\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Sightreading: hands together or separate hands? (Read 5859 times)

Offline lallino

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 34
Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
« on: October 10, 2013, 12:18:56 AM »
I am amazed at how many students are taught to sightread one hand at the time. I don't want to go down on the details on how to teach sightreading but here in london the vast majority of teachers I met seem to believe you should read one hand at the time. To me this is absurd for many reasons, and of course if students never practise this way they will never become proficient at it.

Music should be approached "vertically", or at least vertically as well. This helps to understand harmonies and texture, and eventually sightreading.

It is like to condemn a child who is learning to read English to do some preparatory work each time he or she is tackling a new book or poetry. They will never enjoy reading. They will never really read.

Just wondering what people in this forum advocate.

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #1 on: October 10, 2013, 12:21:41 AM »
If it ain't the whole thing, it ain't sightreading - it's starting practice.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #2 on: October 10, 2013, 03:35:09 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 07:29:40 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline lallino

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 34
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #4 on: October 10, 2013, 08:09:33 AM »
I see your point, Dima, but I don't agree. You are only mentioning beginners, which suggests that your objections are mainly limited to those. Anyway, beginners will only do very simple stuff. Holding a note on one hand while the other hand plays the melody. This still involves some basic coordination, but the danger you are referring to can be managed. (I would personally stay away from books and teaching methods teaching you one hand at the time.)

Any new skill seems at first very difficult and hard to acquire: learning to drive, learning to read, learning to walk (what amazing coordination it is here involved!). Then they all become natural (well, in the 99.9% of the cases). And this is the point: sightreading hands together is a separate skill, the eyes move differently, the brain works differently. It is also very rewarding once you see the progress. Some students look at a new piece with panic, good sightreaders enjoy learning new pieces. It is essential that the teachers identify pieces which are at the right level.

Having been teaching for 20 years, I occasionally take advance students, and very often their reading is appalling (compared to their level of playing). Invariably they have been learning this way. Of course, they might be fluent at reading the right hand part, but when should a grade 8 student learn to read and play music properly?

Don't believe that I would not allow any of my students to take one hand at the time "under no circumstances". It will happen when the piece is particularly challenging, but even in those cases I might consider to let him/her play the easier hand first and then tackling the piece hands together.

As for the high % drop-out rate, in my view this is mainly due to the inability of most teachers to stay passionate and committed to teaching.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #5 on: October 10, 2013, 08:21:08 AM »
-

No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline lallino

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 34
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #6 on: October 10, 2013, 11:30:42 AM »
Ok thanks Dima I looked at it. Interestingly I could not find any reference to the approach (hands together vs hands separately). This is weird, and possibly people were giving suggestions and tips referring to different approaches without knowing it.

In my view the most interesting and original point raised in that post (others were more obvious)  was about writing music. Writing music indeed helps sightreading.

Maybe some teachers want to share their experiences?


Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5351
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #7 on: October 10, 2013, 11:45:51 AM »
Just wondering what people in this forum advocate.

I advocate reading both hands at the same time as soon as possible. There is no point in just reading one hand, then reading the other, then trying to put them together. That is not reading, that is trying to work it out :)

The difficult task for most teachers when teaching reading is finding material that the student can predominantly read both hands. They either are given things too difficult to read (and thus it becomes memorized to be played appropriately) or flounder about at an easy level and never develop and progress. The problem with proper sight reading training is that it requires a large amount of material to actually read though, and what you read needs to relate to your reading capability. I have found teachers either have no idea how good their student reads and or do not provide them with the correct music to develop appropriately.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3082
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #8 on: October 10, 2013, 12:21:09 PM »
I am amazed at how many students are taught to sightread one hand at the time.
<snip>
To me this is absurd for many reasons, and of course if students never practise this way they will never become proficient at it.

I agree.

But there's a worse crime, that of teaching sight reading at slow tempo.  Never!  Sight reading MUST be done at full speed, or even faster if possible, otherwise students will never become proficient at it.

 :P 
Tim

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #9 on: October 10, 2013, 01:22:14 PM »
I agree.

