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Posted By: BlizzardPiano Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 08:56 AM
I ended up finally being able to spend a decent amount of time on sight reading today. I think the key all along may have been to "just do it", David Goggins-style. It's still not very clear to me what the optimal way is to train sight reading, but I think that simply reading a lot of different pieces can sort of work. I've been thinking about it recently, and after a streak of days where it seemed like I was making absolutely no progress at sight reading, simply pushing through a lot of material seems to be helping a bit. Perhaps it's simply a matter of getting enough repetition to the point where most common structures immediately pop out at you. The frustrating thing about it all is just how slowly it develops!

https://blizzardpiano.wordpress.com/2022/05/18/day-10-back-to-sight-reading/
Posted By: dogperson Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 09:20 AM
If sightreading classical is ‘a slog’, why don’t you add some rag, Jazz, blues and pop??? Sight reading really shouldn’t feel like a chore.
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 10:59 AM
Originally Posted by dogperson
If sightreading classical is ‘a slog’, why don’t you add some rag, Jazz, blues and pop??? Sight reading really shouldn’t feel like a chore.
Exactly. Almost all good sight readers never "practiced" sight reading. They just played a lot of music and the chance of doing that increases is the music is the kind one enjoys.
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 11:02 AM
Originally Posted by BlizzardPiano
I've been thinking about it recently, and after a streak of days where it seemed like I was making absolutely no progress at sight reading...
Sight reading improvement does not come over days. A much longer period is required for noticeable improvement.
Posted By: Bart K Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 01:43 PM
Originally Posted by BlizzardPiano
... "just do it"...

Exactly!
Posted By: Ubu Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 02:54 PM
For the last 2 years I've been practicing sight reading everyday and the improvement comes very slowly. In a few days you will notice nothing.

I would say that sight reading improves at the same speed as trees grow.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 03:08 PM
Whenever I read ‘I am practicing sightreading’ my impression is the writer sees sight reading like taking a dose of medicine. Of course progress will be slow because it is a chore.

Find some music you would be interested in playing and play that. It doesn’t matter the genre or the period of music. Just play for fun and see if the progress isn’t faster. Even if slow, it won’t seem to matter because you are enjoying it.
Posted By: Ubu Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 04:29 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
Whenever I read ‘I am practicing sightreading’ my impression is the writer sees sight reading like taking a dose of medicine. Of course progress will be slow because it is a chore.

Find some music you would be interested in playing and play that. It doesn’t matter the genre or the period of music. Just play for fun and see if the progress isn’t faster. Even if slow, it won’t seem to matter because you are enjoying it.
It's something you can practice, like everything else, like scales, repertoire, and whatnot. And it is not necessarily fun. In 2 years I've sight read so many pieces that some of them i enjoyed playing, and many others were a pain. I just don't get obsessed about it. And the improvement is very noticeable.

If i was measuring the progress every day i would have quit after 2 weeks probably
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 05:26 PM
Originally Posted by Ubu
Originally Posted by dogperson
Whenever I read ‘I am practicing sightreading’ my impression is the writer sees sight reading like taking a dose of medicine. Of course progress will be slow because it is a chore.

Find some music you would be interested in playing and play that. It doesn’t matter the genre or the period of music. Just play for fun and see if the progress isn’t faster. Even if slow, it won’t seem to matter because you are enjoying it.
It's something you can practice, like everything else, like scales, repertoire, and whatnot. And it is not necessarily fun. In 2 years I've sight read so many pieces that some of them i enjoyed playing, and many others were a pain. I just don't get obsessed about it. And the improvement is very noticeable.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I or someone else on this forum said": "The best sight readers almost never "practiced" sight reading."
Posted By: Ubu Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 05:37 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Ubu
Originally Posted by dogperson
Whenever I read ‘I am practicing sightreading’ my impression is the writer sees sight reading like taking a dose of medicine. Of course progress will be slow because it is a chore.

Find some music you would be interested in playing and play that. It doesn’t matter the genre or the period of music. Just play for fun and see if the progress isn’t faster. Even if slow, it won’t seem to matter because you are enjoying it.
It's something you can practice, like everything else, like scales, repertoire, and whatnot. And it is not necessarily fun. In 2 years I've sight read so many pieces that some of them i enjoyed playing, and many others were a pain. I just don't get obsessed about it. And the improvement is very noticeable.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I or someone else on this forum said": "The best sight readers almost never "practiced" sight reading."
I guess the best sight readers are people who started playing piano at 7 years old or before and went into very serious musical education through teenage years and college with the goal of becoming professional performers. I don't know how much specific sight reading practise do they do, or don't. But for the rest of us who are just average amateur players, sight reading is something you can improve a lot through focused practice, given time and patience ebough. Of course none of us is never going to be among the elite of best sight readers. Just good enough to enjoy music at whatever are our personal goals are.
Posted By: dogperson Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 05:53 PM
Originally Posted by Ubu
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Ubu
Originally Posted by dogperson
Whenever I read ‘I am practicing sightreading’ my impression is the writer sees sight reading like taking a dose of medicine. Of course progress will be slow because it is a chore.

Find some music you would be interested in playing and play that. It doesn’t matter the genre or the period of music. Just play for fun and see if the progress isn’t faster. Even if slow, it won’t seem to matter because you are enjoying it.
It's something you can practice, like everything else, like scales, repertoire, and whatnot. And it is not necessarily fun. In 2 years I've sight read so many pieces that some of them i enjoyed playing, and many others were a pain. I just don't get obsessed about it. And the improvement is very noticeable.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I or someone else on this forum said": "The best sight readers almost never "practiced" sight reading."
I guess the best sight readers are people who started playing piano at 7 years old or before and went into very serious musical education through teenage years and college with the goal of becoming professional performers. I don't know how much specific sight reading practise do they do, or don't. But for the rest of us who are just average amateur players, sight reading is something you can improve a lot through focused practice, given time and patience ebough. Of course none of us is never going to be among the elite of best sight readers. Just good enough to enjoy music at whatever are our personal goals are.

You can make your assumption of what is needed to be a good sight reader, but what you wrote is incorrect. Good sight readers become. ‘Good’ because they enjoy playing a lot of stray music— of all different kinds. It is not related to being on any type of professional track.
Posted By: Bart K Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 06:25 PM
Originally Posted by Ubu
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Ubu
Originally Posted by dogperson
Whenever I read ‘I am practicing sightreading’ my impression is the writer sees sight reading like taking a dose of medicine. Of course progress will be slow because it is a chore.

Find some music you would be interested in playing and play that. It doesn’t matter the genre or the period of music. Just play for fun and see if the progress isn’t faster. Even if slow, it won’t seem to matter because you are enjoying it.
It's something you can practice, like everything else, like scales, repertoire, and whatnot. And it is not necessarily fun. In 2 years I've sight read so many pieces that some of them i enjoyed playing, and many others were a pain. I just don't get obsessed about it. And the improvement is very noticeable.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I or someone else on this forum said": "The best sight readers almost never "practiced" sight reading."
I guess the best sight readers are people who started playing piano at 7 years old or before and went into very serious musical education through teenage years and college with the goal of becoming professional performers. I don't know how much specific sight reading practise do they do, or don't. But for the rest of us who are just average amateur players, sight reading is something you can improve a lot through focused practice, given time and patience ebough. Of course none of us is never going to be among the elite of best sight readers. Just good enough to enjoy music at whatever are our personal goals are.

Actually, pianoloverus and some other regulars here are onto something. I made the most progress in my reading skills precisely since I stopped practicing sight reading. The problem is like dogperson says, that when you don't enjoy something it's a chore and you avoid it or do only the minumum necessary. I have been practicing sight reading for several years, standard 10-15 mins a day as prescribed by the doctor, and yet my reading skills were still quite poor when I ditched that method. Here's what I do instead.

First of all, I bought a lot of books with music I want to play - from Bach French suites to Chopin nocturnes to Joplin rags and everything in between. If you want you can download all that but I like having physical books because I can just flip through them and open something at random. I take something I want to play, or maybe something else from the same book (I have discovered a lot of new music this way), and simply have a go at it.

Too hard? No problem! Take just the first phrase, or four bars, or even one bar. Can you play it hands separately? Maybe just the melody line? Absolutely, anyone with basic note-reading skills can take a single melody line (just play the top notes with the right hand only) of a single phrase of almost any piece, even very advanced ones. Ok, now go back and add more stuff. Can you play that line and the bass line at the same time? Maybe part of the harmony? Maybe there are some accompaniment figures in there that you can try to play? You can re-play the same phrase multiple times gradually adding to it and refining it. Don't worry about sight-reading, you can read it multiple times and it's still going to improve your reading skills. You can even practice that one phrase for a while (with the music of course wink ) until you can play it fluently. The point is that every day you take something that really interests you - even a Chopin nocturne, or a Beethoven sonata, or Debussy Arabesque 1, or whatever you like. You play a short passage from that piece a couple of times and then the next day you pick something else.

This absolutely works. It works because it's fun - it's music that you find interesting and really want to play. You will find yourself wanting to go to the piano to read and explore new music and in the end that extra motivation means more effort, more focus, and more progress. Try it for yourself if you don't believe me.
Posted By: Ubu Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 06:35 PM
Im not making any assumption because i base my words on facts and experience. I've been playing piano for almost 10 years now. Enjoying it a lot through dozens of pieces. But my sight reading hability was almost negligible just 2 years ago, when i set myself to the task of improving it through daily specific practice. And my improvement in these last 2 years regarding sight reading has been enormous compared with all the previous years. I don't need more probe because that's the truth.

