It seems so obvious, but I'd never thought to do it.
I had created pages and pages of Sight Reading Flashcards. But I'd never used them with more than one student at a time. At one of my group classes last Saturday, I had three girls about the same age of varying abilities and with quite different strengths.
I asked them to sight read some of the flashcards with one of them playing the right hand and one playing the left. The process was fascinating.
Even in the short time they did them, there was discernible progress in their rhythm and reading. Their skills were solidifying almost before my eyes.
One thing I really loved about this was the way they taught each other. Their good playing rubbed off on each other. I did almost nothing but ask questions when something went wrong.
Here are just some of the skills they were learning:
- Music Reading
- Following along and waiting their turn
- Patience when another student had a problem
- Listening and looking for patterns
We did it in a Round-Robin style - one student started playing the right hand, then switched to the left hand as a new student rotated in.
A brilliant symphony pianist once told me the most important thing to practice sight reading is conventional patterns. "The weird stuff," he said, "You can't predict that. So you gotta be great at the stuff where you can see patterns."
The most telling thing about this happened halfway through class. Mary asked if they could watch the video they'd just made. I said, "Sure," and we started.
We'd watched about five seconds when Mary blurted out, "Can we just DO some more sight reading? That's way more fun!"
Here's Mary playing Popcorn Clouds, a piece I wrote for her earlier this year.