Sight reading material
What makes good sight reading material? I’m using an older book (my childhood teacher’s Gingold orchestral excerpts) but is that book more for mastering excerpts typically asked for in orchestra auditions? Let me know if you have any suggestions. I’d like to join a community orchestra in the future and want to build up my ability to sight read.
IMSLP is great for that, because there's a lot more music than anyone can read through in a lifetime.
I don't think there is any special material for sight reading. The way to learn it is to do it. Choose any music that is within your range technically and start at the beginning.
I agree with Albrecht -- the way to become a better sight-reader is to do it. Do a lot of it. Do some as part of every practice session. The actual material doesn't matter. As has been pointed out you can get a lifetime of material from IMSLP but my advice is not to worry about playing entire movements of major works for sight-reading. Do a lot of shorter sections from a wide variety of composers and styles. There is a ton of fiddle music (Celtic, Old-Time, various nationality folk-tunes) available free online, and that makes for great sight-reading material. If you have a tablet that's large enough for you to read music on, that's an excellent tool for reading all the PDF files of music you can download. You won't have to waste paper printing music you will most likely play through only once.
‘ If you have a tablet that's large enough for you to read music on, that's an excellent tool for reading all the PDF files of music you can download. You won't have to waste paper printing music you will most likely play through only once.’
Check out Sight Reading Factory. https://www.sightreadingfactory.com/ It's highly customizable and you can do 20 "excerpts" for free. A year subscription is $35.
Rosemary wrote, "I was sick of having to remember to print it out at work..."
I don't think it makes too much difference what you read through as long as you find a good place to start and keep doing it.
Adding to what Rosemary and Paul have said - one of the first violinists I have been playing with has been using a tablet for all his music the past 2 years. That, a bluetooth connection and foot pad work together very well. One thing you might also look into, if you go this way, is a way to mark fingerings on your e-scores.
Raymond, great idea! Take note that, in orchestra, rhythms (including rests!) are equally important as notes. I find that orchestral suites of ballet, opera, and incidental music often provide good sight-reading practice material, e.g., l'Arlésienne, Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Carmen, Aladdin (Nielsen), Debussy Petite Suite, Peer Gynt, and the like. Also, various overtures. Also, do you know someone at the orchestra that you plan to join in the future? Then try to get a bunch of second or first violin parts of pieces they have played in the past. You should know that community orchestras often play arranged music (e.g., film score arrangements) that is not free on IMSLP.
Andrew, on their app, IMSLP has annotation mode. You’ve just helped me twig what that’s for. Not quite as easy as scrawling with a pencil, but you can undo it.
When sight-reading, pick music that is easily within your technical comfort zone until you get reasonably decent at sight-reading. (Learning to cope with stuff that you can't easily play even with practice is its own skill, better left for later.)
Lydia I remember the very first community-orchestra rehearsal of my life. I was in 7th grade, and my violin teacher was the concertmaster (and he was a very good violinist, he could play anything), and he put me in the back of the first violins with another of his students, a girl my age. We did NOT get the music in advance. At least, I didn't. I'm sure Mr. Kraynak did, because he had to finger and bow the parts. Now, imagine being in this situation and having the conductor tap his baton on his stand and say, "Let's start with the Glinka!" Those were his exact words and I will never forget them. (Yes -- we were somehow meant to sight-read the Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture.)
Hah. I do remember my first experience with the Glinka -- in a community orchestra rehearsal, subbing in for a missing player last-minute, sight-reading it at a performance tempo, one that was
I also remember the first orchestra rehearsal of my life... my college orchestra, which somehow let me sit in the back of the second violin section even though I'd been playing for about a year and a half and was completely self-taught. (There was no music department, and there were no music classes other than performing ensembles.)
Most Community/amateur orchestras are a pretty safe place to start.
Thanks everyone for your feedback. You've given me a lot of great ideas. I'm certainly going to take advantage of IMSLP and try some different styles too.