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I started learning Piano around 4 months back, a month after I reached 50. In spite of not enough practice and often missed sessions, my tutor says that I am making "decent" progress, for my age and inexperience of any instrument.

He's been pointing out that when I play those small meody pieces, I don't sing out the notes. I am finding it difficult. I sight read for the first few times with little effort and then it kind of gets in my memory. But I know that I tend to make occasionak mistakes while playing from memory. However, trying to sing out the notes, slows me down almost by half. Like if I have progressed to play a reasonably advanced (my novice standards) at 150 bpm, if I have to read and sing out the notes, then I will be at 80 and if I have to look at my finger and sing out, then I will be at 100. I feel frustrated!!

Am I doing it wrong? How important is it to read and sing the notes while playing melody?

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This is standard for someone in your position, so don't fret!

In terms of practicing this technique, make sure you can do both tasks separately first. Once you can play the piece at 150bpm and sing the piece at 150bpm, only then should you try to do both tasks simultaneously. But you will almost certainly have to reduce the tempo, and often drastically (like your 80bpm example).

But as with most things, this task will become easier the more you do it.

As for "how important" this task is, it's tough to say without knowing your teacher's intent for asking you to do it. A few reasons:

  • To improve your singing ability
  • To improve your singing accuracy (i.e., if the pitches are correct)
  • To make sure you're aware of the melodic line to urge you to play this line as melodically and "songlike" as possible on the piano
  • As a means of score study, to make sure you know the separate contrapuntal lines
  • Etc.

For me personally, I think this is a very important task, and I'm glad to hear your teacher is assigning it, and that you're taking it seriously!

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You don't say whether you are expected to actually sight sing. That's a different skill, and a good one to get better at. I doubt if your teacher is doing that, though, as you have enough on your plate already.

I'm a little sceptical about naming each and every note as you play. I don't believe it's the way people sight read anyway. Doing that makes a two stage job: Look at the note, recognise its name, find it on the piano, then play it. Once the first note has been established, if the next is one step higher, it really doesn't matter what its name is - just play the note one step above the last! Naming notes, then, to me, is somewhat academic, and I'm pretty sure that seasoned players do not think 'my next note will be an Eb' in the middle of playing.Even when they're sight reading.

And, it's not particularly helpful when faced with, say, a C followed by a G - going up or down. Yes, sing a G, say the name, but which one?

Try the sight singing as a separate entity for a while, preferrably before trying to play the piece. It'll take a lot of getting right, but it's a good skill. If it helps, sing the letter names, but more importantly, sing the melody, to lah or whatever.

The other aspect of sight reading is the duration of notes, so that needs addressing in a different way. Not in the question, so I'll leave it at that.

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