Anyway, if we talk about "the best sight readers" that's a whole different thing. I was not saying just GOOD sigh readers. I was referring to the best sight readers because a was replying to a previous message. And if you have seen some of the best sighr readers in action, you know there's no way you reach that level without a long term education focused at professional goals.

By the way i dont understand how a conversation may deviate so much from its straight path due to people don't reading the words and instead just inventing what they want to read.
Posted By: lilypad Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 06:52 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
Whenever I read ‘I am practicing sightreading’ my impression is the writer sees sight reading like taking a dose of medicine. Of course progress will be slow because it is a chore.

Been there and did that. Progress was slow or non-existent. I still have "sight reading" listed as a category on my list of things to cover during a practice session, but now it's a reward at the end of my practice session - a 15-minute voyage of discovery through a stack of mostly easy music books. I rotate to a different book in the stack each day. If the piece is worthy of learning, I'll put a tape flag on the page for "40 pieces" practice.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I wish I had a dollar for every time I or someone else on this forum said": "The best sight readers almost never "practiced" sight reading."

I'm glad they're still saying it because new forum members can always benefit from it. It didn't sink in for me until after I'd read it on the forum a few times. As long as a distinction is made that best readers aren't necessarily born with the ability, but rather naturally acquire it through a voracious appetite for exploring more music. I used to "practice" sight reading. Now I go exploring through a stack of music books.
Posted By: Ubu Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 07:06 PM
I really dont get the distinction between reading music, and practicing sight reading. Is there any practice methodology for sigh reading besides just sight reading?
Posted By: bennevis Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 07:31 PM
Originally Posted by Ubu
I really dont get the distinction between reading music, and practicing sight reading.
One is an imposition (you force yourself to do it because it is - supposedly - "good" for you, like cod liver oil wink - yum!), the other is pure unadulterated enjoyment and the thrill of discovery, of juicy tunes, glorious harmonies, exciting rhythms, or all three, materializing out of thin air, simply by laying your hands on the keyboard and playing the notes that someone very musical wrote down in a few minutes (or a few months) of inspiration. If you are a gourmet, think of it as eating Tournedos Rossini (yes, he of the William Tell/Lone Ranger Overture) prepared for you by a 5-star Michelin chef, to the famous recipe. It's been cooked for you: all you have to do is eat it, and enjoy it.

So, imagine you've never watched the Lone Ranger, and never heard of William Tell, and think Rossini is a type of pizza. Then you put this score on your piano, and sight-read it, and......wow! grin
Posted By: dogperson Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 07:50 PM
Originally Posted by Ubu
I really dont get the distinction between reading music, and practicing sight reading. Is there any practice methodology for sigh reading besides just sight reading?

Here is my suggestion:
Make yourself a list of the music you like but never play on the piano — it could be a type such as Beatles songs, waltzes, ragtime, new age, a musical you like, best dongs of xxx decade, Christmas mudic, great American songbook

Do you have a list of music you have never heard, but would like to hear? Maybe music from South America, maybe famous waltzes

Make out this list snd find music to match. Play at least one page of a piece: if you are enjoying it, play more of the piece. If you’re not enjoying it, stop and play something else.

This should feel like sampling desserts and not taking your cod liver oil 😊
Posted By: Bart K Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 07:57 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
best dongs of xxx decade
Best typo ever. 😆🤣
Posted By: dogperson Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 08:06 PM
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by dogperson
best dongs of xxx decade
Best typo ever. 😆🤣

What typo? 😆
Posted By: schmalex Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 08:34 PM
Originally Posted by Ubu
I really dont get the distinction between reading music, and practicing sight reading. Is there any practice methodology for sigh reading besides just sight reading?
If I pick-up a new piece and attempt to play it hands-together without any prior practice, I consider that to be sight-reading. How good you are at sight-reading would dictate how close to tempo you are able to play the pieces without prior practice. I guess the practice methodology would be just to pick-up new pieces every day, especially ones in different keys. That in addition to regular scales / arpeggios (H.S. & H.T.) would be the main practice for sight-reading.
Posted By: Nemaara Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 09:47 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
If sightreading classical is ‘a slog’, why don’t you add some rag, Jazz, blues and pop??? Sight reading really shouldn’t feel like a chore.

