Bands & Sightreading

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by brassneck, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    When your band breaks up a rehearsal by taking something out of the library for sightreading, to what purpose does it serve? Is it running various concert items to judge their worth, or a testpiece for a hard blow? Is the choice structured to allow players to gain confidence facing new material (nothing too advanced) or something that is technically out of reach just for the experience? I sometimes hear from players that their band ran Cambridge Variations, Odin or whatever at a practice but I wonder if the choice was made just for name-dropping rather than practical use. What are your views on this?

    (.... don't be shy! :) )
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2004
  2. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Just getting something out of the library is good for the band's sight-reading. Most bands, let's face it, are absolutely ****e at sight reading. I can't speak for the top section, never having been there, but certainly in the lower sections my experience has been so.

    Not everybody has poor sight-reading, but the majority of people don't practice it enough.

    Just MHO.
  3. tubafran

    tubafran Active Member

    Best way to practice sight-reading - sit in with other bands or agree to be a dep. Also gives you more opportunity to play and hear what other bands are using other than the set contest pieces.
  4. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I hesitate to say this, but a random browse though any band's library will reveal pieces that haven't seen the light of day since the year dot. These are just as good, generally, for testing the band's sight reading (as opposed to individuals within the band) as randomly picked test pieces as there are a wide variety of styles to choose from.
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Hmmmm! Still looking for someone to take a lead here. Do bands choose works for sight-reading as a part of a learning exercise? Exposing textures, techniques, and styles that may contribute to the experience of the player or band. Do conductors tend to choose new works that help overcome problems in larger, more complex but similarly styled pieces? Or is it just for fun, not used for anything except a blow-through? Does someone hear a recorded piece (or one broadcast or in concert), buy it, then put it on the stands at the next available moment?

    With the wide spectrum of pieces available at various levels of difficulty, (original and arranged), sight-reading can be structured but still fun to do.... as long as players benefit from the experience. Self-confidence can be raised multi-fold if it used in an appropriate way. This is in opposition of bringing out works well above the band's standard which can needlesly expose and maybe embarrass weaker players and waste time stopping and starting a piece just to say 'we got through it,.... eventually!'. Just my humble opinion.
  6. Steve Marcus

    Steve Marcus Member

    An answer to your question is: all of the above. That's not meant to be a smart-aleck (or as they say over here, a wise-ass). There are different reasons at different times.
  7. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    I'm really poor at sight reading... to put it simply, when I dep, I soil myself... but it's good for bands to try things they haven't played before, because if they can get them together then they're getting pretty darwn food!
  8. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Do you get invited back often, Lynchie? ;)
  9. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    My old band was quite good at sight reading, so the only reason we sight read pieces was to see if they were concert worth.

    My new band hasn't really sight read that much since I got here. A couple of times to see if the piece is concert worthy, but that's about it for true sight reading.

    We did get out JiF and Resurgam once for a blow (I'm not sure, but I don't think they were to look at for an own choice piece), but I was one of the few sight reading it as most of the band had played them at contests years back.
  10. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    That's something that confuses me. Is it still sight reading if you've played it years ago and have a good memory? I often find that pieces that we read haven't been on the stand for years, but I can remember them very well but the rest of the band often struggle reading them again - even if they played them very well the last time they were out.
  11. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I don't think it is proper sight-reading.

    Another, example. Say I go and listen to all twenty bands this weekend at nationals, following along in my score. Then our band gets out "All the Flowers of the Mountain at Rehearsal on Sunday. Having never played it before, but then knowing it quite well (and this can happen with recordings) is it still proper sight reading? You may be sight reading notes (although if you followed the score it could be argued you are not), but you are definitely not sight reading rhythyms.

    I think I remember Brett Baker saying (something to the effect) at a clinic, when you sight read a solo, don't stop don't go back because you can only sight read once. I agree with him 100%.
  12. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    That means that, as you get older and more experienced it gets harder and harder to find anything to sight-read :(

    What does it mean for the rest though whose memories aren't, apparently, so good?
  13. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    We try to do one piece of sight reading each rehearsal, although at more pressured times before contests we can let it slip. I don't see it as 'breaking the rehearsal' but an integral part of it.

    I like to try out new pieces, to see how they suit the band and how players respond to them. They can be anything from marches or light concert music to test pieces and may be my own handywork from time to time. I probably spend more than most MDs on new music so we sight read in order quickly to evalute the music's usefulness to us.

    Doing a bit of sight reading once in a blue moon won't help to develop the band's technique - for me, it has to be done on a regular basis in order to encounter the widest possible range of musical difficulties and to test every section of the band - including the MD!

    I try to vary the degree of difficulty on the basis that it's as difficult to play easy pieces well as it is to scramble through the really hard repertoire.

    We ran that Rienzi a couple of weeks ago!

  14. Raspberry

    Raspberry Member

    Lynchie helped us out at Bestwood a few weeks ago and did a very fine job!

    Going back on topic we do quite a bit of sight reading trying out new and old pieces of music - its good for the band and for the MD to decide which pieces suits the band and concerts that we have coming up.

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