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Grade 5 adult struggling with supporting tests


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#16 EllieD

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 08:29


 

Quoting Ligneo Fistula:

 

 

…. and on the other hand all the neuropsychology literature suggests the 'power' of the various memories (working, long term etc) is strongly correlated with the ability to sight read, and if you have poor memory then frankly there's little you can do significantly improve one's memory.  ….

 

________________________________________

 

I'd be interested to know a bit more what you mean (maybe a new thread) as you are very well read and I haven't seen (or looked for!) the type of literature you refer to. I just don't quite get what it means though. Does it just mean for music, or in general is it saying the ability to (sight)read well is linked to memory? And in which case, which way round would that work? Maybe memory improves reading as you learn the patterns? As far as music goes, I would say my ability to memorise is much higher than average, and yet my sight reading is about two grades lower than the pieces I play (still a big improvement that I'm very happy about, but it will never be a strength of mine when I play so much from memory). So that would appear to refute the literature, although a sample size of one is not scientifically significant … :) 

 

Also, there apparently are ways to improve memory. Lots of books available that claim to be able to do just that, and I don't see why it shouldn't be an improvable skill (assuming no brain health issues of course).


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#17 LoneM

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Posted 08 December 2019 - 22:45

I think LF is talking about a different kind of memory - I remember reading something about it with reference to sight-reading.  To sight-read you need to be able to read ahead of the notes you are actually playing. On the piano I can only read 2-3 notes ahead, but I know some very good sight-readers who say they read a good 2 bars ahead. Having your fingers play notes that are different from what the eyes are seeing at the same time requires some special kind of memory - it varies among people and those with a 'shorter' one will never be able be as good as those with a 'longer' one, assuming they all practise enough to develop their full potential. I'm sorry to be vague - I can't find the article and it was full of technical physiological terms that I can't remember!

 

That's not to say that you can't improve with practise. I was completely hopeless at sight-reading on the piano even into my 20s, though I was quite good technically. I was very good at sight singing, but the piano music's two staves and greater number of notes flummoxed me completely. Even though I'm rather better these days, I still find it frustrating that though I can hear in my head what it should be my fingers can be slow at landing on the notes.


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#18 ten left thumbs

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 09:17

...- it varies among people and those with a 'shorter' one will never be able be as good as those with a 'longer' one, assuming they all practise enough to develop their full potential.

 

 

You can develop that kind of memory. Also, it comes with seeing the 'bigger picture' (the first bar is a G7, then second bar is a C). You can develop all this, like any cognitive skill, by systematically exercising it. I really don't know where the idea comes that some people have it and others don't. 


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#19 Dorcas

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 12:05

Going back to the OP, I would recommend considering the LCM syllabus, either leisure play or recital.  If someone is really struggling with the supporting tests, and doesn't need graded exams for their CV, then focussing on the sheer joy of playing is more than enough. 

 

Edit: grammar


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#20 jenny

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 15:55

 

...- it varies among people and those with a 'shorter' one will never be able be as good as those with a 'longer' one, assuming they all practise enough to develop their full potential.

 

 

 I really don't know where the idea comes that some people have it and others don't. 

 

 

On this point, I've always been interested that some of my young pupils seem to find sight reading fairly easy and others find it extremely challenging. I include sight reading in every lesson for every pupil, whatever level they are, and yet it just doesn't 'click' with some. I've always been comfortable with sight reading myself (and did a lot of accompanying at music college for that reason) but I have no idea why this was so. I could just 'do it'. So I suppose what I'm saying is that  in my experience, some people do have it and others don't.       


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#21 Boogaloo

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 18:01

I've reflected over recent years on the development of sight-reading skills. This is because it seems to terrify all but the most hardy in an exam situation. So I decided that my aim as a teacher is to enable people to be able to sight-read over and above all other things to begin with. I do this with both piano and classical guitar. Basically none of my pupils at an early level are ever expected to perfect things unless they can do that over the course of a week. Each lesson is basically sight-reading through Piano Adventures or Enjoy Playing Guitar. We cover a new topic or reinforce a topic on a very regular basis but just keep pushing forward through the books. This means that sight-reading is not an issue because it is something that is done week in, week out. Hand positions gradually improve over time as it's not something I labour over with pupils - a little reminder on occasions and it's quite amazing how such things eventually, for the most part, sort themselves out. I'm pleased to say that all except the couple of adult pupils who refuse to do this method are fantastic sight-readers! They don't baulk at it, it's just something that has to be done, no different to reading a book. I don't label it as sight-reading though I do sometimes talk about how what they are doing links to exam work and I sometimes put a 30 second timer on so that they know how long that is.

 

Regarding aural - for most pupils I have changed to Trinity as the aural tests make so much more sense. They are definitely not an easy option at the higher grades, just more relevant to music today and there is a real sense of progression from one grade to the next. Who needs to be able to recognise chords in their inversions within a second or two? A level music now uses a keyboard so these skills do not work across from one to the other like in "the old days".

 

The exercises in Trinity piano are no easy option, but they do mean that amazing feats of memory are not required. And they make far more sense in a time when most people are unable to do the amount of practice required to even just run through all scales etc at the higher levels of ABRSM.

 

A bit of a muddled response but maybe might help someone!


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#22 ten left thumbs

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Posted 09 December 2019 - 19:45

 

 

...- it varies among people and those with a 'shorter' one will never be able be as good as those with a 'longer' one, assuming they all practise enough to develop their full potential.

 

 

 I really don't know where the idea comes that some people have it and others don't. 

 

 

On this point, I've always been interested that some of my young pupils seem to find sight reading fairly easy and others find it extremely challenging. I include sight reading in every lesson for every pupil, whatever level they are, and yet it just doesn't 'click' with some. I've always been comfortable with sight reading myself (and did a lot of accompanying at music college for that reason) but I have no idea why this was so. I could just 'do it'. So I suppose what I'm saying is that  in my experience, some people do have it and others don't.       

 

For starting out, I would absolutely agree with you. Some just get it. Many don't. Of those who don't get it, some will be dyslexic, some are not practicing at all, some have issues around pulse, rhythm or pitch that means they don't get how aural music in time 'codes' to the written page. But, most get better, and the thread started out about an adult who was around grade 5. 

 

At that level of sightreading, there is an element of looking at a segment, quickly recognising it, then playing it while looking ahead. There is an element of quick-memorizing the pattern. For the vast, vast majority of people, this is a skill that they can learn with consistent practice. 


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#23 musicalmalc

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 10:09

Only a pet theory of mine:

 

As someone who always found sight-reading relatively easy thanks to being a musically inquisitive youngster who would spend 100's of hours playing through music of all styles (making good use of our local central library for music) I still found sight-reading in an exam stressful and hard going.

 

I put this down to wanting to get absolutely everything 100% accurate (notes, rhythm, dynamics, phrasing) whereas when just "playing something new" I would go for overall impression and if notes needed to be skipped to maintain speed they would be although usually inner voices so as not to lose the musical gist.

 

I never knew and still don't, how accurate a sight-reading has to be to gain decent marks


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#24 Hildegard

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 13:35

I never knew and still don't, how accurate a sight-reading has to be to gain decent marks

 

For a distinction mark (19, 20 or 21) the ABRSM criteria state that pitch, rhythm and key have to be accurate, musical detail (dynamics, phrasing etc) has to be realised, and the playing has to be fluent and confident.

 

In practice, I think that just a few small slips or hesitations usually results in the mark being 19 or 20 rather than 21.


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#25 ma non troppo

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Posted 10 December 2019 - 17:50

I reckon that sight reading isn't marked as strictly as is made out in the assessment criteria.
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