improve my speed in Reading

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victor
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improve my speed in Reading

Post by victor » Wed Feb 19, 2020 2:35 am

Hi everyone.
First of all say that I am an amateur player. I play in a local band for pleasure. I am not professional. After many years I have achieved an acceptable sound and I really enjoy the trombone except when very fast passages come. I would like to improve my speed in Reading. Any advice?

Thank you
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BGuttman
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by BGuttman » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:27 am

There are a lot of things you can do, but there's no magic bullet that suddenly makes you a speed reader.

1. When you get a new piece of music, look it over before you start playing. Look for repeats, key changes, time signatures, dynamics, funny looking rhythms, and clusters of notes. If you can, see if the rhythms or clusters look like any of the things you are familiar with like scales, arpeggios, etc.

2. Develop the habit of reading ahead. Try to keep about 2 bars worth of music in your head so you aren't blind-sided by an odd phrase that springs out of nowhere.

3. Practice sight reading. There are already a few threads here and more in the TTF archive so I won't rehash those here.

4. Practice playing music. Don't just parrot notes -- make them mean something. This was the rationale behind Rochut's adoption of the Bordogni etudes we all learn to play.

5. Playing in a reading band -- one where you either perform without rehearsal or with maybe one rehearsal -- can force you to do a lot of the things I mentioned above.

Good luck.
Bruce Guttman
Merrimack Valley Philharmonic Orchestra
"Almost Professional"
timothy42b
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by timothy42b » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:28 am

The good readers do not read note by note on the fly.

They retrieve prememorized fragments from the memory banks.

So while sightreading is improved somewhat by doing a lot of it, it is much more important to find the elements you struggle with, learn and polish them thoroughly. These elements are often specific to a particular genre. For example, a big band syncopated rhythm will never by found in a traditional SATB hymn. All marches will have scalewise and chordwise runs.

The next time you run into a passage that throws you, study that. An "easy" march will have quick 5 note and 7 note runs landing on the tonic. So practice those until they're fluent, and when you see them in the music you'll play them automatically.
norbie2018
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by norbie2018 » Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:10 am

Read a bar or two ahead and once this becomes a habit it'll really help your reading.

You'll also want to have a good sense of time while you're playing, so don't be afraid of tapping your foot/creating the time in your body.

Also, practice reading something new and recording it, then listen back to how you did. Start with short, easier exercises from Arban for instance, or a melody you haven't read before. Play it like a mini concerto not only grabbing the notes, but playing it musically. It is amazing how much more aware you'll become at what is coming out your bell. Remember to do this in good time.
AndrewMeronek
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by AndrewMeronek » Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:50 am

timothy42b wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:28 am
The good readers do not read note by note on the fly.

They retrieve prememorized fragments from the memory banks.

So while sightreading is improved somewhat by doing a lot of it, it is much more important to find the elements you struggle with, learn and polish them thoroughly. These elements are often specific to a particular genre. For example, a big band syncopated rhythm will never by found in a traditional SATB hymn. All marches will have scalewise and chordwise runs.

The next time you run into a passage that throws you, study that. An "easy" march will have quick 5 note and 7 note runs landing on the tonic. So practice those until they're fluent, and when you see them in the music you'll play them automatically.
This is true in my experience as well. The best readers are people who have a huge vocabulary of memorized licks.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
FullPedalTrombonist
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by FullPedalTrombonist » Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:44 am

There was an app called Black Keys I think. Its a rhythm game. It’s not for sight reading, but it trains you to watch ahead of where you are going to tap. Also regular reading helps with looking ahead.

There are a lot of transcribed solos on YouTube that are fun for reading quickly.

If it’s a piece you have heard before it seems to be easier. Muscle memory helps when you know how the next interval sounds or how the next rhythm goes even if you haven’t played the piece. Sort of the same with purely a first reading. Intuition can help with where the line is going.

I read one note ahead. That’s the next note I’ll be playing. When I have rests I’ll look at the next couple licks incase anything crazy is coming up. There’s almost always time to glance through a piece when a new one is being handed out. Focus on parts that looks hard. Getting a thorough workout in the practice room with rhythms and scales helps with getting around the horn and almost everything you okay is built off of language that makes sense and that we all practice.

