Book of the Week:
Alan Bullard’s Joining the Dots.
Oh the dreaded sight-reading! Sight-reading separates the exceptional pianists from the pianists that fall apart if you present them with a new piece of music to play at sight. Any well-rounded musician must be able to sight-read a new piece as if they have been playing it for all their life. Quite simply, to pick up an unknown piece of music and play it is extremely liberating. It gives you the ability to play any piece that you desire. So many students are filled with horror at having to sight-read. It does come easily to a very small amount of students, but the majority will have to put in some hard graft to master this skill. I’ve been using Paul Harris’ books for a long time and they are very good, but the new Joining the Dots series is a more modern take on sight-reading and is just a bit more fun and enjoyable for the student.
Joining the Dots offers pianists lots of material to help build confidence and skill in sight-reading. The series brings together a range of activities to help students improve their sense of keyboard geography, helping them to read new music more quickly and easily.
The five books cover the requirements for ABRSM’s sight-reading tests at each of Grades 1 to 5, and include:
- many short, characterful pieces to sight-read, in a range of approachable musical styles
- warm-up and technical exercises, to establish basic hand shapes and finger patterns within each key
- simple improvisation exercises in which students can explore musical ideas and familiarise themselves further with the ‘feel’ of each key
- longer solo pieces and a duet, for additional sight-reading practice or to learn quickly and play through for fun