This comment reminds me of something, a lot of these genres have a lot of improvisation or not really sticking to the score involved, which means it's not really "sight reading" so much as just play whatever you can roughly to the outline given. In the classical genre there's some pieces where it's not really great to deviate much from the notes of the score, but then there were actually a lot of pieces that came about sort of like improvisations (a lot of Liszt transcriptions come to mind) or were played in an improvisation like manner (Scriabin). So that's something to think about too, not needing to get all of the notes in and just play whatever you can in the music.
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/18/22 11:58 PM
Originally Posted by Nemaara
Originally Posted by dogperson
If sightreading classical is ‘a slog’, why don’t you add some rag, Jazz, blues and pop??? Sight reading really shouldn’t feel like a chore.
This comment reminds me of something, a lot of these genres have a lot of improvisation or not really sticking to the score involved, which means it's not really "sight reading" so much as just play whatever you can roughly to the outline given.
Dogperson was talking about playing the score, no matter the genre, as it's written. Just because one can improvise in some genres doesn't mean one has to. I have spent most of the last ten years learning note for note transcriptions of the great jazz pianists, and I play what's written.
Posted By: Jt2nd Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/21/22 11:12 PM
Sightreading can be made simpler if you categorise your playing into one key per week. Different music all in the same key for a week at a time .You may begin to recognise how each key feels in the hands . It works with violin playing . Play the scale in that week`s key before you start . If you jumble up all the different keys together it will slow you down . Break the problem down in stages .
Posted By: Jt2nd Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/22/22 06:17 PM
Part of sightreading is using the scales practice you have already done ,hopefully , and fitting that into the music .That can act as stepping stones between the familiar parts and the new parts . If you make a mistake that`s when you should pin down the reason for the mistake and make sure you play it cleanly six times . That gets the mistake out of the system . Ploughing past and not correcting can make it all last forever . Don`t just fight a blizzard of problems and feel satisfied that you wore yourself out in the process . So no correcting mistakes --no gain is better.
Posted By: Killomiter Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/24/22 12:13 PM
Had a rather annoying school teacher who monitored the corridors. He would often heard saying 'hey, you boy what are you playing at, come here'. He picked on my one day and said the very same what do you think you are playing at theme. My response ... 'who me Sir, I am playing the fool and currently in my mind winning 6 - 0.
The point is, it is within your mind only, some like to feel like this is all a crossword puzzle and to others a release from the day. It does not really matter in the end Lang Lang may be a great sight reader for all I know and boy can he play the piano! I never see the sheets on the stand, wonder why.
Posted By: bennevis Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/24/22 02:44 PM
Originally Posted by Killomiter
Lang Lang may be a great sight reader for all I know and boy can he play the piano! I never see the sheets on the stand, wonder why.
Here is Lang Lang sight-reading from sheet music - or maybe just reading whistle:

Posted By: dogperson Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/24/22 03:13 PM
If Lang Lang were sight-reading, I would find it doubtful he would do his typica ‘ let me close my eyes, tilt my head back and look into the imaginary clouds’ moves.
Posted By: marklings Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/24/22 05:22 PM
Think about this. How long did it take for you to be as proficient as you are in reading text ? Maybe 10 years ? Why reading music should be any different ?

Just practice, relentlessly practice, don't expect anything to improve fast, there's no shortcut here.
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/24/22 07:03 PM
Originally Posted by dogperson
If Lang Lang were sight-reading, I would find it doubtful he would do his typica ‘ let me close my eyes, tilt my head back and look into the imaginary clouds’ moves.
And it seems likely that this was at least rehearsed once before being filmed.
Posted By: Bart K Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/24/22 07:31 PM
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by dogperson
If Lang Lang were sight-reading, I would find it doubtful he would do his typica ‘ let me close my eyes, tilt my head back and look into the imaginary clouds’ moves.
And it seems likely that this was at least rehearsed once before being filmed.
The one above is rehearsed but here is one where I'm pretty sure he is sight reading and you can see his typical Lang Lang moves here too:
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/24/22 09:04 PM
Originally Posted by Bart K
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by dogperson
If Lang Lang were sight-reading, I would find it doubtful he would do his typica ‘ let me close my eyes, tilt my head back and look into the imaginary clouds’ moves.
And it seems likely that this was at least rehearsed once before being filmed.
The one above is rehearsed but here is one where I'm pretty sure he is sight reading and you can see his typical Lang Lang moves here too:
Although those pieces are easy enough for either pianist to sight read successfully I don't see how one could possibly know if either pianist was sight reading. Both pieces are part of the standard duet literature and probably have been played by both pianists previously. My guess is they ran through them before their performance as it would only take a few minutes and they might want to discuss aspects of the performance.
Posted By: Sidokar Re: Thoughts on sight reading practice - 05/24/22 09:21 PM
As far as analogies go, reading a book and (sight-) reading are 2 very different things. Reading music implies a physical action in addition to just reading the score. That is much more difficult.

Aslo, gaining proficiency in sight-reading is not only a question of reading ability, it also implies progression in the technical ability to play the piano. You cant make progress in sight reading if you dont make progress in your technical skills.
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