Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sight reading sessions. 21st Century style.

Hello everyone!

In the classical music world there is a certain skill, a rather valued skill, called 'Sight reading'.  
As the name suggests, it is the ability to play/read any piece of music on sight without any practice.
It's an ability we get tested on quite often, especially during orchestral auditions, and consequently, hearing the words 'sigh read' strikes fear into many students' hearts.
As musicians, we spend so much of our lives practicing so many different sets of skills that 
when we have to play something that we haven't practiced or seen before, it really unnerves many of us.

Another reason it's so scary is that it's a skill that's rather difficult to 'practice'.
I mean, the only way I can think to 'practice' sight reading is just do it over and over, 
but this sort of practicing is easier said than done.
First of all, who has just a whole bunch of unlearned music lying about?
Most of the music I have at home are pieces I have already worked on, 
and I only tend to buy music when I need to learn certain pieces.  
Secondly, have you ever tried to sight read by yourself?  It's quite boring. 
And when you are alone, you can stop and go back to fix particularly atrocious spots anytime you want, which obviously defeats the purpose of the practice.

This is why the best way to practice sight reading is with your friends!
Because you are reading chamber music (the best type of music in my opinion),
 it's automatically that much more fun and rewarding.
AND because there are others reading with you, you can't just stop and go fix things, 
you just have to keep going.
It's kind of like the tragic scene in Lion King.  
Even if you stumble, you just have to keep on running to avoid being trampled. 
And sometimes, this is exactly how it may feel.  haha.  but it's character building...  I think.

Oddly enough, I actually really love sight reading.
I can already feel the stink eyes coming at me from some of my musician friends  haha  but it's the truth.
Something to do with having to be on my toes all the time, being in the moment 100%, 
being incredibly alert, and the moment of panic at seeing an an impossible looking passage and somehow miraculously being able to play every single note!!  
Sight reading can be an extremely exhilarating experience.

Usually, it's difficult for me to find friends who wants to sight read as much as I do, but since I'm at Foulger this summer with Timmay (cello), I've been having an easier time; all you need is another violinist and a violist, and we can read quartets alllll night long!!  =)
And Timmay, bless his soul, is usually willing to read with me.  And when he doesn't feel like it,,, well, he ends up reading reading with me anyway.  Oh the power of persuasion!  ;)   I love him. I really do.  haha

So here are some footages of our reading sessions.  
And at Foulger, we have brought sight reading sessions into the 21st Century.
We no longer read in this manner.

We read like this

no less than 4 laptops per sight reading session.
God bless IMSLP.

This sight reading session, we decided to pay homage to the old days, and had one actual music and a stand.
We of course had 4 lap tops as well.

 And because we are all college students, and we are constantly eating, we also had snacks.
Something that would have never been allowed in the olden days; can you imagine what the Mozarts would have said if we were spilling peanuts all over their piano?  *gasp*

Happy hump day!
And thanks so much for stopping by!

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