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8 Week Sight Reading Challenge, Oct. 2021

Valski

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Good luck, I think it will be good and you will like it, Jerry. I find it very difficult, hence the challenge. Is it possible to learn to sight read at speed when you are old? I don't know, but I hope we find out. I'm not recording it, not necessary for the challenge. Yesterday I worked through one of the Christmas song books. Today I think I'll look at that southern Italian mandolin book that Jeremy has.

Hi Tom, How do you mean sight reading at speed? If I know how a song sounds then it's relatively easy to sight read at speed. It also depends on the musical genre of the song as well as the specific notation style and font because my vision isn't as good as it was many years ago.

For songs that are entirely new to me it's impossible for me to sight read at speed. I have been purchasing a lot of music in order to update and expand my repertoire so I come across different challenges there. One thing that speeds up the process is to use a music streaming service such as YouTube to get a feeling for the piece. Perhaps it's cheating a little but it saves me time.
 

JeffJetton

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For songs that are entirely new to me it's impossible for me to sight read at speed.

That's the nice thing about practicing. Things that are currently not possible become more and more possible along the way. :cool:

I got my start on piano and used to be terrible at reading music, period. The more I beat my head against that wall, though, the better I got. Funny thing was that learning accordion later improved my reading on both instruments!

Anyway, to me "sight reading" implies "reading at speed"--sitting down, looking at the notation, and just playing it as intended right off the bat. Like how a newscaster reads the news off a teleprompter, making it sound natural despite never having read the script before. If you are not reading/playing "at speed", you are not, by definition, sight reading.

Whereas "reading" is just being able to learn a piece from written notation, at whatever speed or amount of trial-and-error it takes. Similar to preparing and then later giving a speech. Both the newscaster and the speech-giver have "read" what they're saying, but only the former is "sight reading".
 

JeffJetton

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Oh, and another thing that helps with reading music? Writing down music!

Being forced to take something you're hearing in your head or can play on your instrument and put it down in notation (either by hand or using software) really helps build your "vocabulary" of notated passages. Especially where rhythmic figures are concerned, IMHO.

Can you imagine teaching children to read without also teaching them to write? The two things reinforce each other. You have to "translate" in both directions.
 

Tom

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Hi Tom, How do you mean sight reading at speed? If I know how a song sounds then it's relatively easy to sight read at speed. It also depends on the musical genre of the song as well as the specific notation style and font because my vision isn't as good as it was many years ago.

For songs that are entirely new to me it's impossible for me to sight read at speed. I have been purchasing a lot of music in order to update and expand my repertoire so I come across different challenges there. One thing that speeds up the process is to use a music streaming service such as YouTube to get a feeling for the piece. Perhaps it's cheating a little but it saves me time.
Hi Valski,

Jeff's kind of cleared it up here. According to his definition anytime you read music at playing speed it's "sight reading." If, like me, you read the music to learn the song, but really slowly, or kind of in fits and starts, working out the positions, harmonies, etc. it's just "reading." Anyway, I'm no expert here. Like you, I "sight read" music that I know well, or that is in my repertoire. My goal with this challenge is to improve the ability to sight read music I don't play, or haven't studied, whether or not I am familiar with the melody. It's kind of a continuoum without definite boundaries, ranging from "never seen it, never heard it" to "played it a million times from memory."

And I would agree that writing would help with familiarity. I arrange tunes but have never worked on "writing by ear" or composing new tunes. Probably would help.
 

NickC

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I think sight reading also goes along with technique and keyboard knowledge. On the double bass, I can look at a piece of music and know which (hand) position I should be in. Similar to a 5 note position on the piano. I know all the notes that are in the position, I can play each note with the 'correct' finger and I can read ahead and know if I should shift since there are notes coming up that are in a higher position.

On the CBA, I'm not there yet. Even if I hit all the notes, my fingers are all over the place. I usually spend a good amount of time learning a tune, and then experimenting with different fingering. So, I am thinking that the PH course books would be a good place for me to be in this challenge. I can still participate, but also work on technique at the same time. Since I plan on making this permanent, I'll be able to start reading progressively harder tunes over the years.
 

Tom

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.....On the double bass, I can look at a piece of music and know which (hand) position I should be in. Similar to a 5 note position on the piano. I know all the notes that are in the position, I can play each note with the 'correct' finger and I can read ahead and know if I should shift since there are notes coming up that are in a higher position.

On the CBA, I'm not there yet. Even if I hit all the notes, my fingers are all over the place. I usually spend a good amount of time learning a tune, and then experimenting with different fingering.....
Yup, this is the holy grail. I'm with you at this point, Nick, fingers all over the place, moving my thumb down to catch the bottom of a known interval. Unfortunately I never learned sight reading on any instrument so I'm even one step back. Starting with very basic arrangements, hope to get to performance level at intermediate arrangements, not concerned with the Bumblebee or virtuosity.
 

David A

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I've had to adjust this challenge a bit to account for my level of (or lack of) ability! Being a long way down the learning curve there's no way I can claim what I'm doing is sight reading as it is being defined here, but I think what I'm doing is going to help me make some sort of progress. I decided that each day I would open my book of Welsh dance tunes (very few of which I can play) at a random page and try to play the tune (right hand only to begin with) in full without stopping to analyse it or correct my errors. My three or four attempts so far have shown some small signs of improvement each day so I think it worth persevering with. So thanks, Tom, for inspiring me to make the effort.
 

