One of the first requirements of fluent sight-reading is the ability to keep our eyes on the score as we play. If we look down at our hands, we lose our connection with the score, and forego the possibility of reading ahead to see what is coming next. To keep our eyes on the page, we need a strong tactile connection to the piano. Through our fingertips, we must develop an intimate knowledge of the geography of the keyboard. If one of the objectives of ear training is to create eyes that can hear and ears that can see, then sight-reading adds to those essential musical skills hands that can also see. C. P. E. Bach’s suggestion to play memorized pieces in the dark is one way to cultivate this seeing hand.

Students who are learning advanced repertoire have already been studying the piano for many years, and usually have a good sense of the keyboard. Simple melodies, intervals, and chords are generally easy enough for them to find without looking down. (Test your ability to find isolated notes, intervals, and chords without looking at the keyboard using the diagnostic test.) The biggest challenge in keeping our eyes on the page comes when there are changes of hand position and leaps in one or both hands. This module collects a large number of pieces containing leaps of different kinds, providing concentrated practice in leaping without looking.

The pieces are graded in order of difficulty, but difficulties are individual, and some might find the later pieces easier than the earlier ones, or vice versa. If any of these pieces are too challenging to play in a regular, moderate tempo, it is perfectly permissible to play them well under tempo, or even with one hand alone (usually the left hand, where the leaps most often occur). Normally, when sight-reading, one does not play very slowly, hands alone, or with repeated attempts, but in this case, all of these practice methods are encouraged in the interest of developing an essential skill that will benefit all your future sight-reading activity.

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