Tag: Sight Reading


An inspirational Holistic Day for Pianists with Melanie Spanswick, myself and our students

July 24th, 2017 — 2:26pm
GéNIA teachers Piano-Yoga® at Holistic Day for Pianists in London

GéNIA teachers Piano-Yoga® at Holistic Day for Pianists in London

This is just a little blog entry from me about the Holistic Day, that I led with renowned educator, blogger and teacher Melanie Spanswick recently in London. I wanted to share with you how wonderful it was to spend the whole day concentrating on Piano-Yoga® and other aspects of piano playing and technique. Melanie’s talks were inspiring; she offered wonderful tips on memorisation and sight-reading, making students practise various things there and then.

I offered a slightly different approach, concentrating on how to obtain the best energy, so you can get the best our of your practice and/or a performance, especially when you were tired or, opposite, too excited to concentrate. Through the various exercises and talks about different energy states, we spent a wonderful afternoon exploring. I concluded my part of the day by going through the details of each stage of my book ‘Piano-Yoga® Transform Your Hands’: 10 Week Course of Piano Exercises.

We had a wonderful variety of students, which included amateur pianists, piano teachers and professional music students.

The atmosphere of Jaque Samuel Pianos, was equally inspiring; we were surrounded by at least 100 pianos and had 4 Fazioli grand pianos in our studio, where we taught.

Melanie Spanwick teaches Sight-Reading Class at Holistic Day for Pianists

Melanie Spanwick teaches Sight-Reading Class at Holistic Day for Pianists in London

The students were very receptive and eager and after the day we received wonderful comments such as ‘A most inspiring duette with many useful tips’ from Edi and ‘One of the most interesting days in my life. Thank you so much!’ from Charles.

We look forward to bringing you more events and if you’d like to invite us to come to your area with the Holistic Day Programme please do not hesitate to get in touch!

With love,

GéNIA

 

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Sight-reading: Eight Tips – a guest blog by Melanie Spanswick

April 27th, 2017 — 10:39am
Melanie Spanswick, pianist, composer, educator and blogger

Melanie Spanswick, pianist, composer, educator and blogger

‘It gives me a great pleasure to introduce a wonderful educator, pianist, pedagogue, blogger, author and international judicator, Melanie Spanswick.  

Melanie kindly offered to write a blog especially for Piano-Yoga readers, covering one of her ‘specialities’: the subject of sight reading.

 Melanie has also just published the first series of her new book ‘Play it again: PIANO’ with Schott Music. Here, she offers some useful tips for pianists who would like to improve their sight-reading.’ GéNIA

Sight-reading is a subject feared by many a pianist. Reading at speed is a real skill, and one to be prized; if you can read quickly, learning repertoire will be a much swifter and more pleasurable experience. Contrary to the often misguided belief that it’s a skill you ‘either can or can’t do’, I’ve found if students are taught and guided carefully in this respect, they can and do make substantial progress. The key is a slow approach with plenty of practice material, and time to devote to this cause.

I hope the following tips will prove interesting and useful for those who feel they need a practice method to which they can apply to every session.

  1. Sight-reading is all about the preparation. Begin by allowing at least two to three minutes of preparation time, looking at the score, and then separating the various tasks (as described below).
  2. On first glance, check the score for the key signature, noting the major and relative minor of that written; get into the habit of ‘spotting the key’ of every piece you read. Note the time signature (particularly if it changes during the piece), obvious note patterns such as scales, arpeggios, chords, octaves and the like (also aim to decipher fingerings for such figurations before you play).
  3. Separate the rhythm from the notes (this is very important). Focus on the general pulse; always start with very slow speeds when learning to read (perhaps a third or even a quarter of the intended tempo). Then tap the rhythm of the treble clef in the right hand, and the rhythm of the bass clef, with the left hand (at the same time), keeping in mind the slow pulse you have already set.
  4. Now play through the left hand alone (without adhering to any pulse), locating note patterns, hand positions changes and fingering (and remembering the key!). Then repeat this with the right hand. If you’re preparing for an exam, you will probably have just enough time to run through each hand separately in the 20 or 30 seconds allocated inspection time beforehand. However, irrespective of exam sight-reading tests, allow plenty of time for this vital part of the preparation process.
  5. Decide how you will keep time during the exercise. A metronome may be helpful (for ‘sitting’ on the pulse), but counting out loud along to your playing is also a reliable method (providing your count is rhythmical!). Try to sub-divide the beat (i.e. if crotchets are the main beat, count in quavers, but if quavers are the main beat, then count in semiquavers etc.). Counting a bar’s rest at the beginning can be useful too (for setting a firm tempo).
  6. Once you have spent time on the preparation stage, and are quite sure of the notes, rhythm, fingering and hand position changes, play your chosen exercise hands together, very slowly, reading ahead all the time, whilst aiming to play through your mistakes. It’s tempting to stop and correct errors, but by playing slowly, you will eventually be able to resist this urge.
  7. When reading, keep in mind the overall rhythmic structure and play the notes to the pulse as opposed to the other way around. This way, you can always keep going, missing out notes or chords if you can’t find them in the time (if this happens frequently, probably a slower tempo is required).
  8. Eventually, when you are comfortable playing sight-reading exercises slowly, gradually add speed.

This preparation will become quicker over time, as will your reading. Ensure you have a large collection of sight-reading books and materials; one or two books won’t be sufficient, as with regular practice, you’ll move through many practice examples as well as easier piano repertoire. Try to start with very simple exercises, moving to more challenging examples as and when you’re ready. If you can spend 10 – 15 minutes sight-reading at every practice session, you’ll be amazed at what can be achieved. Good luck!

Melanie Spanswick

www.melaniespanswick.com

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Piano-Yoga® Retreat: St Hilda’s College, Oxford, 16th June 2013

May 1st, 2013 — 11:12am

Piano-Yoga Oxford Retreat 2013

Click on the image above or HERE to book your tickets.
Click HERE to view the PDF version.

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