VC member Sebastian Wren from South Africa was keen to know how to improve his sight-reading skills.
We threw Sebastian’s question over to esteemed American viola pedagogue, Ms Karen Dreyfus:
“What do they say in the sports world? “Just do it!” One can also say that this is the very key to sight-reading music. Musicians spend so much time in the practice room perfecting their technique, analyzing musical ideas and learning the repertoire for their instrument. However, rarely do they spend enough time sight-reading music.
I could state the obvious about sight-reading; scan the entire passage, start with the key/time signature, follow the shape of the line, look for unusual rhythms, changing meters, figure out a fingering pattern that works for the passage, observe the dynamics, etc. Musicians that are adept at sight-reading have honed this skill over many years and enjoy the discovery of new pieces. One should not be intimidated by reading new music in front of their peers.
I suggest that students sight-read music both at home and with other colleagues. If you have access to a library, check out different composers’ works of solo, chamber and orchestra parts or download music that you have not played. Place these works on the music stand and go for it!
One of the great joys of sight-reading is having chamber music parties where you can read through the vast repertoire of chamber music written by composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn and other greats. Sight-reading is such an invaluable tool that will only improve the more you do it. There is an endless amount of music waiting to be discovered by you.
I am wishing everyone at the Violin Channel a wonderful summer filled with all the music you love to play and listen to.
Violist Karen Dreyfus enjoys a wide-ranging career, as a noted orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician | A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Michael Tree and Karen Tuttle, she is a former prize winner at the Washington, Lionel Tertis and Naumburg International Viola Competitions | She currently serves on faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music
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