Professional and helpful advice on sight-reading techniques
Piano students develop many areas at the same time: the piano technique, the musical notation, the expressiveness and the control of all demand years of practice. But even accomplished pianists face the challenge of sight-reading, and this is the primary concern for any piano tutor, as they know how much hard work and skills need to be developed to be a good sight-reader.
That key is to organise yourself when you face a music score for the first time. Alvaro Sisti says, “there isn’t any worst mistake than sitting in the piano, opening the book, and trying to play without stopping to think about a strategy first.”
We will begin with Overall check. We need to focus on analysing what we have in the score to recognise changes, structure, patterns, so they don’t catch us by surprise when we are playing: identify the key signature, and the time signature first, both are the main guide you will have when you start playing the piece.
Then, the rhythmic patterns! In various genres, the music is often composed over repeated patterns that we can easily follow if we know where the repetitions are.
Once the first steps are done...
We will focus on the subtle elements. The first one on our list is the articulation that a piece can present: We need to identify all the different assets like slurs, staccato, tenuto, accent, staccato-legato, and everything that show us how to play each note.
Following the articulations, we have the appearance ( or not) of any accidentals in the music; this is especially important if we are reading a piece in a minor mode, as it is widespread to have harmonic or melodic minor scales.
Shifts are one of the main concerns when we sight read as well. Then we need to determine in which places we will move our hands into a new position. This skill can take years to get used to, but there are a couple of tips you can follow.
Alvaro gives us this advice: "Something that may sound a bit basic but always good to remember is, as we have, for instance, an ascending pattern of semiquavers in the right hand, the best idea is to catch it with the thumb. If we have an ascending passage in the left hand, we will start with the pinky."
Once the previous overall check is done, We can finally start reading!
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