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I am a self taught pianist, I play mainly by ear and I look for tutorials or synthesia on YouTube. However, sometimes some pieces do not have a synthesia and are really subtle to play by ear (ex. Fides Tua by Tigran Hamasyan). This is why I want to learn how to read sheet music and I ask for your recommendations on how to do so.

My goal isn't to become a really fast sight reader or to understand every single detail on the sheet music, neither to be able to play a piece only by reading the sheet music (and not having listened to it prior to that). Instead I want to use my music reading skills to figure out how to play a piece after I have listened to it.

Also, I wish that you could also recommend me some techniques by which I can teach myself some good amount of music theory !

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  • I was going to say you're out of luck and need to learn how to learn music by ear if your main interest is Hamasyan's music, but apparently there is sheet music of "Fides Tua" out here (even if only on YouTube videos, and even if it's probably unofficially transcribed by ear by fans). Huh.
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 29, 2021 at 13:03
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    This will likely be closed, as asking for recommendations is not in the remit for this site. Obviously a teacher will be the best option, and there are loads of books on learning to sightread. Knowing where notes are, both on piano and stave is a good start.
    – Tim
    Aug 29, 2021 at 14:23
  • Let the Aaron vs Thompson method book argument begin :)
    – ojs
    Aug 29, 2021 at 16:03
  • Thank you for signaling that Tim ! Could you name me a couple of books you think are good ? Thing is, I am a master student (outside my country) and with a curriculum this dense I don't find it convenient to work with a teacher (plus it is expensive)
    – Ceethemez
    Aug 30, 2021 at 19:50
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    Does this answer your question? How should I teach myself sight-reading? Oct 15, 2021 at 13:31

3 Answers 3

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Use pencil to write proper note literals (C, D... etc) in the score papers. Use software for sight reading, and stickers for keys. After you will mark a 1000 pages, recognize and mark with a pencil only the altered notes. When you will cope with another 1000 pages I am sure you will read any score better/faster than many conductors. Play guitar and violin scores on piano. Learn harmony/structure pattern recognition and rewrite favorite scores with a pencil and software. Train your ears to recognize sounds and their written appearance. Transpose music to different keys with software and in handwritten way. Hope it helps.

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  • Thank you for your recommendations ! I want a book or a series of videos in my hand to help me with the learning process. Could you recommend some if possible ?
    – Ceethemez
    Aug 30, 2021 at 19:53
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As like when you learned to read and write, you need a great deal of exposition to scores and sheet music to read it well after a time.

If you don't read a single note on staff, you can discover the mechanics even on wikipedia. There's plenty YouTube videos on this. It's is fairly easy and straightforward system - but can escalate rapidly to complexity on both rhythms (horizontal axis) and pitches/chords (vertical axis). A little sight-singing along reading training will do a greater good, by the way.

John Mortensen, on his channel, have lots of videos on sight-reading that may be very useful here, even it's not your wish to be an sight-reading beast. Check "cedarvillemusic",

, the second advice: "sight-reading at least 20 min. a day"

You can start with very very easy tunes with only one hand playing from children music books and improve to reach Mikrokosmos vol. 1 (Bartok) and church hymnals or choir books. In 60 days, you will be amazed by how much ability in reading you'll gain.

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On a grand piano there are 88 notes. At first memorizing positions of notes around middle C can help. Later you can start to find relations between intervals. To memorize it you can use a software like Anki. There are lots of shared decks and some of them contain notes on score to memorize it.

Also personally I believe learning sight reading is not such a big effort. As I mentioned before, all you need is 88 positions on grand staff. So don't make it over complicated. Imagine it like learning letters when you were a kid. First they helped you to memorize them and then came the knowledge of "Why?"

Here you can find Anki.

Here are the flash cards

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    88 positions on the grand staff? How (un)helpful is that?
    – Tim
    Aug 29, 2021 at 14:41
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    @Tim I agree. Memorizing note positions to learn sheet music reading is something like suggesting to memorize a dictionary in order to learn a language. Aug 29, 2021 at 17:54
  • There's also a significant range of notes that regularly appear in either staff (in principle "all of them" I guess, but in practice maybe an octave or so). So more than 88 things to memoryize
    – DavidW
    Aug 29, 2021 at 18:06
  • Alternatively, one could just memorize one position per clef and count from those. Or do something in between, like recognize scales and intervals instead of singular notes.
    – ojs
    Aug 30, 2021 at 3:59

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