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MUSIC THEORY

Chickers

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I see lots of buzz regarding the benefits of "Sight Reading".
I need some help in understanding this.
What is the difference between reading sheet music, and the art of sight reading ??
What are the benefits---pros & cons ??
 

Dingo40

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"Sight reading " in regards to music, as I understand it, is like being able to pick up a book and read it at sight is in regards to literature.
It is the ability to play music from the printed sheet (page), at sight . Its the opposite of "playing by ear."
It probably takes as long to acquire as does learning to read (books) and is best done when young. Like reading, many never become fluent at it.
I , myself , began too late in life, practised too little, but can manage very simple stuff very, very slowly!πŸ˜•
Reading sheet music is, in effect, "sight reading "πŸ™‚
To be able to sight read fluently is to be musically literate. The benefits are analogous to those of " literacy " versus "illiteracy ".
 
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Glenn

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Sight reading is reading and playing at first sight in a meaningful and musical way. Those that read music do so with their sight (I exclude Braille here) but the skill of being able to view an unfamiliar piece of music and play it in a musical fashion is what is meant by sight reading. The pros are it allows you to try new music faster. Ultimately we don’t sight read if we study a piece to improve how we play and interpret it. We read it time and time again until it is utterly familiar.
 

Cheshire Chris

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Sight reading - the ability to play any piece of music that you've never seen before from a musical score - is a major component of piano grade exams here in the U.K. I started learning to play the piano in my mid 50s and I can't sight read - my brain just can't work fast enough.

Obviously I can play from a musical score, but I need to play it through very, very slowly, each hand separately, and then learn to play it "hands together" a bar at a time.

I suspect that my situation is pretty normal. You probably do have to start sight reading as a child.

Chris
 

Pipemajor

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One other advantage of sight reading is that you don't have to actually play the tune to know how it goes.
It's a bit like reading a book in that you don't have to say the words out loud to understand the contents.
Nowadays most tunes can be heard on the internet if you know the name but in days of yore pre internet
many tunes were bought from the local music store or scribbled on manuscript paper and passed around you're musical friends.
 

Cheshire Chris

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One other advantage of sight reading is that you don't have to actually play the tune to know how it goes.
It's a bit like reading a book in that you don't have to say the words out loud to understand the contents.

I'm not sure I'd agree with that 😁. Being able to hear a tune in your head from a score is a very different skill from sight reading! I'd regard sight reading as specifically the ability to play from a score that you haven't seen before.

Cheers,

Chris
 

losthobos

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There are a thousand ways to tone and phrase the written words
The cat sat on the mat.....
So sight reading does not mean that everyone wabts to listen to the readers interpretation
On a similar vein i often beat myself that i can't improvise and play by ear without peeking at the sheet a few times first.. Yet i hear these past masters playing a myriad of wonderful pieces throughout their careers.... Then it dawned on me that these musicians didn't play these pieces the whole of the their lives they did so at points in their lives when said tunes were fashionable... So they probably peeked at the head sheets and managed to recall them for the period of time they needed too...
Sorry for rambling, im useless writing on my phone...
What i guess im pointing at is written music for me is merely a set of rough directions through a route... This is most likely due to the ineptitudes of my playing technique.... Thanks for bearing with me
 

TomBR

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I'm not sure I'd agree with that 😁. Being able to hear a tune in your head from a score is a very different skill from sight reading! I'd regard sight reading as specifically the ability to play from a score that you haven't seen before.

Cheers,

Chris

Yes, I agree that's a skill on another level entirely, and not necessary for fluent sight reading on an instrument. "Sight singing" is tougher!

Years ago shortly after I'd left university I was visiting the senior college organ scholar and we went to see the clavichord that the junior organ scholar had in his room. The junior pointed to a piece of music on the music stand and they both laughed. They had to play it to me so I could get the joke. It was a Christmas piece for organ and the arrival of the three wise men was introduced by a deliberately corny pseudo-middle-eastern tune for the oboe stop. They just had to look to get the joke.
 

