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Sight reading

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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3,557
I've looked at the archives and don't quite see any answers that fit what I'm looking for.

I have taken the plunge and paid my entry fee for Grade 6 Trinity Guildhall Jazz Sax exam in March.

I am happy with the 3 pieces I have to play, scales are no problem, and am currently exploring the improvisation, which is coming together.

Last week, my teacher suggested we have a look at the sight-reading. I had one of those "this is the limiting factor" realisation moments.
Currently, there is no way in the world that I am going to succeed.

She's given me lots of good advice about reading the info on the score - time sig, key sig, mood / speed comments, dynamics, then looking for accidentals, extreme notes etc. That bit is all straight-forward, but can I play the piece? to put it simply, not a snowball in hell's chance :crying:

As I left my lesson last week, I commented that when I look at the score, I don't see a rhythm coming from it at all. So she's going to work with me next lesson.

But in the mean-time, has anyone any advice on the practicalities of sight reading for an exam? How do I get to the point of some sort of tune coming off the page at me?

Any practical help would be great.
Thanks
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
Messages
657
Hi Mandy,
The best way forward is practice, practice and then a bit of practise.

My personal preference is to sing or hum the dots. No worry if it's out of tune, you are still way more prepared for it when you come to the actual playing part.

Good luck on your exam.
Rune
 

Filton

Member
Messages
243
If Rhythm is your problem, there is a cool little iphone app called readrhythm which is really helpful - it displays notation and you tap the rhythm out on the screen against a metronome beat and it grades your responses - it will also play the correct answer for you....

only, of course, any use if you have an iphone though I guess . . . .
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Hi Mandy,

As above, forget the pitch of the notes, concentrate on the rhythm. Every time you try a new piece of music, it's a good idea to read it through first, saying "ta" to each note.
Get the rhythm first, then play it through.

John.
 

Dave Mac

Honest, I'm Trying
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381
Filton,
I tried to find the iPhone App "readrhythm", sounds really helpful - but had no luck. Can you confirm the title?

Dave Mac
 

Filton

Member
Messages
243
Filton,
I tried to find the iPhone App "readrhythm", sounds really helpful - but had no luck. Can you confirm the title?

Dave Mac
Hi

try searching on "Rhythm Sight Reading Trainer " it is by Rolf Steenge and labelled Rolf's Apps

If you search 'read rhythm' it comes out top I think

HTH
 

Rikki

Member
Messages
205
Hi Mandy,

I am sure that your teacher has already suggested, but it is not always obvious to people as we have a tendancy to make things complicated for ourselves by taking on too much at one time. But try breaking down the tune to sections of 4 bars (or even individual bars if necessary) and just practice one section untill you can play it consistently, then proceed to the next section and practice that (on its own) untill again you can play it faultlessly. Then try playing the first two sections together untill good, then try next section and repeat process untill the tune is complete. The secret is not to rush ahead thinking you have to play the whole tune asap, simply relax, keep practising and I am sure you will be able to do it!
 

Gandalfe

Member
Messages
107
Sightreading is a bear for most musicians. I spend a half hour of every lesson sightreading. It's painful at first, worse the second time, and then you start to get better at it. The other thing my instructors have me doing is playing to a metronome. If you don't hate the metronome yet, you haven't been using them enough.

There is a tap machine that they use in colleges in the US, but the name escapes me right now. I do know that it required one to tap a selection of music out and you didn't get to go to the next section until you passed the first. From what I've heard, that is the best and most painful way to learn.
 

stefank

Member
Messages
366
Long term, join a concert band or some other musical organisation thet regularly throws music at you to play that you haven't seen before (a choir that sight reads a lot is the best training, but that's really going in at the deep end).

Short time, use what time you have available in between when you get to see the music and when you actually have to start playing to go over the music in your mind, playing particular attention to the rhythm. Maybe silently "finger" through the piece, but count like crazy, so that it's as sorted as possible in your head before you start making a noise.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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3,557
Long term, join a concert band or some other musical organisation thet regularly throws music at you to play that you haven't seen before (a choir that sight reads a lot is the best training, but that's really going in at the deep end).
I play in a Community band, and it has helped me to "keep going" even when I know I've played the wrong note - I always used to stop and go back. Much of the music though is music I already have an idea of the tune, although since we rarely get the melody, I guess there is already some element of sight reading techniques involved, and I have got much better at counting beats for longer notes and rests.
I think one of my problems is not knwing how quavers and shorter should be counted. When I have time to think, I can count "one and two and three..." etc for quavers, but shorter than that, or in combinations, or crotchets that start off beat etc, and I'm baffled.
As many have said, practice, practice and more practice, with a bit of self-belief thrown in, is the way forward.
We'll see what the next lesson holds.
 

stefank

Member
Messages
366
I think one of my problems is not knwing how quavers and shorter should be counted. When I have time to think, I can count "one and two and three..." etc for quavers, but shorter than that, or in combinations, or crotchets that start off beat etc, and I'm baffled.
Sudivision!

You know quavers: One and two and Three and Four and (the "ands" are the offbeat quavers).

Similarly,
Semiquavers: One-ee and-a Two-ee and-a Three-ee and-a .....etc

Compound time/triplets: One-and-a Two-and-a Three-and-a & so on,

You have to subdivide the beat in your head if you want to accurately place notes within it. After a while it mostly becomes automatic and your head stops hurting so much!
 
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Gandalfe

Member
Messages
107
Here's a training method I use; take the the counting verbalizations stefank has shown you and now as you walk tap your thigh. I do this to try to internalize the beat. One step, e and a, two step... once that is easy, mix, one step e and a, two step and three step and a. By mixing patterns you get closer to having the rythmns pop for you. Might take a month to internalize that. Then comes the hard stuff where the 1/8th, 1/16th and 1/32nd notes are mixed... :cool:
 
Messages
51
Sudivision!

You know quavers: One and two and Three and Four and (the "ands" are the offbeat quavers).

Similarly,
Semiquavers: One-ee and-a Two-ee and-a Three-ee and-a .....etc

Compound time/triplets: One-and-a Two-and-a Three-and-a & so on,

You have to subdivide the beat in your head if you want to accurately place notes within it. After a while it mostly becomes automatic and tour head stops hurting so much!
Thanks for that stefank - especially the semiquavers count.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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Messages
3,557
Well, I've had my lesson. I guess there is hope, albeit rather small :)))
I have 6 weeks to go, and plan to practice daily trying to sight read, and trying to tap out rythms. I know the notes might be iffy, but if I can get the rythm, then I'm on my way to passing this section.

I've just looked at a piece with 5 flats. My reaction was - does an Eflat Alto really play in 5 flats? anyway, if that's what they give me in the exam, I might just play all the notes natural but with conviction :)))

Seriously, though I know now that I need to master the fingering for the flats - not just try to think "oh A flat, that's G sharp" etc 'cos I'm pretty sure the Gs will get played sharp that way too.

But practice and more practice coming up.
If anyone con recommend some suitable (at the right level) material that I might be able to use, preferably cheap or free, that would also be good.

Many thanks
 

Gandalfe

Member
Messages
107
Well, I've had my lesson. I guess there is hope, albeit rather small.
At least you didn't find out when you auditioned for your first college band like I did. Never had lessons, no one in family was musical, and thought because I played all the sax soloes for the senior concert that I was hot stuff. After the audition, I took a ~30 year break from music.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
Hi I'd be interested to hear how you get on - I've just chickened out of this same exam at the last minute because of the sight reading (and because I am a big wimp!) and I just need a bit more practice!

I have the forms and the cheque ready to send for the summer session though).

What pieces are you doing? I'm doing Lyrical, Impressions and Party Time. For the scale study I'm doing No Joke. I have no idea which aural test to choose - melody, rhythm or chordal :confused:

good luck :)
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
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3,557
What pieces are you doing? I'm doing Lyrical, Impressions and Party Time. For the scale study I'm doing No Joke. I have no idea which aural test to choose - melody, rhythm or chordal :confused:

good luck :)
Pieces are: Maple Leaf Rag (which I've tried really hard to get fast enough. Having reached a point where I couldn't possibly get any faster, I played it for my teacher, to which she replied if I succeeded in playing it "that" fast, it would be the fastest rendition she'd heard in the exam, so I guess I can relax a bit on that one) Modal Behaviour, (to which I'm still working on the improvisation, the head is pretty straight-forward) and Crazy Hepcats (having got all the accents and slurs in the right place, I am now upping the speed to make it "crazy").
I'm doing the scales - based on C# 2 octaves and G to 12th.
No sure what you mean on the Aural bit, as we haven't covered it yet. I obviously have missed the fact that there is a choice.....ah...hang on.... from the syllabus, I see that the improvisation test has those options, not the aural, was that what you meant?

Thanks for the wishes, and I wish you good luck too when you take the plunge.
:welldone :sax:
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
Pieces are: Maple Leaf Rag (which I've tried really hard to get fast enough. Having reached a point where I couldn't possibly get any faster, I played it for my teacher, to which she replied if I succeeded in playing it "that" fast, it would be the fastest rendition she'd heard in the exam, so I guess I can relax a bit on that one) Modal Behaviour, (to which I'm still working on the improvisation, the head is pretty straight-forward) and Crazy Hepcats (having got all the accents and slurs in the right place, I am now upping the speed to make it "crazy").
I'm doing the scales - based on C# 2 octaves and G to 12th.
No sure what you mean on the Aural bit, as we haven't covered it yet. I obviously have missed the fact that there is a choice.....ah...hang on.... from the syllabus, I see that the improvisation test has those options, not the aural, was that what you meant?

Thanks for the wishes, and I wish you good luck too when you take the plunge.
:welldone :sax:
Hi, yes I meant the Improvisation sorry! yes there is a choice between that and the Aural :) anyway I hope all goes well!
 
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