Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Still Plodding Along

Just a quick post to let you know that I'm still working away, and still doing 1-2 hours of sight-reading every day.  The three latest insights from my teacher that have helped recently are (I'll post more about these when I am less busy):
  1. Leave stuff out.  At one of my lessons, my teacher said "I sit here thinking how much better he'd play if only he'd leave things out."  That made an impression on me, so now, if I'm playing a hymn or chorale, and I start to have problems, I leave out the middle voices.  That is, first priority is the top voice, second is the lowest, and after that, the middle voices.  I can now play the Bach chorales (slowly), that were way too difficult when I first encountered them.  This works for modern pieces also.  Surprisingly, it takes practice to not play each note.
  2. Play slowly.  I've known this from the start, but had found that if my metronome were slower than about 50 BPM, it was hard to follow it.  Now, I use the metronome beats for eighth notes.  For example, for a Bach chorale, I might set it to 60 BPM. 
  3. Learn and see the harmonic structure of a piece.  That is, try to understand what chord notes make, and how that chord functions.  For example, these notes make up a G7.  I never thought this would help.  What, I see the notes and figure out what chord it is, to understand the notes?  How would that help, since I already know what the notes are?  Well, it does seem to help, partly because I know what notes to expect next.  For example, in the last measure of a Bach chorale, I know there's going to be some kind of standard cadence (e.g. F chord, G7 chord, C chord).  Even if I don't get all the notes, I can fake it.  But it also seems to help me put my fingers down in the right places.
Hang in there fellow sufferers -- more later.


Evan R. Murphy said...

Great tips, Al! Especially #1 "Leave stuff out", a shocking proposal for any sight reader haunted by perfectionism.

Ron Stevens said...

I just found this blog, after what seems like endless searching on the subject of sight reading. While books and the web have so much info I have found absolutely nothing that gives me an insight into someone else's thoughts and progress which links all the tips and important stages. At 54 I have just started my journey and will refer back to your blog in my darker days, and perhaps even the good ones.