Cut a long story short, my sight-reading stinks and I really need help from you guys to improve it. My teacher, who is lovely, cannot help me all that much because she is a natural sight-reader and just doesn’t know how to help me. She gave me a massive pile of books to work through for practice, and it’s just not getting any better. It’s not something I can do naturally… I need specific advice about what to do to improve, rather than “practice lots” or “play it slowly” or “try to not stop” because those things aren’t helping.
I’ve been trying to narrow down what it is I find difficult, so here are a few things that might help you help me:
– I play a lot of folk music and can improvise and play from ear very easily
– I am unable to look at the music even when I am familiar with the piece; I learn all of my pieces off by heart.
– When I look at my hands, I only look at one of them at a time, usually my left hand (which is my weaker hand).
– My sight-reading on one-line instruments is pretty slick. These instruments do not require me to move my hands i.e. one finger serves one button/hole/note. I do not look at my hands when I play these instruments. Which suggests that my main trouble is that I cannot feel for how to move my hands to serve many notes, backed up by…
– My sight reading on the piano was similarly shocking
– A friend of mine likened sight-reading to touch typing…I cannot touch type. I use one finger on each hand, and I have to look at the keyboard. The same friend expressed surprise at how fast I could type given this.
– If blindfolded or forced to look at music, I can generally place my fingers to within one or two notes of the correct note…continuously, but no better than that. So my muscle memory gets me into the vicinity of the correct notes, but is never accurate enough. Therefore I am generally always one note out, all the time, at least.
– I can read and take in music ok (like, now I must play a 2nd inv Gmaj chord in my LH…), the trouble comes when I have to actually place my hand on the strings without looking. The strings all feel the same to me. I don’t instinctively know where my hand should go without looking.
– I haven’t even the faintest idea how you’re supposed to place effectively without extensively studying the piece beforehand. When I learn a new piece I go through it slowly and block it with fingerings, trying out different ones until I find something fluid and comfortable, and then I practice them over and over until they are automatic. Part of the problem is that even if I do hit the notes correctly, I miss the next ones because my fingers are all tangled up or in the wrong places.
What do I do? Is there a way I should going about thinking/reading the music that would help? Drills? I am particularly interested to hear from people who like me are not natural sight-readers and have overcome it somehow…