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Topic: Improving sight reading to high levels?  (Read 1036 times)

Offline droprenstein

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Improving sight reading to high levels?
on: December 23, 2022, 03:08:38 AM
Right now, my sight reading ability is limited to Chopin Fantasie-impromptu at about 70% speed with few mistakes, and that's an exception due to me hearing it many times. My actual sight-reading ability is limited to Henle level 5 or so. As a side project to improve generally, I want to improve sight reading to advanced level pieces at full speed(I consider Fantasie-Impromptu a late intermediate piece). I'm not aiming for John Ogdon level, sight reading Opus Clavicembalisticum with ease, I'd say I'm satisfied being able to sight read Henle level 7-8 pieces. Issue is that I can't find any good sight-reading concepts online, and my new teacher is a self-proclaimed bad sightreader. Other than concepts like not looking at your hands, knowing the keyboard and such, how does one sightread at very high levels?
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Offline ranjit

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Re: Improving sight reading to high levels?
Reply #1 on: December 23, 2022, 07:00:36 AM
Just curious: Having a not-insignificant level of sightreading yourself, how have you approached it so far? Did you let it develop naturally or try to improve it consciously?

Offline droprenstein

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Re: Improving sight reading to high levels?
Reply #2 on: December 23, 2022, 07:55:22 AM
Just curious: Having a not-insignificant level of sightreading yourself, how have you approached it so far? Did you let it develop naturally or try to improve it consciously?
I mostly let it develop naturally through an increasing knowledge of the piano and faster score reading.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Improving sight reading to high levels?
Reply #3 on: December 23, 2022, 10:09:10 AM
Right now, my sight reading ability is limited to Chopin Fantasie-impromptu at about 70% speed with few mistakes, and that's an exception due to me hearing it many times. My actual sight-reading ability is limited to Henle level 5 or so.
Measuring ones sight reading ability is quite ticky and the definition of what actually is sight reading can be various. Many people will assume sight reading means playing something you have never seen or heard before with the sheets, but I don't think it is limited just to this but obviously there will be a difference in ability to read if you are working on something you have no idea the sound of or are unfamiliar with the patterns/sound used. Being able to hear the music you play while you play is of prime importance, just try to sight read something on a silent keyboard it is much more difficult.

I'm not aiming for John Ogdon level, sight reading Opus Clavicembalisticum with ease
A legendary pianist renowned for his reading skills but even the OC he estimated a lot of it not to say that was a bad effort though!

I'd say I'm satisfied being able to sight read Henle level 7-8 pieces.
Of course there will be higher grade pieces which are easier to sight read than others. I don't think it is necessary to sight read something that is allegro or presto at tempo on first attempt, but being able to control it as well as possible and then being able to improve it through mulitple reads is of key importance. So the desire to simply read everything at tempo on first go can indeed be just chasing the wind.

Issue is that I can't find any good sight-reading concepts online, and my new teacher is a self-proclaimed bad sightreader. Other than concepts like not looking at your hands, knowing the keyboard and such, how does one sightread at very high levels?
What is high level definition though? If it is playing anything virtuosic on first read at tempo and with mastery then you are really aiming for the stars and it is most likely unachievable for the vast majority. If it is being able to sight read a piece multiple times and then mastery it effortlessly then this is more achievable of course it comes with a ton of repertoire knowledge. My sight reading students do countless works every year, in the order of thousand+. So if you are not constantly reading then add that to your regieme.

Personally I have not desired to be able to sight read at my absolute maximum potential, I have a lot of other interests with piano than just practice reading all day every day forever. I however can read through a piece multiple times and it mostly becomes mastered without much effort. I personally like this state and it benefits me a great deal. I have no problems playing something fast slow because I know the movements required to play it fast its just processing all the information carefully first that needs to be done. I am not sure how the top 0.00000001% of readers can play almost instantly is it really a learnable skill, I am sure if it was they could explain how it is done but they ultimately cannot explain how they process the information so fast, they can explain the process (and that process is teachable) but not how highly efficient they use it. One of my teachers could read half a page ahead of what she was reading even if she never saw the piece before, she admitted having photographic memory, but how do you do learn that I don't think it is possible to learn.

Skills that obviously will help would include, being an expert on fingering, that is always knowing which fingers to use for all sorts of situations. Being able to anticipate and hear the music that you are playing and musically understand it immediately. Knowing all your scales, arpeggios, chords and other technical patterns inside out. Being able to improvise in the styles you are keen on sight reading. Being able to coordinate all sorts of patterns between the hands without effort and visually recognising them on the score. Being able to see shape and pattern in the score. Being able to produce logical statments for what you are reading on the fly which bind many groups of notes thus reducing the amount of thinking required.  and etc

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