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Originally Posted by bennevis
They may never get to know and play this lovely and simple tune, because they never listen to Handel operas:

We definitely need to add this. smile

Opera version

What do you think of this piano performance of it?


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15 minutes a day is enough time to devote to improving your reading (or whatever we are calling it this week) - assuming you are practicing an hour or two a day. So 15 minutes on technique, 15 minutes on reading skills, and an hour or more for pieces. Just as a ballpark number. 15 minutes a day, if it is focussed and purposeful, really adds up over time.

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@ranjit: I think you missed the main point I was trying to convey - that of having fun exploring music. Reading music should be a relaxing activity that you do for its own purpose not a chore or a workout plan like you do at the gym. To me all this discussion about how much time is optimal is looking at it the wrong way. Do you figure out how many minutes a day you're going to play video games or watch funny videos on Youtube? No, you just do it whenever you feel like it and spend however much time you feel like because it's a hobby. What I'm proposing is to treat music reading the same way. Find something that you really want to read and forget about the clock.

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Originally Posted by Sam S
15 minutes a day is enough time to devote to improving your reading (or whatever we are calling it this week) - assuming you are practicing an hour or two a day. So 15 minutes on technique, 15 minutes on reading skills, and an hour or more for pieces. Just as a ballpark number. 15 minutes a day, if it is focussed and purposeful, really adds up over time.
You can look at this way - as something you have to do for 15 minutes a day or 12.5% of your practice time and optimizing every minute to be 100% efficient - or you can just relax and enjoy it. What I do after I finish work (I work from home like most people in my profession) is to sit down, warm up for a few minutes, and then read music until dinner time. It's my personal music enjoyment and exploration time. Then after dinner I do my real practice. I don't care about what proportion of my time I devote to reading music and sometimes it's the only piano activity I do in a given day, but you know what, life is too short to worry about that.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Sam S
15 minutes a day is enough time to devote to improving your reading (or whatever we are calling it this week) - assuming you are practicing an hour or two a day. So 15 minutes on technique, 15 minutes on reading skills, and an hour or more for pieces. Just as a ballpark number. 15 minutes a day, if it is focussed and purposeful, really adds up over time.
You can look at this way - as something you have to do for 15 minutes a day or 12.5% of your practice time and optimizing every minute to be 100% efficient - or you can just relax and enjoy it. What I do after I finish work (I work from home like most people in my profession) is to sit down, warm up for a few minutes, and then read music until dinner time. It's my personal music enjoyment and exploration time. Then after dinner I do my real practice. I don't care about what proportion of my time I devote to reading music and sometimes it's the only piano activity I do in a given day, but you know what, life is too short to worry about that.


I’m like you: I have never considered reading new-to-me music to be a chore that needs to be assigned a time requirement. It has always been a guilty pleasure to hear new music and explore new composers.., but then I started playing before the internet when the only predictable way to hear new music was to play it.

I wonder if everyone who never really plays to explore wouldn’t do themselves a favor with a self imposed ban from any internet streaming services? I bet reading facility would climb.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Sam S
15 minutes a day is enough time to devote to improving your reading (or whatever we are calling it this week) - assuming you are practicing an hour or two a day. So 15 minutes on technique, 15 minutes on reading skills, and an hour or more for pieces. Just as a ballpark number. 15 minutes a day, if it is focussed and purposeful, really adds up over time.
You can look at this way - as something you have to do for 15 minutes a day or 12.5% of your practice time and optimizing every minute to be 100% efficient - or you can just relax and enjoy it. What I do after I finish work (I work from home like most people in my profession) is to sit down, warm up for a few minutes, and then read music until dinner time. It's my personal music enjoyment and exploration time. Then after dinner I do my real practice. I don't care about what proportion of my time I devote to reading music and sometimes it's the only piano activity I do in a given day, but you know what, life is too short to worry about that.


I’m like you: I have never considered reading new-to-me music to be a chore that needs to be assigned a time requirement. It has always been a guilty pleasure to hear new music and explore new composers.., but then I started playing before the internet when the only predictable way to hear new music was to play it.

I wonder if everyone who never really plays to explore wouldn’t do themselves a favor with a self imposed ban from any internet streaming services? I bet reading facility would climb.
Yes, as has been said a million times on almost every sight reading thread, most good sight readers never "practiced sight reading".

