Monday, December 04, 2006

Sight Reading : 10+10 with 10 to spare

Here's a technique to help with sight reading.

First 10 seconds:
Scan the "vital statistics" of the whole selection.
  • What key signature? (Does the key change?)
  • What time signature? (Does it change?)
  • How fast?
  • How loud/soft? (How do they change?)
  • Any odd rhythms?
  • What accidentals?
After 10 seconds (actually a very long time as far as your brain is concerned), look away from the music and try to answer all these questions.

Second 10 seconds:
Memorize as much of the opening as possible. Once again, after 10 seconds, look away from the music and try to play it from memory.

Using just these 20 seconds you'd be surprised how much you can accomplish.

The extra 10 seconds? Well, I believe the South Carolina all-state audition gives you 30. You can use those remaining seconds to carefully look over tricky rhythms.

One other sight-reading tip: keep the time steady. Don't stop and re-start. If you're reading with an ensemble, you can't raise your hand and say, "Everybody please stop and go back for me. I was confused about that rhythm."

One problem with sight-reading. You always need lots of material to read.

Somebody should start a website devoted to sight-reading and lot people contribute to it a la wikipedia. Hmmm ...

I would suggest that material on the sight be broken down by difficulty level and searchable by different categories. For example:
  • examples with lots of sharps
  • examples with wide leaps
  • examples in 5/8 time
  • examples exploring the high range
  • examples with changing beat subdivisions
Submissions should probably by acrobat files (or maybe jpeg scans). Each example should be roughly a third or half page.

If someone pulls this off (and does it right) it will be a huge contribution! Any takers?