Lesson 45

Sight Reading: Steps & Repeats

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Hello and welcome back.
I'm Joseph Hoffman.
Today is pretty exciting for me because we are beginning to learn how to sight read music at the piano.
Sight reading is a skill that means playing music that you have never practiced before on your first try simply by reading the notes from the page as you play.
It's an extremely useful, and I believe enjoyable, skill.
Let's start with the useful side.

It's happened to me where someone has called me up and said,
Mr. Hoffman, I'm supposed to sing in church tomorrow,
and I don't have anyone to play piano for me.
Can you help?
My wife calls this a musical emergency.
I say, "sure no problem."
They come over and hand me the music.
I've never seen the music before,
but no sweat I played on my first try,
and then we perform it in church the very next day,
no extra practice needed.

That's because I've trained myself to sight read.
Then there's also the purely enjoyable part of sight reading,
like when I was in junior high the famous musical, The Phantom of the Opera,
came out. I loved the music and so my parents bought me the music book.
I had so much fun sight reading all the songs in the book while my sister or I sang the Phantom of the Opera.
Sight reading is all about training your brain to turn the music that you see into music that you play and can hear,
so let's get started with learning to sight read.

For sight reading at first,
we're going to be reading note heads on this kind of one line staff.
Once we've mastered that,
we'll be moving on to sight reading on the more typical five line staff that you're used to seeing.
So with a one line staff,
you'll see there are only three possible positions the note can be.
Here we have a line note,
and with the note head right on the line going right through the center of it,
or we can be below the line like this,
or the note head could be above the line.
Both of these would be considered space notes.

So first let's point to each note head and say how it's moving,
either repeat, step down, or step up like this.
We'll always say start for the first note so I'll show you once.
We say start, repeat, step down, step up, step up, repeat, step down.
Now can you do that by yourself?
Point to each note head and say how it's moving.
Start for the first note. Go.

Good, now let's try to play this on the piano.
For these one line staff sight reading exercises,
you can choose any white key to start on,
and we're always going to use finger 3.
You can do it in either right hand or left hand.
I mean we're going to start on finger 3.
So for this one let's choose,
I'll choose this first one and then when you practice these on your own at home,
like I said you can choose any white key,
but so we're playing in the same place.
Let's choose G for this one.

So I'm using my right hand finger 3 on G.
That will be our position.
Then what you're going to do is keep your eye on the page,
and just trust your fingers.
They're going to move based on what your eye is showing them,
so while you keep your eye on the notes,
your finger 3 is going to play the first note,
and then it repeats so you play that again,
and then you step down, you step up, you step up,
then you repeat, and then you step down.
You're going to do all of that without glancing down at your hand at all.
You're going to just let your eyes follow from note to note.

Okay, let's try it together now.
Take your right hand finger 3, place it on G,
and out loud say what the notes are doing as you play them.
So keep your eye focused on each note head as you play it.
Go. Start, repeat, step down, step up, step up, repeat, step down.
Great job, you just sight read your first musical example.
Let's look at another sight reading example.
Let's first point and say how each note is moving.
Say start for the first note and then try to say it along with me.
Ready, go. Start, step up, repeat, step down, step down, step up, step up.
Great, now let's try to play this one on the piano.

Okay, once again let's use right hand finger 3 on G.
This one I'm going to let you try on your own first, so go ahead and press pause,
and with finger 3 on G keep your eye on the notes,
and one note at a time say what they're doing.
Press pause to try it on your own,
then press play when you're ready to try it with me.
Okay, let's try playing it together.
So right hand finger 3 on G.
Let's say what the notes are doing.
We're going to start on G then step up, repeat, step down,
step down, step up, step up. Great, let's try another one.

Here's our next sight reading example.
This one can you try it ...