But there's a worse crime, that of teaching sight reading at slow tempo.  Never!  Sight reading MUST be done at full speed, or even faster if possible, otherwise students will never become proficient at it.
E
 :P  

making such simplistic rules totally misses the point. You don't become a good sight reader by only going quickly and taking wild stabs in the dark under pressure. You first learn to make simple connections between notes with certainty and without pressure. Only then can you start to push your limits and begin getting involved with educated guesswork. Even as a pretty good faker, my sightreading of such music as Bach and Mozart improved beyond all recognition when I begin sightreading with expectation of precision in slower tempos (rather than outrageous fakery in fast ones). You don't set foundation skills by "having a go" in a state of blind panic. You set them in comfortable speeds.

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 01:47:13 PM »

But there's a worse crime, that of teaching sight reading at slow tempo.  Never!  Sight reading MUST be done at full speed, or even faster if possible, otherwise students will never become proficient at it.

 

I see you have much to learn! There lies a long, slow road ahead of you, my friend.

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3082
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #11 on: October 10, 2013, 02:32:29 PM »
I see you have much to learn! There lies a long, slow road ahead of you, my friend.

No, I'm making a point.

The OP is asserting that sightreading is taught HS.  That might not be quite what he's describing.  Many teachers don't spend much time specifically working on sightreading as a separate skill, particularly in the early years.  Certainly mine didn't. 

So starting a new piece is when it happens.  You wouldn't start a piece that's already well within your ability to play, there are always difficulties to be worked through.  It's common to have to simplify it in some way as you work on it.  One method of simplification is HS, especially with music like the Inventions.  Another is very slow practice. 

I would contend that the practice of starting a new piece HS does not equate to learning to sightread HS.  They are separate skills. 

There could be some reasons to work on sightreading HS as a developmental step, particularly if keyboard geography or fingering is still weak. 
Tim

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #12 on: October 10, 2013, 03:37:43 PM »
I agree.

But there's a worse crime, that of teaching sight reading at slow tempo.  Never!  Sight reading MUST be done at full speed, or even faster if possible, otherwise students will never become proficient at it.

 :P 


What is 'full speed'?

What does that  even mean?

Offline cabbynum

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 720
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #13 on: October 10, 2013, 03:43:49 PM »

What is 'full speed'?

What does that  even mean?
Bare minimum of 200 to the quarter note!
Currently Working on
Bach Prelude and fugue no.4 Book 1
Beethoven Tempest
Chopin Barcarolle op.60
Alkan Le Festin D'Esope
Hamelin Paganini Variations
Schubert D.960

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3082
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #14 on: October 10, 2013, 05:08:13 PM »
Bare minimum of 200 to the quarter note!

I think it is as silly to say one must always sightread HT as it is to say one must always sightread really really fast. 

One thing I do believe is that if one is specifically practicing sightreading one must do it in strict tempo.  That tempo can be fast or slow as needed, but must be steady. 
Tim

Offline awesom_o

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2634
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #15 on: October 10, 2013, 05:12:20 PM »

One thing I do believe is that if one is specifically practicing sightreading one must do it in strict tempo.  That tempo can be fast or slow as needed, but must be steady. 


Ahhhh! I agree with this completely. But you see, this is a very different statement from the very first one you made.... which was
 "But there's a worse crime, that of teaching sight reading at slow tempo.  Never!  Sight reading MUST be done at full speed, or even faster if possible, otherwise students will never become proficient at it"

 ;)

Offline cabbynum

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 720
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #16 on: October 10, 2013, 05:26:04 PM »
I think it depends on the piece for wether ht or HS
But when it's HS that is honestly less practice and just a mindless activity
Currently Working on
Bach Prelude and fugue no.4 Book 1
Beethoven Tempest
Chopin Barcarolle op.60
Alkan Le Festin D'Esope
Hamelin Paganini Variations
Schubert D.960

Offline green

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 292
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #17 on: October 10, 2013, 05:35:45 PM »

Ahhhh! I agree with this completely. But you see, this is a very different statement from the very first one you made.... which was
 "But there's a worse crime, that of teaching sight reading at slow tempo.  Never!  Sight reading MUST be done at full speed, or even faster if possible, otherwise students will never become proficient at it"

 ;)

Steady pulse is the key, all else is organized around the pulse.

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #18 on: October 11, 2013, 12:07:29 AM »
I think it is as silly to say one must always sightread HT as it is to say one must always sightread really really fast.  

