TTTV004: Holistic Sight Reading: How technology is revolutionising teaching with Colin Thomson - Creative Music Education
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TTTV004: Holistic Sight Reading: How technology is revolutionising teaching with Colin Thomson

By Tim Topham | Podcast

Apr 30

holistic sight reading colin thomson

**UPDATED Dec 2016**

Please note that Colin’s Sight Reading Academy, mentioned below and in the recording of this podcast is no longer available. All other aspects of our discussion around sight reading is still relevant. See below if you’d like to grab your free download. 

Sight reading is one of the key skills that I teach my students. We generally work on tactics in every single lesson with practice set during the week.

I almost put teaching effective sight reading above all else in my studio because for students to sight read effectively, they have to understand music at a deep level. They have to quickly recognise patterns, understand chords and key relationships and have an excellent sense of pulse.

But I also know that you can’t just expect students to get better at sight reading by doing more sight reading. They need a combination of tools and effective teaching to help them understand how to do it and to practice those skills in the most appropriate ways.

I’m very excited to talk today to Colin Thompson from Sight Reading Academy (SRA) in California all about his revolutionary approach to sight reading based on eye movement, brain science, memory and pattern recognition and I know that you’re going to get a heap of value out of the interview.

Colin has just re-launched SRA after extended trials during the second half of 2014 and he’s got some really special offers available for TTTV listeners. See below for more details.

This podcast will talk about both sight reading tips and also the program that Colin has for teaching sight reading using technology online. And I don’t use the term “revolutionising” flippantly; this is really innovative stuff!

[Note: You can also watch the video below]

In this episode, you’ll learn:

Colin’s top recommendations for improving sight reading teaching and practice, including:

  • Systematic Eye Pattern – Reading each note from the bottom staff, up to the top staff ledger lines.
  • Increase Your Fixation – This aids in the development of rapid eye movement when reading measures.
  • Directional Intervals – Being able to recognize intervals between notes on the staff, instead of seeing the space between notes.
  • Octave Interval Exercise – This develops the ability to recognizing the interval of an octave by playing notes up to the high note, and recognize the feel the black keys, all without looking at the keys. Practice this to develop a “second-nature” familiarity with the keyboard.
  • Isolating Speed – Practice this by playing music with only one hand and adjusting your metronome accordingly to build speed.
  • Using Your Peripheral Vision – This practice develops the awareness of the eye and being able to reading whole measures at a glance.
  • Increase Your Short-term Memory – Learn to continuously fill and empty your short-term memory as you look ahead when sight-reading.
  • Large Pattern Recognition – Learn to recognize the note structure, intervals, scale pattern, and make remarkable guess of written music.
  • Habits of Good Sight Reading – Being proactive about practising sight reading and implementing all steps for 5-8 minutes. How SRA’s resources can help.

Get this episode’s cheat sheet

Items mentioned in this podcast:

Related: Whatever You Do, Don’t Stop: 5 Sight Reading Tips for Piano Teachers

Related: Can Tetris Help Your Sight Reading?

What are your thoughts?

Most piano teachers are pretty good sight readers. But have you ever thought about exactly how you sight read so well? How do you go about passing on these tips to students and what do you think about Colin’s ideas?

I’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave a message below.

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About the Author

Tim Topham has one mission in life: to stem the tide of children quitting music lessons by helping teachers maximise student engagement through creativity, technology and innovation. Tim hosts the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at timtopham.com and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, Californian Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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