Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two Years and Counting

Well, I've now been working on my sight-reading for two years! Where does the time go, huh? I'm continuing to improve, and more importantly, I'm reaping the benefits of my new skill:

(1) It's great to be able to read and play examples in instructional jazz texts (see an earlier post for an example).

(2) I'm enjoying learning pieces by reading through them multiple times. For example, click here to hear me play this nice arrangement of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (from the Reader's Digest book of Christmas Songs).

(3) I'm finding that t's much easier to memorize songs when I can read pretty well. Instead of laboriously reading through a measure or two at a time, I can more quickly play a segment of the song and commit it to memory. For example, I've recently memorized Bach's Two-Part Invention #8 (hear me play it in our 2009 Christmas card video (about halfway through. All the music in that video was me playing on my Yamaha P90), Bach's French Suite 5 Allemande, and Schubert's Scenes from Childhood (Foreign Lands & People).

Back to the actual sight-reading progress aspect, I've continued to do about an hour of reading per day. I do more repeated readings of songs -- while technically not sight-reading, this has the benefit of letting me practice reading at a higher tempo.

I'm getting more comfortable at sight-reading. That is, it's less of a strain than it was in the past. Things are becoming more automatic, and my hands go where they are supposed to go with less conscious thought.

As mentioned before, I'm good at not looking at my hands, but I could still be much better at reading ahead. Here are several examples of my sight-reading, recorded yesterday. They give a pretty good feeling for where I stand, although I play better when I'm not making a recording destined for the world wide web.

That's it for now. I'm continuing to work on this, and I'll report back in a year!