One thing I do believe is that if one is specifically practicing sightreading one must do it in strict tempo.  That tempo can be fast or slow as needed, but must be steady.  


99 percent of teachers will say this until the cows come home but personal experience taught me that it's nothing but a limitation to make this a strict rule. A pianist should never stop dead and lose context between two notes. But they should learn to see trouble in advance and STRETCH time enough to play difficult details flawlessly first time around-just without sacrificing the sense of context and flow between adjacent notes. That does not require strict meter at all.

If you make an overly simple rule that you must plow on into danger and hope/give up on processing all details in advance, you get used to doing a terrible job of anything outside your present skill set but not stopping for what you make a hash of. That's a necessary skill. But it does nothing to further what you can sight read both rhythmically AND accurately, in the long run. Forcing yourself to take a stab in the dark at at information you have not even had time to process does not make you better at processing information both accurately and precisely. It makes you better at faking what you are not up to doing yet. That's a skill but it's not serious progress towards doing difficult music in tempo PROPERLY first time around.

Pressured guesswork is necessary some of the time but does literally nothing to expand the limits of what you can execute effectively at first sight, without fakery. The idea that you must always maintain tempo is just bollocks. You need to maintain FLOW, which can include stretching for difficulties. It's as stupid to say that strict rhythm is always the goal as it to say that sprinters can only train at full speed or that joggers must never train at anything other than moderate pace. As someone who spent my life giving up on anything too inconvenient to do properly and faking atrociously in continuous rhythm, it was when I learned to stretch (often to extremes) that I became able to sight read both accurately and rhythmically to a significantly greater level. Any 100 percent rule about strict time is a bogus rule that will impose limitations. For every passage faked in strict time, you should go back an execute another with every note included first time around- with a sense of stretched and unpressured flow rather than forced rigid meter with forgery. Balance is the key, not simplistic rules.



Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #19 on: October 11, 2013, 12:28:41 AM »
Sightreading encompasses a few different purposes, which will greatly affect the approach needed.

If I'm sightreading a piece in an ensemble situation, or to show someone how it sounds, then at tempo, keeping time, not stopping and with such fakery as is needed to achieve that is the way to go.

If I'm sightreading it solely for my own purposes - to see what it sounds like or to assess it as a piece for further work or whatever - then I really don't need to keep strict time, go at the right tempo, play all the notes or alternatively fake my way through bits.  As long as I get what I was after from the exercise, it's worked.

It is no doubt a good idea to be able to take both approaches, and vital to understand which is which.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #20 on: October 11, 2013, 01:24:10 AM »
Sightreading encompasses a few different purposes, which will greatly affect the approach needed.

If I'm sightreading a piece in an ensemble situation, or to show someone how it sounds, then at tempo, keeping time, not stopping and with such fakery as is needed to achieve that is the way to go.

If I'm sightreading it solely for my own purposes - to see what it sounds like or to assess it as a piece for further work or whatever - then I really don't need to keep strict time, go at the right tempo, play all the notes or alternatively fake my way through bits.  As long as I get what I was after from the exercise, it's worked.

It is no doubt a good idea to be able to take both approaches, and vital to understand which is which.

Absolutely. It's essential to be adaptable. I agree entirely with the need to have different modes, but thing that has stood out for me recently is how much these different modes actually overlap when you approach it from different angles. This is was something of a revelation to me. Suddenly, the sense of precision spills over from the freer thoughtful version and into the press on ahead ensemble style reading. Even when the pressure comes back on, you keep surprisingly many of the precise qualities you learn from your stretched version with no guesses or faking. It starts to SEEM as if you have plenty of extra time on your hands to execute those precise details even when you don't. I do already come from a place of having the ability to plow on through, but recently I've been trying to take my attitude to the majority of sight reading and my attitude for serious preparation of a piece and make them much more interrelated. The attitude of exploration and the feeling of not being constantly pressured into "having a go" at what comes next is both the trick to learning details properly from the outset and the key to developing the skills that reduce the need for emergency fakery to the absolute minimum.