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Originally Posted by bennevis
...

For some people (unfortunately, many more these days with YT, Spotify, social media, Alexa etc compared to the days of yore), they only want to learn music they've already heard and liked. They've probably never known the joy of discovering 'new' music they've never heard before, by sight-reading through the score from scratch, however ineptly.......and they may never want to bother.
...


Yes , the poor unfortunates that don't pursue reading like you do. But, is their journey any less worthwhile to them, even if they are doomed for a life of mediocrity?

You come on so very superior and almost like you are drunk on your very one-sided view of how things need to be done.

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Originally Posted by Sam S
15 minutes a day is enough time to devote to improving your reading (or whatever we are calling it this week) - assuming you are practicing an hour or two a day. So 15 minutes on technique, 15 minutes on reading skills, and an hour or more for pieces. Just as a ballpark number. 15 minutes a day, if it is focussed and purposeful, really adds up over time.

Sam
That’s about what I do for sight reading. Doing it daily has helped me a lot, it doesn’t take long to see improvement. 👍


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Originally Posted by Greener
Yes , the poor unfortunates that don't pursue reading like you do. But, is their journey any less worthwhile to them, even if they are doomed for a life of mediocrity?
You are saying they are?
Hmmmm.......

Quote
You come on so very superior and almost like you are drunk on your very one-sided view of how things need to be done.
Chill out, man. Your personal attacks on me, every time I espouse my personal non-Confucian, non-Socratian philosophy, are getting rather tedious.
You wouldn't want to climb Ben Nevis (at 4,413 ft, too high for any but the fittest of the fittest smirk - especially in winter), so why would you want to read bennevis's posts?

Perhaps you enjoy getting worked up into a froth, which is why you keep reading my unwitty, unhilarious (as well as unenlightening and uninformative wink ) posts?

BTW, I'm never drunk, because I don't drink alcohol. Tea and coffee are my beverages of choice (other beverages are available), because they are good for your health. thumb

But I'm a liberal sort, so by all means, have a gin & tonic on me (don't worry about the alcohol, but watch the quinine......). Cheers! 3hearts


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Yes, as has been said a million times on almost every sight reading thread, most good sight readers never "practiced sight reading".

I am lousy at Morse Code. Try as I might, I have no knack for it, so I practise 20 minutes a day copying and a few minutes sending exercise based code groups and normal language. I am getting faster and better, but it sure is a slog and will be worth it in the end. I envy those who perceive it as music or a language.

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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by bennevis
They may never get to know and play this lovely and simple tune, because they never listen to Handel operas:

We definitely need to add this. smile

Opera version
I resisted adding the original aria, because it was composed for a castrato, and it.......hurts cry.

BTW, it was the theme tune for a TV commercial after every Christmas for many years, advertising the annual New Year sales of a famous London department store (other stores are available, in London and elsewhere). I guess the staff in the store must be fed up of customers asking them: "Who wrote that song? I want to buy it!"



Quote
What do you think of this piano performance of it?

I don't much like Moszkowski's anachronistic adornments & harmonic twists, which was why I chose a simple straightforward piano transcription.


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
@ranjit: I think you missed the main point I was trying to convey - that of having fun exploring music. Reading music should be a relaxing activity that you do for its own purpose not a chore or a workout plan like you do at the gym. To me all this discussion about how much time is optimal is looking at it the wrong way. Do you figure out how many minutes a day you're going to play video games or watch funny videos on Youtube? No, you just do it whenever you feel like it and spend however much time you feel like because it's a hobby. What I'm proposing is to treat music reading the same way. Find something that you really want to read and forget about the clock.
Think about it this way: When it comes to learning technique and new repertoire, we could make the same argument, simply learn whatever pieces you like, have fun learning. This is actually how I started learning piano. However, the common advice here is to learn new repertoire in a graded fashion. I don't think both are fundamentally different. If you keep trying to read works which are too hard for you, you won't advance quickly. A lot of improving at the piano is about challenging yourself in that sweet spot. However, it can feel uncomfortable. There are a lot of things I would like to read, but I would like to build up my reading skill to where I can read them fluently.

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It seems to me that there were some questions that got lost above (apologies if it was discussed and I missed it). I'll restate the questions as I remember them, and try to include my own thoughts on the matter, and hopefully others can chime in as well.

