Sight Reading beginner

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Alex65
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Sight Reading beginner

Post by Alex65 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:37 am

As I recently started playing CG again and wanted to setup a good practice routine, I learned about sight reading, to me a new term. When searching online I'm overwhelmed with information. Would anyone explain to me how this works exactly and what is a good starting point. Thanks.

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by Erik Zurcher » Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:51 am

From Wikipedia: "Sight-reading, also called a prima vista (Italian meaning "at first sight"), is the reading and performing of a piece of music or song in music notation that the performer has not seen before."

I assume that you wish to learn music notation. You may find this useful:
viewtopic.php?f=130&t=79606
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Alex65
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by Alex65 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:28 am

Thanks Erik, these diagrams are really helpful. To give you an idea of my current level, I'm working at Carcassi's op 60 no 7 at the moment. But for sight reading practise I have to study the piece until I'm convinced I can played it right at once, right? So I have to get back to really easy pieces to start with. How do I find scores that fit that level? Also there are alot of apps and books for sight reading. Are they any useful?

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tormodg
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by tormodg » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:44 am

Alex65 wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:28 am
But for sight reading practise I have to study the piece until I'm convinced I can played it right at once, right?
That's not really what sight reading is. Very few (if any) guitar players can play an advanced piece perfectly just from sight reading it.

What you can do to practice, is to take fairly easy pieces (for example from volume I-III here at Delcamp) and "look ahead" as far as you can when you play (for example, read the first bar, then play it while you read bar 2). You may need to start with only a note or two ahead. This is mostly for practice to get used to remembering the notes and become more fluent. When I play "new" pieces I don't really look ahead much at all, but you need to be able to read fluently without thinking. If you are able to look ahead a few notes, you may have enough time to figure out more difficult notes before you reach them.

Sight reading is basically the ability to read the notes and play them back (not "perfectly", that's more a musicality issue which depends on practice and preference).

There are also a couple of decent books on this topic called "Sight reading for the Classical Guitar" by Robert Benedict which have been recommended by many.

For an enjoyable input on mastering sight reading, see this article from Classical Guitar magazine:
http://classicalguitarmagazine.com/5-ti ... or-guitar/

By the way, you should not have to invest in anything, not even books, all you need is sheet music and dedication.
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Steve Langham
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by Steve Langham » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:48 am

I second the Robert Benedict books.
Note that your sight reading ability is only supposed to be up to two grades less than your playing ability.
There's lots of topics on this site about sight reading already, have a search and read them.

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Larry McDonald
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by Larry McDonald » Thu Jul 27, 2017 3:11 pm

Hi,
There is no substitute for learning pattern recognition by simply playing level appropriate music. Don't forget to find a lot of etudes, too.

I ask my students to be able to sight-read 3 levels below their working level. So, if they are taking the exam for level 5, they should be comfortable with sight-reading level 2. This is the standard for the Royal Conservatory of Music. They have published extensive lists of pieces at each level, and have created/edited an excellent 9 volume anthology selected from these lists (called the Bridges series).
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SteveL123
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by SteveL123 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 5:17 pm

I recall seeing RCM classical guitar tests on youtube where sight reading was tested. Are there sight reading competitions in classical guitar or other musical instruments for that matter? It'd be interesting to watch.

Steve Langham
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by Steve Langham » Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:35 pm

Interesting that Larry says for the Royal Conservatory of Music your reading is 3 levels below your working level - in the Australian Music Exam Board it needs to be 2 levels below your working level which as I move up the grades I'm finding harder to keep up with!

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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by KBell » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:24 am

I'm a pretty decent sight reader and at one point spent time deliberately practising sight reading .... Initially I would force my eyes to look a beat ahead and play through a couple lines of something fairly straightforward, then I worked at extending from looking one beat ahead to full measures.

It takes a lot of concentration but you can teach/learn to digest chunks/blocks of notes just the way letters form words.

Guitarists are notoriously bad sight readers but it can be overcome with some effort and above all else patience...

I also found playing Bach chorales to be very helpful - there are loads of 'em and they don't sound familiar and don't rely on overly common guitar patterns....start with one voice then add 2nd or a 3rd voice...lots of whole notes to try to maintain for full duration and many strange lh configurations

simonm
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by simonm » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:12 am

Alex65 wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:28 am
... I'm working at Carcassi's op 60 no 7 at the moment. But for sight reading practise I have to study the piece until I'm convinced I can played it right at once, right? ...
Just reinterating what the others have said. That is not sight reading. That is simply playing from sheet music instead of memorizing the piece. :-) That is of course an important skill too.

Sight reading would mean taking a quick glance at an unknown piece and they playing it to performance level immediately. This is a routine skill for professional session musicians of all kinds. However, there are some caveats to this. The "quick glance" is important as you need to know if the piece is within your sight reading level and to spot any tricky bits. In an exam situation, I believe the examiners give you 30 seconds (?) to read through the piece before performing. The exam notes will specify this.

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Paul Janssen
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Re: Sight Reading beginner

Post by Paul Janssen » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:21 am

Just to add to what others have said. At the beginning of the AMEB (Australian Music Examinations Board) Classical Guitar Sight-reading book there is the following suggested sight-reading check list.

Before playing any piece:
  • Check the key signature and scan for accidentals
  • Tap and count the rhythm. Don't avoid using a metronome
  • Locate position changes in the music
  • Identify dynamic markings
  • Once you have started keep going. The error of a wrong note or rhythm is doubled if you stop and repeat it
As others have said, when first learning to sight-read, use very simple pieces. To give you an indication, the Preliminary pieces in the AMEB sight-reading book are all single notes, mainly crotches, in the key of C and in Simple Duple and Simple Triple time. Think about when we first learn to read a language - we usually start with simple "readers" and "picture books".

For mine, learning to read is a combination of doing small amounts of deliberate sight-reading practice as well as lots of practice learning and mastering studies and pieces. As pointed out above, the Delcamp D01-D03 is a great resource if you are looking for a collection with lots of nice fairly simple pieces.

One last point, Carcassi's Op 60 no 7 isn't really a beginner's piece. In fact it is listed on the Grade 5 AMEB syllabus. If a piece like this is taking a long time to get under the fingers, then it is probably at too high a level (not sure if this is the case for you but just wanted to point it out none the less).

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