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 Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: Gunnar123 
Date:   2019-01-09 21:01

Hello, I can read about 60 notes per minute, and play about 35 notes per minute on the clarinet(which theoretically could be 60, but im new on clarinet). But I have no idea if thats slow or fast, what would do you clarinetist think about that? How much can you read/play per minute? and how many can professional clarinetist read per minute?

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: ClarinetRobt 
Date:   2019-01-09 21:07

Never been asked about my NPM output before. I just play what's in front of me at the tempo requested. If I couldn't play something quickly enough, I just practiced until I could.
Curious what others have to say...I'm not familiar with the OPs question. But I know I can play/read faster than a note a second. Too many variables to help here.

~Robert L Schwebel
Mthpc: Behn Vintage, Lig: Ishimori, Reed: Aria 4, Legere Euro Signature 3.75, Horns: Uebel Superior, Ridenour Lyrique

Post Edited (2019-01-09 22:58)

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2019-01-10 00:50

60 notes per minute is not bad for a beginner (assuming that you are...), but that will not get you much traction in professional settings.

In professional orchestral settings, jazz/rock big band, and pit orchestras, my experience has been that the minimum acceptable is to be able to read modestly complex patterns in sustained eighth notes at 100-120 BPM (Beats Per Minute), with occasional bursts of 16th notes (particularly in big band where clarinet is a double); for first shot sight-reading, this needs to be at 90% accuracy (I can barely manage this, but do OK), or you will have a hard time with the director. I am just barely at this level, but play in sections where the leads can sight-read much faster than this on saxophone, clarinet and flute.

I play the 1st clarinet part in a well-regarded community band, and much of the classical repertoire as well as the more modern material has similar demands, although the parts are more repetitive...the big-band parts are all over the map.

With a session or two of practice (at home) I can nail these parts and perhaps up to 160 BPM...above that, I just have difficulty with my fingers tripping up...I do much better on saxophone than on clarinet, as I came to the clarinet late.

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2019-01-10 04:56

OP's question needs clarification. What's meant by read 60, play 35?
And are these numbers for sight reading or after practice?

A list of tempo markings vs. beats per minute can be found here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo

Just keep in mind that a beat can be more than one note, e.g. there might be four sixteenth notes in one beat.

Without further clarification, 35 notes per minute is very slow.



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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: Gunnar123 
Date:   2019-01-10 06:26

Im sorry if I was unclear. I mean I test my sight reading abilities with a random note generator program/app. So I have to name the random note with either the letter or a piano key. Ive put it on the whole clarinet range. I also have a bar with random notes rolling in, and then I play the notes on the clarinet. This is just for practice and testing my reading, and very easy to measure how much I improve.

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-10 08:04

Gunnar123 wrote:

> I mean I test my sight reading
> abilities with a random note generator program/app. So I have
> to name the random note with either the letter or a piano key.
> ...This is just for practice and testing my reading, and
> very easy to measure how much I improve.

Keep in mind that real music involves rhythmic notation as well as pitch (not to mention "expression" marks and other notation). So what you seem to be testing (if I understand your note generator correctly) is how quickly you can identify (and play?) randomly generated notes. Just understand that this isn't what most of us call "sight reading," which generally implies reading authentic musical material for the first time (before practicing it).

I for one would have no idea what "good" would be in your test procedure.

Karl

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: Bennett 2017
Date:   2019-01-10 22:54

I think your 'note naming' procedure might be more productive if you named notes in a real piece of music. Thus, should you spot and identify a B, perhaps the next note will be right above it and you can instantly say C. If there's a scale, naming the notes becomes even faster.

There's nothing inherently wrong in your approach - it is important to be able to name notes - but I think using real music might be more helpful. And of course, once you name it, finger it on the clarinet. At some point seeing the note will 'automatically' move your fingers; assigning a name to the note won't be an intermediate step.

Just as seeing a red traffic light moves your foot to the brake - you don't consciously interpret the red light to mean stop - so seeing a dot on a line or space will move your fingers.