Equally, those who demand strict metre from reading can destroy their ability to both interpret learned pieces well and to properly execute details. If you don't regularly take that attitude of exploring and giving yourself space to listen in to musical details for interpretive reasons (as should be done when exploring the sound of a piece that is already memorised, or that is in the midst of being learned) you can never really achieve the sense of freedoms required for a vocal line. I know of many good sight readers who are so accustomed to punching out notes in a tight metre, that they could never introduce a sense of musical freedoms given months on a piece that they can already punch out first time. Rigid sight reading attitude spills into rigid approaches to learned pieces. When you swap between modes plenty, you also discover a lot of overlap between skills that are supposedly specific to one mode or the other. It's not just one mode for learning pieces gradually and another for reading them off first time around.

I should stress that this post is primarily in the spirit of agreement, but it can be extremely interesting when you start to notice a surprising about of overlap and discover how much the skill sets depend on each other.

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #21 on: October 11, 2013, 02:35:45 AM »
it can be extremely interesting when you start to notice a surprising about of overlap and discover how much the skill sets depend on each other.

I hadn't thought about it in that way, but that must be correct.

Indeed, I think to a large extent, the "play it in and at tempo and fake out the problems" as a single approach actively works against the development of reading skills. Of course, there are times one has to do that, but I fear one learns more about the fakery than the reading. 

Not that a little fakery isn't useful to have up one's sleeve.  ;D

It may also go some way to explaining what has always been something of a mystery to me. The constant barrage of "am I ready to play..." questions. I just do a read through, and that tells me all I need to know. But that only works if I read using the slow it down, explore a bit method. I can read a great many more things in this way, after all. And little that would be fruitful/necessary to spend time learning is likely to fall into the "I can read it at tempo at sight" category.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #22 on: October 11, 2013, 03:12:07 AM »
I hadn't thought about it in that way, but that must be correct.

Indeed, I think to a large extent, the "play it in and at tempo and fake out the problems" as a single approach actively works against the development of reading skills. Of course, there are times one has to do that, but I fear one learns more about the fakery than the reading.  

Not that a little fakery isn't useful to have up one's sleeve.  ;D

It may also go some way to explaining what has always been something of a mystery to me. The constant barrage of "am I ready to play..." questions. I just do a read through, and that tells me all I need to know. But that only works if I read using the slow it down, explore a bit method. I can read a great many more things in this way, after all. And little that would be fruitful/necessary to spend time learning is likely to fall into the "I can read it at tempo at sight" category.


I think the funny thing is that the more you segregate the two modes, the more the skills start to meet in the middle (as long as you do both plenty). But most people try to find a happy compromise at all times and thus get the worst of both. Ironically, trying to keep strict time is exactly what causes many of the worst offences in timing. A group of semi quavers is often played in time and then they either have to stop because they don't know what comes next or they guess and go wrong, again because they don't know. When you appreciate that you're not ready for the destination before starting the semi quavers, you stretch a touch BEFORE they start - in order to be able to perceive those short notes plus a destination as one single linked event. You take a little longer, but your brain has processed a chunk properly and calculated what you need to do to be assured of getting it finished in one- not in strict metre but rather with no breaks in flow. You must never play one note from a position of being clueless about what comes next. It's better to stretch in order to always know at least one (or preferably many more notes) in advance. Only when you learn to start with a clear destination and work backwards can you regularly do the same thing without changing tempo at all.

 If you accomplish the same by merely going slow throughout, you don't get forced to see the destination first (which is also the trick for faking- you can smudge the details of the semi quavers but have to be clear what point they land on after, with no trace of doubt about where to arrive ) . It's when you realise you wouldn't have made it to your primary destination before even starting those semi quavers and figure out exactly how far to stretch to properly complete the group with certainty, that you definitely train your brain to process meaningful connections between groups of notes. Educated guesses are only meaningful if made in the context of the utmost clarity about the primary points of arrival. You learn more about the right thought processes by adjusting your tempo subtly to be sure of making a connection between notes, than you do either by takin it all slow, or by chancing your arm without having first perceived where you're aiming to get to.

