Sightreading in difficult keys eg F# major
Hello I am aiming to take my grade 8 exam in the summer. I am a fairly good sightreader but am struggling to sightreading when there are more than 5 sharps or flats. I seem to lose all sense or 5ths and 6ths and struggle to think within the key. Hope that makes sense. Any help much appreciated
Your sightreading test will almost certainly not go past 3 sharps or flats.
You have to practice sight-reading to get better at it. In other words, do much more of it in such keys, and you'll solve the problems along the way.
Grade 8 sight-reading can easily contain 5 or 6 Sharps os flats! 21 marks out of 150.
thanks for replies so far. Apart from gaining marks I really want to get better at playing in these keys And I want to develop my ability to quickly recognise the best position to move too. Adrian thanks for your useful advice. I will try that.
For Keys with many sharps or flats, I find it mechanically easier, sometimes easier to sight-read, to use 2nd position or half-position.
Also, I second (or third) the idea of using half position or second. Joel's comment is pretty good.
"you're limited to 20 exercises if you don't get a subscription.."
I'm with Joel. My starting point for flat-heavy or sharp-heavy keys is to reimagine "first position."
Thanks Paul, Nina. Transposing Etudes ? I hadn't thought of that. That might actually be a good idea, but most of them are hard enough already.
One of the great "necessities" in sightreading is technical proficiency. For all keys where you sightread less fluently, find many technical exercises, and get down to them.
If one practices scales daily, the number of sharps of flats soon becomes irrelevant.
A big thank you to everyone who has replied so far. Some really useful tips which I look forward to trying out. As a pianist I don’t find any difficulty sightreading in these keys but the violin is of course different. I haven’t actually learned any pieces in keys with more than 4 sharps or flats which doesn’t help. As a piano teacher I always make sure my pupils play in the more unusual keys and there is lots of material out there for this which helps. Thanks also for the link to the sightreading website.
About transposing etudes: Kreutzer #5 is a famously easy one to transpose, place second finger *anywhere* on the E-string, think of that note as a G, and go for it! Just don't use any open strings, which is no problem except in measures 13 and 14. For these measures you can temporarily shift one position up (for the rest the etude is basically a fixed-position etude). The Peters edition (edited by Davisson) provides this fingering. Highly recommended exercise for learning to use the violin as a transposing instrument!
Side note on transposing; It improves overall musicianship and can be a transition to improvisation. It breaks the mental cob-webs, forces one to think of the melodic line instead mechanical-finger-numbers. For most of what I do (Mariachi violin!) we have to be able to transpose our memorized parts, both melody and harmony, to different keys, depending on who is singing the solo. As the show proceeds, the leader announces the next song and the key. You have about 10 seconds to figure out what to do.
Joel wrote, "Transposing Etudes? I hadn't thought of that. That might actually be a good idea, but most of them are hard enough already."
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