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: Gunnar123 
Date:   2019-01-10 23:32

I do play a lot of different instruments, and this note naming/fingering practice is something I do on rest days and such additional to playing regular. Im just trying to figure how much is good, cause I haven't seen any numbers on what fast note reading is. I always sight read every time I get some new sheets the first time, just to improve it.

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-10 23:36

I agree with Bennet wholeheartedly. Think the name of the note as you move along in real music. That way you don't lock in to a specific fingering for a certain note, thus enabling you to chose different fingerings for different situations.


Now the reading part (as far as I am concerned) has a lot to do with becoming familiar with "patterns." As you practice Baermann scales Book III, you begin to internalize larger chunks of the various scales and scale like patterns. Therefore, when you "sight-read" a brand new piece of music you will see an old familiar Eb arpeggio (for example) and just play that in one fell swoop.


The same goes for rhythmic patterns.


The greater variety of the above that you internalize makes you a better reader.


And then there is the reality that as you go through music in your career, much will become stuff that you've already seen and learned (or can re-learn again pretty fast). For example, back in high school, there was a regional competition where the sight reading I was given happened to be a Rose etude I had done multiple times before.




...............Paul Aviles



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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-11 02:52

Gunnar123 wrote:

> Im just trying to figure
> how much is good, cause I haven't seen any numbers on what fast
> note reading is. I always sight read every time I get some new
> sheets the first time, just to improve it.

I doubt if you're going to get any feedback on this that you'll find useful, since your approach is unconventional. But consider that, reading 60 notes per minute, you're reading at the rate of quarter notes at MM=60 (1 beat per second). Any music involving 16th notes will need to read at a rate of 240 notes per minute. But, of course, not a constant rate because most music is a mix of different note lengths (which becomes a central problem in authentic sight reading). And you get lots of other context to help actually predict what's coming next.

So I'm inclined to say that one note per second in a random series might be very frustrating because you have no predictive ability, but in itself it isn't a very fast note rate in a more authentic context.

Karl

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2019-01-15 21:58

Comment on sight reading in a group. The important thing is to stay with the group, and not to hit all the notes. When it is impossibly fast for me to get all the notes, I make sure the notes I do hit are when they are supposed to be. The most maddening thing about amateur group sight reading is when people feel they must hit all the notes and completely ignore what is going on around them; enough of those people and the group falls apart. So .... practice sight reading often because that is the only way you learn it, and do so with a metronome so you can make sure you are not losing the tempo to hit the notes. Then practice the sections you had to skip until you can play them.
That said, my favorite thing to do is mad scramble sight reading where I can just barely make it....I don't know why that is fun but it is. Left-out notes and all.

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-01-15 22:29

EaubeauHorn wrote:

> Comment on sight reading in a group. The important thing is to
> stay with the group, and not to hit all the notes. When it is
> impossibly fast for me to get all the notes, I make sure the
> notes I do hit are when they are supposed to be.

Even more specifically, the most important thing is to arrive at each beat as much as possible but certainly at "one" of each measure with the group. The notes in between may be important, but not at first reading, and the overall ensemble depends on everyone's moving through the meter together.

Karl

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: LFabian 
Date:   2019-01-20 17:24

In sight reading, if the passage or passages are not familiar, play the notes on the beat and add in if you can keep up. I find that by the end of the piece my mind has processed the fingering I need to play it correctly. Playing the passage the second time I got it made.

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: shmuelyosef 
Date:   2019-01-22 23:49

I do much the same...I make sure that I nail the first note in each measure...if I feel that I'm lagging I 'ghost' notes. I have done this long enough that I know when I'm about to hit a wrong note and make sure that I pick up 'right on' at the next possible opportunity. In a soli or unison setting this is best. In a solo line on top of accompaniment it is important to keep the rhythm going so one needs to hit the rhythm and stay in the current key center, but it is a little less critical to get every note (particularly in big band settings).

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 Re: Sight reading - How fast is good?
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2019-01-23 22:09

And never forget that the beat comes from the conductor, not from the people around you. I use peripheral vision to "watch" the conductor and unless the beat is tiny, that is sufficient to see where it is.

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