Welcome back for another awesome Tuesday Teaching Tactic. We started the topic of Collaborative Music last week so we’re continuing that by discussing sight reading today. How many times do your lessons get busy enough that you forget to pull out the sight reading book? 30 minutes goes way too quickly! I’ve started pulling our sight reading book out first thing at lessons just to help me not forget. And today I want to share an idea to incorporate sight reading with collaboration by sight reading duets.
Sight Reading duets together is the perfect opportunity for us as teachers to model beautiful music for our students right in the lesson. As they play alongside us, they can copy our crescendos/decrescendos, follow along our ritardandos, feel the downbeat, and so much more. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to play together as musically as possible as they begin each lesson!
So today I want to share several resources that I’ve used to get your sight reading duet time started!
- Easy Classical Piano Duets for Teacher and Student, published by Alfred, with 3 books in the series. Our wonderful colleague Sara Alexander introduced them to us when we presented at MTNA in the spring. This semester, I began using these with most of my late elementary and intermediate students. The variety of music is great exposure to students – they’re playing mazurkas, waltzes, marches and more by composers such as Clementi, Wohlfart, and Becucci just to name a few. The student parts stay in 5 finger patterns and is often in unison while the teachers part is more complex, in the style of the composer.
- Improve Your Sight-Reading Duets, by Paul Harris. There are several books in this series. I learned about this from Joy Morin’s post so I’ve used these for few years. I love that they start from single line pieces so my beginners can jump right into the fun of sight reading duets! I’ve found it helps my students LOVE sight reading, especially in lessons. They just find that creating music together is so fun from the very beginning!
- Diabelli’s Melodious Pieces, Op.149 are amazing pieces for the late intermediate/advanced student to sight read. Written in such a structured, classic style, these help the lesson begin with such a beautiful way. With more difficult rhythms and different meters, these duets are still written at the octave and reinforce 2 against 3 rhythms very well.
- Sight Reading and Rhythm Every Day, by Kevin Olson & Helen Marlais. These are awesome to keep students sight reading at home with daily assignments and fun ways to mix it up. Then right next to every “Lesson Day” section, is a student & teacher duet to sight read. My students love playing this part with me and often tell me they’ve looked forward to “earning” the duet all week! I love that this is included in every unit and it makes ensemble music easier to include from the beginning as well!
These are 4 of my favorite resources – what do you use for sight reading in your studio? My goal this semester has been to add more collaboration into each students’ learning and duets have been an easy addition to every lesson. Sight Reading with a partner is just so much more fun, right?! Hope you enjoy your sight reading duets this week!
Whitney Hawker, NCTM, teaches group and private piano at Weber State University, Utah. She loves surprising students with the perfect piece or a new exciting game! After graduate school, she missed sharing ideas and resources daily with colleagues so she and her friend, Spring, began blogging together at 4DPianoTeaching.com