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How to Become a Great Sight Reader

How to Become a Great Sight Reader

I was expecting blues scales, riffs and streams of consciousness, but this workshop on piano improvisation was a surprising place to hear an endorsement of the need to read. When improviser, pianist and educator Tony Gould spoke to a group of Yamaha students at a workshop on May 2nd, 2010, he urged the students to pick up anything near the piano and play it. “You must be able to read!” he said, and explained that without learning to read there is a whole world of music you won’t have access to.

The concept of playing new piece after new piece just for the sake of playing is common amongst music professionals. Composer Elissa Milne writes “Students should be learning gazillions of pieces each year (in the case of my students, 'gazillions' equates to at least 30 often 40).” Imagine how different the reading skill of your child would be after learning 30 pieces this year! Sarah Kent, a piano teacher at Ballarat Grammar, remembers her teacher making her learn a new piece, perfectly, every week. Her teacher then entered her into a sight reading competition. “I could have killed her,” Sarah jokes, “but I won.”

As parents, we can encourage this by making sure we have music books available to our children; not just an “exam” book with a few repertoire pieces they will work on over a long period of time, but great editions of works by famous or contemporary composers. Your teacher will have some suggestions. When your child was in the earliest grades, if your teacher had asked you to buy collections like “Twenty-Four Little Pieces Op.39” by Kabalevsky, “Album for the Young Op.39” by Tchaikovsky, “Twelve Easy and Melodious Studies, Opus 63” by Streabbog, or “Albumleaves for the Young, Op.101” by Gurlitt (just to name a few!) then you will have lots of music on hand for your older child to sight read.

The most recent addition to the Sight Reading Secrets series, Book Five, is a collection of mostly Baroque and Classical pieces arranged by subject to help students prepare for the sight reading assessment in the AMEB Grade Five syllabus. With over ninety pages of content, your child will have countless opportunities to read, read, read!

To read the rest of the quote from Elissa Milne, follow the link below: