want to know is how to sight read both treble and bass clef at the same time while sight reading.
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pianochick93
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2007, 04:03:48 AM »

Practice. First on easier pieces, maybe with just chords or not many notes in the bass.

What I do is I first look at a few notes of the melody, and as I'm playing them I note the next bass notes and the treble. So I alternate between looking at bass and treble, looking at maybe 2 bars at a time.

On second thoughts, maybe I don't do that, I'm not sure what I do, but it works.
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Derek
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2007, 03:53:53 PM »

You know how when you play a movie back in Windows Media Player (or equivalent software) there's a little status bar that says: "Buffering: 25%...."  Sight reading is exactly like that. You quickly scan ahead both treble and bass clef, gathering as much information as possible BEFORE you play it. It's kind of tricky, but possible to do. I'm not an expert sight reader yet but I'm way, way better than I was just a few short years ago.

I've found what really helps me is to practice so that I can't see my hands. Not looking at the keyboard is really useful, cause then your eyes can focus entirely on the sheet music. I think this is perhaps the most challenging aspect of sight reading. If you have to constantly look up and down while playing, it will make your reading slower.  I took a large piece of cardboard that is wide as the piano keyboard, attached strings to it and hang it around my neck. It sits high enough that I can move my hands but cannot see them. This forces me never to look at my hands or the keyboard while sight reading. I think that has helped out a lot.
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danny elfboy
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2007, 12:31:33 PM »

To use a similar analogy to the one Derek used, sightreading is like watching a movie in a foreign language with the subtitles in your language.

The point is that you don't read the subtitles and watch the movie at the same time, but that you scan the subtitles quickly while watching the movies and gather as many information as you can. Usually we see just 5 words out of 20 and understand immediately the meaning of the sentence without reading all the conjunctions, preposition and so on.

With sightreading you don't read both cleffs at the same time but quickly scan them starting from the bottom to the top. So you eyes quickly do an up and down motion to read information from both cleffs.
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counterpoint
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2007, 02:35:41 PM »

For me it's a fact that we do not read 2 staffs with 2 clefs, but a continous system with 10 lines. The clefs origin from the 5 line staff of "normal" instruments, but they do not have a real function in a piano score. Except when we play in two treble clefs or two bass clefs.

So in the normal piano staff we have to know the position of the notes without thinking in 2 clefs. Just knowing which note (which key on the piano) is notated where in the piano staff. It's not difficult, but it needs training.
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If it doesn't work - try something different!
pianochick93
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2008, 07:29:27 AM »

I agree that not looking at the hands works. I do it quite often, which is why I get annoyed when I'm sightreading or playing a new piece, and someones bangs away at keys. I am relying on my hearing to tell me if something clashes, and their notes interfere with that hearing.
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h lp! S m b dy  st l   ll th  v w ls  fr m  my  k y b  rd!

I am an imagine of your figmentation.
swim4ever_22
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2008, 09:50:02 PM »

I do what others have suggested. Gather simple pieces, preferably ones that you've never seen before, and just try playing them. Your sight-reading will improve, but it takes a while. I did this with some of Mozart's very first works K 1-6, for example, or Bach's Notebook for Anna Magdalena.

Hope this helps.
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quantum
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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2008, 10:47:14 PM »

I work with the buffer principal as Derek mentioned.   It's also like trying to be an anti-skip CD player.  You read data ahead of time so when there is a bump (or added complexity in music) you can avoid skips. 

Try to recognize as many patterns as possible.  Eg: recognize chords - a triad looks similar no matter where on the staff.  So instead of reading C E G - you recognize the blob of notes as a C major triad.  Look for scales, repeated patterns (alberti bass, etc.).  Repeated measures.  If you see something repeated you don't need to read it again, just count the repetitions and move your eyes to the next section that is different. 

Your eyes don't really follow the music in real time. Instead they hop across the score reading areas ahead of what you currently are playing. 
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pianochick93
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2008, 12:31:23 PM »

Try to recognize as many patterns as possible.  Eg: recognize chords - a triad looks similar no matter where on the staff.  So instead of reading C E G - you recognize the blob of notes as a C major triad.

That method is excellent. It really works, because most of the time I look at the base note, and skim over the shape of the chord, I can generally jump straight to the right notes, and if I don't, I hear it. Also the same works with intervals, I will look at one note, then the next one, see how far they are apart, and I am usually correct. It takes practice though.
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h lp! S m b dy  st l   ll th  v w ls  fr m  my  k y b  rd!

I am an imagine of your figmentation.
Bob
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« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2008, 01:47:17 AM »

Try to read the chords.  It's easier to think of one chord than five different notes.

Practice on two part counterpoint music. 

Church hymns are good too.  You can also just play the top and bottom notes for sight-reading practice too.
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quantum
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2008, 09:31:47 PM »

Church hymns are good too.  You can also just play the top and bottom notes for sight-reading practice too.

