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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Good Sight-Reading Speeds Up Learning

...and why some players go fishing instead

The value of good sight-reading extends beyond playing fluently at a first reading. It speeds up the process of learning too. Poor sight-reading is reflected in slower play-throughs and more hesitations. Good sight-reading reduces the hesitations and so accelerates the initial process of learning a piece.

Now consider the five play-through stages to improve sight-reading and see how they can also improve the learning process:

The Five Play-Throughs' Plan
First play-through: allow yourself all the time in the world, out of time too, to find out where the notes are. Try to understand the chords and harmony.

Second play-through: Consolidate what you have already done. Take care to remember where you have doubts and hesitations. After, practise individual phrases by themselves.

Third play-through: Play slowly in time. After, practise again individual phrases by themselves.

Fourth play-through: Let the rhythm now be your driving force. Keep going in time. You now know, more or less, what the harmony is, and you half-remember the notes, so this will help with difficult passages. After, practise again individual phrases by themselves, slowly.

Fifth play-through: Treat this as a stricter version of the fourth play through!

With this plan, sight-reading and learning are interchangeable at the initial stages of learning. Note that it can also improve your memory because you will begin to memorise passages by the fourth play-through. After, dedicated and repeated practise may be necessary to improve difficulties, and that is a different discipline altogether. And yet, improved sight-reading does have an effect on practising difficult passages too.

Gone fishing for bar 48 - back in five minutes
Poor sight-readers take ages to find in the music the difficult phrase they wish to practise, and even when they do they cannot play it by itself without starting the piece all over again. This means that they seldom practise that phrase exclusively. Precision practise - to coin a phrase - of particular phrases is necessary for marked improvement. Since so much time is spent fishing for the notes in question disheartened players are likely to give up the pursuit. It is as if they hang up a notice which reads "gone fishing for the notes of bar 48 so as to practise them. I won't be a moment, although I fear it might be more like five minutes". The answer of course, is to improve sight-reading. In this way, the fishing expedition will be greatly accelerated, and there will no longer be such a frustrating search for fish, or rather, notes!

To summarise:
- Good sight-reading reduces hesitations and so accelerates the process of learning a piece.
- The Five Play-Throughs' Plan is good for both sight-reading and learning.
- Improved sight-reading helps locate difficult passages for precision practise.

This has been my rough guide to how sight-reading can speed up learning.

Read more:
Straining Sight-Readings' Sinews: An Introduction To Painless Improvement
posted 30th October 2011

November 2011

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=811 .
© 2017.

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