Monday, March 23, 2009

Progress Report (1.25 yrs)

Since finishing the year of sight-reading, I've continued reading at least 30 minutes a day, sometimes significantly more. I'm reading only modern/pop/standards stuff -- no hymns or classical.

I'm quite pleased with my recent progress. It feels like things are finally coming together. As a side benefit, I'm noticing more confidence in my jazz reading (that is, reading melody lines while playing chords). I'm also finding that working with transcriptions or educational piano stuff like this

is a lot more convenient, since I can play the examples much faster.

As an example of my progress, today I sight-read this piece pretty well (but with a lot of mistakes) at about 50 BPM:

I'm realizing that much of my progress is based on a new-found quick, involuntary understanding of the notes on the page. That is, I see, I understand, I play. To show you what I mean, look at the following sentence, but don't read or understand it:

I went to the store.

I'll bet that there isn't one person among you who could look at that sentence without reading it and understanding what it meant. That's what I'm now getting with the music. I see the notes and instantly have a feeling for what they mean and how I'd move my hands to play them. I also realize that this is something that takes time to develop.

Shorter Practice Time

Here's a comment concerning 30 minutes versus two hours per day: One benefit to the shorter time is that perhaps I do less practicing of bad habits. For example, it's hard to force myself to look ahead all the time when playing for two hours. As a result, I'm doing a lot of practicing of sight-reading without looking ahead. When practicing for a shorter time, I can focus more on practicing the good habits.

Things I am continually working on that seem to help:

  • Focus on reading ahead
  • Make sure I don't look down at my hands at all
  • Feel the keys
  • Always play with the metronome
So now I'm just continuing to sight-read, attempting to gradually increase the tempo at which I play songs.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I just found this blog, and I must say that I will be stalking it for a long time! I have been playing the piano for three years, and am on Level Four in my studies. I am 14 years old, and I really want to improve my sight-reading and over all piano playing. Keep up the good work, and please continue this blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi, great blog.
I think always playing with a metronome is a big mistake. You should be able to maintain a rhythm without it. Of course it is a good idea to use a metronome from time to time to check your rhythm, but don't become dependant on it, and only use it for short periods.