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Sightreading through your entire collection of music (Read 4376 times)

Offline davidjosepha

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Sightreading through your entire collection of music
« on: November 21, 2012, 06:20:39 PM »
I'm sure a lot of people here on PianoStreet, especially more advanced members or those who have been playing for quite a while, have a lot of sheet music lying around. But how much of it have you actually played? You probably have at least a couple massive Dover books lying around with every Mozart sonata ever written, every Scriabin prelude, every Beethoven sonata, every Lyric Piece by Grieg...but would you even recognize half of it if you heard it? How many hidden beauties are lying in your ever-growing stack of sheet music that you have never gotten around to looking at?

Well, there's only one way to find out, isn't there?

Switch gears for a second:

Are your sightreading skills poor? You can play a Chopin etude but would struggle to sightread a Bach invention? Ever just want to play something for a group of friends but can't because goddammit, you're working on three extraordinarily difficult pieces at the moment and none of them are in quite good enough condition?

Well, there's only one way to fix that, isn't there?

...

I mainly made this post to encourage people to go through their music and try to sightread it all. Yes, it all. This will take forever. Depending on how much music you have, how often you sit down to sightread, and how frequently you buy more music, this could literally take forever--your collection grows faster than you can sightread it. But it will be rewarding, both in how much fun it is, and how much your sightreading will improve, and best of all, you'll find beautiful music you would never have found otherwise.

I've been working on sightreading since this summer, although I did almost nothing during the term due to time constraints. But it is tons of fun, and you should all at least consider trying it. It's especially nice if you have a way to keep track of what you've gone through. It makes you feel like you're making progress somehow, at least for me, anyway.

To keep track of what music I've played, I made a spreadsheet. At the moment, it's quite barren, but it's getting more filled almost every day. Here's a sample of part of it...



As you can see, most recently I've been working on sightreading Scriabin's op. 11. I can honestly say that I love every single piece in that opus. And there's no way I would have found that out if I had only played no. 6, the one I've spent time working on.

I encourage you all to try it. And if anyone is interested, I can upload my spreadsheet as a model.

Lastly, "I have too much music, there's no way I could get through it all" is absolutely no excuse. It's not about getting through everything, it's about improving your sightreading ability and widening your horizons as to just how much music is out there beyond the standard pieces everyone plays. I've seen far too many people playing Fantaisie-impromptu. How many of you have ever played any of Chopin's other impromptus? How many of you have even heard any of Chopin's other impromptus? That's what I thought. Even if you just play one new piece a day, your sightreading will improve and you will be exposed to more and more music.

So, basically, just play through music you've never played before. You'll become familiar with more music, you'll improve your sightreading, and by improving your sightreading, you'll be able to learn new music faster so you can widen your repertoire quicker. There are no downsides!

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #1 on: November 21, 2012, 10:59:16 PM »
I agree that it is a great idea.  ;D

Not everything is sight readable, though, even for those of us who are pretty reasonable sight readers.

My "collection" includes quite a number of pieces that I simply couldn't do any sort of read through that would give me much of an idea at all about their virtues (though it may reveal some of their challenges). Still, I live in hope.  :-\ And I periodically set aside time to read through those pieces I can.
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Offline davidjosepha

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 11:04:46 PM »
Not everything is sight readable, though, even for those of us who are pretty reasonable sight readers.

My "collection" includes quite a number of pieces that I simply couldn't do any sort of read through that would give me much of an idea at all about their virtues (though it may reveal some of their challenges). Still, I live in hope.  :-\ And I periodically set aside time to read through those pieces I can.

I've, in general, been trying to start with easier pieces and moving up in difficulty. Reading through all the Bach inventions was basically the first thing I did when starting this quest, of sorts. I sightread the first movement of Scriabin's 2nd sonata today...it wasn't terrible, but it was mentally exhausting.

What pieces give the great j_menz trouble when sightreading?

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 11:14:04 PM »
What pieces give the great j_menz trouble when sightreading?

Alkan is a bugger to read (odd keys, lots of accidentals, aversion to ottavo notation except where it's unnecessary), even when he's not being Alkaniquely difficult.

Atonal stuff is often hard to read, anything that's much beyond grade 8 gets logarithmically more difficult to read as a rule.  And composers I don't get, or which are new to me, are more difficult than ones that are familiar (or at least write in a familiar "style"). And just sheer speed can make things difficult.
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Offline Derek

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 11:44:43 PM »
What a nice and inspiring call to action. Thanks. I've been striving to get myself into a routine where more sheet music gets read on a daily basis and I think I'm finally settling into one. Though mine is slightly different: at the moment I'm focused 100% on Bach, partially due to more focused interest in that style perhaps.