The only physical tool you’ll need is a pencil. And it’s the handiest tool I bring to a rehearsal. When a new piece is handed out and I see “soli” I mark rhythms or anything that lies oddly on the horn just in case!
bigbandbone
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by bigbandbone » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:43 pm

The Evelin Wood Speed Reading Course (for words not music) helped me emensely. The concepts transfer to sight reading and playing music very naturally.
VJOFan
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by VJOFan » Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:24 am

"Fast passages" are the trouble?

Part of being able to sight read is just being able to play. I can't sight read as difficult material as I used to because I am not practicing.

The material you can sight read will be less difficult than the things you can do with practice. That seems self evident but the rest of this thread is addressing the generalities of reading. The OP mentions "fast" specifically, not rhythms or intervals etc but speed. To me that means wood-shedding technique. One of the above posts mentions "memorized licks" but I think it is more about internalized technique. The faster you can play, the faster your potential reading speed.
hyperbolica
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by hyperbolica » Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:45 am

I used to have a hard time reading too, but I started doing a few things that improved that:

- understand that most music is made up of patterns. you can play Arbans and learn a lot of the patterns. Look for patterns in the music you read. This goes for pitches and rhythms.

- Really know your scales, including major, minor, blues, etc in all keys. Arbans.

- I started playing a different instrument (euphonium). This forced me to read more naturally while I'm struggling to figure out fingerings.

- treat all music as if you're performing. I had the tendency to speed up and slow down to allow me to read better. Don't do that. just play the music at the tempo it is marked, and if you can't get something, skip it or make something up, but don't slow down. Always play in time.

- I sometimes confuse myself when sight reading with alternate positions. Unless you can do alternates absolutely fluidly, stick to basic positions when reading, that way you're just concentrating on the notes.
Gary
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by Gary » Tue Feb 25, 2020 10:07 am

BGuttman wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:27 am
Develop the habit of reading ahead.
Absolutely.
Doubler
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by Doubler » Tue Feb 25, 2020 11:32 am

The more patterns you know, the more you recognize. Your brain will automatically say "I've seen that before" and respond accordingly. Also, transcribing unusual patterns in music you hear helps you sort out unfamiliar passages.
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Jimprindle
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by Jimprindle » Wed Feb 26, 2020 9:20 am

norbie2018 wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 8:10 am
Read a bar or two ahead and once this becomes a habit it'll really help your reading.
Bruce also mentioned this. Playing Broadway shows on the road where you have usually 1 rehearsal,then perform 8 shows a week and sometimes hundreds of pages, the only way I could handle reading "surprises" was not only reading 1 or 2 bars ahead but sometimes several measures, a phrase, an entire space, even turning the page early.

In my daily practice I work on reading this way often. It not only makes me aware of upcoming accidentals, rhythms, dynamics, but helps me be creative about style, interpretation, and the general "drama" of the music, both present and future.
dbwhitaker
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by dbwhitaker » Wed Feb 26, 2020 10:39 pm

I was rehearsing this week with a community college big band and the director implored everyone to practice sight reading on a daily basis (adding "it's not something you can cram for"). He said he believes most improvement comes from practicing "easier" rather than difficult music, i.e music that you can play "95% correctly" on first pass.
Playing again after a very long break and having fun.
VJOFan
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Re: improve my speed in Reading

Post by VJOFan » Thu Feb 27, 2020 9:31 am

dbwhitaker wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 10:39 pm
I was rehearsing this week with a community college big band and the director implored everyone to practice sight reading on a daily basis (adding "it's not something you can cram for"). He said he believes most improvement comes from practicing "easier" rather than difficult music, i.e music that you can play "95% correctly" on first pass.
There is a teaching/learning theory that calls this the zone of proximal development (from language teaching theory oringinally). The theory states that the greatest progress occurs when material is at a ZPD +1 level. So your band director may be on to something.

The trick is to properly assess the zone of proximal development (what a learner can do) and then figure out what exactly constitutes "+1" harder.

The theory makes perfect sense but practical application of it is definitely art, not science.
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