Mr. Estrin, I’ve really enjoyed your video about sight reading.
I’m willing to do whatever it takes to improve (I honestly relate to your story you gave in the video, my sight reading is basically non-existent compared with my level of playing, and it’s starting to hurt me now).
I practice close to 3 hours a day, and devote 1 hour to sight reading very basic pieces – will this help? Is there a more effective way?
Yes, I overcame my inability to sightread on a decent level. It came to me in an “Aha” moment. I describe in a video I produced on sightreading how when my father was performing the Tchaikovsky B-flat minor Concerto at Carnegie Hall, he asked me to accompany him on the 2nd piano for practice. This is when I could barely sightread at all! I kept my eyes on the music and counted and kept my hands moving to hit occasional right notes – but throughout the entire concerto, I never got lost! Since that day I have gotten more and more of the notes and can read anything.
I strongly recommend that you play with other musicians – because when you are playing with others, you absolutely must keep going. It’s almost impossible to discipline yourself to keep going when wrong notes are hit. You would be surprised at how appreciative instrumentals and singers are to have someone accompany them even if the accuracy is poor. What is vital is having a sensitivity to their timing and expression. Knowing what key you are in so that you have some basic framework of the piece will help you achieve decent results. As you read more your accuracy will improve.
Sometimes sightreading involves reducing the score to its skeletal framework and fleshing out the harmonic structure rather than actually reading every single detail. You have to make intelligent assumptions as to what the score is saying when it’s not possible to see absolutely everything on the fly.
As for practicing sightreading alone, choose the music you can play accurately at a slow tempo after playing through no more than 2 or 3 times. If you continually miss notes in your reading playing over again and again the mistakes will become ingrained which defeats the purpose. In choosing reading music on your level, your level will grow. Here is the video:
All the best-
How often do your recommend regulating and voicing a Yamaha studio upright? It was built in 1986, 48 inches tall.
The frequency of regulation is determined not by the age of the piano so much as by how much it is played. Also, the regularity of maintenance enters into the equation. If your tuner does fine adjustments during regular tuning schedule, then problems can’t build up. If you provide me with information about how much the instrument is played, I can give you some guidelines. I would say that with average playing, a piano would probably benefit from at least some regulation within 10 years. Often times even brand new pianos aren’t regulated up to a high standard. So, if you have never had any regulation performed on the instrument, it could very well benefit from some. Ask your tuner next time you get the piano serviced. If you notice any issues with the response of the piano, of course, that would indicate some adjustments are necessary.
All the best-