Offline mikeowski

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #5 on: November 21, 2012, 11:45:16 PM »
Atonal stuff is often hard to read, anything that's much beyond grade 8 gets logarithmically more difficult to read as a rule.

Don't you mean exponentially?

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #6 on: November 21, 2012, 11:53:31 PM »
Don't you mean exponentially?

Hard to tell. It depends where you are on the curve, and how you measure degrees of impossibility.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #7 on: November 21, 2012, 11:57:43 PM »
Don't you mean exponentially?

I think logarithmically works better..

Things don't get harder and harder the more you progress.. so much as plateau out on to a stable base of "everything is REALLY hard"

ofcourse, as j_menz points out.. if you are at an earlier stage in development, pieces will seem exponentially more difficult than lower level ones..   since you haven't yet reached the "plateau of differing impossibilities".

...

In answer to the OP - this is an excellent idea..  I do this already, though I don't record it (I really should). I rampage through IMSLP frequently looking for more and more sight reading material.. since while I'm always running out of easier stuff and I still find sightreading at grade 8 and above to give me a headache, and I can really only sustain it at that level for a somewhat stuttering few minutes.. I prefer up to around grade 6, and am gradually plugging up my "technical" holes as far as reading goes.

Quote
You probably have at least a couple massive Dover books lying around with every Mozart sonata ever written, every Scriabin prelude, every Beethoven sonata, every Lyric Piece by Grieg...but would you even recognize half of it if you heard it?
This is such an understatement in my case.. playing through my entire collection is not really an option, I expand it faster than I can read through it and its already large enough that I need a filing/index system to help me find things.

Offline davidjosepha

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #8 on: November 22, 2012, 12:20:27 AM »
What a nice and inspiring call to action. Thanks. I've been striving to get myself into a routine where more sheet music gets read on a daily basis and I think I'm finally settling into one. Though mine is slightly different: at the moment I'm focused 100% on Bach, partially due to more focused interest in that style perhaps.

Bach is indeed great! Whether you're looking through one composer or many, the same goal is accomplished--exposure to more music and improved sightreading skills. I'm glad to hear you've been doing sightreading!

This is such an understatement in my case.. playing through my entire collection is not really an option, I expand it faster than I can read through it and its already large enough that I need a filing/index system to help me find things.

Great work, ajs. And yes, I figured for some of you, it'd be a ton more than I suggested.

And you should really make a catalog of all the music you own. I'd love to have a look at it! I use a different sheet on the same spreadsheet as I talked about above to list all the music I own, what publisher, how much I paid for it, whether I personally paid for it or whether it was a gift (then I total how much my collection is worth, how much I have personally spent, how many books I have from each publisher, how much I've spent on each publisher). I also have a wishlist which I try to keep trimmed (lest it get to every sheet I could possibly want, in which case it would be two miles long!) with similar information. I'm kinda a data/spreadsheet person.

Anyway, seeing your collection would be fun. Although I'm sure it would take you a while to list out all the books you have.

Edit:

PS: Fun fact: I have read through 21.78% of my sheet music (counting by piece, not pages)

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #9 on: November 22, 2012, 12:58:50 AM »
you should really make a catalog of all the music you own. I'd love to have a look at it! I use a different sheet on the same spreadsheet as I talked about above to list all the music I own, what publisher, how much I paid for it, whether I personally paid for it or whether it was a gift (then I total how much my collection is worth, how much I have personally spent, how many books I have from each publisher, how much I've spent on each publisher). I also have a wishlist which I try to keep trimmed (lest it get to every sheet I could possibly want, in which case it would be two miles long!) with similar information. I'm kinda a data/spreadsheet person.

the majority of my scores came from online sources rather than purchasing them - I'm a gold member here, so I have downloaded a LARGE portion of everything pianostreet offers, that along with IMSLP.. 

there was also these "classical sheetmusic A-Z" torrents that I picked up a while ago.. i'm not even entirely sure whats in them, or whether its all public domain (or what the quality is) the letter "B" for example was ~3.5gb of scores..   consequently I have numerous composers complete (or close to complete, or no where near complete  :-\) works, many of whom I know nothing about at this stage..  and its all fairly disorganised..

My plan is to write a searchable database that links to all the digital scores (this will be a life long endeavor) - where all the scores are HIGH quality..  as opposed to IMSLP scores which are often not that great..

