Good books to develop reading skills and technique

Discussion in 'Technique and Posture' started by Neutron, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. Neutron

    Neutron

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    Hello again everyone.

    I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions to practice material for developing technique and reading skills, or just general good advice as to what kind of exercises I should practice?
    I'm especially interested in developing speed in my sight reading. As far as I've learned, arpeggios and scales are important to learn in order to read in 'chunks' instead of individual notes, so I guess I'm more specifically looking for exercises that train me how to quickly recognise a familiar pattern (for example, a scale or arpeggio) when reading so as to be able to play it faster. Or maybe just sight reading exercises in general, actually.
    I'm currently having a look at 'The Virtuoso Pianist in 60 Exercises' which seems to be a good place to start. Any other suggestions? If there's any material out there that lets me gradually build up my reading skills, it would be even more preferable.
     
    Neutron, Nov 12, 2018
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  2. Neutron

    Biggles

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    You posted about sifghtreadingfactory back in July in Gary’s great tutorial thread, can I ask how you have found that site and what are the Pros and Cons of it?

    Sight reading myself all I do is open one of my music song books and study the contents of the open page then I start playing whatever I have opened it at, yes it is slow and the timing can be a we bit off but my sight keyboard reading has improved.

    For me learning keyboard by repetition exercises does not work well, muscle memory works instead of speeding up the sight reading.
     
    Biggles, Nov 12, 2018
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  3. Neutron

    Neutron

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    I don't remember how I found it, just by a Google search I think. Pros: it generates random new pieces for you to practice. You can hear the tones being played, so you can play along and will know when you hit the wrong key (as opposed to just playing from a book). It builds your skills up gradually, you can pick your own tempo, various time signatures and keys.
    Cons: I started to find the exercises a bit difficult going from level 4 to 5 as there were no guidelines as to how to play outside the five finger position - in other words, there's no tutorials or guidelines to help you, it's really just random practice material. Also, there is a maximum interval, so you won't be able to practise any jumps above that.

    You are right that for sight reading you would not play the same piece more than once (or at least not more than 2-3 times), but if I can memorise certain patterns like scales or arpeggios and play them fluently, I think that should help me be able to read faster. At least that's what people suggest at various site on the Internet.
     
    Neutron, Nov 12, 2018
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  4. Neutron

    SAM CA

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    I used to do half hour of sight reading everyday. Eventually I learned to remember the shape of clusters without having to go through each note. I started with hymn books when I was very young. It's such a good starting point, because they're standard SATB and relatively easy to get used to reading stacks of notes. You also get to hear the voicings. From there, I moved on to actual pieces.
     
    SAM CA, Nov 21, 2018
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  5. Neutron

    tjw

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    Hymnals are a good suggestion. In a way, they are more difficult to sight read than music written for instrumental reproduction, they don't "beam" the notes together by beats. They use individual "tails" on the notes. Add in the complexity of shaped-notes, and you get a formidable challenge.

    And, yes, they are expertly harmonized. Good study.

    I may be revealing my age :)
     
    tjw, Nov 21, 2018
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  6. Neutron

    Neutron

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    Thank you for the suggestions!
     
    Neutron, Nov 25, 2018
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  7. Neutron

    Docbop

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    A lot of learning to sightread is about training your eyes to see rhythms in groups and just knowing what that sounds like, just like reading these words. You don't see sightread and think the letters s,i,g,h,t,r,e,a,d you see the whole word and recognize it. well you do the same with music notation and see common rhythms and must know what they sound like. The same with pitch you train your eyes to spot scale fragments, arpeggios, chords, and other common melodic patterns. This way when you're given a new piece of music you can quickly scan it and see most is familiar rhythmic and melodic patterns, and spot new or difficult items.

    When people practice sightreading they read lots and lots of music building this mental database of knowledge of music notation without realizing that what they are doing, but if you are aware that's what your doing you can speed that process up by looking at music and training eyes start recognizing these patterns, before trying to play the music. The more you do thing the faster you get at it and bring it down to something you can do in seconds over time. Do this scanning first helps separate the mental part of sightreading from the physical of playing and makes help you start to read ahead which what all good sightreaders do. Good sightreaders are usually reading a couple bars ahead of what their hands are playing, some really good readers can read an entire line at a time ahead. Sightreading is all about eye training.
     
    Docbop, Dec 5, 2018
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  8. Neutron

    Neutron

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    Thank you for elaborating on the subject, that's also the general message I've got from reading/watching various sources. What I'm lacking, though, is practice material or a way to practice to help me get started seeing these patterns - if you know any good practice material, I would appreciate it! Otherwise thanks.
     
    Neutron, Dec 5, 2018
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  9. Neutron

    Docbop

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    Any music will work be it an exercise book, sheet music, anything you can get your hands on. In school we'd even do things like read music backward, diagonally, upside down, all about being able to see and play. Then get books on rhythm the classic people used to work on rhythms is the Louis Bellson book "Modern Reading Text in 4/4 For All Instruments" and there are others like Gary Hess' Musicians Institute: Encyclopedia of Reading Rhythms: Text and Workbook for All Instruments by Gary Hess"

    But the key to sight reading is just doing lots of it DAILY. I used to hang with guitarist Jay Graydon (of Steely Dan Peg fame" back when he was in the Don Ellis big band. Ellis had tons of odd meter charts and Jay was starting to break into studio work, even with all his Don Ellis experience he practiced sightreading daily. Sightreading is like working out in the gym you have to do it all the time or you start losing the skill. Now remember sightreading and reading are two different things. Also sightreading is like perfect pitch some people are just born which natural skill for it. My best friend graduate college in piano performance, but ended up going into the business world and only plays piano now and then, but still today she can sightread better than most working musicians.

    Bottom line just read everything you can get your hands at the piano or away from it and do it everyday. One last thing practice reading rhythms the most they are key. As they told us in music school... If you screw up reading a pitch you're probably just going to add to the harmony, you screw up reading a rhythm and you stick out like sore thumb.

    Good luck
     
    Docbop, Dec 5, 2018
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  10. Neutron

    Neutron

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    I see :) Thanks for the help a lot!
     
    Neutron, Dec 5, 2018
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  11. Neutron

    tjw

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    tjw, Dec 6, 2018
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