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Roger Federer

Roger Federer (Photo credit: Daryl Sim)

There are other posts on this blog about sight-reading, always a topic of interest.

I have been watching tennis again! Nadal and Federer are both at the top of their game.

What does watching tennis have to do with sight-reading? Well, I’m happy to say that I learned something from watching tennis that applies to sight-reading, too.

In previous posts, I have talked about looking ahead. That is crucial to good sight-reading, since it is impossible to continue with anything if you are stuck where you are. Driving a car is a good example.

But I learned something new yesterday evening, thanks to Roger Federer. He anticipates his opponent’s next shot. In fact, he anticipates so well, he has arrived at the spot where the ball will be going before his opponent even makes contact with it. The best example from Federer’s match is at 5:22 in this video.  Isn’t that incredible? Think about it.

Similarly, what we need to do is not only look ahead, but also anticipate what sound we expect to hear next. Where is the harmony going?

You may be saying that you can’t tell right now. But you can, with practice.

  • If you can hear a piece in your head when looking at, but not playing the music, you’re on your way.

    • This can be improved by singing all the parts away from the piano.
    • In chordal writing, you can sing all the pitches in each chord from bottom to top.
  • When you become familiar with various composers’ harmonic language, your sight-reading will improve exponentially.

  • How does the music of Bach, Debussy, and Poulenc sound different?

  • Do you listen to music when you’re not practicing? You can improve your playing a great deal. Practicing more and more is not the solution for everything.

Where is your sight-reading right now? Do you anticipate the next sound?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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