Read Ahead is a sophisticated tool designed to help you improve your sight-reading skills. In order to maximize its effectiveness we recommend the following approach:
1. Find your level
The Read Ahead curriculum is organized in progressively difficult levels. Each level (except for the preparatory level) has 3 sections A, B, or C which also get mildly more difficult. Each section has 12 days worth of exercises to practice. The first 2 days of every section are unlocked and free to try. Try the first day of different levels until you find one that challenges you but is manageable. If you can’t play the exercises at 80% or higher of the recommended tempo with reasonable accuracy try an easier level. You may also decide to start mid-level in section B or C. You can purchase sections separately in the store, but get a discounted price for buying a complete level.
2. Set a goal
Most people learn better with a goal. Once you have found your starting point you should work linearly through each day in the section. We recommend setting your goal before you complete your first day so it can count towards your first trophy. Practice days that are completed without setting up a goal will not count towards your goal. If you have already completed several days without setting up a goal, you can use the reset button on the settings page to reset all progress in the app. Any purchases you’ve made will stay unlocked but all progress will be deleted.
Setting the goal is easy. The goal is to commit to completing 2-6 days of Read Ahead exercises a week. If you complete your weekly goal, you will be awarded a trophy. Completing more days (up to 6) in a week, will get you a fancier trophy. You will need to choose when your goal expires and how many days you are going to complete. If you are taking weekly lessons, we recommend setting your goal to expire at the time of your lesson.
Once you save your settings, the app will automatically count completed days towards your goal. The trophy will only be awarded when the goal expires. So when you’ve completed the number of days towards your goal you can wait the remainder of the week and collect your trophy after the goal resets or you can continue completing days to earn a better trophy. When you open the app after the goal expires you will be awarded the trophy on startup assuming you’ve completed your goal. Read Ahead will add one more day to your goal each week (up to 6 days) in order to encourage you to ramp up your practice. There is a slider right there that you can use to change your goal if you want to keep it the same as the previous week. You can checkout your trophy collection on the My Progress page.
Each day in Read Ahead is centered around 3 pieces and will have different warmup exercises depending on the demands of the piece and where you are in the curriculum. Every day has 2 Read Ahead pieces and one sight-reading piece. The Read Ahead and memory exercises may feel jarring at first. If this is the case for you, don’t worry. Once you get the feel for reading ahead this will go away, and you will find that your reading has improved! There are 2 categories of warmup exercises, Touch and Memory that accompany the Read Ahead or Sight-reading pieces. We walk you through the specifics of each one in the videos below.
Consistent deliberate practice is the key to improvement. There is a lot of variety in each exercise, particularly the Read Ahead exercises. It is tempting to rush through the instructions and preview stages to just get to the exercise and hit start. This will reduce the rapidity of your improvement however, and we strongly recommend against this approach. Being able to quickly spot features, patterns and difficulties in a piece before you start playing is in fact a very important sight-reading skill.
If you hit a wall in your progress, it is most likely because some sub-skill (rhythm, memory, leaps, key etc.) is holding you back. Figure out what is preventing you from successfully completing the exercise and focus on that by replaying appropriate exercises or pieces. If you aren’t sure, on the Read Ahead pieces you can check the record box (on the Tempo Setting Page) so you can evaluate your performance afterwards. You can also readjust the tempo, and with the memory exercises you can set how long you get to see the measure with the easy, normal and hard buttons. Also, after you complete some Read Ahead exercises there will be a variation button. Clicking this will give you a modified version of the piece to play. It may be in a different key, meter, mode etc. and does not have disappearing music. This gives you a chance to reenforce what you just practiced in a familiar but different way.
4. Specific Exercise Videos
Some of these exercises will be likely be unfamiliar at first so we’ve included some short demonstration videos so you can see how to do them.