Advice Sought on Sight Reading Challenges

Discussion in 'Technique and Posture' started by Kewa, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. Kewa

    Kewa

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    I've been messing about on a keyboard for about 4 years now and can pretty much pick out a melody with the right hand and play chords with the left and can play a fww songs learned from YouTube tutorials.

    More recently I decided to start taking a more structured approach to learning to play "properly" beginning with trying to play from sheet music.

    My sight reading is slowly improving, albeit from a very low base, but I'm not sure whether my approach to learning is the best.

    For each piece I start by playing it from the sheet music as best I can, which is tortuosly slow, and gradually build up speed as I become more familiar with the music. Once I can play it reasonably well I introduce the rythym on the keyboard and keep practising until I can play along at the stated bpm for the piece.

    The upside of this approach is I can eventually play a piece reasonably well. However, the downside is that this isn't helping my sight reading much as it takes a week or two to get up to speed on each piece during which time my memory soon takes over from my eyes and I'm really struggling to not play from memory and just concentrate on the sheet music.

    I'm wondering whether I would be better playing a piece as best as I can but as soon as I get to a point where I'm playing from memory just move on to another piece forcing me to focus on the sight reading rather than playing a piece to speed?

    In theory as my sight reading improves I should be able to play to speed more quickly anyway which is why I was thinking of changing my approach but at least at the moment I'm getting used to left and right hand fingering so am still making progress.

    I'm not expecting any short cuts but just want to ensure I'm using my time wisely. I would appreciate any thoughts, especially from any teachers out there, as I'm getting a bit frustrated at my seemingly slow progress and inability to keep concentrating on the sheet music as repetitive memory takes over.

    Thanks in advance

    Kewa
     
    Kewa, Dec 4, 2016
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  2. Kewa

    Rayblewit Love Music / Love Life

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    Hi Kewa
    A professional kb'ist once told me to learn just a few songs and practise until perfect (know them off heart)
    He said to create a repertoire of just 6 songs. He said anytime you turn on the kb, instinct will take over and your fingers will just automatically flow along without you even thinking.
    He said to add just ONE song only when ready. May take weeks or months for each tune but be patient (he said)

    I did not follow his advice btw and now almost 10 yrs later I still need sheets for every tune.

    Was he right?
     
    Rayblewit, Dec 4, 2016
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  3. Kewa

    Fred Coulter Collector of ancient keyboards

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    There are books specifically for learning sight reading. The pieces are short, and usually pretty bad. But you play them once (or maybe a couple times to see if the piece is really as dorky as you first thought), then go on to the next. The following books are available. (The link may give me a commission. Or keyboardforums' software will strip it out. Either way it won't cost you anything more.)

    Level 1 Early Elementary
    Level 2 Elementary
    Level 3 Late Elementary
    Level 4 Early Intermediate
    Level 5 Intermediate
    Level 6 Late Intermediate
    Level 7 Early Advanced
    Level 8 Advanced

    As to which book to buy? There are sample pages for each of the books. Printout the free page, and if you can play it well (the right notes, rhythms, and musicality) the first time you see it, then go to the next book's listing. Once you find one that you can't just rip through, drop down a level and buy the book.

    Once you buy the book, try to do one of the chapters a week. Or faster, if you really need to. When you finish the book, go on to the next.

    The chapters tend to focus on a single issue, but your skills will increase over time. I know that I'm getting much better at it, although my daughter makes me look like a beginner.
     
    Fred Coulter, Dec 4, 2016
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  4. Kewa

    Fred Coulter Collector of ancient keyboards

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    No, he was not. If you want to learn to sightread, you have to go through LOTS of material. Once you've played through a piece once or twice, you're no longer sightreading it.

    As for how big your repertoire should be? That's a very different question, and has a lot to do with what you want to do. One of my goals is to get about forty minutes to an hour of baroque and earlier music. That means a set of music for the clavichord to play at renaissance festivals. I'll probably use sheet music for them, but I need to be able to play a set.

    This is different from when I last looked at renaissance festivals. Then my wife and I played, and at least half of the music was originals. With my wife singing (and playing harp), I could improvise over the chords and it would work fine. But working as a soloist? The material needs to be there.

    My daughter is learning organ so she can eat regularly. But she won't be looking for a steady church gig, but to sit in when the regular organist is sick. She needs one prelude, one offertory, and one postlude. She also needs to be able to sight read whatever hymn is in the program that day. Different needs.

    So, ask yourself what you want to play. And that should help define how big your repertoire should be.
     
    Fred Coulter, Dec 4, 2016
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    Rayblewit likes this.
  5. Kewa

    Oriane Lima Hold on

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    Hi, Kewa, I hope you're still here. Fred's directions are precious and pertinent. I'm putting here a link from my personal archive.

    https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/ca4db0cd-7263-4b26-a27c-7d40d713d568

    The book of Paul Hindemith, a power with regard to didactic teaching, related to music. It's in the public domain, at least here where I live.

    I would also like to add one episode on Music notation of the New York Jazz Academy.



    A brilliant pedagogical effort on this subject. Here is its chanell were ou can see wall 9 episodes.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_n9RjTZ0IuFiDzRwP0U0MQ

    Interesting, our brain (our memory) is much more permeable to what we like, to what touches us, that sounds good and different to our ears. However, our memory tends to discard what we seem to have mastered, things like (Oh, you already know that! You do not need to read the score again, go play something else), which is good to do too, uncompromisingly, have a fun time. Still, learn, make music.

    But the important point is when after you record your own music, and listen to it on the computer, iPad, etc ... in a short period of time, the notes (melody), chords (harmony) and rhythm ... everything goes through our mind along with the music, it is as if we were reading the score at the same time (this is a fantastic thing to achieve). Doing this, you develop your aural senses. In a short time (and with practice) you can read, play, listen, and feel all the nuances of good music. Go for it.
     
    Oriane Lima, Dec 10, 2016
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  6. Kewa

    Kewa

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    Many thanks for the advice and useful links. I feel like I know where I'm going now and have a plan.

    Thanks again

    Kewa
     
    Kewa, Dec 11, 2016
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  7. Kewa

    Fred Coulter Collector of ancient keyboards

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    According to the Copyright Office, this work is under the old copyright law in the United States. As such, it went into the public domain 28 years after the copyright was renewed in 1974. If my math is correct, it went into the public domain (in the United States) in 2002.
     
    Fred Coulter, Dec 12, 2016
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  8. Kewa

    John Garside

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    Hindemith's books, "Elementary Training for Musicians" and "A Concentrated Course in Traditional Harmony" (both volumes) can both be downloaded for free (initially) from the IMSLP (imslp.org) once one has created an account there. The specific page is here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Hindemith,_Paul.
    A very worthwhile read IMHO.

    The site intimates that the books may still be in copyright in the USA and Europe. There's more explanation why on the page.

    The IMSLP is a very useful resource for all sorts of scores of primarily classical music in pdf format.
    For example Bach's scores from the original BGA have been scanned in and made available, to name but one composer. After lengthy trial membership one has to subscribe.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
    John Garside, Dec 13, 2016
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