Educationalist Paul Harris has written countless publications (over 500), and many have graced my music desk, both for my students (Improve your sight-reading! series, Improve your aural! series), and for my own reading (Simultaneous Learning, The Virtuoso Teacher).
This new volume (published by Faber Music) is intended to help teachers teach their students to sight-read. So just how important is a book like this? Very! I frequently run courses and workshops about sight-reading, such is the demand for finding the optimum way to improve what is essentially a demanding skill.
In this helpful publication, Paul has taken his own formulae, and carefully dissected it, step by step, running through the most important aspects, helping teachers to grasp a clearer understanding of how to ‘put it across’ easily to their pupils in lessons (always a challenge).
The book opens with much written information covering what must be considered before playing a note (I’m very keen on this; good sight-reading begins with sound preparation). Teachers are then guided through the most vital steps. After a note on how to use the book (and the Improve your sight-reading! series), everything is examined from developing musicality, to multitasking (which runs through the basics, such as rhythm, note and melodic patterns, verbalising, reading ahead, remembering the key, fingering) and the crucial Super Golden Rules. Handy sight-reading warm-up tips appear, before moving to the main body of the volume, which works through copious musical examples (in a similar manner to the Improve your sight-reading! series, but with more practice tips to implement in piano lessons).
Based on the Grade 1 – Grade 5 (ABRSM) piano exams, there are several stages of learning for each grade; each one focuses on a particular element (stage 1 in Grade 1 highlights the time signature 4/4, the crotchet beat and rest, and the key of C major, for example). These stages are clearly set out at the beginning of the chapter (for every grade), alongside an Activities notice board which seeks to explain various activities to be introduced to students whilst working through the corresponding chapters. Once the various stages have been worked through (with a page of musical tests for each one), we move onto Grade 2.
This book succinctly explains how to address the sight-reading factor, and teachers will no doubt find it a practical, convenient volume to keep at the side of the piano.
I have one copy to give away in my Weekend Competition, so please leave your name and comment in the comment box at the end of this post, and I’ll announce the winner on Monday evening. Good Luck!
Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.
For more information, please visit the publications page, here.