1. It is recommended to use pieces below one's level for sightreading practice (and I would say the same for read-playing practice as well). So is there any benefit to use or attempt pieces that are either at or much above one's level?

I think it can be beneficial to do this sometimes, but I think the benefits from this are different from when you use a piece below your level, so I wouldn't recommend that one's sightreading (or read-playing) pieces be consistently above one's level. I think sometimes it's helpful to struggle through a piece that's very difficult. For one thing, this should help you decide if the piece is doable as a repertoire piece. Also, it gives you the opportunity to think about what aspects make one piece much harder than another and helps you think about areas you need to work on.

2. The other standard advice for sightreading is not stop, not go back and correct mistakes, but is it ever ok to do that? As a connected question, is it ok to stop and/or correct mistakes when doing read-play practice on a piece you're going to play every day for a week?

This depends on your goals. If a future goal is either: 1) to be able to sit down and play through a never-before-seen piece (no stopping, at tempo), then you have to practice this specific skill. Or 2) if one of your goals is to be able to play with others, then not stopping is incredibly important, or at least being able to stay with the music, so if you stop or flub up, you need to be able to come in with your fellow musicians, in the right spot, a few notes or measures down the line. Having said that, I play with a violinist and so I work on not stopping/being able to stay with the music, on the pieces that I play with her. This is also important for repertoire pieces... it's always important to not get lost, and if you're playing for people and miss a note and are able to keep playing, often, no one else even notices.

So being able to keep going is a fundamental skill for any musician.

But stopping can be beneficial in order to correct mistakes. If someone is doing true sightreading practice, play through something once, have a ton of holes in their music, and they never stop to figure out what the problem was, I don't see how they are going to improve. So if this is happening a lot, the person should first reconsider whether their sightreading pieces are at the appropriate level or whether the pieces are too hard. Then if the conclusion is that the pieces are not too hard, I would say, play through it twice and aim to have fewer/no stops the second time through.

Now, if you are doing something more like what I'm calling read-playing, where you plan to play the piece for a week, then I think, yes, stopping is fine, esp. in the first few days of playing it. Figure out what's tripping you up, isolate a few passages etc. The aim is to get the piece to a reasonable tempo with a reasonable amount of smoothness and mostly mistake-free playing. But again, aim to reduce stopping over the week that you work on the piece, so be strategic in the way you spend your time while playing it (as you should be with any piece). If you don't periodically stop and correct mistakes, you will most likely continue having those mistakes in your playing. But if you also don't train yourself to play through, you will never develop that skill either.

Ok, hopefully some of this is helpful!

smile


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Originally Posted by ranjit
Nice to hear people's thoughts. I went through all the replies, and it seems like there are a few threads:

1. "read-playing" as opposed to prima vista sightreading: Which one is more useful to work on to develop reading/sightreading skills in the long run? Must one keep going regardless of mistakes, or should you pause, or something in between?

2. Is it beneficial to practice reading for long hours each day? If so, what is the point at which you get diminishing returns -- 1 hour, 5 hours?

3. Is it useful to read difficult music? Or should you work your way through a lot of simpler pieces?

4. How frequently should you learn new pieces via sight reading? Should you work specifically on your reading skill or will it develop naturally as you learn new pieces from the score? Personally, I'm working on something new almost every week, but is it enough? I am still a poor reader. Must one go through hundreds of easier pieces every month?


Here are some of my thoughts on this:

1-I dont think you need to make any special separation. Once your reading skills (and of course your technical skills) reach a particular level then you can naturally sight-read certain pieces. Maybe a certain amount of training specifically dedicated to playing through mistakes without stopping is helpful, but for me it came progressively and naturally. Also, unless you need to be able to sight-read, there is no particular value to train for it. Good reading is what is most usefull.

2-Cant give you any mathematical answer (is there someone who can ?). 5 hours is obviously not even practical. I read about 1 hour per day. If you can do more and you enjoy it, thats fine.

3-You can read pieces of various levels. It all depends how much time you have. If one does not have a lot of time, reading pieces extremely difficult is not going to work because you will have to read really slowly and playing the piece will be challenging. Reading easy ones allow you to see where you stand. The more difficult ones allow you to progress as well. Typically you should read pieces that are not too far above your technical level. If you are struggling just to play the piece, it is going to slow down your reading.

