Piano Questions – Sight Reading Tips – Regulation & Voicing

April 25, 2013

LivingPianosVideos·226 videos

Mr. Estrin, I’ve really enjoyed your video about sight reading.

I’m willing to do whatever it takes to improve (I honestly relate to your story you gave in the video, my sight reading is basically non-existent compared with my level of playing, and it’s starting to hurt me now).

I practice close to 3 hours a day, and devote 1 hour to sight reading very basic pieces – will this help? Is there a more effective way?
– Niraj

Yes I overcame my inability to sightread on a decent level. It came to me in an “Aha” moment. I describe in a video I produced on sightreading how when my father was performing the Tchaikovsky B-flat minor Concerto at Carnegie Hall, he asked me to accompany him on the 2nd piano for practice. This is when I could barely sightread at all! I kept my eyes on the music and counted and kept my hands moving hitting occasional right notes – but throughout the entire concerto, I never got lost! Since that day I have gotten more and more of the notes and can read anything.

I strongly recommend that you play with other musicians – because when you are playing with others, you absolutely must keep going. It’s almost impossible to discipline yourself to keep going when wrong notes are hit. You would be surprised at how appreciative instrumentals and singers are to have someone accompany them even if the accuracy is poor. What is vital is having sensitivity to their timing and expression. Knowing what key you are in so that you have some basic framework of the piece will help you achieve decent results. As you read more your accuracy will improve.

Sometimes sightreading involves reducing the score to its skeletal framework and fleshing out the harmonic structure rather than actually reading every single detail. You have to make intelligent assumptions as to what the score is saying when it’s not possible to see absolutely everything on the fly.

As for practicing sightreading alone, choose music you can play accurately at a slow tempo after playing through no more than 2 or 3 times. If you continually miss notes in your reading playing over again and again the mistakes will become ingrained which defeats the purpose. In choosing reading music on your level, your level will grow. Here is the video:


All the best-

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