One of the best pieces advice for those who struggle with short notes in sightreading is to first perceive literal metres but then always expand slightly for quavers and semi quavers etc, so as to allow a single path to the next long note eg two quavers or four semi quavers plus one note. Almost everyone forces the tempo on but then STOPS or SCREWS UP the next note. It's not good either way. Simply expand the timing slightly on those notes and you can take all the pressure of the key point of arrival and flow straight into as one motion. Done musically, most people don't even notice the loss of time. It's like a mild tenuto. Once in the habit of connecting to a note of completion, you'll soon be equally safe playing such moments in literal time whenever you need to.

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3082
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #23 on: October 11, 2013, 03:38:01 AM »
I hadn't thought about it in that way, but that must be correct.

Indeed, I think to a large extent, the "play it in and at tempo and fake out the problems" as a single approach actively works against the development of reading skills. Of course, there are times one has to do that, but I fear one learns more about the fakery than the reading. 


That may be so, it makes sense; the trouble is I run into far too many people who like to stretch the time, as the verbose N likes, in performance situations;  When the group is relying on you to keep a strict tempo, and you're arrogant enough to give it your own interpretation, you've failed as a session player; 

apologies for using the semicolon, but the period key broke off this computer;  yes, the puppy had something to do with it;
Tim

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7761
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #24 on: October 11, 2013, 04:07:57 AM »
You wouldn't start a piece that's already well within your ability to play, there are always difficulties to be worked through. 

Why not? Do piano students ONLY play music to "progress"? Never for personal pleasure, just because they want to play a piece, even if it doesn't pose any new challenges? I find that sad.

Why not encourage students to independently browse through music that poses no specific challenges just to get used to reading and enjoy learning pieces themselves? That might make them feel more positive about sight reading as well.

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #25 on: October 11, 2013, 04:17:09 AM »
Why not? Do piano students ONLY play music to "progress"? Never for personal pleasure, just because they want to play a piece, even if it doesn't pose any new challenges? I find that sad.

Indeed.

Why not encourage students to independently browse through music that poses no specific challenges just to get used to reading and enjoy learning pieces themselves?

It amazes me that "encouragement" might be necessary.

I sometimes wonder what some people get out of playing the instrument at all.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #26 on: October 11, 2013, 04:20:08 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #27 on: October 11, 2013, 04:25:20 AM »
Also, shouldn't READING for that kind of problem spots actually be done during the few seconds of preparation you have BEFORE you actually start EXECUTING the first notes of the piece?

In other words, what sense does it make to start executing the first notes of a piece before you have a clear picture in your mind of how to solve the very last ones? Is this all simply a trial-and-error exercise?

My practice is to just open a piece up and start off, without glancing through it, or looking out for trouble spots. They'll soon make themselves apparent anyway, so why waste the time? That sightread through is supposed to be an exploratory mission, anyway.

Not for sightreading where others are involved, of course. But certainly when it's for my own purposes.

Of course, I have been known to turn a page and cry at what I see there.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #28 on: October 11, 2013, 04:31:36 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #29 on: October 11, 2013, 04:52:13 AM »
For yourself at home that may be an option, yes, but I guess you know yourself what you can and can't do. You don't need to be told by your teacher that you can't do it. If you really want to progress in the skill, though, you will be interested in some expert advice from your teacher, and not simply continue the trial and error thing at home, won't you? :)

I am my own teacher.

You'd think that would cut down on arguments, but.....

BTW, the "trial and error" thing isn't random. It's deliberate and self-instructional. Sometimes really no more than thinking out loud via the piano.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #30 on: October 11, 2013, 05:01:15 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #31 on: October 11, 2013, 05:16:02 AM »
Of course, he quickly browsed the text as a whole before he started playing, not to meet any kind of suprises. Any other options make his feats (giving perfect executions of impossibly difficult repertoire at first sight) unexplainable.

Do you have any authority for that?

Liszt certainly comes down with a reputation as a staggeringly good sightreader. But why then would he need to skim through in advance? What "surprises" would he encounter that that would assist? And how would it assist? He'd still have to play it.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7761
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #32 on: October 11, 2013, 05:18:25 AM »
Liszt was well known for his sight reading skills. I'm quite sure that what he did was not trial and error in any form. He knew IN ADVANCE what would come and was always ready to execute it. Of course, he quickly browsed the text as a whole before he started playing, not to meet any kind of suprises. Any other options make his feats (giving perfect executions of impossibly difficult repertoire at first sight) unexplainable.