4-I guess there are probably several answers to that. I typically read pieces which I dont play (though I also read pieces which I do play but that is just part of the practice).


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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Sam S
15 minutes a day is enough time to devote to improving your reading (or whatever we are calling it this week) - assuming you are practicing an hour or two a day. So 15 minutes on technique, 15 minutes on reading skills, and an hour or more for pieces. Just as a ballpark number. 15 minutes a day, if it is focussed and purposeful, really adds up over time.
You can look at this way - as something you have to do for 15 minutes a day or 12.5% of your practice time and optimizing every minute to be 100% efficient - or you can just relax and enjoy it. What I do after I finish work (I work from home like most people in my profession) is to sit down, warm up for a few minutes, and then read music until dinner time. It's my personal music enjoyment and exploration time. Then after dinner I do my real practice. I don't care about what proportion of my time I devote to reading music and sometimes it's the only piano activity I do in a given day, but you know what, life is too short to worry about that.
In defense of a set time for sight-reading (if you feel you must practice sight-reading): Some people don't have the luxury of spending unlimited time exploring new music. Some have to spend the time after they finish work and before dinner preparing the dinner (for themselves and perhaps for their family), not to mention all the other demands on their time.

Many people have limited time to spend at the piano, so it makes sense to prioritize what they do with that time, especially if they have a weekly lesson to prepare for. If one has the time for it, reading lots of stuff for "fun" is a wonderful thing to do.


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Greener
Yes , the poor unfortunates that don't pursue reading like you do. But, is their journey any less worthwhile to them, even if they are doomed for a life of mediocrity?
You are saying they are?
Hmmmm.......

Quote
You come on so very superior and almost like you are drunk on your very one-sided view of how things need to be done.
Chill out, man. Your personal attacks on me, every time I espouse my personal non-Confucian, non-Socratian philosophy, are getting rather tedious.

I've never seen you try to espouse your philosophy without taking swipes at those that don't buy into it the same way, first.

So yeah, I think you think you're superior in this regard.

Take it as you like.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
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What do you think of this piano performance of it?

I don't much like Moszkowski's anachronistic adornments & harmonic twists, which was why I chose a simple straightforward piano transcription.

You do have a point there. That could be a matter of taste. The playing, however, felt heavy to me, without hearing the melody notes brought out much, and such. I went for the performance.

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Ah another sight-reading thread; I've haven't been around here much these last few months (due to work) but it's good to see nothing has changed! ha

I went back to teaching on Wednesday and, after months of playing 'Heigh Ho' several times a day, it was a shock how much my sight-reading had diminished - it really is a skill that needs constant attention.

One thing I've seen mentioned here, which I now question, is that of 'practising not to stop'. I don't think this is a thing that can or should be practised as performance situations (whether that be at a gig, in a classroom or exam) can't really be replicated in a study environment. Performance mindset is a different beast to a learning mindset and, in the former, one would/should instinctively not stop - particularly if another performer is involved.

In England, our football team had a rich history of failing at penalty shoot-outs (you could argue we still do), but we struggled to improve for many years as the stress levels/anxiety/pressure of the real-time situation could not be replicated on the training pitch. More than anything it became a phycological issue that was addressed away from the pitch. Learning how 'not to stop' during sight-reading needs those external factors too, which is largely about stress-management and staying focussed on the job in hand.

What I found going back to teaching this week was that, no matter the amount of sight-reading mistakes I was making, I never once felt compelled to stop as the singer kept going, as did I.

I reckon if you want to become better at sight-reading for this purpose you'd be far better getting some musicians/singers (are they the same? <snigger>) and have fun doing some ensemble reading together.

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I agree with fatar here.

Often people like me practice away from any other person so when playing in my own environment when close family are around induces the panic!
On the penalty front and adding to it - one solution is to make footy players to foul in the area more often or change the rules to force every game to have a winner through taking penalties. So carrying this forward if we are going to improve fluidity and skill in front of others then we should make it compulsory that all practice for sight reading has an audience. So I will see you all down in the local shopping mall playing the piano ... maybe, maybe not he he.

Says Andy the Killomiter who is truly rubbish at sight reading wink

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Make up some tunes and write them down.

Just find an intriguing combination of notes..write it down.

HB pencil, eraser and manuscript paper is all you need.

There is a huge amount of info on the language of notation if you need it ..as I’m sure you know.

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