What if you could read music as easily as you read the English language?
Are you growing frustrated by the significant length of time and grueling work it takes for you to master a new piece of music? Has your irritation with the process made you think about abandoning the piano altogether? If so, I urge you to put the following suggestions to work so that you can get a handle on sight reading. Consider the possibility of being able to read music as well as you can read the English language.
- Continue to Sight Read!
While this may seem obvious and unoriginal, it is the inescapable truth. If you made a habit of reading only items you are committing to memory and plan to recite to others, it is likely that your reading ability would atrophy, since you concern yourself primarily with articulation and pronunciation. The same is true with music. It is important that you work not only on compositions you plan to perform or play for your instructor. You must sight read other pieces of music for their own sake. Following just this one piece of advice will have a great impact.
- Decrease your Expectations!
Even though you should read a greater volume of music, you should be less concerned about achieving perfection. The point is to work on sight reading, and there is nothing wrong with inadvertently skipping over a dynamic, a tie, a slur or a pedal notation every now and then. Do not worry about going back and fixing the errors, as that type of work should be reserved for true practice sessions. Simply continue to gain a general overview or focus on a particular part of the composition, depending on your reasons for reviewing it. (Follow guidelines 3-5 below)
- Work on Rhythms!
In order to grasp rhythms rapidly, it is possible that you will need to pay particular heed to that aspect of the composition. Should you encounter a composition or a portion therein in which you must focus intently in order to ascertain the rhythm, stop yourself and think about why it is so perplexing to you. Maybe you can develop a technique for handling such a situation if it occurs again. Be certain that you understand fundamental note values and routine rhythmic figures. An additional tip for enhancing your rhythmic capabilities is the sight read compositions with identical time signatures for a period of time: Begin with works done in 4/4 time, then focus on those in 3/4, 6/8 and onward.
- Work on a Single Clef at a Given Time!
Should notes, not rhythms, be your difficulty, perhaps you should work only on one clef per session. Keep in mind that if you are working specifically on sight reading skills, it is unnecessary to play every note you see. Keep your right hand idle if you tend to have the most trouble with the bass clef. Try to single out your problem areas by allowing the left hand to work alone, shutting out the rest of the piece, even if you must also ignore the rhythm itself.
- Work on One Key at a Given Time!
Such a technique represents an additional way of singling out a problem area: the flats and sharps in different key signatures. Staying within a given key signature for a certain time can help you gain increased familiarity with that particular key. With time, it is likely that you will achieve a natural ability to select the correct sharps and flats without having to think very hard. Doing this in conjunction with other types of scale work will only hasten your progress.
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