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Becoming a Great Sight-Reader–or Not! Learn From My Quest for Piano Sight-Reading Nirvana

Becoming a Great Sight-Reader–or Not! Learn From My Quest for Piano Sight-Reading Nirvana

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Becoming a Great Sight-Reader–or Not! Learn From My Quest for Piano Sight-Reading Nirvana

4/5 (29 valutazioni)
131 pagine
1 ora
Apr 8, 2014


Want to Improve Your Piano Sight-Reading? Don't play another note until you've read this book!
"I would recommend this for anyone interested in improving their ability to sight-read." -- Bruce Lombardi, Amazon Customer

Author Al Macy practiced sight-reading every day for six years and carefully documented his journey. He determined what works and what doesn't. By following along with his quest, you can avoid the mistakes he made and take advantage of the tricks he found most useful.

Here are some of the questions this book will answer for you (you'll be surprised by some of the answers!):

Should you hire a teacher?
How long should you practice each day?
Will you inevitably improve if you just do a lot of reading?
How can you find enough practice music?
Which are more important, notes or intervals?
Is it okay to look down at your hands?
How far ahead should you try to look?
Can practicing with your eyes closed help?
How can you get better at leaving things out when you are having trouble?
What can you do about the fact that the notes on the bass clef are in different places than on the treble clef?
How does understanding the harmonic structure of a piece help you play it?
Does it help to sight-sing a piece before playing?
How should you analyze the tune before starting?

Macy also presents his very own soon-to-be-patented (not really) method for forcing you to attend to intervals instead of notes. If you find yourself so fixated on the note names that you can't work with the intervals instead, this trick might solve your problem.

And with Al's wacky, conversational writing style, you'll enjoy every minute of the book. You can curl up in a comfortable chair and read the whole thing or sit at the piano to try out the tips and tricks.
If you want to take your sight-reading to a whole new level and want tips that will help, or if you're just curious about what the future may hold for you, scroll up and grab your copy today!

Apr 8, 2014

Informazioni sull'autore

Al Macy's story begins millions of years ago in a cave in Eastern Siberia. Wait. What? I don't have space for that much detail? Now you tell me! So much for the story about the saber-toothed tiger that was a little too friendly.When Macy was a kid, he could never decide what he wanted to be when he grew up. OK, let me interrupt a second. I'll let you in on a secret about author biographies: Most of them are written by the authors themselves. They just use the third person to make it sound like they have some kind of highfalutin public relations team. Unless they are, like, Stephen King or Ernest Hemingway, in which case they actually do have a public relations team. That's especially true for Hemingway, since he's dead.So, just to let you know, while reading this bio, that when it reads "Al Macy did this" and "Macy did that," [whispering...] it's really just me saying that I did this or that. OK?Where was I? Oh, yeah, Al Macy (wink, wink) couldn't decide what to do with his life. He was pretty good at music, but he was better at science and math, so he started studying engineering at Cornell. But then he changed his mind, and finished his degree in physiological psychology. After a PhD in neuroscience at University of Michigan, and a post-doc at UC Berkeley, he changed his mind again, and started writing educational computer games for a living.OK, this is getting boring for me now -- I mean for Al Macy now. I'll skip ahead, and tell you that Macy retired in his early fifties, and switched back to having music as his main hobby. He played jazz trombone and jazz piano in local venues, and, as he puts it, "Worked hard to get bettter before anyone noticed how bad I was."Recently, he started writing books. His goal is to write many books in totally incompatible genres to insure there will never be any carryover success from one of his bestsellers to another. Thus, his first book helps people play the piano, the second book is a story about a bicycle trip, his third book will help people format books, and his fourth will be a science fiction thriller. Get the idea?And that's all you need know all about Al Macy! Isn't he a great guy? Now, about that saber-toothed tiger...

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Anteprima del libro

Becoming a Great Sight-Reader–or Not! Learn From My Quest for Piano Sight-Reading Nirvana - Al Macy


Chapter 1

How I Got Into This Mess!

December 10, 2007

Today I decided to become a great (or at least, good) piano sight-reader. Although I'm already a jazz piano player, with 4-6 gigs per month, my sight-reading is lousy. Really lousy. I'll bet that most seven-year-olds who have had a year of lessons read music better than I.

My plan is to get the best advice on how to improve my sight-reading skills, and then devote 2+ hours per day to sight-reading practice–for at least one year.

If you are in the same situation, you may be asking yourself what's required to reach this goal, and how long it will take. You're also scouring the web looking for tips on how to jump-start your sight-reading. Well, I'm writing this for you. OK, also to show how clever I am, but mostly for you.

The subtitle of my book talks about my quest for sight-reading nirvana because I figured it would look good on the cover, plus it should up my sales with the huge Buddhist piano sight-reading demographic. So, borrowing from the real definition of nirvana, this is what I'm after:

A transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject can readily play new piano music, as long as it's not too difficult.

Yeah, that's my quest.

