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Becoming a Great Sight-Reader -- or Not! Learn from my Quest for Piano Sight-Reading Nirvana Kindle Edition
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From the Author
Well, I did that, and it didn't really work. I got good at playing jazz and reading jazz charts, but I never got good at sight-reading.
When I retired, I had lots of time and plenty of motivation. I decided I was going to crack this thing, and I started sight-reading two hours every day. I found that even with this rigorous schedule, progress was slow. I've since figured out that there were a number of things that I was doing wrong that were holding me back. The main problem was that I was reinforcing my bad habits instead of learning the right way to sight-read.
Here's an example of something I "reveal" in the book. In all of those hundreds of hours of practicing, I was trying to play every note that was written. I knew that "a good sight-reader knows what to leave out," but darn it, I wanted to learn how to read, I didn't want to learn how to "fake it." That attitude was a mistake, and it held me back. I was not learning how to leave out some of the notes when I got into trouble.
"Big deal," you might say, "how hard is it to not play notes?" Well, it turns out that it is harder than you think, and it's a skill that requires practice. If you practice leaving things out, then you'll know how to do it when you run into problems.
Here's an exercise that I describe on page 90 of the book: Play a hymn, but leave out the middle two voices. Play the next hymn, but only play the top two notes of each chord. Next, leave out the alto and bass. Play a hymn and in the middle, suddenly leave out the top and bottom. Get the idea?
That exercise helps with a skill that I hadn't learned early on. I made a mistake by not learning that skill, and it held me back.
I wrote this book so that you can avoid making some of the same the mistakes I made. --This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
At age nine he took up trombone, and studied it seriously until the final year of high school.
As required by the 1960s law that stated that every teenager has to play rock and roll guitar, he also took lessons in guitar, and played in a rock band. He even performed in a Simon and Garfunkel type duo, at "The Chicken Coop," once a week, getting paid $2.50 plus one piece of fried chicken.
In 1987 (age 34), his interest in jazz was rekindled, and he took formal piano lessons for a year or two, worked hard, and learned a lot. But the sight-reading just wasn't happening.
In 1992 (age 38) he picked up the trombone again, and got serious about jazz trombone. His sight-reading was better on trombone than piano, and he played with a number of small and large bands.
In 2005, he switched back to piano as his main instrument. This time he concentrated on jazz, and didn't work much on sight-reading. That is, his playing consisted of playing the chord changes, with improvisation in the right hand. That worked well, and he lead a jazz quartet, and played with many musicians around town.
But he was still unhappy with his inability to sight-read well. He was now retired, and in 2007, he started sight-reading two hours per day, the project that resulting in his book, Becoming a Great Sight-Reader--or Not! --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B00HRKABOG
- Publication date : January 7, 2014
- Language : English
- File size : 4983 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 120 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,501 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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people have with playing through a piece of music at sight at an appropriate speed and with artistic expression.
If you are one of those people, you will feel a kinship with the author and perhaps pick up some tips to save your time
and frustration. If you are a great natural sight-reader and have difficulty understanding why people (perhaps a student of yours)
cannot sight-read better, this book could improve your teaching approach.
As a music teacher and church choir director for the past 25 years, I recommend reading this book.
The key thing I got out of this book is that I was on the right track in thinking I should put a LITTLE more effort into the endeavor.
Mr. Macy did a fantastic job of demonstrating this through the absurdity of his own actions--mainly the amount of time he put into a pursuit that was yielding such small gains. As the book mentions early on, some musicians are readers while others are memorizers (who are more ear- than sight-oriented), and Al and I are certainly the latter. That's not to say it isn't worth putting some daily effort into improving one's musical reading ability, but there's also something to be said for pursuing what works for you musically. There are so many avenues that can be traveled in the world of music, and ultimately, one must pick and choose. If you didn't master the art of reading music shortly after learning to read text fluently, it may remain as much of an enigma to you as it is to me (and Al), but that's not necessarily a bad thing, and the author does a very entertaining job of demonstrating that.
If you don't dig the book itself, the cover alone makes a great conversation starter on an end table. I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel.
1) What were you thinking? I played piano years ago (I'm 67 now), wanted to get back into it and hoping to jump-start sight reading again. In reading your book (or more of a journal), I became quite convinced to find a different hobby. As much as I love your writing style, you were quite repetitive and often confusing about what did and didn't work. Hmm, perhaps that is exactly what you felt throughout those 6 years.
2) I bought this book because I love your writing and have thoroughly your books. This one not so much. Maybe stay focused on scifi. But I would love to hear more about your jazz exploits.
and found it to be extremely interesting, I admire how much work Al has put in and how honest he was with his own progress.
I like how working with Intervals will benefit with reading and also transposing was a great tip
Thank you Al
Spoiler ahead: he ends the book by giving up.