I agree.  They are wonderful for familiarizing yourself with harmonic structure.  Due to the nature of how hymns are written, you can easily see the horizontal and vertical relations in harmony. 
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Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach
mknueven
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2008, 09:27:46 PM »

I like the buffering analogy - it's so true -
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gerryjay
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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2008, 10:06:09 PM »

hi there!

there is only one way to learn to read: read a lot! to myself, read one clef or read an orchestral open-score is preety much the same. of course that speed, amount of simultaneous notes, patterns, (everything indeed) counts and makes a huge difference, but i never realized any difficulty particularly associated to simultaneous reading.

btw, itīs much more difficult imo to read a single staff by boulez, than to read an  orchestral minuet by mozart.

i think you just get used to read it. start with simple material, and go on progressively. i use with my students (and did use it to myself as well) the mikrokosmos by bartok (because itīs never obvious, and uses anything from monophony to canon).
 
about several staves, start reading simple voice+piano material, playing both parts (there are several works where the composer already write in the piano a voice doubling, so those one donīt count  Tongue). then, procede to instrumental trios, quartets (haydnīs slow movements are the most), and so on.

however, just notice how many different and interesting approaches there are above. i think any pianist must develop her/his own "technique" to read, because itīs so related to the piano skill, to musical knowledge (the more i understand harmony, cp, etc, the easy to read), to focus, etc, that is impossible (at least i think) to reach universal rules or a perfect way of doing that. try everything and try it very much!

hope it helps a bit!
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guendola
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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2008, 05:59:36 AM »

There are many useful ideas in this thread already on how to read so what you really need to do now is practise. Actually I find it much easier to read from two systems compared to what I have to do on the organ: Pedal and one voice for the left hand is written in the lower system, the second voice for the left hand and the voice for the right hand are written in the upper system. That is a mess (imagine handwritten fingerings in the score to make it worse) Cheesy
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allemande
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« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2008, 07:25:45 PM »

I agree with gerryjay, reading only gets better with reading. More and more.

My teacher always tells me "Sheet music is like the morning paper, one should read a page every morning!"
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nia_kurniati
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« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2008, 02:25:03 AM »

I agree with alot of you above mentioned. For me first I look if there's pattern something repeating again and again. And then I try to identify some chords. Then I play. Always try to see ahead. While playing I also sometimes eliminates notes  Grin the lower ones
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yadeehoo
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« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2014, 06:04:36 PM »

For me it's a fact that we do not read 2 staffs with 2 clefs, but a continous system with 10 lines. The clefs origin from the 5 line staff of "normal" instruments, but they do not have a real function in a piano score. Except when we play in two treble clefs or two bass clefs.

So in the normal piano staff we have to know the position of the notes without thinking in 2 clefs. Just knowing which note (which key on the piano) is notated where in the piano staff. It's not difficult, but it needs training.

Thanks it's bright how you say it. It helps me at least
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Horowitz - Danse Macabre / Carmen variatons
Chopin - Polonaise in A flat Major + Etudes
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Beethoven - Moonlight 3rd movement
coolpianoman
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« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2016, 03:41:24 PM »

I appreciate these posts were a while ago but I have found them very useful.  It is the start of another year and I have made a musical resolution to improve my sight reading which is frankly pathetic.  I have made up a log with the column headings of date, time spent, source material, comments.  My goal is to do an hour a day and to enter it in my log. One of my source materials is the beginners pieces in The Pianist and another is easy books although I agree that playing stuff one knows is not good as I for one end up playing the top line by ear which I can do very well being an ex rock musician.  I don't view this as a blessing but a curse! 
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xdjuicebox
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« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2016, 09:55:12 PM »

Pick a route for your eyes. You're most likely only looking at one at a time. I read by going on each beat, starting at the bottom of the score, and then scanning upward. Sometimes I go top down, but rarely. Try to identify the chord of the piece. That helped me a lot. It's okay to leave out notes, or improvise if you know the chord.
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coolpianoman
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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2016, 10:19:22 PM »

It seems as though you are saying you take in the whole score or do you mean reading the bass and then the treble line rather than the other way round.  Any input on this would be most appreciated especially reading ahead which I am really poor at.  Chris .
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stillofthenight
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« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2016, 08:21:13 AM »

Sorry to hijack this thread. I would like to know what are your opinions on not being able to sight read in real time. What am I missing out on? If I want to learn how to play a piece, I just use the score as a reference on what the correct notes are, then just try to get it under my fingers which can take a long time depending on how sophisticated the piece is. I could never sight read a piece of music in real time having never seen it before....is that bad? I really try to understand its harmonic structure to remember how it goes, but mostly its just muscle memory for me now.

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coolpianoman
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« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2016, 12:45:22 PM »

I think this is a really great question which boils down to why learn to sight read? This is of course only a personal view and I would really like to hear others too.  Here goes.

If you are trying to learn a piece, the better you read the notes (at least some of them) and play them the first run through the better (sight reading) but to retain them then muscle memory is clearly what one has to build up.  I have a player who comes to our piano club who finds it impossible to play from music and memorises everything which is a process which works for him but II suspect quite a struggle.   

I suppose it also depends on why you play the piano and what pleases you.  I used to play in rock bands so I really miss the ensemble relationship.  So for classical I love duets which are a great way to keep on playing - an essential for sight reading and a bit like tennis doubles - huge fun. This morning for the first time I have been accompanying a cellist - not as grand as it sounds as they are pretty easy pieces but the pleasure we both got from this was indescribable.  Of course I can polish them up and get 100% accuracy on my own but some sight reading ability had me managing to at least have a good stab of them. 

There are no rules about this and I guess it is what works for you.  If you take very easy pieces you can certainly sight read I am sure.  It is comforting to know that most pianists struggle with sight reading except for the great composers and virtuoso players.  Apparently Liszt was one of the best

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spenstar
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« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2016, 01:53:13 AM »

Often, the field of direct vision is actually not large enough to read both treble and bass clef at the exact same time. So what must be done is comparable to multitasking; you cannot do 2 things at once, for it is physically impossible, so what you must do is direct your attention to 1 then the other. So you have to look at the treble, then the bass. I find it works best to look at the hand that is simpler first so that the main attention can be directed to the more difficult hand.
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