I vowed at some point to do a hands-on follow up to my sight-reading post, and tonight was my chosen time to brave the virgin territory of two compositions from “Anna Magdalena’s Notebook,” edited by Keith Snell. I randomly picked “Polonaise in G minor” BWV 119 (Anonymous) and another of the same form, BWV125 by C.P.E. Bach, that were by no means Evel Knievel leaps into finger-burning bravura landscapes. Nevertheless, they were still modest Baroque period excursions with unique technical and musical challenges.
Here’s the footage, unedited. I suggested that a visual scan of the score was a great helper before I laid my fingers on the keyboard–a necessary form of mapping the terrain. I noted the key signature and meter; I sight-sang a bit, which I’m always doing in one form or another when traversing a piece I know or don’t know. I scanned the fingering which was fortunately in abundance, where more often than not, it would be scant or in light gray tone. In those instances, the reader might need a magnifying glass or a pair of binoculars to make it to the final cadence.
The intervals on the page jumped out as singable and I could see melodic sequences in this process. Same held for pre-absorption of harmonic relationships/modulations just by LOOKING. For those with more extensive theory backgrounds, this type of screening would be a helpful jump-start to a decent read.
Okay, enough with what I did BEFORE I took the plunge into reading unfamiliar music. Let’s see what happened. In the first video, all you see is my hands, but trust me, I did not allow my eyes to depart from their focus on the score. If nothing else, this singular attentiveness, without head bobbing, or key-to-score shuffling back and forth, helped me get through both pieces without falling apart. I think the goal should be to keep the music going from beginning to end without stopping for this or that, and even if a hand drops out here and there, the sight-reader should still aim for continuity to conclusion. (one hand taking up the cause of the other missing in action)
Above all MEASURE GULPING is a major advantage when sight-reading. Looking ahead while simultaneously being in the present, if you can manage it, will boost your skills.
The being in the present part prevents you from having an overload of anticipatory anxiety and it GROUNDS you through the course. Basically, you have to be in two places at the same time without a worry in the world.