I mean real sight reading - playing a piece for the first time ever. On CG forums you get people who think sight reading means playing from music rather than memory, so forgive me if I've been flippant about the subject before.
I have had plenty of experience sight reading piano music, but it occurred to me that the violin has one crucial difference - choosing what position to play in. For this alone then, what materials can you recommend?
[added: and perhaps another important difference is open strings vs the pinky]
I find it's really just like piano in that sense. If the part isn't fingered, then you're fingering it on the fly, and you just develop a sense for that, and it involves looking ahead a little. I don't know that there's a silver-bullet kind of solution to getting better at it other than just doing it (a lot). Second-violin parts of string quartets are good for this because (at least in my experience) they do not "fit the hand" as predictably as the first-violin parts.
If it's just about experience, that's fine by me. Sometimes materials can just be clutter.
Try to play without over-committing the hand. Thus, playing in third position as much as you can allows you to reach 'surprise' notes much faster than in first. 2nd is great too if you are good at it because by reaching down to first you have continuous cover of 12 or 13 semitones on each string!
Within a position, interval mastery helps. Knowing the actual distance between the notes, regardless of how it is notated. The same idea for shifting. It is very helpful to know the interval distance between the positions.
Sticking to 3rd (or 2nd) position is very interesting, thanks. When I started with the orchestra in September I was surprised that third position seemed to be almost the norm rather than simply something common.
I agree with Joel. Being able to look at two notes and to know
If you are a good sight reader on the piano you have all the important skills in abundance. All you need to do is take your violin and play. You'll soon see that most of the time it is quite obvious which position to choose. I know many more good string sight readers than piano sight readers because on the piano sight reading is more difficult.
I think the study of "how to change positions" will provide all the options of "choosing what position to play in"...
From what I was taught, if you do Baroque, it is ok to use open strings. For Romantic pieces, you try to avoid open strings.
With the benefit experience, I tend to instinctively see certain cues to play in a certain position. Certain patterns jump out at me. Lines that are entirely contained within a fourth or an octave may suggest a hand frame, or the bottom note of an arpeggiated figure can often be played with the 1st finger, any note a half-step above or below an open string suggests a passage in either half position or 2nd position, etc. It has become so automatic that, in orchestral music, I more often write in fingerings to remind myself
And then again, high positions on the E string are arguably not real position playing. I see studies which claim to involve 7th position and all it is is two final high notes on the E string. Playing in 7th on all four strings is a totally different ball game.
Since you mention it, making the shifts between strings in any position is critical to high-fingerboard sight reading - to avoid constant scrambles up and down.. Recognizing a fifth is the way to start - where you use the same finger on the neighbouring string (with the catch of Bb/F B/F#). Once that is instinctive you start recognizing 6ths and 7ths as well. At that point reading high passages starts to become automatic.
On the second half of the E string the position system and the fingering system breaks down. Everyone needs to work out their own system up there. Examples; my 4th finger is short, so the third finger actually reaches farther than the 4th. The half steps are a lot smaller than the width of my fingers.