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Sight-Reading Problems for Beginners (if any)

Hal the Elder

New Member
Messages
163
My main problem is getting through exercises at increased tempo without stumbling.

Maybe this is why (at age 76), I'm still in Book 1 of Essential Elements for Tenor Sax after 2 months of lessons! (9 lessons)

I guess instant note recognition and reaction time have something to do with it.....

HAL
 

BUMNOTE

Senior Member
Messages
572
Hi Hal,take your time and break down the exercises into parts you can manage,it will come together. As for you saying you still on book one,it dont matter take your time and enjoy.Bumnote.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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21,947
You'll get faster with time and practice. Just concentrate on playing cleanly for now.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
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25,898
I think for some of us it just takes time to learn to read music. I have only been playing for 18 months and am still learning new notes. I do find it seems to take a cetain amount of time to learn a new piece of music, I can normally pick it up in a week if it isn't too difficult and this was the same at the beginning when I was learning to play just two or three notes so I guess there is some improvement

It does seem like starting again some days and I long for the day I can pick up a piece of music and just play it but that is a long way off. Still it keeps me quiet or should that be occupied;}

Jx
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,944
The key thing is to be able to play the right notes at a consistent tempo - speed doesn't matter, that will come with practice. It is important to play notes at the right time. A wrong note at the right time is infinitely to be preferred to the right note at the wrong time!
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Hi this is my routine re sight reading started 9 months ago after a lapse of 70 years.

Take a blank manuscript sheet and write in the letters of the notes eg. E.G.B.D.F. etc. Copy them in randomly were you think they should be it does not matter if they are in the wrong place. Do three bars of this playing around with the positions. Next check their true positions and and notate them in true music form. Okay this is fairly basic but it helps you memorize the positions, and at a glance later you read without stopping to think. I repeated this exercise major/minor chords etc. and found the initial transcribing was the key. My daily practice routine now is ten minutes on the classic Middle B Lower Bflat. then high B without use of the octave key. then onto C etc. Then ten minutes on D7s C7s etc. straight eights or swing. Then most importantly the blues scales ten minutes. getting the basic scales then improvising on same. (Why I try not to use the octave key is because it improves your overall tone when you are back to normal playing.) I have no aspirations to be an altissimo whizz kid or should I say whizz senior.

So I break down my practice into 3 ten minute sessions have a couple of hours break then repeat again. The writing down of every thing initially is arduous but it develops the memory and improves your sight reading.

My major stumbling blocks are the geography of music Codas I miss them nearly every time. Timing comes with practice likewise counting in the intro bars if there are any.. (In the band I have a tendency to come in early, but I am improving.) Still have to think about chord recognition when on the rare occasions I solo.

I have to once again thank all the Ladies and Gents of the forum for their invaluable advice on chord recognition etc. I always remember reading somewhere that the greats Parker, Coltrane etc. had to transcribe everything by hand no photocopiers in those days. So I took a page out of their book. Regds.N.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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12,125
My major stumbling blocks are the geography of music Codas I miss them nearly every time.
Don't worry, they are not repeat signs, they are the copyist revenge for not being on stage.

About the OP, get a pencil and write the name of the notes under some saucy chart (i.e. Parker transcriptions).

I must say that find the German/English nomenclature a bit harder for beginners, since a G is followed by an A.
Doremifasollasidoremifasollasido.... is more intuitive.

About TV comment, rhythmic reading as a separate routine can help. At some point I got kicked by a conductor complaining for my reading skills (immediately after getting good marks in some extreme 7clefs reading). He handed me "volume one" of a book for drummers.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Don't worry, they are not repeat signs, they are the copyist revenge for not being on stage.

About the OP, get a pencil and write the name of the notes under some saucy chart (i.e. Parker transcriptions).

I must say that find the German/English nomenclature a bit harder for beginners, since a G is followed by an A.
Doremifasollasidoremifasollasido.... is more intuitive.

About TV comment, rhythmic reading as a separate routine can help. At some point I got kicked by a conductor complaining for my reading skills (immediately after getting good marks in some extreme 7clefs reading). He handed me "volume one" of a book for drummers.
Good tip A. Copyists revenge eh. Nomenclature agreed. Prince Albert has a lot to answer for popularizing the Christmas tree as well. Regds N.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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8,000
That is an excellent series for band instruments. I would suggest that you use the accompaniment CD in your practice. It not only replicates playing with a metronome, it helps with intonation as well being able to hear the bass line and harmony.

A technique I used with my students when they had difficulty was to say the names of the notes while fingering through the exercise or song. In learning to play an instrument you are asking the brain to do many things at the same time. Sometimes eliminating the tone production and tonguing allows you to focus on the fingering, counting, and note reading. If saying the note names and fingering at the same time is difficult, you can separate these two skills as well.

