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Thread: sight reading help

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    Default sight reading help

    I got accepted into a college I got all the necessary compositions pretty much mastered for an audition in the music college of the University but I don't know how to sight read.

    Can anybody recommend a book where I could get a speed course on how to sight read? It would be a shame if I couldn't get into the music department because of this.
    Any suggestions?

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    I'm afraid there is no successful cramming for any sort of disciplines which is obtained only as a result of progressive / cumulative studies. I have yet to hear of anyone successfully cramming for a theory exam, unless they were 'somewhat there' but had been sloppily inattentive. Ditto for a performance jury, and I've never heard of anyone who successfully crammed for ear-training or sight-reading.

    There are a number of questions about how to sight-read on this site, just check in this site's search window (top right) to find any number of them.

    But quick-fix sight-reading, single stave or grand staff, I don't think you'll find a good and real answer that you want to hear.

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    Senior Member hreichgott's Avatar
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    What sort of pieces are you playing for the audition, and what do you mean by "sight read"?

    If you already know how to read music (which I assume is true if you're preparing repertoire for an audition) but you just aren't used to putting a score in front of you for the first time and playing it, then start by reading something significantly easier than the music you would play as working/repertoire, like 2 Suzuki books earlier or 3-4 RCM grades earlier. If that is rough going, then swallow your pride and get Bartok Mikrokosmos volume 1 or Piano Adventures level 1 and read through.

    There is no such thing as a speed course in sight-reading. If you do a few pieces a day you will improve. If you invest a lot of time you'll improve faster.
    Heather W. Reichgott, piano
    http://heatherwreichgott.blogspot.com

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    Another option is the ABRSM Joining the Dots Series.

    Otherwise, hreichgott's advice is excellent. Good knowledge of scales and arpeggios will also mean that you have a knowledge of fingering and the ability to recognise passages as a scale run or some type of arpeggio and finger as necessary.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by h1478971 View Post
    I got accepted into a college I got all the necessary compositions pretty much mastered for an audition in the music college of the University but I don't know how to sight read.

    Can anybody recommend a book where I could get a speed course on how to sight read? It would be a shame if I couldn't get into the music department because of this.
    Any suggestions?
    How did you do all this without being able to sight read?

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    A good place to start is playing the pieces you already know without looking at your fingers. I find the worst sight readers have to look down every time they hit a note.
    Memorise the keyboard beneath your fingers.
    Take a minute or so to study the piece before you play it. Try to hear it also. The key signature, tempo etc really matter.
    Then take it one step at a time- this is not going to happen overnight.

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    Senior Member Ravndal's Avatar
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    Practice at least 1 hour each day sight reading classical sonatinas (Kuhlau, Clementi etc. etc.) And "modern" music. perhaps something atonal. Try to think ahead all the time, and never look down from the score. Let your fingers find the keys. And when your taking the test, just take the tempo down as much as possible. Better to get trough it in a low tempo than fail in a high.

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    I agree with what others said--begin sight reading at two or three levels below your own. Start the piece at a slow pace so you make fewer mistakes. To give you a general idea, it took me about two or three years of sight reading almost every to get to the point where I could sight-read professionally as a low-level accompanist. It is definitely a skill you have to work at consistently for a long time in order to improve. However, as others have said, if you put in a lot of time and effort you will definitely see improvement! I understand that many people are not religious, but for me, practicing hymns out of a hymn book from my church helped immensely with my sight reading, because the chords and melodies were simple and universal-- I, IV, V, a few secondary dominant chords. Other options would be to just google "sight reading piano method books"--you'd be amazed how many method books have been written on this topic. Also, it is somewhat useful to review old songs that you learned several years ago, and try to play them without thinking too much or stopping to analyze the piece too much. However, if you really want to become a competent sight reader, it is essential to practice sight reading songs you have never seen before.

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    Senior Member Varick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Three14 View Post
    How did you do all this without being able to sight read?
    I have a Masters in music and I'm a horrible sight reader. When I graduated with my Masters I was performing Rach preludes (Op. 32), Chopin Polonaises, Schubert Impromtus, Liszt transcriptions, etc., often to standing ovations. It was horrible listening to me the first two weeks learning any pieces at that level. Not to pat myself on the back, but when I performed... everyone felt it!

    I would still like to go back and work on my sight reading skills (I think it would take me about 3-4 years to really see a vast improvement). It will be hard, especially given the fact that I haven't played or practiced in over 10 years.

    V
    Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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