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Thread: Is it possible to learn sight-reading by yourself?

  1. #16
    Member Potiphera's Avatar
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    Yes, I can sight read, but I need to speed up a bit!
    Just keep on practicing.
    Last edited by Potiphera; Dec-25-2016 at 15:47.

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  3. #17
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    sure you can - it takes practice and discipline.
    for many years i adjudicated at various high school music festivals, solo/ensemble competitions, All-State Auditions, etc....sight-reading was often a requirement.
    note and rhythmic accuracy is paramount, don't stop, keep steady tempo...

    select music to be sight-read - look at the key signature, the time signature, and what note is the "unit of beat".
    as you play thru - keep a steady tempo, and DO NOT STOP. if you find that you cannot keep up, that you are floundering hopelessly, stop......start over....slow down, begin again...slow and steady wins the race...
    practice of basic technique is crucial to excellent sight-reading - if you can glance at a series of notes, see that it is an F major scale, a g minor arpeggio, a fully diminished arpeggio, whatever, great!!....you want to get beyond reading each individual note...diligent practice of scales and chords will enable you to group notes and patterns together. This will increase your proficiency by leaps and bounds.

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  5. #18
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    Do you have any suggestions for someone who has slight visual problems?

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    Senior Member Victor Redseal's Avatar
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    Yes, Mary Lou Williams was a great jazz pianist who was entirely self-taught and could read music as well as any trained music scholar. She learned by teaching herself to read and play classical music. By age 14, she was playing professionally in adult jazz bands.
    "God," asked Adam, "why did you make Eve so beautiful?"
    And He replied, "So that you could love her."
    "But God," asked Adam, "why did you make her so stupid?"
    And He replied, "So that she could love you."

  7. #20
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    I remember a music teacher telling me to take a hymn book and you have about 1000 sight reading exercises.

  8. #21
    Junior Member TodorYankov's Avatar
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    Yes, it is possible. My piano proffesor once told me, from time to time to open a book with easy pieces and just start playing, so I can practise my sight-reading. And it worked.

  9. #22
    Senior Member MarkMcD's Avatar
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    Everything depends on your level of dedication. I think I would go so far as to say there is very little that can't be self taught in the world of music, after all there are only 13 different notes in an octave and the rest is just repeated at higher or lower registers. The only thing a teacher will do for you is to hone your performance skills and technique, other than that, you are doing all the work even with a teacher. For me, I find it very hard to sit down and just read dry theory books, I much prefer to have someone in front of me to explain things and for me to be able to ask questions, but as someone said earlier, You Tube has a huge amount of material for people to watch and learn from. If you have a good ear and are really dedicated to your instrument then the sky really is the limit.

    As a child I always wanted to be a concert pianist, sadly we were not in a position to pay for the schooling that would have taken, but also I quickly learned that most concert pianists practice for a minimum of 5 or 6 hours a day, it really is a full time job and as much as I love my piano, 5 or 6 hours a day was way more than I could put in. I mention it only to give you an idea of the level of practice it takes to reach those heights. I'm sure your not wanting to become the next concert hall maestro either, at least not in the next few years, but you should try to put in at least an hour every day, even if you don't really feel like it some days, and you will very soon be able to play almost anything you look at. Once you know that basics, reading music is not difficult and even the most challenging works can be learned bar by bar if you put in enough practice.

    The idea behind practice, practice, practice, is that eventually your fingers know what they're doing without you having to think about it too much, it's muscle memory. Do something enough times, and eventually it becomes sort of automatic. That's when you can start to concentrate more on the quality of sound, rather than just the reproduction of the notes. By the time a performer comes to play for an audience, they've probably played the piece thousands of times over so make sure you choose pieces you love

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  11. #23
    Senior Member MarkMcD's Avatar
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    RayfusJ asked about advice for sight impaired people, If you can scan your sheet music into your computer, or download music from the net, then you can print it off at any scale of enlargement that you might need.

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  13. #24
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    I understand that it is a skill that you either have or don't have. I guess one might make some progress by studying a lot of technically easy pieces.

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    Practice does help. I've found mine improving at the piano since I joined a choir, where a lot of sight-reading is necessary, though (as you suggest) no amount of practice can give you what you don't have to begin with.

  15. #26
    Junior Member bghill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PracticeReserch View Post
    I understand that it is a skill that you either have or don't have. I guess one might make some progress by studying a lot of technically easy pieces.
    On the contrary, it is a skill and can therefore be learned and improved by practice. Some people have more innate talent for it, and therefore will learn more quickly and/or with less effort -- but everyone who works at it can improve their sight reading skill.

    The main thing is just to do it repeatedly and frequently.

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  17. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by bghill View Post
    On the contrary, it is a skill and can therefore be learned and improved by practice. Some people have more innate talent for it, and therefore will learn more quickly and/or with less effort -- but everyone who works at it can improve their sight reading skill.

    The main thing is just to do it repeatedly and frequently.
    I agree. In my many years of experience as a piano teacher, I've found that every student can learn to sight-read pretty well. Regular practice is indeed necessary; it's a skill that needs to be practiced, preferably by reading something new every day.

    Also, as I've mentioned in other threads, it's useful to practice scales, arpeggios and chords. These are the building blocks of common-practice tonal music. Familiarity with these basic patterns helps with sight-reading. The goal is to learn to recognize groups of notes instead of having to painstakingly read each individual note.

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  19. #28
    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Yes, it's possible but will probably take you 10 times longer to learn than if you had a teacher. That could translate into years of hunting and pecking the right notes instead of being guided by someone who is experienced and understands the next grade of sight reading difficulty that you're ready for. One man's opinion.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jul-15-2017 at 14:35.

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