Friday, October 19, 2007

Build Sight Reading Into Your Practice Session

Just over a year ago, I wrote an article on 10 ways of improving your sight-reading skills, which has since become one of the top-performing posts on this blog.

In this posting, I won't rehash the various ways of improving your sight-reading skills I already wrote about previously. I will, however, talk about why sight-reading is important and how you can incorporate it into your daily practice regimen.

What sight-reading can do for you
  • Drastically cut down on the time spent on learning notes in a new work of music.
  • Develop your pitch-reading skills in a moderate pressure-cooker situation.
  • Develop your rhythmic skills in the same way.
  • Develop your listening skills.
  • Allow you to integrate rhythm and pitch reading, stylistic thought, and physicality in a way not always utilized in traditional note-learning.
  • Allow you to play and enjoy large amounts of music you might not otherwise find.

How to develop your skills

You won't develop into a great sight-reader by only doing it at lessons and exams. Regular practice for only a few minutes a day is the best way to progress in a pain-free environment.

The publication I recommend above all others is the Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests series by Boris Berlin and Andrew Markow. Divided into levels corresponding to RCM/NMCP grade levels, the books are divided into weekly units (around 10 per book) with one daily sight-reading and rhythmic example, as well as daily ear-training examples for each week. The amount of work involved per day is actually quite minimal, since it is the cumulative effect of the reading practice that improves skills. With a 10-units per volume and daily practicing, it should take approximately 10 weeks to get through a book. The short length of time it takes to complete a book also ensures that a student not up to par on his or her reading skills can easily do two or even three levels a year before taking an exam. The trick is not to cram these books but to work at (savor!) them as part of a daily practice routine.

And then enjoy the results.
Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 2 - sheet music at Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Tests: Book 2 By Boris Berlin And Andrew Markow. Daily Exercises for Piano Students. Ear Training and Sight Reading. Late Elementary. Book. 32 pages. Published by The Frederick Harris Music Company. (4S2)
Level: Grade 2.
See more info...

Next: Silent Practicing

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes, that's all I have time to practice in a day! And to think I hated it as a child. Now, I like it.