Tuesday, May 6, 2008

20. Your Turn!

Welcome to the audience participation part of this blog. In this post I invite you to sight-read one or more pieces (below), and tell us how it went. I want you to contribute!

You can even email me recordings of your performance if you wish. Participate anonymously, or choose to reveal your identity.

I thought it would be fun to let you contribute to this blog by playing one or more of the pieces below, and tell us how it went, and, if you wish, send me a recording of you playing the pieces (I will post the recordings here). If you include a brief description of your experience level, it will give others a feeling for the correlation between experience and playing. For example, an ideal response might sound like this:
Thanks for the survey -- what a great blog you have! I think I love you! I played Hymn 155, and you'll hear from the recording that I had no problems with it, except for one mistake in the fifth measure. I've been playing piano for 63 years. -- PianoNut27 from the PianoWorld forum.
Hi. I downloaded, printed, and played all of the pieces. I was able to play the two simpler songs at 80 BPM without much trouble, but found the hymn and Do You Care very difficult. The chorale I made a complete mess of. I've been playing for four years, and concentrating on sight-reading for two.
I'm hoping that since you can contribute anonymously, we will get honest appraisals of how it went. The more people that contribute, the more fun and informative it will be for others.

I will stop posting recordings when I've received enough (or when I get tired of it), so don't delay!


Step 1. Click on and download one, several, or all of the following sheet music pages and print them out (Alternatively, click here to download a single PDF file with all of the music).
  1. Morgonsolen
  2. Child's Prayer
  3. Hymn 155
  4. Do You Care?
  5. Chorale 58
Step 2. If you are going to record yourself, prepare the recording system.

Step 3 (for each piece you play). Give yourself only a few seconds to look over the piece, checking key signature, etc.

Step 4. Choose a tempo that will work for you, and play the piece.

Step 5. Report on how it went. Either post a comment to this post (click Post a Comment below), or, if you made a recording, email the recording and comments to me at SightReadingSurvey@gmail.com (you may even send a link to a video!). Be sure to include information about how long you've been playing piano, and any comments on your experience or sight-reading level. You may choose to send the comment anonymously or to include your real name or a user name from a forum. You do not need to join or register in order to leave a comment.

That's all there is to it. I will post the recordings here, and the comments should appear immediately. If you have any questions, you may send them to SightReadingSurvey@gmail.com.

Survey Results (More Will be Added Later)

I could sightread all of them pretty well (I did 1,2,and 4) at about full speed. The last one was technically very easy but had too much going at once (for me at least) to sightread
it very well. - Sam
My experience: Adult beginner (9 months).

The first one, Morgonsolen redan stralar, was obviously the most easy of the five and the one I attempted. Most of the beats only have a single notes. The relatively small intervals (thirds, fourths and (one) fifth) did not present much of a problem. There was no tempo markings, but my first attempt was at what I thought was tempo. I missed 40% of the notes. By the third attempt, I was at maybe a 10% error rate (still at tempo).

I tend to approach my sight reading development in a two-fold process; developing accuracy and developing speed. Sometimes, I'll slow my tempo as much as it needs to be slowed, attempting to achieve near accuracy with the notes, without breaking the rhythm. Other times, like just now, I'll try to force (train) my eyes to read as fast as they can (at tempo), and disregard the missed notes. Its sounds horrible, but can think of no other way to work toward being able to one day play a piece at tempo on a cold read.

"Herzlich" was too complex for me to even try.

"Child's Prayer" seemed reachable, and I played a few measures, but gave up. The switch in the bass clef to treble always throws me completely off and I have to really think about the shift. The eight and sixteenth note beats are a concept I've learned, but not had much opportunity to practice, so I deemed this one too difficult to attempt.

The remaining two were too complex; either too many notes at the same time, too many accidentals, intervals too far apart for me to easily recognize, triplets spread over two measures.

