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How to Improve YOUR Sight Reading OVERNIGHT

Sight Reading is a skill in which many people concentrate just on the pitch and forget about the rhythm.

Most students focus primarily on getting the notes the correct pitch at the expense of keeping the beat going. However, if you look at the ABRSM marking criteria for a sight reading test, the FIRST thing that is mentioned for a distinction is, “Fluent, rhythmically accurate” (followed by “accurate notes/pitch/key”).

The Following Information will Dramatically Change the Way You Sight Read OVERNIGHT

When you sight read are you continually looking at your hands? It’s something I call "watching vertical tennis". It is the single biggest factor that will hinder your fluency in playing the piano. However I recently came across a product that makes it impossible for you to look down. It is called EyeTrainer

  • Concentrates your eyes onto the sheet music, 
  • Improves your geography of the keyboard, 
  • Enhances touch sensation and awareness and 
  • Helps improve listening and "musical" hearing.
In order to sight read well, you need to be able to play without looking at your hands. The video below demonstrates how EyeTrainer can be used even with pieces that involve large leaps (such as the Chopin Nocturne in this video). It also shows the impressive results I observed when I tried it out on my students. It seems counter-intuitive that you will play better when you cannot  see your hands, but in fact, time and time again, I have noticed this to be true with all of my students.

When you start training your eyes to look up, you will not only become a lot more fluent, but your ability to read notes instantly will improve as you start to develop a better sense of piano geography. To help specifically with this sense of Piano Geography,  try this series of videos 

EyeTrainer is an expandable lightweight device designed to cover both the piano keys and our fingers. It is made from foamboard and weighs less than 170 grams. It sits over the keys and expands to cover all 88 keys of a standard size piano or a smaller section covering 4 octaves whilst providing enough space for our hands to move freely.

So if you want to improve your sight reading dramatically overnight start training your eyes with EyeTrainer and you’ll #NeverLookBack. Click the button below to learn more

In an ABRSM exam, you are given 30 seconds to prepare. How you use this 30 seconds is key to effective sight reading. DON'T just start playing from the beginning. Rather, the first thing you should do is get a sense of the key you are in and if you are taking an early Grade (1-2), simply find the hand position for each hand before playing a note.

Then, concentrate on the rhythm, try and visualize in your head how the music should sound, again before you even play a note. This will include not just the rhythm but also other stylistic markings such as dynamics and articulation. Getting the right pitch is only a small part of what the examiner is looking for.

The last thing mentioned in the marking criteria for a distinction is “Confident presentation”. A sight reading test is an assessment on how well you can convey the music as a whole performance, NOT if you can recognise the pitches A, B, C etc - that is a theory exam!!

Finally - a word on mistakes. If you miss a note, DON’T go back and correct it, you’ll only upset the flow and rhythm of the music and this effectively then counts as a 2nd mistake. You can’t erase the first mistake, and the examiner is not interested if you can improve on your wrong note, he wants to hear a performance of the music as a whole which conveys as best you can, the character of the piece.

Finally, for more hints on how to effectively sight read for a music exam, check out this video:  How to get a Distinction at ABRSM - Sight Reading

And for even more tips on how to get the best out of all the aspects of the exam, Sight Reading, Scales, Aural and of course the Pieces, check out my E-book, “How to get a Distinction at ABRSM”

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