Tom

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I've had to adjust this challenge a bit to account for my level of (or lack of) ability! Being a long way down the learning curve there's no way I can claim what I'm doing is sight reading as it is being defined here, but I think what I'm doing is going to help me make some sort of progress. I decided that each day I would open my book of Welsh dance tunes (very few of which I can play) at a random page and try to play the tune (right hand only to begin with) in full without stopping to analyse it or correct my errors. My three or four attempts so far have shown some small signs of improvement each day so I think it worth persevering with. So thanks, Tom, for inspiring me to make the effort.
Thanks for joining in, David! Working for progress is the main thing and it sounds like you're on the right track. Good luck!
 

Happy girl

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For the serious accordion student there is a 1976 publication entitled ‘Progressive Sight Reading’ by G Romani, published by Charnwood Music. This is a collection of graded exercises in two books; Book 1 stage 1-5 Book 2 stage 5-8

Mr. Romani was prominent examiner for the College of Accordionist for many years, this booklet cost me £10. 90d. I was so in awe of his incredible musicianship, I asked him to sign my copy, which he did, with great panache.

In those days these clever people were available at Accordion Festivals to give Master Classes & offer encouragement… (As well as successfully selling their wares to their doting followers!)

Their legacy lives on in my bountiful collection of signed works from the various prominent accordion icons of their day…. Such sweet memories!
 
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losthobos

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Yesterday i played a game of open my sheet book at any page and play the tune... Admittedly I have played the tunes in the past and I wrote the sheets myself but still quite amazed by how successful i was at reading and playing.... Just scored a 13in tablet of ebay and will download my cheat sheets onto it later and continue playing this game for another month to see where it leads... With the larger screen this could bevan unrealised reality for me... Thanks for pushing my boat Tom... 😉
 
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NickC

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I'm continuing my PH books. One side effect of this challenge is that I've started to re-learn my rep with better (proper?) fingering. My pinkie usually just flaps around unused, and I'm relying mostly on my thumb, index and middle. I'd like to have a more consistent and economical approach to fingering.
 

Tom

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Week One down. So far so good. Tried Diabolico and Sailing By waltz. I don't usually play in A or D so these were above my level to sight read at speed, still, a good excercise.
 

NickC

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I was having trouble with a tune I was working on...Sanluchino by Ruggero Passarini (not as part of the sight reading challenge). I couldn't get it to flow right. So, I remembered the fingerings that I've been working on with this challenge, and once I used a 'proper' fingering, (with my pinkie and all..) I was able to make it flow easier. Some of the trills are hard to do with certain fingers, but I'm working on independence.

I'm going to switch to the Anzaghi method for this challenge since it has fingerings for CBA included. I'm adding in some of the etudes as well.
 
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jozz

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Here is a nice slow sea shanty to ease through. I transcribed it last night for a choir:

Keep Hauling of the movie Fisherman's Friends

Keep Hauling - lead chords lyrics.jpg


 

Jeremyh

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Cheers for that Jazz, just my level(y)

I can't sight read that straight off but 10 minutes or so of playing around got me a workable right hand and the possibility of working it up to something I really can sight read.

I used to use a site called Flute Tunes for sight reading practice on the mandolin, they have a tune a day and the instruments have the same range. The aim wasn't to get the tune perfectly, but to be able to stumble through and work out a decent fingering, eventually being able to just play a new tune straight off the page.

Maybe I'll start at page 1 of Easy Peazy and work through.
 

JerryPH

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Good luck, I think it will be good and you will like it, Jerry. I find it very difficult, hence the challenge. Is it possible to learn to sight read at speed when you are old? I don't know, but I hope we find out. I'm not recording it, not necessary for the challenge. Yesterday I worked through one of the Christmas song books. Today I think I'll look at that southern Italian mandolin book that Jeremy has.
Not saying that 61 years old is Jurassic, but it's NOT easy... lol
I'll need to practice and what I will do is save the last one for recording and no matter the results, record that and post that here to embarrass myself with. :D :D
 

Tom

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Here is a nice slow sea shanty to ease through. I transcribed it last night for a choir:

Keep Hauling of the movie Fisherman's Friends

Keep Hauling - lead chords lyrics.jpg


Thanks Jozz! Of course I will try it in my eight reading practice today. Is the movie any good?
 

Tom

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Not saying that 61 years old is Jurassic, but it's NOT easy... lol
I'll need to practice and what I will do is save the last one for recording and no matter the results, record that and post that here to embarrass myself with. :D :D
I agree Jerry, and I'm a lot older than you! It's pretty much torture. I doubt you will embarrass yourself. I'm not even going to try to record as the "at playing speed" for me is generally about the time since the Jurassic, especially if I try for "proper" hand position.
 

jozz

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Thanks Jozz! Of course I will try it in my eight reading practice today. Is the movie any good?
haven't watched yet... so no idea

i hear it gets good reviews though

how did the playing go?
 

Tom

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haven't watched yet... so no idea

i hear it gets good reviews though

how did the playing go?
Looks like it could be interesting, might try watching it. Playing the tune was difficult as usual but I'm sticking with the challenge so far so good.
 

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