I suspect that for most string players, sight reading is a real challenge.
This week I greatly enjoyed watching TwoSet Violin's new "Impossible Sight-Reading Challenge" video, in which they challenged themselves to sight-read three lines of an orchestra part without messing up. They had five different levels, starting with Handel Water Music and progressively getting more difficult, until they were trying to sight-read "Ein Heldenleben"!
What I loved is that Brett and Eddy messed up on every single level, even Level 1, just as most of us would probably do. Despite that, they clearly have some pretty impressive sight reading skills. It just goes to show that this is a very challenging skill!
A person's sight-reading skills tend to be somewhere behind their overall level as a violinist or violist or cellist. For example, just because you can play the Vivaldi A minor concerto, or the Mendelssohn, or the Tchaikovsky -- this does not mean that you would be able to sight-read a piece on that same level.
Playing in orchestra or in a chamber group can greatly help with sight-reading, which does require a degree of courage and risk-taking. Orchestra playing allows one to do it in the safety of a group; quartet-playing makes a person more accountable for his or her part. Personally, I feel like my sight-reading skills are something I picked up outside of violin lessons. The sight-reading ability also continued to grow for years after I stopped my formal lessons and training, as I played in orchestras and other groups.
What is your sight-reading level, the point where you could play three lines of music with reasonable fluency and without making a mistake? I would argue that our friends at TwoSet are very advanced sight-readers, despite their humility about it - they were still hanging in there with Bartok and Richard Strauss!
Here is a key for the levels for the vote, pick the one that best fits your ability, and then tell us about your sight-reading journey:
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