Sigh.... Its a struggle, isn't it. - Akira
I found that the piece that was the easiest was the choral, "Herzlich lieb..." I think it's because it's a familiar pattern. I've been doing the Bach chorals in the Riemenschneider for about 3 months. However, I did not approach the chorals in "pure" sight reading style.

Now, when I do the Bach chorals it is an automatic eye to finger action that I have to let go to. I become deaf to the sound and don't consider it. I've noticed some people in different piano forums actually saying that about their playing - they don't hear it ahead of time. Bach is kind of mathematical and proportional.

I didn't like it when I tried to play the other pieces. I wasn't sure if it was a reaction to ineptitude: I'd love for it just to flow the first time around and don't want to admit that I can't make it happen. Maybe. Probably in part. I was trying to play them like Bach sight reading.

But there was also the feeling that this was music with swing and melody to it. I felt like I wanted to audiate it, hear it in my head, know the phrases and direction before actually playing it, and have that "music" inside me even while sight reading.

I have been playing piano for about three years and am a piano performance major at CCM. Pieces I have just recently "finished" (never really done, but you know what I mean) and am currently working on: Brahms Op.10 Ballades, Mozart's 21st concerto, Beethoven Pathetique Sonata, various Bach preludes and fugues, etc.

First piece - not a problem at full speed. Read it very easily.

Second Piece, Herz lieb hab' ich dich, o Herr - I had a good bit of trouble on. If you want me to play it with no mistakes, I have to go so slowly that nobody would ever sing along.

A Child's Prayer was much easier - not perfect though, but doable given the andante marking.

Hymn number 155 was about the same difficulty as a childs prayer, maybe a bit harder. A good deal of dropped notes but I could keep the rythm and the melody going.

I had some trouble with the last one, but it was easier than the chorale for me. I can play this piece fine but at a fairly slow pace.

My technique is far beyond your average 3 year student of piano, but I'm afraid my sight reading is just at that typical level, or even a bit below. It'd sad, really. - ComputerPro3
The first, third, and fourth pieces I played with almost no trouble at all. I have short fingers and had to rearrange the notes in the second piece so that I can play them. This slowed me down quite a bit. The last piece I found to be challenging. Being that I am a perfectionist, I prefer to focus on accuracy rather than speed. I had to play it quite slowly in order to get all the correct notes. - PlayerPiano
I sight read them easily, but I've been playing for 50 years, and sight reading well for perhaps 45. I work as an accompanist and sight read every day, like whippen boy (probably not as well as whippen boy though!). Are there things I find difficult to sight read? You betcha! Ever looked at the piano part of Boulez's flute sonatina? And as for Godowsky and his Chopin etude versions, I can't play the damn things, so why would I try and SR them? - CurraWong
I tried "Child's Prayer" and "Morgonsolen...", and read through without stopping but slowly though. had to slow down at a few spots in child's prayer, but overall they're ok to sight read for me.

that "Herzlich..." looks more difficult for me, because of counter points. i'd try it later... - Signa


Wesley said...

Hey! Interesting survey thing. I played through and printed out all the pieces and was able to sight read through them all at a moderate tempo. I've played piano for 8 years and I'm a piano performance major in college, Sophomore.

Bill (b528nf7) said...

Great Site - I really like the methodical approach you take toward accomplishing your objective.

I'm several steps behind you in that sight reading for me means reading tabulature (chords and notes). I have never had any music lessons so I started from scratch first learning chords and then trying to figure out the treble clef (melody).

I also try to sing so I'm mostly using the piano to accompany my singing at this stage. At some point I'd like to try and become a "real" piano player like you.

I post songs on YouTube from time to time under the ID b528nf7 to get feedback (most folks are kind) and to keep track of my progress.

I'm not ready to take your sight reading challenge yet - maybe next year. If you are interested you can find my videos by searching for my ID on youtube.com

You are a real inspiration. Keep at it.

Ace Hole said...

I wanted to tell you about the sight reading studies I found at http://pianostudies.angelfire.com/ thought you might be interested