I always love reading articles about sight reading, especially when they are published in peer-reviewed Psychology Journals! I believe it is a crucial skill for developing pianists and one that I can always improve my approach to by learning about what’s actually going on in the brain when doing something as complex as piano sight reading.
This short article is from a few years ago, but stands as a great reminder about the importance of considering sight reading skills from a brain perspective and not just asking students to blindly do more practice.
…having a strong ability to keep different pieces of relevant information in mind while performing a task — known as working memory capacity — aids sight-reading regardless of how much someone has practiced, the psychologists report in a paper published online June 9 in Psychological Science.
So, while we can ask our students to endlessly practice sight reading by giving them book after book of exercises and assume that they’ll gradually improve over time, there are some distinct skill sets that are extremely valuable and that, in my opinion, should be explicitly taught and practised.
One of the most important of these is improving a student’s working memory.
When sight-reading, a piano player’s working memory capacity may determine the extent to which he or she can prepare for upcoming moves on the keyboard by looking ahead in a music score, Meinz and Hambrick speculate.
The problem is that up until now, there hasn’t really been many musical ways of improving memory when reading music.
I say ‘until now’ as I’m very excited that on Thursday 30 April, I’ll be releasing my Podcast Episode 4 when I’ll be interviewing Colin Thomson from Sight Reading Academy who has developed a suite of online training resources to help teach and practice sight reading far more effectively and efficiently.
If you’ve ever wondered how to help students look ahead in the music, stop correcting mistakes and improve their memory, you’re going to be fascinated by this interview. Stay tuned to the blog for more updates about sight reading and the release of the next podcast episode. You can also subscribe by iTunes to listen on your phone or in your car. If you aren’t already a subscriber, you can do so at the bottom of the page.
To read the full article click here: For Sight-Reading Music, Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect : Discovery News.
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Tim Topham has one mission in life: to stem the tide of children quitting music lessons by helping teachers maximise student engagement through creativity, technology and innovation. Tim hosts the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, Californian Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.