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Sight Reading Story Number 2

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

When I left you at the end of the last sight reading story, my teacher had told me, for my exam, to play my sight reading in the correct rhythm, even if some of the pitches were incorrect. That is what I did, and I passed my exam. So job done.

But still, my Schubert...

...ended up sounding more like Schoenberg.

And I obviously needed to work on reading accurate pitches as well as rhythms! So I continued to work on developing my sight reading skills.

  • I had help from my piano teacher, who had started me on the path to fluent reading.

  • I had help from my pedagogy teacher, who exposed me to different methodologies for learning to read music. In particular, the landmark and patterning approach interested me.

  • I was taking a lot of music theory classes and ear training classes. I was learning to sight sing. I was learning about voice-leading and how harmony works.

One day, I was in a practice room, looking at a Beethoven sonata I was assigned to learn. And all of that theory study and sight singing practice suddenly flipped a switch. It was like someone had turned the lights on. Instead of seeing one note after another and trying to name pitches before playing them, I could see patterns. I could see landmarks. I could see musical structures jumping off the page, like musical architecture. I had learned this language so well that I could even predict where and what the next cadence would be.

I learned that sonata in one week, instead of the several weeks it would usually have taken me. I was ready to work on technique and interpretation at my very next lesson!

This was such a joy to me at the time, because I had this story stuck in my head that some people can sight read and lots of people can’t – and I was one of the ones who can’t. And I didn’t know (until that time) that you can work on your sight reading – that there were actual sight reading skills you can develop.

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