Printed - I have many of the big names as complete (or close to) volumes...  I print and bind them myself and then file/shelf them, and have a sheet telling me where certain things are. A current example of stuff that is organised would be..

BAROQUE
   BACH
      Vol. 1 - Anna Magdalena, *and some other assorted easier works
      Vol. 2 - 18 small preludes, inventions, sinfonias, french/english suites, partitas.
      Vol. 3 - WTC book 1 and 2
      Vol. 4 - 371 chorales
      etc.
   SCARLATTI
      Vol. 1 - Sonatas 1 - 125
      Vol. 2 - Sonatas 126 - 200

etc. etc.

I'm gradually piecing everything together..  but its will take forever.

Offline davidjosepha

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #10 on: November 22, 2012, 01:12:53 AM »
Ah, that's really cool! How do you bind them yourself? Are they spiral bound, or conventionally bound?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #11 on: November 22, 2012, 01:21:09 AM »
One way I like to practice my sight reading is to go to imslp.org and hit random page and play whatever piano piece comes up, you can find some amazing pieces you never heard before which is a nice reward. iPads are extremely handy I might add. It saves having to balance a laptop or printing a tree worth of paper.
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Offline ajspiano

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #12 on: November 22, 2012, 01:22:18 AM »
Ah, that's really cool! How do you bind them yourself? Are they spiral bound, or conventionally bound?

Comb binding..



Only I get white ones so I can write on the spines easily.

...You can get a binder from any office/stationary supplier..  wasnt overly expensive, maybe $50? i can't remember..  then you have to buy the combs and plastic cover sheets. There's varying sizes for the combs to accommodate however many pages you have per volume.

Its just a fancier version of a hole punch, with a few extra features to help put the pages on the comb..  you can probably get ones that do metal spiral binding to, not sure..?



I find it significantly better than buying scores, spiral/comb binding means I never have scores that try hard to close by themselves no matter how large the volume..  And, its cheaper than buying the scores.

Paper is 1c, and its about 2c per side out of my printer for the toner..  so 5c per double sided page. Beats pretty much any store purchased score by a healthy margin.

Offline shaggyy

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #13 on: November 22, 2012, 01:13:31 PM »
I'm gonna try this! Cause I really want to improve my sightreading skills. I have made a map myself with all the impromptu's of Schubert and Chopin, some Rach preludes, Moonlight and Pathetique sonatas, a few Chopin nocturnes, some pieces from games and movies and probably some more pieces that I forgot. And I recently bought all the Chopin nocturnes en polonaises, since printing them all is quite expensive compared to buying. I think I'll start with those.  ;D

Offline davidjosepha

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #14 on: November 22, 2012, 03:54:51 PM »
I'm gonna try this! Cause I really want to improve my sightreading skills. I have made a map myself with all the impromptu's of Schubert and Chopin, some Rach preludes, Moonlight and Pathetique sonatas, a few Chopin nocturnes, some pieces from games and movies and probably some more pieces that I forgot. And I recently bought all the Chopin nocturnes en polonaises, since printing them all is quite expensive compared to buying. I think I'll start with those.  ;D

Great! One fun thing with playing through a bunch of the same type of piece from the same time period by the same composer is that you start to notice and get used to a lot of the composer's "mannerisms", or whatever you'd call it, making it easier to play those pieces since you're used to a lot of common things he does.

Offline drazh

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #15 on: November 25, 2012, 08:37:13 PM »
hi
i did it through all my collection (bach,  chopin, liszt, beethoven......) it took me 1.5 year
it improved my sight reading but not my technic
thanks

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #16 on: November 25, 2012, 11:08:31 PM »
but not my technic


I find that difficult to believe. It always improves mine.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline davidjosepha

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #17 on: November 26, 2012, 03:01:56 AM »
I agree about technique. I'm definitely not improving any given area as much as if I spent a ton of time on it, but given that by sightreading, I am exposed to so many more technical challenges than I am when just concentrating on a few pieces, my technique inevitably improves the more I play.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #18 on: November 26, 2012, 03:10:40 AM »
I agree about technique. I'm definitely not improving any given area as much as if I spent a ton of time on it, but given that by sightreading, I am exposed to so many more technical challenges than I am when just concentrating on a few pieces, my technique inevitably improves the more I play.

Concentrating on an area of technique generally involves playing a relatively limited range of bits that use that technique (a repeated passage, some exercises, a Chopin etude etc..) - great for learning it. Sightreading through a lot of pieces exposes you to those techniques applied in different ways and/or with some variations. It's a great way to truly get them in your bag of tricks. It also acts as a reward for the (often dry) effort of learning them in the first place.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline drazh

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #19 on: November 26, 2012, 04:33:08 AM »
hi
it depends on  your level and  what is is your goal on sight reading
i didnt improve my level
maybe diferent about others

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #20 on: November 26, 2012, 04:58:42 AM »
i didnt improve my level

No, but it improves the level you've got.  That may sound less exciting and less like improvement, but it's just as important and will equip you better for the future.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #21 on: November 26, 2012, 07:00:17 PM »
I have only ever bothered to make a catalogue of my concertos and other works for piano and orchestra.

I would guess I have sightread through about 10% to 15% of them, but struggle sometimes with the ones that have not been recorded.

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Offline drazh

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #22 on: November 27, 2012, 05:31:45 AM »
hi
I began sight reading of all my collection only with my right hand.  it is much easier. at least I can master right  hand sight reading 

Offline davidjosepha

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #23 on: November 27, 2012, 02:25:52 PM »
hi
I began sight reading of all my collection only with my right hand.  it is much easier. at least I can master right  hand sight reading 

That's actually my problem. Most of the stuff I'm sightreading, I can play just fine with just my right hand, or just my left hand, at a constant tempo that is at least somewhat close to the actual tempo (depends on the piece for just how close). But hands together, I can't sightread like that, which means that the issue isn't that there isn't any pattern I can't technically play, just that my mind isn't working fast enough. That realization is actually what prompted me to start sightreading more.

Offline drazh

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #24 on: November 27, 2012, 08:38:06 PM »
so I should try to reach at your level in sight reading

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #25 on: November 27, 2012, 11:06:24 PM »
That's actually my problem. Most of the stuff I'm sightreading, I can play just fine with just my right hand, or just my left hand, at a constant tempo that is at least somewhat close to the actual tempo (depends on the piece for just how close). But hands together, I can't sightread like that, which means that the issue isn't that there isn't any pattern I can't technically play, just that my mind isn't working fast enough. That realization is actually what prompted me to start sightreading more.

Is it the actual speed of your brain that is the issue, or is it that it can't (currently) do two things at once? Ie, read both staves and control each hand.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline davidjosepha

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #26 on: November 27, 2012, 11:54:08 PM »
Is it the actual speed of your brain that is the issue, or is it that it can't (currently) do two things at once? Ie, read both staves and control each hand.

Those are one and the same. My brain doesn't work fast enough to run both processes at the same time, right and left hand, top and bottom staff.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #27 on: November 27, 2012, 11:58:48 PM »
Those are one and the same. My brain doesn't work fast enough to run both processes at the same time, right and left hand, top and bottom staff.

It does, you just need to train it.
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Offline davidjosepha

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #28 on: November 28, 2012, 12:03:06 AM »
It does, you just need to train it.

Okay, my brain currently doesn't work fast enough...etc. Yes, I understand that it is physically capable of it.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #29 on: November 28, 2012, 12:11:06 AM »
Okay, my brain currently doesn't work fast enough

It currently does; you just need to learn to trust it more.

If you read one staff, you can "think" about what you are doing; in fact your brain knows what to do a lot and you don't need to confuse it by thinking. You need to let go and trust it - only interfere when it is actually necessary.
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Offline mahlermaniac

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #30 on: January 03, 2013, 08:27:28 PM »
That's a great idea. I don't have much sheet music yet, since I've only been playing for 3 months total (and the first 2 of that was a keyboard, not a piano)

I tend to buy lots of music recordings, so I could easily see this happening for sheet music as well as I progress along. I am all for improving myself on easy pieces, for example, before moving on to harder music, much as I would enjoy that music.

Offline the89thkey

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #31 on: January 05, 2013, 05:08:15 AM »
I think many people who are still inexperienced sight readers would benefit from sightreading what they can and then reading along with the score while listening to the rest. That improves your ear, which in turn helps sight reading, which allows you to read more difficult pieces. So the cycle continues until you can read all but the most difficult repertoire (don't sit down and try to sight read Rach 3 before you can do a Chopin prelude).

Offline brendan765

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #32 on: January 08, 2013, 03:34:16 AM »
Thats about the same kind of thing I do.

I have a huge repertoire of 100 pieces about; that are all significantly hard, and expressive.
 
I sight read a lot of stuff but dont really consider it repertoire..for ex. I cant sight read a chopin etude very easy,..but his waltzes are easy

I have a paper list of all my repertoire, and I go through it like this (numbers for pieces)

1.today
2.        tomorrow
3.today
4.                      day after tomorrow
5.today
6.                      day after tomorrow
7.        tomorrow
8.                      day after tommorow
9.        tomorrow
10.                                                day after...the day after tomorrow
all the way to 100 or so




And dont let orginization take over practice time too much, (never forget pieces, thats a waste of time and effort.)

I wish I could keep every piece perfect...but after about a few months of not playing a piece; I cant play them perfect, and I just go back and polish it up if needed...I can remember them for about 2 years from my last playthrough. Which I think is good....


ALWAYS WORRY ABOUT NEW PIECES FIRST!!! They are only registered in your short term memory when learning...practice them 2x day for best results... if you skip a day or 2 on a new piece you're learning it's very frustrating!
There is so much still to be created. 88 keys, you do the math. ∞

Offline drazh

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #33 on: January 10, 2013, 01:03:16 PM »
is thre any advanced sight reader in here?who can sight read prima vista, full tempo,both hand at his/her lvel?

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #34 on: January 10, 2013, 11:47:55 PM »
is thre any advanced sight reader in here?who can sight read prima vista, full tempo,both hand at his/her lvel?

What do you mean by "at his/her lvl"?

I don't think it's possible to read at first sight the sorts of pieces that you take weeks or months to learn, but it is certainly possible to do so with many of those pieces a level or three below that.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline drazh

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #35 on: January 13, 2013, 12:25:12 PM »
I mean advanced pianist +8 level. after many years beyond the level  shuld be able to sight read +8 level piaces.
or am I wrong?

Offline j_menz

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #36 on: January 13, 2013, 11:47:48 PM »
I mean advanced pianist +8 level. after many years beyond the level  shuld be able to sight read +8 level piaces.
or am I wrong?

8+ covers a vast amount of repertoire with a great many levels and types of difficulty. Some of it is sightreadable, and some of it really isn't. The sorts of things that in small doses make things difficult to read can occur in very large doses. 

And much as different parts of the advanced repertoire may suit ones technique better than others, some will be easier to read; there will be differenes between people as to what pieces fall into which category.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline brendan765

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #37 on: February 25, 2013, 03:43:29 AM »
What do you mean by "at his/her lvl"?

I don't think it's possible to read at first sight the sorts of pieces that you take weeks or months to learn, but it is certainly possible to do so with many of those pieces a level or three below that.


It's possible to sight read like Chopin waltzes and Beethoven sonatas, Chopin etudes get very hard to sight read. As well as Liszt. Like if I sight read Liszt I usually hit his hard part...stop...hands apart. Memorize hard part and then play through once you have his hard parts good
There is so much still to be created. 88 keys, you do the math. ∞

Offline slobone

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #38 on: February 25, 2013, 03:59:39 AM »
I love sight reading, and yes I have acquired a good-sized collection of music over the years, most of which I've never read. I have some rules I enforce for myself for sight reading:

1. Don't worry about tempo. It's better to slow down when you get to a hard part than to try to keep up a steady tempo. Actually I even do this when I'm learning a piece, until I've learned all the notes. Then I work on evening out the tempo.

2. Once you start sight-reading a piece, read it all the way through. It doesn't all have to be at one sitting if it's a long piece. But don't do what I did for years, just to start at the beginning and then stop when you get to the first hard part. I recently went through the Beethoven sonatas and realized I'd read the first pages of all of them, but had only done a few all the way through.

3. Do everything twice, even pieces where repeats aren't marked. But if you do it more than twice, it's not sight reading anymore, and you have to decide if you want to learn the piece.

4. Do composers from different periods, especially ones you haven't tackled before. In the last few months I've been sight reading Scarlatti sonatas, Shostakovich P&F, and Haydn sonatas (wonderful pieces -- better than Mozart's imho). Also Bach WTC both books. Chopin Mazurkas & nocturnes.

The best part about sight reading is that it "doesn't count" -- you're under no obligation to stop and fix everything you do wrong. Beats watching TV any day.

Offline chopin2015

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Re: Sightreading through your entire collection of music
«Reply #39 on: February 25, 2013, 04:05:21 AM »
Teacher: read etude op 25 no 5
Me: talk to you in 25 mins...

Lol

You could prob. sight read a heavy piece after playing through it once...

"Beethoven wrote in three flats a lot. That's because he moved twice."