Trying to improve sight-reading

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Alans
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Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by Alans » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:06 am

I have been studying the accordion far longer than I have the piano. On the pa I can read at about a grade four RCM level,that comes from years of study with my teacher drilling each piece bar by bar for me. On the piano I am just starting grade one level. Yet I can sight read,sometimes hands together,usually hands apart,much of the music at my grade level. But I have never been able to sight read anything on the pa. Today I pulled out a book of standards for the accordion with the thoughttthought that since I will recognize the tunes perhaps they won't be as difficult to,play. But after barely one bar of complete frustration I toss d the book away. Now i understand that on the pa we can't always look at our fingers,but I am so much more used to playing the piano with much less instruction that there too I don't always need to look down at my hands.
I find the inability to sight read on the accordion,even with just the right hand alone so frustrating.

Any suggestions please?

Rhelsing
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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by Rhelsing » Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:37 am

Just read and play, read and play. That sounds dumb but that is what it takes. Go slow, and just keep at it. It will actually happen quicker than you think.

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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by Glenn » Tue Apr 25, 2017 8:09 am

I think educated (experienced) guesses help to sight read on the accordion. Often the type of music we play has a certain regularity that can be second guessed most of the time. The notes you read just gently guide our guesses in the right direction. Of course now and again you go completely wrong but then it is only a practice so you stop, look , correct and commit the interval to somewhere in the brain. Next time you come across that passage the guess will be more accurate. That's how I imagine it anyway. Probably a load of ********.


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donn
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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by donn » Tue Apr 25, 2017 8:36 am

I could understand that after four years it might seem like something is not working like it should.

No idea what's going wrong, though. You will have to climb out of it on your own, it appears to me - even if we were all standing there watching you, we'd have no way to know where the obstacle is. I hope it's unusual - I personally can't read worth beans on the accordion, while I read fine on other instruments, but I have been assuming it's only because I never use that faculty so it isn't developed.

There's sure to be some clue in the fact that the piano isn't giving you this trouble. For example, maybe the way you handle bellows push/pull is too cerebral and it's getting in your way - that's a wild shot, just an example of the thought process: 1) what's different, and 2) how could that affect reading. (Reading is technically cerebral, of course, but what I'm referring to is a sort of analytical/verbal faculty that we often use when confronted with a problem, and which is in my opinion quite incompatible with any kind of playing.)

I have a hunch that the bar-by-bar learning process you describe is related to the problem - can you play a familiar and really simple tune by ear without going through that? but the piano vs. accordion difference can trip up any such theories.

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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by george garside » Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:08 am

just a thought! the difference sight reading progress on the box compared to the piano may well be related to the fact that pshychologicaly you are geared to constantly being able to see the keyboard on the piano ( even if you only have an occasional gander) it effectively gives you a 'comfort zone'

On the box it should all be done on auto pilot with the fingers just automatically going for the right key without conscious thought as to where it is! It may help to put a cardboard 'shield' on top of the treble end so you cant see the keyboard. This will initially slow progress but will makee it a necessity to reach the level of ''read it/think it/play it!

Same of course goes for by ear players and having a crack at playing some well known tunes by ear ( with keyboard shield) would probably speed up the ''think it/play it'' process which is readily transferable to sight reading.

As a mainly by ear folk/trad player I never look at the keyboard whether reading or by earing

It may be worth a try

george

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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by Happy girl » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:20 am

George advised me to attach a shield to my accordion, & initially it did set me back with frustration; but a few months on I have the benefit, because I don’t have the temptation to look at the keyboard quite as much anymore, & I find my notes a lot better now, sight unseen.

viewtopic.php?f=26&t=4125&start=10" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; (Scroll down the page a bit to see the image of the shield)

Good luck with your endeavours, if a shield is the answer for you, it works!

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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by Soulsaver » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:51 am

I don't have any theories that haven't already been mentioned as to why OK on piano vs not on pa. But I do have theories why sight reading can be slow work for some peeps with a taught instrument - you're actually learning several distinct skills at once:

Reading music, mastering the instrument, playing the (usually set) piece.

Now as always the answer is you need to do 3 things: practice practice practice ... but:

In your 'being taught' normal practice, you start the piece and in the process there's clearly sight reading at first. But then as you try to learn to play the piece, you start to play (mostly) from memory and only aided by the sheet. So only a small % of your practice time is actually spent practicing sight reading, as such.

If you spent time sight reading a piece until, say, you felt you can just about play it slowly probably with mistakes, then moved to a brand new piece so memory involvement is minimised, and again etc. then I think one'd make better progress in this area...

Alone this practice may not be very satisfying, so probably warrants it as additional time allocated in your practice routine, to your set piece, S&As, repertoire.

The 'win' is, if I was a better sight reader I'd get the piece acceptable much quicker.

That's my two pence. It's only a theory... and I need to work on it myself - I'm a shight reader, too.. :lol:

What does your coach say?
Music Game full rules are on the original (first) post in its thread...viewtopic.php?f=12&t=444" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by Corsaire » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:33 am

I can only agree with all the comments above.
Sight-reading takes practice and some people will find it easier than others. I often avoid sight-reading as I find it much easier picking up music by ear - and this for piano and PA. But as I have to sight-read songs on the spot at our group practices, I just have to get on with it. It has become much easier.

The other thing about learning to sight-read is not to set yourself too high a standard to start with - and this may well mean starting with music that is at a lower level than what you would normally play. Give yourself time, take it slowly and keep at it !

I just comfort myself that there are people who are brilliant at sight-reading but they are unable to play by ear ;)

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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by Happy girl » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:15 pm

Soulsaver wrote: If you spent time sight reading a piece until, say, you felt you can just about play it slowly probably with mistakes, then move to a brand new piece so memory involvement is minimised, and again etc. then I think one'd make better progress in this area...

A really good tip, this is precisely what I do all the time.

Corsaire wrote: The other thing about learning to sight-read is not to set yourself too high a standard to start with - and this may well mean starting with music that is at a lower level than what you would normally play. Give yourself time, take it slowly and keep at it.

The exact sentiments of Margaret Fabrizio in her video; I have watched this several times & find it really helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aASBNbeREEY" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Trying to improve sight-reading

Post by TomBR » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:47 pm

Just watched a little of that Margaret Fabrizio video and it looks great, I really like the distinction between "reading" and "decoding."

As has already been said, I'd agree that the only way to improve sight reading is to do lots, and it should be at a far lower level than your best memorised playing.
I think if you learn a piece bar by bar and then look at the music while you are playing, you're probably not "reading" as such, the music has become just a memory jogger as to what comes next.

Having made the swap from PA to CBA I'm currently working on learning to read on the chromatic keyboard. I think it's probably necessary to start at the "decoding" level and practice until one reaches "reading" level. I'd be interested in expert views but I suspect one should work to start with and at least some of the time, at a speed that enables one to aim for zero mistakes - pause and think if necessary, but don't guess, press and correct - that's a waste of time.

I think it might also be worth playing some scales and arpeggios in the key of the piece one is about to read before starting.

There is so much PDF music online it should be possible to find some "really easy" music (at whatever your level may be) to practice reading on. You can arguably only "sight read" the same piece once!
Good luck!
Tom

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