A bit far fetched I think... I don't think what applies to Liszt will apply to an average piano student... Or even JMenz...

There's probably quite a lot that is unexplainable about Liszt. Especially since we cannot go back and study him and how he got to be what he was. I doubt we know how he was taught/learned to sight read?

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #33 on: October 11, 2013, 05:21:23 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #34 on: October 11, 2013, 05:32:12 AM »
I didn't know I needed authority to make a statement that might be worth thinking about. ;D

But it's only worth thinking about if it is in fact true. You are citing Liszt as a practice model, so what he actually did is of interest, not what you presume he must have done.

To my mind, that's what sightreading is all about: you read (don't play yet), you determine that you can do it, and then you play as written without excuses and with excellent results. If you know that you CAN'T execute it, it doesn't make sense to even start. Professional code of honor, so to speak. :)

This is sightreading in the "for others" sense. Not in the "for yourself" sense.

I don't think what applies to Liszt will apply to an average piano student

There's probably quite a lot that is unexplainable about Liszt. Especially since we cannot go back and study him and how he got to be what he was. I doubt we know how he was taught/learned to sight read?

What applies to Liszt is eminently applicable to everyone, albeit with consideration for the different level of ability.

Part of what made Liszt a great sightreader was his technical ability, and part of it was his experience as a composer. The first meant that he could pretty much play anything that he might encounter, and the second meant that the "chunks" he could take in would have been very large indeed. Put the two together and you get phenomenal sightreading. Less technical ability or less complex chunks (or both) and the sightreading goes downhill rapidly.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #35 on: October 11, 2013, 05:37:38 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7761
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #36 on: October 11, 2013, 05:43:51 AM »

What applies to Liszt is eminently applicable to everyone, albeit with consideration for the different level of ability.


But the different level of ability is exactly why what he did (or what someone thinks he did) is not applicable to everyone. My point was that it makes no sense to use him as an example when 99.999% (or less) of the people sight reading will never have his technical abilities or his composing skill.

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #37 on: October 11, 2013, 05:47:18 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #38 on: October 11, 2013, 05:54:25 AM »
You can't "read" what you can't execute, because "reading" is actually translating noteheads into parameters of execution.

True. Though for the "by yourself" version, what you can execute more slowly will be more than what you can execute at tempo.

And, it goes beyond noteheads. Beginner sightreaders read notes; as one gets better, it becomes chords, groups of notes, maybe even bars or groups of bars. For Liszt, maybe a whole page.  Just like in language we start with letters, move on to groups of letters, then words, phrases and sentences. The chunks we take in become more information rich. Science tells us that we are biologically fixed as to the number of chunks we can store in memory (it varies a little from person to person, but cannot be improved on with practice/exercise/therapy/drugs). It's a surprisingly small number (about 7).  What can be altered is the complexity each chunk represents.

So, for a beginner, one note in the left hand, raise the wrist, put the pedal down, a note in the right, don't look at the keyboard, don't panic and is my teacher glaring at me, oh it should be staccato ,and loud, is memory overload.  For a more advanced reader "its a two octave chromatic scale a 3rd apart starting here and with a gentle accelerando and crescendo" might be one chunk, leaving plenty of brain space left over.


P.S.: Isn't that why the students mentioned in the OP "sightread" HS? They know they can't do it otherwise. Their technique was developed in a way that has nothing to do with preparation for sightreading with both hands. :)

Undoubtedly.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline j_menz

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 10150
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #39 on: October 11, 2013, 05:58:50 AM »
But the different level of ability is exactly why what he did (or what someone thinks he did) is not applicable to everyone. My point was that it makes no sense to use him as an example when 99.999% (or less) of the people sight reading will never have his technical abilities or his composing skill.

It's a difference of degree, though. Not of kind. What he did shows what is possible, and how it is possible.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #40 on: October 11, 2013, 06:01:15 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7761
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #41 on: October 11, 2013, 06:07:10 AM »
I did not imply that we should have his absolute level. I wanted to say that at ANY level, the principles are exactly the same. We can't "sightread" what we can't readily execute.

It is true that one has to be able to execute when one is sight reading. But it seems like a simplification to say that the principles are the same on any level. One can often manage to a point without having all the optimal tools before one hits the ceiling. And maybe it is possible on the lower levels to be able to "figure out" the execution as one goes?

