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 Post subject: Sight reading phobia
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:17 pm 
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Yep, one of the most dreadful experiences during festival season especially with Honor Band auditions and judged festivals--sight reading.

If there's any advice available, I'm open to any and will greatly consider your suggestions.

I get frustrated and discouraged when I sight read, especially at a recent Honor Band after our music was passed out to us and we had to sight read it all. Most of the music was at tempos from 120-160, so the tempo easily got in the way of my ability to read and play without having a mental overload. :(

Thank you for reading, and your advice is greatly appreciated!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 6:18 am 
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The only way to get over sightreading phobia is to practice playing every piece of music you can get your hands on, even if it wasn't intended for your instrument. Use a metronome. You could also play popular songs with a record. I love sightreading!

And, for that fast stuff, you have to know the basic rudimentary stuff about how to play your instrument, about rhythmic subdivision, and not let anything surprise you. It is very hard work. And memorize all the scales!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 9:31 pm 
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sight reading is my greatest weakness and i tend to get nervous when im auditioning when they give you a sight reading piece i like black out or something i analyze it and then i forget what partial the note is anyone have that problem I dont know in have to start practicing my sight reading that would defenetely help


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 6:10 pm 
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The above suggestion to read every piece of music you can possibly get ahold of it a fabulous one. It gets you used to basic rythmic patterns. Find a good book of scales also with all your major and minor scales/arpeggios/whatever else you could think of. I know for clarinetist the Baermann does a wonderful job of this. I'm sure there's a similar book for your particular instrument.

Also, much of the way we approach sightreading will affect how we sight read. Instead of being afraid of messing up see it as an opportunity to be able to make some mistakes and an opportunity to discover a new musical idea with the freedom to be imperfect. Of course, the ultimate goal is to play it like a Bb major scale, but...come on.

as far as your experience with honor bands, it is best, I have come to understand, to forget about all those notes, you've seen them somewhere before for sure, and try to make music. You'll find that when you worry less about getting notes and, instead, open yourself up the the music trying to be expressed, the notes will come more freely.

I hope some of that's not too "out there." (:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:01 am 
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im sure it will get easier for you as u gain more experience. i just started playing jazz a couple moths ago, and i could not sight read it to save my life. lol. but just by sight reading diff pieces, and recognizing diff rhythms that ive seen before, reading it has gotten easier. u also need confidence tho, if u think ur going to mess up, then u will mess up.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 3:05 pm 
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One book I found that seems to help with sight reading is called Jazz Cliche Capers by the late great Eddie Harris. There are no bars or time signatures, and you play all accidentals as written. Basically, Eddie took hooks and riffs from various jazz tunes and re-wrote them in all twelve keys and re-configured rhythms to half-time and double-time as well. At USC, we used it to audition players for the jazz ensembles --- guys who could read the first page and a bit of the second were in the A band; guys who only barely finished the first page were B or C band.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 6:21 am 
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Much like anything else in the world, if you want to get better at sight-reading, you have to practice it. Borrow music and play through it. If you take private lessons, ask your teacher to bring in something short every week for you to read through, so s/he can critique your reading. If you only sight-read sitting in an audition, of course you're going to be nervous and make mistakes. You band director should be having your group sight-read as well.

You also need to build up your subconscious knowledge...things you know without having to think about them. If you can't play a D flat scale up and down without thinking about it, you won't be able to play a piece that is in that key. Also, practice rhythms like crazy, until you don't have to think about them, especially, dotted-eighth-sixteenths, sixteenths, eighth-sixteenth combos, dotted-quarter-eighths and triplets. If you know a rhythm like the back of your hand, when you see it in a piece, it won't befuddle you. Get a book like Ed Sueta's Rhythm Vocabulary Charts, set the metronome and count and clap, sing and play it until you can do it at various tempi.

Make sure you are counting! I can't tell you how many of my students can nail the above rhythms without counting and then can't play a dotted-half note! You can "feel" your way through quick rhythms, but when a long note or rest shows up, the only way to be accurate is to count it.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:47 pm 
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our band is pretty much amazing at sightreading becuase we ALWAYS do it. sometimes we sightread three or four pieces in one school period (which is around 43 minutes). i'm lucky my director does this.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:51 pm 
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Weaknesses are affirmed (and embedded) when we won't allow ourselves to get over them. You can get over your sightreading phobia if you get it out of your head that you are stuck in that mode.

You can be a good sightreader if you let yourself be one.

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