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Being the co-author of the said Blitz Sight Reading books, this might be interpreted as rather a strange title for an article by me. You may ask, shouldn’t I already have KNOWN that the Sight Reading books work? Shouldn’t I have held off publishing them if I thought for a second they wouldn’t work?
Well of course it’s a resounding ‘yes’ to both! But the thing is, when you pilot something in its initial stages and see that it works, you sometimes don’t actually get to pilot that same product all the way to the end of the course. This is what happened with the Blitz Sight Reading series.
Book 1 (Levels 1-10, up to Grade 3 standard) was piloted to within an inch of its life. For 5 years Michelle Madder and I were testing all sorts of sight reading activities on all sorts of little pianists – those who could read well and those who couldn’t! The course was tailored until we knew it benefitted absolutely everybody.
By the time we wrote Book 2 (Levels 11-15, up to Grade 4) there were quite a few students who were finished Book 1 or who had been too clever for it anyway (having taken part in the pilot for Book 1). So we were fairly confident all five levels in this book would hit the mark.
But then there was quite a lull after releasing Book 2. When we finally did write Book 3 (Levels 16 – 20, up to Grade 5 standard), we found that many of the students who had piloted Books 1 and 2 had moved on to other things and were no longer available! So we went with a continuation of the concepts of Book 2, and threw in some extra things that we thought were important, like repeat signs, pedal markings, and even some transposition exercises!
Anyway I’m here to tell you today that there’s no doubt in my mind the whole course works like a charm. I have had two students successfully navigate through all three books, and my daughter (who is only sometimes my student) just finished Level 20 the other day, having started right back in Book 1 just after it was released (she was only a baby during the piloting years). I’d have to say she is now a GREAT sight-reader of rhythm, notes, patterns, chords, dynamics, articulation, and most of all she understands the importance of maintaining fluency and style even in the face of a few wrong notes!
By working through the 20 levels in the Blitz Sight Reading books students learn not only how to approach sight reading, they also learn not to be at all scared of it. And the very best thing about it is being able to witness the results – in particular the pleasure my daughter gets from being able to try out any music that is put in front of her. Isn’t that what learning music is all about?