I have received the following question the other day from Mark and I think his situation is relevant to a lot of people so I decided to share it and my advice:
"Personally, I would like help with "quick study" techniques, which means learning a piece more than just to sight reading standard, but perhaps less perfectly than for an exam. In other words, how do I learn a piece to play on Sunday morning before the service, without hours of practice? Incidentally, my sight reading, while not brilliant, is not too bad."
What I find works best in addition to sight-reading a broad range of repertoire regularly is harmony.
You see, if you understand harmony and voice leading, you can look at the composition of your choice and immediately understand the meaning of individual notes, intervals, and chords.
This in turn helps to read the music in patterns which greatly speeds up the learning process because you can sort of PREDICT what will be played next. Note that I write "sort of predict" because of course all great music is unpredictable.
But there are some patterns which over time can be found in many compositions of various composers and if you understand this, the music will suddenly start to make sense.
So what you can do is not only to study these exercises that Ausra is creating but also look at the piece of music that you play and try to analyze it in terms of key changes, cadences, chord progressions, sequences etc.
[Thanks to Mark]
Ausra's Harmony Exercise:
Do you have a question about harmony for Ausra? You can reach her by email.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.