IMPORTANT: you may want to read this entire book (or at least skip to the end) before you begin, so that you can benefit from my experiences, and not head down any dead-ends.

Why I Want to be a Good Sight-Reader: I've found that I don't need to be a good sight-reader to play small-combo jazz. Most jazz musicians read from jazz charts. These consist of single note melodies along with the chords. I don't have much trouble with these charts, since I can read the melody easily, and my left hand knows how to play the chords. However:

1. Once in a while I might need to read standard music to play with, for example, a big band.

2. I don't feel like I'm a real piano player if I can't read music well.

3. I'd be embarrassed if someone said Hey, Al plays piano, let's have him accompany us with this Christmas carol music!

4. Occasionally I use some educational material (for example, transcriptions, sample intros or endings), and it would be convenient to be able to read it quickly.

5. I like the process of acquiring a new skill.

My Musical Background: For you to evaluate whether your experience in learning to sight-read will match mine, you need to know a little about my musical background. So, here's a boring look at my history.

As a young kid I played piano by ear, but never took formal lessons. I had some records with Bach piano pieces on them, played them at 16 RPM (on this thing called a record player–playing a 33 RPM record at 16 RPM makes the music slow, and brings it down about an octave), and learned parts of them by ear. This makes me sound more like a prodigy than I was–I only did this for a few pieces, and it took a long time. Eventually my mom took pity on me and bought me the sheet music, and I would laboriously figure out a measure or two, and memorize the piece that way. The main point is that I went out of my way to avoid learning to read music.

At age nine I took up trombone, and studied it seriously until the final year of high school, when a scheduling conflict between chemistry and band made me choose between music and science. I chose science (phew, that was close!).

As required by the 1960s law that stated that every teenager has to play rock and roll guitar, I also took lessons in guitar, and played in a rock band. I even performed in a Simon and Garfunkel type duo, at The Chicken Coop, once a week, getting paid $2.50 plus one piece of fried chicken.

But I pretty much did nothing with music from college until 1987 (age 34), when my interest in jazz was rekindled by hearing the tune All of Me in Steve Martin's movie of the same name.

I took formal piano lessons for a year or two, worked hard, and learned a lot, but the sight-reading just wasn't happening.

In 1992 (age 38) I picked up the trombone again, and got serious about jazz trombone. My sight-reading was better on trombone than piano (hey, only one note at a time!), but I still needed to polish it up for big band playing. I played jazz trombone seriously until 2005 (age 52), performing with a number of large and small groups.

In 2005, I was having some problems with my shoulder, caused by too much trombone playing, so it was time to switch back to piano. This time I concentrated on jazz, and didn't work much on sight-reading. That is, my playing consisted of playing the chord changes, with improvisation in the right hand. That has worked well, and I now lead a jazz quartet (Sax, drums, bass, and piano), and also play in duos (Sax & piano or piano & bass) and trios. Here are my web sites:,

One other thing relevant to sight-reading: I've always been a speedy typist. In college, I had this thing called a typewriter, which is like a papery laptop. I wanted to cure myself of the bad habit of looking at the keys, so I put tape over the letter names on all of the keys. That solved my problem after only a

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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (5/5)
    It was a great book. I really recommend it to anyone interested in sight reading.
  • (5/5)
    Very entertaining. And loved the honesty about how hard this task was.
  • (5/5)
    Really good job! I fast read it all, and it inspires me a lot! i wish I had your patience. I have exactly same sight reading problems and I think that this book will help me with my progress! Thank you for your hard work!
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed this book. It is a brave and honest account full of useful insights. I would highly recommend a companion app if anyone is just setting out on their sight reading journey: Read Ahead by anacrusis for iOS which forces you to read ahead by making bars disappear...very useful and also a book: Piano Guided Sight Reading by Leonhard Deutsch which is very special in its insights into the wider benefits of sight reading to overall musicianship. But Al's book is great and wonderful too!
  • (5/5)
    Enjoyable read and some great tips for would-be Great Sight-Readers :)
  • (5/5)
    There are some good tips in this book. I enjoyed it.
  • (4/5)
    Quick and fun read of one man's journey to become a better sight-reader. I picked up several useful tips to incorporate into my own practice.
  • (4/5)
    I liked the book. Spoiler alert - it won't give you a Cinderella- or even success- story, it is more of a progress report with struggle and all, but I genuinely liked the humble writing style, the manageable length and sound samples.
  • (5/5)
    Just a GREAT book on the trials and tribulations of being a good sight reader. I really like Al's approach to this subject, as he is not some university professor claiming to know it all.

    What he does, is he writes with a passion and a desire to learn something. He then shares the "ups and downs" of sight reading, as he knows nobody has all the answers. In addition, we have to realize that we all have our limitations. One could practice sight reading 8 hours a day, and never achieve the desired goal. I am glad the author states a similar sentiment toward the end of the book

    I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with sight reading, as it may give you an insight on a few things. I would write more, but I have to get back to sight reading a more hymns!!