One more thing, do not be overly concerned with faster tempos and faster notes. Focus on accuracy and the speed will develop on its own in time as you become more familiar with reading music and playing.
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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12,125
Sometimes eliminating the tone production and tonguing allows you to focus on the fingering, counting, and note reading. If saying the note names and fingering at the same time is difficult, you can separate these two skills as well.
Sorry, I know I am obsessed with this video, but it is really worth watching it, to see a mostly useless exercise I was required to do weekly as a teenager (Wednesdays). Now I am a much better reader, and could not get even the first clef change. It gets interesting at 50".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8oliOU0iCM&feature=player_embedded
 

Hal the Elder

New Member
Messages
163
Actually, now I have no problem with playing all the notes from C below the staff to C above, including Sharps & Flats. I know how to finger them all, except for some alternate fingerings which haven't been in my exercises yet.

It's just that when there's a big jump at a fast tempo, like say E4 to D5 or B4 to to F5, that I have to briefly pause until I understand what the note is, not how to finger it.

Then I repeat the exercise track on the CD and try it again several times until I get it!

The several short practice sessions per day is a good idea, however.

Thanks for your study tips!

HAL
 
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Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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5,944
It's worth going outside of your comfort zone - either rhythm or pitch - and just set yourself a tempo, stick to it, and play and don't worry about bum notes. Then go back to playing something easier.

The usual advice is that sight-reading is about 2 grades behind your current playing level (we have a graded music exam system run by the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music aka ABRSM. The main grades run from 1 (beginner) to 8. Beyond that are three levels of diploma). So a grade 5 player would be expected to sight-read a grade 3 level piece, for example.
 

Hal the Elder

New Member
Messages
163
HEY JBT SAX:

I always use the accompaniment CD in my practicing. The disc comes with every copy of Essential Elements 2000, whatever the instrument.

The exercise is first played straight through with a professional playing your instrument, with you playing along.

Then it is played through again without the pro, allowing the student to play with the Rhythm Section only.

This is good! It reminds me of those old "Music Minus One" records before CD's came out.

HAL
 
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Hal the Elder

New Member
Messages
163
HEY TENORVIOL:

Thanks for the practicing tip!

My private teacher doesn't have grades or playing levels or exams or diplomas.

She just teaches all the musical instruments in her Studio for our Concert Band, our Symphonic Band, and our Symphony Orchestra.

The graded stuff is for the school-age student teachers in their music classes.

HAL
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
It's just that when there's a big jump at a fast tempo, like say E4 to D5 or B4 to to F5, that I have to briefly pause until I understand what the note is, not how to finger it.
Who cares then? Fingers come first.
The hard way for sight reading is: Take a book (in my case a big band pad) and read it all the way, but DON'T stop for corrections, or play the same tune twice. I had this tip from a guy i the army, and it really works. It just a bit frustrating.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,663
Louis Belleson's. Modern Reading Text in 4/4 is what we use for rhythmic reading development at our local conservatory jazz program. All the same note so can be sung (which i think for learning is best) or played on an instrument and takes one fro simple rhythms to complex forms that are challenging for pros.

My take for sight reading is easy stuff at speed, and harder stuff slowly. I believe that if one is making mistakes then one is playing it beyond one's familiarity and is practicing mistakes not the music. Its frustrating at first because one seems to progress slowly at first. Learning it deeply in a relaxed way and building speed is the way to go.
For complex pieces that are fast I break the part up into logical phrases and work on a phrase til I have it cold and then move on to the next.
 
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AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
454
i have another in the Louis Bellson series, "Odd Time Reading Text" -
all the rhythms in odd time signtures, a REAL work out for sight reading sax or percussion.
that 4/4 one does sound more useful ;-/
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,944
HEY TENORVIOL:

Thanks for the practicing tip!

My private teacher doesn't have grades or playing levels or exams or diplomas.

She just teaches all the musical instruments in her Studio for our Concert Band, our Symphonic Band, and our Symphony Orchestra.

The graded stuff is for the school-age student teachers in their music classes.

HAL
Anyone can do the AB grades - I'm workign towards G5 on the cello at the moment.... They're even evaialble (albeit not widely) to sit in the US. They're very popular in the Far East.
 

Corona4007

Member
Messages
69
Hi Hal,

My teacher stresses slow and steady wins the race......and the value of breaking the bars down into chunks and then putting together when you feel confident. I have a pencil to mark the music sheet with a pair of glasses to highlight a section that is new or tricky. I find it good also to play harder sections only a few times and then leave it to come back later and hopefully the brain memories kick in. (got a few of them after all these years as well)
 
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