I just don't think it's useful to try to prove a point by using as an example someone long dead, in many ways exceptional and whose sight reading was not in anyway objectively recorded. Especially when the question of this thread was not how experts do something but which path to take to start builduing the ability. Not to mention that is is very common in all areas of life that the most accomplished experts cannot really explain how they do what they do. Can an outsider do it better without extensive study of the subject?

EDIT:
Shouldn't we also consider what the goal is? Is it to execute perfectly everything that is printed on the sheet or is it to create the illusion to the listeners that one is doing that by skillfully simplifying things and leaving out things? Aren't these two separate skills?

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #42 on: October 11, 2013, 06:16:36 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7761
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #43 on: October 11, 2013, 06:24:51 AM »
That is also actually why I asked my question in Reply # 26: "How do you determine where the problems lie in students and what do you do about it?" I see no answer in virtually any of the many topics about sightreading here and on other resources. It's all trial and error and the student is basically expected to magically solve the problems himself. There is also the constant confusion between reading and actually executing. They are different stages that should be learned separately. :)

Maybe the answers are missing because we do not have any credible research on how to effectively teach sight reading, especially when there are differences in how the individual students perceive and learn things? And since we don't even have properly defined concepts, the discussions tend not to go anywhere because people are talking about different things...

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #44 on: October 11, 2013, 06:31:15 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7761
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #45 on: October 11, 2013, 07:45:21 AM »
I prefer a practical no-nonsense approach with predictable results to "credible research" if I may say so.

Unfortunately people (teachers and students alike) cannot often objectively evaluate if what they do is practical and no-nonsense and if the results are achieved because of what is done or despite that. And often they just accept that results are not achieved.

There's a lot of nonsense research around, so I understand why you feel that way. But credible research could be done by the individual teacher as well among the students, if there's the ability and skill to experiment and then evaluate and analyze the results.

If education in general had not taken into account any of the research that has been done, we would probably still have teachers hitting the students with a stick, teaching things by route and classifying any slow learner as hopelessly stupid. 

Offline dima_ogorodnikov

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1786
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #46 on: October 11, 2013, 08:12:01 AM »
-
No amount of how-to information is going to work if you have the wrong mindset, the wrong guiding philosophies. Avoid losers like the plague, and gather with and learn from winners only.

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7761
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #47 on: October 11, 2013, 11:17:11 AM »
By the way, the following document mentions many points that are not generally emphasized whenever the topic is under discussion. Enjoy! :)


Thanks, I think I will :)

Offline timothy42b

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3082
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #48 on: October 11, 2013, 12:35:35 PM »
Quote from: dima_ogorodnikov


To my mind, that's what sightreading is all about: you read (don't play yet), you determine that you can do it, and then you play as written without excuses and with excellent results. If you know that you CAN'T execute it, it doesn't make sense to even start. Professional code of honor, so to speak. :)

Yes.  I've always thought (probably been told by multiple people, teachers and performers) that part of sightreading IS the initial scan.  I look ahead for the roadmap (repeats, second endings, DS, coda, etc.), keychanges, dynamics, difficulties, etc.  There are still going to be surprises but you can avoid many of them, and it seems the professional thing to do. 

Is there really a difference between sightreading for oneself vs for others?  Other than if you screw up the second version you don't get any more calls? 
Tim

Offline nyiregyhazi

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4267
Re: Sightreading: hands together or separate hands?
«Reply #49 on: October 11, 2013, 03:21:45 PM »
That may be so, it makes sense; the trouble is I run into far too many people who like to stretch the time, as the verbose N likes, in performance situations;  When the group is relying on you to keep a strict tempo, and you're arrogant enough to give it your own interpretation, you've failed as a session player;  

apologies for using the semicolon, but the period key broke off this computer;  yes, the puppy had something to do with it;


If you're in a situation when you need to play strictly in time, you must do so. However it no more follows that you should you therefore only sightread in strict time than it follows that a 100m should only train by running 100m as fast as he can. It's also like suggesting that people should learn to drive by repeatedly sitting driving tests- not by having driving lessons. Good training does not come from nothing but pressured testing. It comes from a balanced programme that occasionally features a test style situation.