Pipemajor

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Yes, I agree that's a skill on another level entirely, and not necessary for fluent sight reading on an instrument. "Sight singing" is tougher!

Years ago shortly after I'd left university I was visiting the senior college organ scholar and we went to see the clavichord that the junior organ scholar had in his room. The junior pointed to a piece of music on the music stand and they both laughed. They had to play it to me so I could get the joke. It was a Christmas piece for organ and the arrival of the three wise men was introduced by a deliberately corny pseudo-middle-eastern tune for the oboe stop. They just had to look to get the joke.
Funnily enough I'd never thought about it before but I guess you're right.
I just assumed that because I did it then it was just a part of reading the music.
Thinking back to when I was a junior trainee in a firm of chartered surveyors, the typist used to rattle off at breakneck speed and we juniors had to check the schedules for accuracy. Often we would find whole lines had been missed out or she had repeated a line twice and never realised.
I guess she was sight typing and not really understanding what she was typing.
 

NickC

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I can sight read on the double bass, but not the accordion. In the orchestra, we wouldn't have a whole lot of time to put together a program, so being able to sight read was a huge help. I would add to this discussion that having good technique is an important part of sight reading. Reading the notes is important, but having the mechanics to play them in tempo, in real time without pause can't be overlooked. I think that is one major obstacle holding me back from being a better reader on the accordion.
 

JeffJetton

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I regard sight-reading as being similar to reading a speech aloud that you've never seen before, right off the bat, and making it sound as if you're speaking more-or-less naturally.

Being poor at sight-reading, but still able to "read music", would be like being able to read the speech haltingly, having to stop a lot to sound out many of the unfamiliar words, make out some of the letters, etc., like perhaps you did when very young (or when learning a foreign language). You can eventually get to the "natural speech" level, but not until after going over it several times.

As with the written word, the more a poor sight-reader reads (and challenges themselves with material at the edge of their current ability), the better and better they get at sight-reading, almost without noticing it!

And, also like the written word, actually writing helps with your reading. Imagine trying to learn to read without learning to spell! Learning the basics of notation, and taking the effort to transcribe or copy out music (by hand or by software), can really help.
 

donn

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Being able to hear a tune in your head from a score is a very different skill from sight reading!

I believe it depends to some extent on the instrument. Of course voice, if you count that as an instrument, but also some other wind instruments require pitched input from the player. I can't just wiggle my fingers to make different notes come out on the tuba. It requires a "buzz" input that's at least somewhat in the neighborhood of the desired output pitch; it will clean that input up very substantially, but if it gets something significantly different, trash comes out.

I can sight read on the double bass, but not the accordion.

Same here! Well, at least I could, a little, 35 years ago when I played double bass very casually. I guess the instruments I can read for, are the ones that I play in groups that read music. Accordion I play on my own, and don't need written music for that.
 

Ventura

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sight reading is also the entry level for certain types of employment

to be on call as a Studio Musician you must be able to come in and
sight read fluently the arrangers score in a few takes

to be a member of the Marine Band or the Presidents Own
or pretty much any professional Orchestra
 

debra

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Let me chime in here (late in the game, I know): the biggest challenge in playing "a vu" as we say (reading+playing a new piece for the first time) is that you need to be reading ahead of where you are playing. If your eyes+brain reading the music only get as far as your arms, fingers and brain for playing then you will make mistakes because you did not "see it coming" when there is a sudden jump, difficult chord, etc.
Sight reading, without even playing, is what an assistant does who does the page turning. We see this a lot with piano players (more than with accordion). You need to read what you hear very quickly and also here you need to stay ahead because typically (in agreement with the player) you need to turn a page about 2 measures before the player reaches the end of a page. So the player is always reading 2 measures ahead of what (s)he is playing.
 

Corsaire

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I had to sight read as a child for piano exams and was never very good as I always preferred to play by ear.
 
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