• If you haven't done so already, please add a location to your profile. This helps when people are trying to assist you, suggest resources, etc. Thanks

Who wants to join me in a new sightreading challenge?

Siegmund

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
181
Reaction score
250
Location
Montana, USA
Some of you will remember the "8 week sightreading challenge" last fall (which came at a bad time for me to take part in it.)

I became acutely aware this past spring that I only had exercise books and 'hard' pieces, not much in the way of easy-to-medium music that might be good for daily sight reading. Well, I went to the opposite extreme, and now have 8 new books to use as sightreading material, 5 actual accordion-repertoire books and 3 fiddle tune books (melody + chord symbols only.) I currently rate 3 of the 8 as too hard for me to have any hope of getting through them without frustration, but I can now sightread a new short piece of music every day for some years to come.

Earlier this month I parked David DiGiuseppe's "100 Tunes for Piano Accordion" on my music stand,opened it to the first page, and said I'd try one new number every time I sat down at my instrument. I'm up to song #13 now, aim to get all the way to the back of the book before the year is out, and have started a list of which ones I want to go back to and properly learn later.

It also gives me a good feel for what patterns/leaps I know and which I need to learn still. I've been choosing arpeggios and batterns to drill based on what tripped up sightreading on a previous day.

So: anybody else want to join me?

Pick any book of songs you've got handy, and try one a day. Tell us what you picked, and peek into this thread every now and again and tell us how it's going.
 

Tom

Been here for ages!
Site Supporter
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
2,894
Reaction score
1,399
Location
USA
Good going Siegmund! I believe sight reading is a valuable, if not necessary, skill for an accordionist. As the initiator and unsuccessful participant in the last challenge, I'll join you in trying sight reading with each practice. Good luck to all who participate!
 

Siegmund

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
181
Reaction score
250
Location
Montana, USA
I thought I'd peek in and share a progress report, 3 weeks in.

Am happy to report I found time to practice every day but one since this challenge started (sometimes only a short spell, sometimes longer.) I've dutifully sightread each session and am up to #33 in my book of 100 short numbers. I've marked 7 so far to go back and learn properly.

It's been a mixed bag. I have learned a lot -- not so much "gotten noticeably better at sightreading," yet, but I'm very aware of where my technical strengths and weaknesses are. I've spent a lot of time working my G and D scales, not just my C scale (remember on CBA there are just 3 patterns to learn rather than 12), and have become acutely aware that my major arpeggios are worse than my scales, and my minor arpeggios are awful.
Just yesterday I played a song that sounded awful and I couldn't get right at all. It required upward leaps of a minor seventh (a recurring B-A-G-F# line that leapt upward between the A and G every time it happened) -- a melodic interval I'd never had to play before, so my hand doesn't know how to move that distance. Somethign to add to my list.

Several of the songs, nominally New England or Canadian, have been of Scottish or Irish origin. Songs that were modal, rather than the familiar major or minor, made (still make) me stumble especially with the left hand.
Some are adaptations of pipe melodies. I've spent some hours reading about how bagpipes are tuned and what scales they can play, and am sloooowly gaining an ear for mixolydian mode. It takes a real adjustment to think of a EMinor - GMajor - AMinor as a common cadential progression.

I aim to continue... I do like knowing that every day is going to be SOME kind of a new adventure, rather than "play your scales, AGAIN, play an exercise or two, AGAIN, play through some memorized repertoire for the 100th time so you don't forget it, then beat your head against the piece you're currently trying to learn."
 

Tor

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2018
Messages
55
Reaction score
13
Location
Hawaii
Nice. I just recently got hold of a couple old books of easy accordion stuff, and tried the first piece in each. Looks like some hope of most of the pieces in them being something I can manage to get near to a credible rendition of within a practice session and have some time for other stuff.

Time to add this a bit more officially than I was thinking about this evening.
 

Siegmund

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
181
Reaction score
250
Location
Montana, USA
I am happy to see you giving it a try.

Ironically, the day you posted was also the only day all month that I didn't sightread anything new - cut short a session after getting very frustrated with the old stuff. But I am back on the horse today, and in fact one page past the halfway mark in the book I'm working through.

I hesitate to call my sightreading a "near credible rendition" - at least not with both hands. I can quite often play RH-only at a slowish tempo and more or less in rhythm, after a couple tries. I can very rarely get both hands to work together at anything more than hunt-and-peck pace the first day on a new piece.
 

jozz

Player
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
1,776
Reaction score
538
Location
The Netherlands
I'll give a quick report of my not so great progress:

In a new tune set for a busking band I've inserted 'Drowsy Maggie' as an instrumental fill into another tune. Very content with myself I shared the sheet I'd created with the band with the words "please start practicing this so you know it next time we meet".

Being their great accordion leader I assumed I was going to successfully sightread this on the first occasion without practice. Didn't quite work out the way I expected it. The band practiced it well, myself struggling with the fingering - getting not even one clean playthrough.

In conclusion now I have a sheet with fingering notation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tor

Tom

Been here for ages!
Site Supporter
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
2,894
Reaction score
1,399
Location
USA
I, as usual, have failed this challenge. Let's face it, learning sight reading "at a certain age" is boring and hard. Not sure I will ever make it, or learn Spanish for that matter. I'm spending most of my time trying to increase my memorized repertoire. I mean, omg, I've been on this forum almost 10 years and have about as much repertoire as most normal people do in 2. Maybe I should try something easier like quantum physics.
 

Pipemajor

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 16, 2017
Messages
565
Reaction score
264
Location
London, Limousin, France
I, as usual, have failed this challenge. Let's face it, learning sight reading "at a certain age" is boring and hard. Not sure I will ever make it, or learn Spanish for that matter. I'm spending most of my time trying to increase my memorized repertoire. I mean, omg, I've been on this forum almost 10 years and have about as much repertoire as most normal people do in 2. Maybe I should try something easier like quantum physics.
As a certain member on here (yourself) would say. "You can do it". :)
Anyone who can busk for an hour or more without repeating themselves would be in the top ten members on this forum!!
 

Tom

Been here for ages!
Site Supporter
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
2,894
Reaction score
1,399
Location
USA
As a certain member on here (yourself) would say. "You can do it". :)
Anyone who can busk for an hour or more without repeating themselves would be in the top ten members on this forum!!
Thanks for the kind words, Pipe! Seems the farther I get the farther I have to go. At least I'm enjoying the ride.
 

Tom

Been here for ages!
Site Supporter
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
2,894
Reaction score
1,399
Location
USA
Bit late now, but is there a definition of “ sight reading “
Playing music that you don't already know how to play (you may be familiar with the tune) at its normal speed, from sheet music, the first time through, with no, or minimal mistakes.
 

Dingo40

Been here for ages!
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Messages
3,120
Reaction score
1,939
Location
South Australia
Colin,
"Bit late now, but is there a definition of “ sight reading “?
AFAIK, sight reading (or reading at sight) is the ability to play previously unseen music directly from the printed sheet music, analogously to a competent reader of the printed page reading print, say the newspaper, at sight.🙂
 
Last edited:

jozz

Player
Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
1,776
Reaction score
538
Location
The Netherlands
For definition, we could borrow terminology from climbing:
  • on-sight (first time with no prior information)
  • flash (first time but with prior information)
  • redpoint (playthrough after (partial) practice)
I flashed the Carnival of Venice today.
 

Tor

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2018
Messages
55
Reaction score
13
Location
Hawaii
Those look like decent terms for cases where we want to get very specific, Jozz. According to that, the above piece was played more or less on-sight initially, but recorded redpoint.
 
Top