Jump to content

Advanced Sight Reading (singing)

Rate this topic


pgrahamlaw
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have for some time now been able to sight sing anything that stays close to a tonal centre, whether that be major minor, or even modal. What I find more difficult is when a piece drifts from a particular key, it becomes much more difficult to read it in terms of a single note as a foundation.

I'm about to take up a choral scholarship at an English minster, and they seem to want a higher level of sight reading than I have. I wondered if there are any techniques that I could use in conjunction with the classic Kodaly, and how I might go about learning them.

Thanks in advance,

Peter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a trick from my first wife when she studied piano scores. Read the sheet music while listening to a recording of the piece. It's a matter of familiarity, getting used to associating pitches with the written score.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply,

So you reckon lots of time connecting the music with how it sounds, do you think there was a particular understanding of what was happening, or just practice, practice, practice?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have answered your own question. My first wife was in her twenties, as was I, when we married. But she had piano lessons since childhood. At 14, she switched instruction to Alfred Moulideaux, who was then first pianist for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and a tenured professor at the Meadow School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. As an adult, she attended college there and received a bachelor's degree in piano performance and pedagogy, and he was her instructor throughout college. Point being, she had been doing that sort of thing a long time, though not paying attention to the amount of time.

You can call it practice, practice, practice. Or, call it the one thing you relish doing and let others call it "practice."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like you, I sightsing very accurately with tonal pieces major or minor; modal can sometimes throw me until I recognize it.

That means my strategy for finding the pitch is placing it within the tonality.

When the pieces are not strongly tonal, then other strategies must be used.

I'd be interested in good answers to this problem. What I do is fall back on intervalic reading. For me that is not as reflexive as tonal. But it does work. When I make an error at this, I make a note to self to work that interval later in private, all over the keyboard. The hardest interval for me to sing is the tritone. Arggh

Occasionally i just can't find the interval either and I have to nail the pitch. (the others in our choir do not read music; though I don't have a strong voice, mine is the aim they depend on). Then, (this may seem silly) I pretend I have a trombone in my hand, move my arm to the correct position for that note, and most of the time I can pull the note out of the air. There is enough muscle and brain memory from thousands of hours of playing those notes that I can usually do it, but it's tiring and fades if I work it too often.

There are probably other good strategies too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your reply - it's nice to know I share my boat with someone else.

I can tell you an interesting way to think of a tritone is to think of 'Maria' from West Side Story, a familiar tune I think.

Another way I now know might be useful, as long as you have accompaniment is to read the chord and find your note, especially easy if you find yourself on the 5th or tonic.

I've also wondered about how you move from floating about intervals, then as soon as it becomes tonal, finding a tonal centre - do you find this particularly difficult? I'm sure, like me, you end up singing a lot of the same music that's been sung at church for the last 25 years!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have for some time now been able to sight sing anything that stays close to a tonal centre, whether that be major minor, or even modal. What I find more difficult is when a piece drifts from a particular key, it becomes much more difficult to read it in terms of a single note as a foundation.

I'm about to take up a choral scholarship at an English minster, and they seem to want a higher level of sight reading than I have. I wondered if there are any techniques that I could use in conjunction with the classic Kodaly, and how I might go about learning them.

Thanks in advance,

Peter

Peter: Do you recognize melodic intervals when you see them in the score, and the major and minor scales.? If so, then the next step is familiarlity with the more obscure intervalic patterns. Check out 'Modus Novus' by Lars Edlund. I used it in graduate school, and these days, you can find a .pdf download of it out in the internet.

If you are not to that point yet, then look at some of the resources listed on this page:

http://www.vincepeterson.com/ear-training-2013.html

I hope this is helpful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter: Do you recognize melodic intervals when you see them in the score, and the major and minor scales.? If so, then the next step is familiarlity with the more obscure intervalic patterns. Check out 'Modus Novus' by Lars Edlund. I used it in graduate school, and these days, you can find a .pdf download of it out in the internet.

I hope this is helpful.

That's an interesting idea. It sounds like sightsinging might be closer to instrumental sightreading in some ways.

Most people think of sightreading on piano or another instrument as the prima facie connection of vision to the page with the motor movement that puts our finger in the right place.

But I think the component of memory retrieval is much larger, at least in the better sightreaders.

They have thoroughly learned a large repertoire of patterns that they can retrieve, rather than sightreading from scratch. I emphasize thoroughly; these have to be mastered well enough that they can simply be played at sight. That means a lot of the time spent sightreading novel material, as so many advise, is wasted. It's really better to identify patterns and work them into memory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's an interesting idea. It sounds like sightsinging might be closer to instrumental sightreading in some ways.

Most people think of sightreading on piano or another instrument as the prima facie connection of vision to the page with the motor movement that puts our finger in the right place.

But I think the component of memory retrieval is much larger, at least in the better sightreaders.

They have thoroughly learned a large repertoire of patterns that they can retrieve, rather than sightreading from scratch. I emphasize thoroughly; these have to be mastered well enough that they can simply be played at sight. That means a lot of the time spent sightreading novel material, as so many advise, is wasted. It's really better to identify patterns and work them into memory.

TimR: I think that is a good way to put it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...