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Best sightsinging method books

I teach choir at a middle school where the majority of the students do not read music at all.  I spend a lot of time each rehearsal teaching rhythm and sightreading.  Every day, I write an exercise on the board (I don't have a projector, so I have to do this by hand so all the students can see) for us to work on.  Needless to say, this takes a lot of time (and a lot of white board marker!).  Sometimes the exercise I choose is too easy, sometimes too hard---but when there's only one, it's all we've got!
 
What I would LOVE to do is purchase an inexpensive sightsinging course that all the kids could have in a book.  I envison keeping a set of the books in the classroom that everyone would just pick up at the beginning of class and put back at the end.  That way I could just say, "Today's exercise is on page 5, number 3."  Easy!  And if it's too easy, or too hard, then I can switch to another one.  Everyone can see (another problem with the board writing), and there are lots of options.
 
So, my question to you all is this: what are your favorite method books?  I'm not looking for a workbook, really, where the students write things in.  More like a compendium of exercises, both rhythm and notes, that progress at a solid pace (not too fast, not too slow) and that is easy to use.  I've been pulling exercises from the Jenson Sight-Singing Course, but it's not my favorite in terms of how it progresses.  I've also got one called Patterns of Sound, but it moves at a snail's pace.  What else is out there that you like to use?  And that hopefully is rather inexpensive?  I don't have a huge budget at my school but I'm hoping to find something affordable.
 
Thanks in advance for your ideas!
Replies (15): Threaded | Chronological
on February 16, 2012 8:16am
Dear Kiersten,
 
You might be interested in a rhythm reading method that I co-wrote with Joan Harkness, called You've Got Rhythm: Read Music Better by Feeling the Beat. It has graduated rhythm exercises, from beginner to advanced, using spoken text accompanied by gestures to feel the rhythm within meter, integrating movement with reading. We've found it to be amazingly effective at mastering complex rhythm-reading quickly. It's also lots of fun.
 
There's more informatin at our website, www.fleap.com, and you can purchase the book there; we sell licences to copy as well.  It's also available in three volumes with reproducing rights from Masterworks Press: http://www.masterworkspress.com/
on February 16, 2012 8:34am
Kiersten:  Kodály.  Get familiar with his materials (and his methodology).  For starters he used real music, not made-up exercises, and it's already sequenced.  Mostly published by Boosey, I think, although this was my wife's thing and not mine.
 
I'm sure that some of the other suggestions will be for perfectly useable materials, but I've honestly never known ANY sightsinging method to actually teach anyone to read music fluently.  And age 18 is too late to try to learn it!  It should be carefully taught and masterd by the end of elementary school.
 
John
on February 16, 2012 8:50am
I have been looking at the www.theory4choirs.com materials. They are reproducible.
 
on February 16, 2012 1:20pm
My voice teacher insisted G. Schirmer's: School of Velocity by Sieber. Velocity was far less important than teaching intervals, ascending and decending. Perhaps never brought back to print.
S
on February 16, 2012 2:32pm
Hi Kiersten,
 
One of my favorite collections of sightsinging exercises was created by Thomas Stokes.  I have included a link to the website below.
 
 
These sightsining materials are fully reproducible and come in a variety of voicings and difficulty levels.  Each manual contains 40+ pages of logically sequenced rythmic and pitch exercises for unison, 2-part and 3-/4-part voicings.  This is a great resource that I absolutely love!

Best wishes,
Kate
 
on February 19, 2012 5:40pm
Kiersten,
 
I've had great success with John Fierearbend's method. It's easy to use and easy to use his material and/or others. This isn't what you're asking for, but reading up on this and applying it has helped me understand why something was too easy or too hard when sightreading. Hope this helps!
 
Jeff
on February 20, 2012 6:18am
Kiersten,
 
I have tried a variety of methods and like you I don't have a projector.  I was looking for something cheap that would get the point across to the students as well as not take up a lot of time as I only see my choir two days a week for about a half hour.  This past year I found exactly what I was looking for.  Five Minutes to Reading Music: A Road Map to Musical Success by Jerrry Estes published by Shawnee Press.  This book was $24.99 and gives you a license to make copies for one school and uses a movable do system.  It works really well with my middle school choir and really only uses about 3-5 minutes of rehearsal and yet the concept is super easy to grasp.  You can use it to do Unison singing and it takes you all the way to three part singing.  At the beginning of the year my students started out not being able to read music and then just a few weeks ago we sight read through a three part song.  (It was a very easy three part but they still did it)
 
