I've never used the Paul Harris books before, but having just got one for the first time for a pupil, I think they look pretty good, and well structured. They'll certainly suit the pupil I have in mind, anyway, who likes everything to be ordered, and likes specific feedback, which is something you don't always get from sightreading exercises.
Do you use these? If so, how long do you you normally expect to spend on each stage/level within the book, before you provide a mark for that section? And how much do you expect them to cover at home? (Let's take Grade 2 standard as an example, and a pupil who progresses pretty well on about 20 minutes practice per day.)
If so, how long do you you normally expect to spend on each stage/level within the book, before you provide a mark for that section?
I like to devote the last 3-5 minutes of a 30 minute lesson to this, although it doesn't always work out. Post grade 1, a quick play through of each hand followed by a practise with both hands as preparation. The finished performance I mark out of 10 - 5 for notes and 5 for hythm - with a choc for a 'pass' (7\10). ;D
And how much do you expect them to cover at home? (Let's take Grade 2 standard as an example, and a pupil who progresses pretty well on about 20 minutes practice per day.)
None. They are already preparing stuff for the lesson. The idea of preparing a sight-reading exercise for a week seems strange, to me. Ok, so I understand the rationale, but will tackle the teaching of these elements whilst working on pieces during the lesson, so I don't need extra input.
Interesting to hear that, because our kids were expected to do quite a bit of sightreading work at home - admittedly both are memorisers and found this particularly challenging, but I found myself, a sightreader and most emphatically not a memoriser, having to try to teach them. I always think it's easier for someone who has struggled to learn how to do something to teach it to others - I did find the structure of the Paul Harris books useful though, and they did also help me with one of my major musical gremlins - counting and a sense of pulse. Breaking down the sightreading of that gave me a few tips for my own playing too .
By 'doing it at home', what I meant was mucking through once, or maybe twice each, a few short sightreading exercises. I do expect pupils to do this. I don't ask them to play me any of it in the next lesson; I just ask them to tick off the exercises that they've done at home, and then every week or two (I aim for every week but it doesn't happen...) we do something unseen in the lesson and talk about what was good (well, sometimes... ), and what could have been better in it.
I tried to 'teach' my own kids to sightread, but failed miserably. One only really improved when he started picking things up off his own bat to blunder through, having miserably failed the sightreading test in several grades - and not caring. It only occurred to him to sightread once he wanted to 'hear how things went'. Unless it's a gift (which it seems to be in some people) I think the only way to improve it is to do it as often as possible. It's just a question of how to get kids to do it!
Ah, rather different from what I was expected to do, then - I was more or less trying to teach sightreading using the book, and the teacher would then just do a couple of examples with them in the lesson. The most counter-productive lesson happened when my son was asked to play a sightreading exercise almost straight off, relatively close to his grade 3 exam date, and then made to play and re-play the same exercise, until he'd got it perfect. Only of course he couldn't get it perfect because the whole process just rattled him . And by the end of it it was hardly sightreading which was being done anyway...
The very word 'sightreading' rattles people sometimes. I actually enjoy it and always have done - but maybe that's because I didn't do exams as a kid; I just loved to buy and borrow new music and poke at it, and sightreading never acquired the connotations that it seems to for many pupils now. Even if I know it's possible I'll make a hash, I actually enjoy the challenge of giving something my best shot in church if something pops up that I wasn't expecting, or I run out of voluntaries that I've practised. I'm much more nervous of performing something that I've spent ages on. Is anybody else like this?
Eek, no, there I'd be the absolute opposite - I'd get the heebie-jeebies if asked to play with no notice, and would refuse assuming total inability to manage; and I always play a piece better on the second read-through if I don't know it really well.