Read Ahead - Level 1
An Introduction to Sight-reading with Read Ahead
The following sight-reading practice routine is taken from the first Day of Read Ahead level 1A. It is intended to serve as an introduction to sight-reading with the Read Ahead app for iPad. Each day in Read Ahead begins with one or two warm-up exercises, followed by two Read Ahead exercises and finally one “fixed score” sight-reading piece.
The warm-up exercises prepare you for some of the challenges that will be found in the Read Ahead and sight-reading pieces which follow. They also give the students an opportunity to isolate the specific challenges. There are two types of warm-up exercises:
- Touch exercises introduce changes in hand position, patterns, and reduction or chunking exercises while focusing on the tactile part of sight-reading.
- Memory exercises separate the reading and playing aspects of sight-reading. Students will see a measure and then play it from memory in a call and response exercise that is taken from one of the pieces to be played that day. This is good preparation for the Read Ahead exercises.
Touch Exercise: Warm-up for 5 Finger Position
Most of the exercises in 1A are in five finger position and don’t require you to move your hands up or down the keyboard. Play this exercise without looking down at your hands. There is no metronome, so choose your own tempo and maintain it as you play.
With Read Ahead for iPad, you can change the tempo and select how long you get to see the music. You can adjust the speed of the metronome by adjusting the playback speed of the video. Use the opening frame of the video to get a preview of the first measure. When you play the video, the music will disappear and a two measure count-off will begin. After the count-off, the music will appear and you will have one measure’s time to memorize the notes. The music will then disappear for the next measure and you should then play it from memory. It sounds tricky, but after a couple of attempts it becomes clear.
Read Ahead Exercises
Read Ahead 1
With the Read Ahead exercises, the music disappears as you play, requiring you to always be reading ahead of where you are playing. Quickly scan the piece before you begin to play noting the meter, key, opening hand position and any parts of the piece that may be tricky. This skill is crucial to success in sight-reading, and while at the early levels there isn’t that much to look for, it becomes critical as the complexity increases. The Read Ahead app employs a number of different methods for helping students develop this skill.After scanning the piece, start the video. As in the memory exercise, each Read Ahead exercise begins with a two measure count-off. The music will disappear on the downbeat of each measure, so try to read at least a measure ahead of where you are playing.
There are two versions of this exercise. For the first, a full measure of music will disappear at a time. If you find that too challenging, try the second version where only a half measure will disappear at a time. You can choose either option for pieces in common time.
Read Ahead 2
Play the second exercise in the same way as the first. Scan the score before beginning to play. Remember, you can adjust the tempo by changing the playback speed of the video.
The last piece in every day of Read Ahead is a fixed score. There is no metronome and the music does not disappear. This give students a chance to play more lyrically while practising reading ahead and other techniques from that day in a conventional setting.
This piece is entitled “A Lonely Melody” by Ken Johansen.