Week 3 of the summer teaching schedule. Week 3 of the intense “let’s improve your reading” campaign with one of my early advanced students - blogged about here.
Two weeks ago, in addition to what I blogged about I sent her home with a hymn book (thankfully, welcomed in her home) – for there is no better way to learn chords. I see a bit of improvement although she has an aversion to flat keys (a little odd, I think; anecdotally, more people like flat keys better than sharp keys).
Naturally, this week’s assignment includes sight-reading only hymns in flat keys – after first playing the scale, triads and arpeggios of that key. I also want her to figure out the tonic, dominant and sub-dominant chords before starting – always naming them (B flat major, for example).
To keep things humming along – enthusiasm high and some sense of achievement - she’s working on a couple of pieces that are well within her grasp. One is the Chopin b minor prelude – playing now with an understanding of the chords that she’s playing. This prelude is particularly good for that (except the 2nd line) as there are extended passages completely based on one chord.
Then I brought out the Big Gun. Score-reading with different clefs. Nasty stuff – and not for the faint of heart. Improvement guarenteed.
Back in conducting class at university one of the textbooks was the completely intimidating Preparatory Exercises in Score Reading by R.O. Morris and Howard Ferguson (Oxford University Press). It starts relatively benignly – short Baroque-type pieces with the LH in the bass clef and the RH in the alto clef – and then it gets fun. The piano majors in the class were assigned the most difficult exercises – 4 lines at once, 2 of which were in the weird clefs – to put everyone on a level playing field.
Every now and then I bring it out and use the first few pieces with a student. They are absolutely forced to read intervallically – something this student has never done. I do apologize when I assign it – there are definitely better ways to spend the summer – but the rewards are huge. I’m even “letting” her do this one hands separately for a few days.
Any score for instruments like the viola, cello, recorders, etc. would work well – IMSLP.org would be a great place to find some scores to try out.