Sight Reading

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Devonne & I both spent time in music college, though not together.

She got me into this.

Easy Classics To Moderns - Music For Millions Vols. 17 & 27

Easy Classics To Moderns – Music For Millions Vols. 17 & 27

These 2 books are good for beginning to intermediate piano students.

There’s a simple but effective definition.

This is sight reading for beginners, and it really works. The pieces in these books are all great compositions, a number by famous composers, but others by the not-so-famous. But they’re all very interesting compositions to listen to, and all very easy play.

(It’s the reason some people dislike Mozart, he made great compositions that are easy to play.)

The player starts off on a previously unseen & unheard piece, with the goal of playing it all the way through without stopping.

However slowly the player needs to go, even if it’s glacially slow, the important thing is to play the piece through all the way without stopping, the first time.

Then the player can slowly speed it up, until the piece is at performance level.

…you don’t iron the part of the shirt that has no wrinkles, you only iron the wrinkles…

If the player falters or stops–rather than the beginner’s mistake of stopping completely at a mistake and beginning the piece over–he or she must never go back to the beginning, but pick up again at the point of pausing, and continue through to the end with uninterrupted focus.

After playing through several times, the player practices the rough parts, sometimes just playing over and over through the hard parts, until the piece becomes relatively polished.

I compare it to ironing a shirt – you don’t iron the part of the shirt that has no wrinkles, you only iron the wrinkles.

It sounds scary at first, but with patient coaching for someone starting for the first time, it really begins to work. It actually becomes a delight, not worrying about other people listening, but just playing for oneself.

And the pieces in these books, Easy Classics To Moderns – Music For Millions Vols. 17 & 27, are very entertaining, they sound great, non-players can’t tell that they’re easy.

I had a piano professor, Frank Wasko, graduate of a school most outsiders wouldn’t have heard of, not Juliard or Eastman, but Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University, we just called it IU, of some repute among piano students.

I stood outside his studio without his knowing it, and got to hear him sight-read a piece from the beginning.

He followed that basic outline, playing a piece through the first time without stopping for mistakes.

Professor Wasko played through the first time, with some mistakes.

The second time, he stopped at the mistakes, and circled them in pencil on the score, (I peeked through the studio door window), then proceeded through to the end.

Then the third time, he would go to the mistakes, practice over them repeatedly, ironing them out.

Finally, on the fourth pass, Professor Wasko played the new piece, first played sight unseen, perfectly through, a rough performance draft.

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