sight reading-do you master a piece before moving on?


jimmynitcher
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jimmynitcher
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04/13/2009 8:52 am
Hi

I am learning to sight read and have a book of pieces that get progressively harder and I was wondering if people think it is best to really have each one perfect before moving on to the next.
Some are kind of dull, I know the notes but can only play them falteringly - I really want to get to the pieces that interest me or stretch me more but I am wondering whether moving on before they are perfect will have a detrimental effect later on or not.

thanks
# 1
Ed Jalowiecki
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Ed Jalowiecki
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04/13/2009 7:27 pm
If you're just learning to sight read, you may want to ask yourself why you're in such a hurry to progress beyond your current ability. I would take it slow and master the basics first, then when you get to more advanced pieces you'll be better prepared.
# 2
jimmynitcher
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jimmynitcher
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04/13/2009 8:02 pm
So really I should be able to play something I look at faultlessly straight away before I move on?
# 3
Razbo
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Razbo
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04/13/2009 9:05 pm
Just my 2 cents: If you stick on some part until it's perfected you might bore yourself right out of trying to learn any more.

I'm not trying to pin down sight reading myself, so I can't give my opinion on that, but in general, my personal idea would be to make sure I wasn't bogging down on details to the point I forgot the pleasure of the journey.

As I have posted elsewhere, a quote from my Dad: 'Don't get so hung up on theory that you burn yourself out on music'.

...But don't leave it at imperfect, either. My thought is that you can progress and get some satisfaction, and still go back to regularly practice those hard bits. :)
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 4
jimmynitcher
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jimmynitcher
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04/13/2009 9:31 pm
Yes that's the other thing I'm afraid of, thanks for the thoughts.
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ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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04/13/2009 11:12 pm
Originally Posted by: jimmynitcher
I am learning to sight read and have a book of pieces that get progressively harder and I was wondering if people think it is best to really have each one perfect before moving on to the next.

Sight reading is a very specific, highly specialized skill in it's own right.

The problem with repeating any specific piece over and again is this: at point are you really improving your sight reading skills as opposed to just playing what you have already memorized even though you are looking at the notes on the page?

Make sense?

If you are serious about trying to build your sight reading chops, then play a wide variety of very similiar level pieces. You should start by playing a ton of single note melody pieces that are relatively short.

Give them a wide rotation in your practice routine. That way you will be building your reading chops, getting variety in the melodies, pieces and not boring yourself.

Only move on to more difficult pieces when you can play, and really sight read a lot of these simple ones you are practicing on first. But once you can read through any of them, then bump up to the next level and repeat the process.

Keep in mind if there is a specific more advanced piece you want to learn there is no reason not to just read the notes and learn the piece. Even if it is well beyond your current sight reading skill level. Just keep in mind that this exercise is not part of your sight reading skill building. At that point you are only using your ability to understand music notation, but not sight read it.

Best of success!
Christopher Schlegel
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Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 6
jimmynitcher
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jimmynitcher
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04/16/2009 12:38 pm
Thank you, you have successfully elucidated something I couldn't i.e. the distinction between sight reading and understanding the notation - I realized that I could, given time, read and play anything (practically) but not instantly, so I got a bit confused on how to go about it, thanks for your suggestion I have a better idea now.

j
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GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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04/16/2009 10:40 pm
There's also a ton of software out there (most of it free) to help train you to read music quickly. Just do a search for 'learning music notation' and you will find dozens of games and so on. It's been helping me get over that boredom wall. For some reason when you play for points it isn't so boring.......go figure.
# 8
Ed Jalowiecki
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Ed Jalowiecki
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04/17/2009 2:44 am
Originally Posted by: RazboJust my 2 cents: If you stick on some part until it's perfected you might bore yourself right out of trying to learn any more.


That's true. Everybody has different levels of frustration tolerance. You'll have to figure out your own. When working through a book, some people like to perfect everything before moving on. For others, that approach can be very tedious, and it may feel better to move on to the next exercise even if it's not down perfectly. In the second case, you may work your way through the whole book a few times over, instead of progressing through the whole thing once at a slower pace.

As was pointed out, there is the danger of memorizing the piece you're working on, and then not actually sight-reading it but playing it from memory (with the notation as a reminder). Of course, if you're just learning how to sight-read (and getting used to notation simultaneously), this may not be a big deal in the beginning. But eventually, you'll want to test yourself by putting brand new pieces of music in front of you and having a go at it.
# 9
toddrussell
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toddrussell
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05/03/2009 3:42 am
Did You Know That Many Famous Guitarists Cant Read A Lick Of Music ? I Think It Is A Great Thing To Have In Your Musical Tool Box Personaly I Will Only Take The Time To Learn A Tune Note By Note If It Is A Clasic That I Know People Will Realy Be Impressed With. I Think That It Is A Lt More Fun And Educational If You Can Improvise That Style People Will Recognize The Sound.
# 10
jimmynitcher
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jimmynitcher
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05/04/2009 8:59 am
OK great all these ideas are useful to me, I have started playing software games and rotating the sheet music so I don't memorize it and its really helping, thanks. :)
# 11
2thankful4words
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2thankful4words
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05/04/2009 2:41 pm
I'm new to the guitar, but I've been playing the piano since I was 4, so this is sort of something I relate to pretty well. I would learn to play the piece I'm working on first. I'm never satisfied til I get it right, but what I do for boredom is to have a set of books, not just one, they work together to develop particular skills. That way, I'm not just playing the same song over and over. If you don't have a set, I'd learn two consecutive songs, no more than three, and divide my practice time among those. Learn those songs til I have them just right. Never settle for less than perfect, and don't be in a hurry to be able to play something harder. Master each step, one step at a time.
# 12

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