...Having problem in sight-reading...

August 10, 2005 at 05:23 AM · Hi, I'm a beginner in playing violin..and I'm having quite a hard time in sight-reading..esp. those with fast tempo....I know this is quite embarassing for me because most people here or I think everyone here knows to how sight-read well....I feel really sad and quite like a failure.... =( do you mind if I ask you guys some tips, advice or techniques in music reading? I'd appreciate so much. And they would help me a lot! :) Thank you! =)

Replies (13)

August 10, 2005 at 02:34 AM · I hope I'll be able to read music really well soon because I'm joining our shcool's orchestra, as a beginner violinist...(Even if I'm not really super good since I just started to learn how to play violin this June... I'm very determined and dedicated though.)...

August 10, 2005 at 02:25 PM · Think about this. When you read a book, do you consciously look at each letter, then consciously form then into words, then consciously ask yourself what is the meaning of each word? No, all of this is automatic because you've memorized all of the above.

In the same regard, if you memorize the value of each note as it is written and have memorized where your fingers need to go to sound those notes then all that is left to do is to keep your eyes scanning across the page slightly ahead of the notes you are actually sounding.

August 10, 2005 at 04:45 PM · I believe to improve on sight reading, the best way is to play a lot. Get familiarized with the fingerings and positions of the instrument is the key because in the end you always have to decide which fingerings and positions to use. Certain things go well with certain positions and some are not. It is also the test of your reflex so your eyes have to read the notes way before you play. I would suggest everyday, after practice, reward yourself with a little nice encore music or short pieces you never tried before but very much love to. Try sight reading them. I think it not only helps you understand your instrument better and improve your playing but also increase your repertoire.

August 11, 2005 at 04:36 AM · The way anyone learns to read fast, either music notation or words and sentences, is by doing it often. Sometimes it means you have to play things that are challenging for you so you can train your brain to work extremely hard. The other thing that will help you, although it isn't altogether a different thing, is to really know your basics like scales and arpeggios. When reading a piece for the first time, if you can look ahead a bit and see that there's a 2 octave scale coming up, then you can sort of go on "automatic pilot" and not have to read every single note (which will bog you down). Both of these will come from practice and experience though. There are still a lot of people that aren't strong sightreaders, even as professionals, but it can only be a good thing to be able to sightread.

August 11, 2005 at 04:46 AM · This may not be the most ideal method, but I think it works very well:

- Learn to play an instrument where you regularly play more than one note at a time. The best instruments for these are guitar and piano. I learned to play these instruments for a while before coming to violin. When I did start learning violin, sight reading was a breeze!. Although piano is better for sight reading in general, guitar is probably better if you are learning violin, because you have the added benefit of learning to finger complex chords (good for double, triple and quadruple stops). Also you don't have to worry about the bass clef in guitar. Do be warned however, that you may get a bit confused with the fingerings at first, because guitars are tuned in 4ths as opposed to the 5ths in violin.... but most people adapt pretty quickly.

Of course, it's not always in everyone best interests to learn more than one instrument... but rewarding if you can pull it off.

August 11, 2005 at 05:01 PM · Expanding on Christina's suggestion, try reading in "patterns." Instead of thinking of each individual note, see the "shapes" or contour of what you're playing. For example, it's much easier to think "four notes up and one back" instead of "B, first finger; C#, second finger; D, third finger; E, fourth finger; D, third finger." Most pieces will have "shapes," or "motives," that are played repeatedly. If you recognize that shape you just have to know which note it starts on, instead of every single note within it--just watch for accidentals in the middle.

'Erie (-:

August 11, 2005 at 09:12 PM · I am a beginner, too and the most important thing for me was and still is to be able to sight-read. I can only suggest to ALWAYS take a close look to the piece before you play it and while you do that place the fingers (in your mind) at the positions they have to be. And don't try pieces that use the full range of notes. Play a song that only uses 5 or 6 notes. I do it that way and right now I realize I have a problem with the e-string so I am looking for songs that use the e-string more often.

But like all the others said: do it over and over and over again. Only that helps! :D

August 11, 2005 at 09:33 PM · In my class orchestra, I teach sightreading skills deliberately. First, scan the music and look at the meter, the key signature, and any tempo markings such as "allegro". Make sure you understand any terms written. Then see if there are any accidentals. Look at the rhythm next and clap out difficult looking spots. See if there are any new notes or shifts to look out for, and take notice of the dynamic markings. Are there any 'DC's or 'Fine' or codas? Lastly, mentally scan the piece and think about where each note is on the fingerboard. Then play it.

If you do this a little each day, you will end up condensing your prep time to a simple glance before you start, and as you train your mind to read ahead of where you are actually playing, you can become quite good at playing most anything at sight.

As mentioned above in other posts, it is helpful to identify scales, or broken thirds, or arppeggios in the music. Also keep in mind if the notes are moving stepwise or skipping.

Above all, you need to practice this skill. There are some helpful books (such as "Tune A Day") that are made specifically to help sightreading.

August 11, 2005 at 10:07 PM · I thought sight reading was hearing a tune, and then playing it.

August 11, 2005 at 10:57 PM · No thats not sight-reading. Sight-reading is to look at (or scan through) a piece of music you never heard or seen before (ie playing something new for the first time) and then play them with minimal errors (wrong notes, tempo etc) and maximum accuracy. This skill helps to learn a piece of music quickly and its ESSENTIAL for all who wish to play in orchestra.

August 12, 2005 at 03:32 AM · Hearing a piece and then playing is called "playing by ear". Just more random music trivia. :)

August 13, 2005 at 05:46 AM · This isn't really my question, but thanks for all the advice. It's some stuff I've heard before, and some stuff I've never really paid much attention to, but it's all good; good to hear it again, especially people I don't even know. I think that's awesome.

December 21, 2010 at 09:15 PM ·

 Hi Annie, don’t feel bad about not sight-reading well since you’re a beginner.  Just set aside some time during your practicing to sight-read music as much as you can, regardless of how well you do it now.  As you improve with your scales and “looking ahead”, you will gradually notice constant improvement in your sight-reading.  Some tips: 1. Focus on the key signature when you practice.  Remember the scale that relates to the key signature.  For example, if the key is in C major, remember to play all natural notes, no sharps and flats.  2. Look ahead.  You should be looking ahead at least one beat or one measure ahead.  If you were riding a bike, would you look on the ground as you rode the bike?  Or would you be looking a few yards ahead?  So look ahead as you read, whether you’re reading out loud or reading in music.  3. Make mistakes in rhythm.  If you are sight-reading, DO NOT pause and “go back in time” to correct notes.  Go through a section, playing slowly if you must, but in a solid rhythm.  Then, go back after and take it apart.

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