Although sight-reading is a must for any organist, some people still have the common misconceptions about this skill. Without properly understanding the myths that surround the sight-reading ability, it will be difficult to advance to a new level at reading music on the organ. These myths are based on some people's fear which slows down progress in sight-reading. Today I will explain some of the most common myths about this very practical and useful skill.
1. This skill can't be taught. Some of my readers have told me stories how they were told many years ago that this skill cannot be mastered in a step-by-step fashion. However, the truth is that in fact, systematic step-by-step approach is the best way to practice sight-reading. While learning to play slowly single voices in an unfamiliar piece, combinations of two voices, combinations of three voices etc. the fastest progress is achieved.
2. This skill is difficult to master. This idea is also based on incorrect preconceived notion. In reality, if we approach the process of learning to read new music on the organ from the right perspective, then it is very easy to progress in sight-reading. The only important thing to remember is the need to practice slowly, regularly, and in a step-by-step fashion.
3. The skill is easy to forget. I have heard some people say that once you learn this skill, it requires constant hard work to maintain this ability. However, it can be compared to riding a bicycle. Once you learn how to ride a bicycle, even though you might have taken a break of several years, this skill quickly comes back after a short period of adjustment. The same principle is valid in sight-reading.
4. Only geniuses can master this skill. We all have our role-models, the great composers and organists, like Bach, Dupre or any other master from the past or present times. Therefore it is easy to start believing that only these great people have mastered this skill. However, if only we approach the learning process very systematically, every one of us is capable to advance in sight-reading.
5. This skill takes several hours of practice a day to learn. Although this might be partially true in organ playing in general, mastering sight-reading really takes not more that 15 minutes a day of regular practice. This is such an insignificant amount of time that with proper motivation we can practice even while watching a TV show or a movie during the commercials.
6. Not every organist needs to practice this skill. Some organists who believe they have the sufficient skills at reading new music at sight. However, this myth is easily broken once such an organist tries to sight-read a difficult organ composition written in imitative counterpoint, such as fugue. Intricate dialogues between independent voices make playing such a music fluently and without mistakes and interruptions an extremely difficult task. Therefore, no matter how far you have progressed in organ playing, there is always a room for improvement.
Consider the above myths about this skill when you prepare to improve your music reading abilities on the organ. Find a collection of music that you love and start playing 1 page a day for the next several months for the best results. Take a slow tempo and play separate voices, combinations of 2 and 3 voices, and finally, the entire 4-part texture.
If you really want to develop unbeatable sight-reading skills, check out my systematic Organ Sight-Reading Master Course which is intended for organists who want to perfect such seemingly supernatural abilities as playing fugues or any other advanced organ composition at sight. To successfully complete the practice material of this course will only take 15 minutes a day of regular and wise practice but you will learn to fluently sight-read any piece of organ music effortlessly.
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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.