Reading Notes – sight-reading skills
Found in: Reading
Francine V., Australia
When teaching reading notes, do I get the student to buy Time for More Music, so they can sight read at home? And/or do I get them to sight-read pieces from Time for More Music in class?
Sheri R., California
Time for More Music is a TTP (teacher training program) that you need to follow just as you do the instructions for teaching each of the foundation songs. While teachers have the SHM and the TTP, the students just have the SHM (which is the Time for More Music book and an audio recording of the music being played, not taught).
This book is the students’ first reading experience after the Reading Rhythm and Reading Notes books. This is where you the teacher help students learn how to see, decipher, decode, figure out the puzzle so to speak of the written notation, before they ever take it to the piano. It is not a sight -reading program which is a completely different approach to a page of music.
TFMM is where the playing-based tools of the foundation and arrangements and accompaniment programs and the reading-based tools of RR and RN get integrated. It is truly magical, especially for someone who has come from the typical traditional way of approaching a page of music. TFMM opens up to students the possibilities of playing anything from the vast repertoire of written music going back centuries!
I believe Simpedia contains posts that go into more detail, but I think you’ll get a lot out of the TFMM TTP which is a requirement for teaching this program. At this stage students are also taking their foundation pieces that they have kept alive (hopefully all of them!) and reading them while they are playing, a new experience and one that adds value to the TFMM program.
Mary R., Michigan
Sheri’s post begs a recent question I’ve had. For those of you who are exceptionally strong sight-readers—-how did you accomplish that? I have never considered that skill to be a part of the core SM curriculum or one of our goals, but I now have a few high-schoolers who I know could make good money accompanying soloists at festivals or in lessons in college and strong sightreading will be necessary. Is there any particular approach or curriculum for that skill set besides just playing lots an lots and lots of different music?!
Lori N., Utah
You’re right that accompanying in voice studios, etc is good money for a college student. I kept my prices down but I was still able to pay for my tuition by accompanying, and got some great musical experience at the same time.
I’ve heard people say sight reading is not one of SM’s goals, but I think everything we do in SM leads to good sight reading. The patterns, shapes, chords – the whole list of learning strategies – are what I am looking for when I sight read. It’s rather instant for me now after so many years, but I was delighted to start SM and see all the tools I use identified so well.
Also transposing, playing duets, improvising (used, for instance, while you wait for the soloist to remember to come in!) are all things you learn in SM that you will use when accompanying. There are other skills that come with experience, like knowing what to drop from the music as you play, being able to listen to and follow the soloist, catching up with them when they skip a measure or two (or ten!), being aware of musical styles. But the well-rounded foundation you get from the SM program is just the knowledge and experience a good accompanist and sight reader needs. I loved accompanying when I was doing it. It’s like having the perfect dance partner when you work with someone who really knows how to collaborate with an accompanist.
Your last point is also right – read, read, read all the music you can get. My idea of the perfect evening!
Patti P., Hawaii
I had great advice from my teacher in high school on improving my sight reading : sight read something new every day. It’s especially helpful to read something that is only slightly challenging, which means a few levels easier than pieces you can sort out and teach yourself with practice.
I took her advice to heart, and while I wasn’t totally consistent, it has served me well through decades of accompanying. If they can hone their skills and get a stint as a choir accompanist, it’s great. They’ll get lots of sight reading practice in that job.
Stacy R., Canada
Since teaching Simply Music, my sightreading skills have improved vastly. I think it is true that to be good at it, start reading at a level you can handle fairly problem free and build upwards. I think Neil’s singular thought processes on learning to internalize rhythm through RR and the interval approach to reading..RN.. has just made the hugest difference for me. I find it a delight now to sit and discover music I didn’t realize I had in my library…and the pleasure of instant gratification is worth every minute spent developing the skills to sightread.