I would highly recommend this book!
on February 21, 2012 6:54am
The Independent Singer by Richard Edstrom is published by Kjos and costs maybe $25. Once purchased it comes with permission to reproduce student pages in any quantity desired. This is a no-nonsense approach that works well with moveable [do].  It approaches music reading from a vocalist's viewpoint.  Starts stepwise and without meter - getting students used to the relationships between whole, half, quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes and rests.  I have them keep the beat with their hand on their thigh or their chest as they sing in solfa.  I've used it in private voice lessons, with high school choir, and in college fundamentals classes.  I've used other methods briefly but I keep coming back to this as my favorite.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 21, 2012 7:12am
Kiersten-
 
You need to consider Carol Krueger's Progressive Sight Singing, published by Oxford.  It is not a book you purchase for all your students, but it does address the fundamental problem that many students have with reading success -  they don't know what the little black dots and lines are supposed to sound like.  To become musically literate, your students need to learn what short musical patterns sound like through a rote process guided by the teacher.  Only then can they successfully relate the sounds they are familiar with to the symbols that represent those sounds.  It is also important that initially, tonal and rhythm are taught separately.  Krueger's book is highly effective at building independent musicians, when used appropriately.  You should consider checking out her summer workshops as well; 4 days of intensive study on the process which her book follows.  If you like, I can put you in contact with her; I know she is doing her workshop several times this summer, but I'm not certain the dates and exact locations.  I can say from experience that her book and methodology has completely transformed my elementary and secondary music classes for the better.  I do not rely on band students to carry my choirs, but all students are successfully learning to read music.  Actually, some of my best readers in JH and HS now are not band students!
 
Samuel Barrett
Applauded by an audience of 2
on February 24, 2012 12:01pm
This has all been very helpful!  Now I have a good basis of research and I've got some catalogs and other samples.  I feel more informed!  Thank you all!
on February 26, 2012 4:56pm
Kiersten,
 
I teach middle school also and face the exact same issues. I purchased a set of 60 'Keys to Sight-Singing Success', published by Alliance Music Publications in Houston, TX. The intro book ($2.95) presents the scale on solfege and on the staff. The first 10 lessons provide a rhythm-only section, a solfege-only section, and then a reading section that applies the rhythm/solfege concepts in that lesson on the music staff. I LOVE this book! I can choose to do only solfege, only rhythm, only reading, or any combination! Every four lessons or so a new concept is presented; a new time signature, rhythmic value or new key signature. By lesson 10, a rhythm fugue is presented and the melodies are to be taken from the Oxford books that Margot recommended. The books that follow this intro book are in two, three and four parts in various voicings.
 
Another excellent series is the 'Young Singer's Journey', created by Jean Ashworth Bartle of the Toronto Children's Chorus (and two other fabulous choral musicians from Canada, Eileen Baldwin and Linda Beaupre). That's about $12 a book and there are six levels. This curriculum is very comprehensive and addresses sight-singing and practical music theory skills like interpreting key signatures, hearing the tonic triad, finding one's way around a keyboard (to better visualize intervals) and every skill is constantly reviewed and reinforced throughout the six levels. We use this in the community youth chorale I work with and it has been very successful but it requires regular theory sessions with each singer to test them on the various exercises and check their work. That's way too much for me to do with my 200+ school singers but I'm thinking about using it with my select ensemble....
 
Good luck!
 
Eileen Fields
on February 27, 2012 9:05am
I looked for books to use for 8th graders for several years.  I found one I really liked about two years ago.  It is the "One-Minute Sight Singing"  Beginning book.  published by Kjos music company.  It is a two sided book.  Girls/Treble on one side - flip it over - Boys/Bass on the other.  The book was $8.95 but you got two books in one so that really makes it $4.50 a piece if you bought them seperate.  I felt it was super accessible for both my more advanced and beginner kids.  I used it for several months before moving on to the sight reading we have to do for our contest in Oklahoma.  I have used several others but really prefer this one!  Hope it helps!!
 
JoAnn Barker
Owasso 8th Gr. Center
Owasso Community Choir
Owasso, Oklahoma
on October 17, 2012 12:52pm
I recommend "Teaching Choral Sight Reading" by Jack Boyd.  Published 1975 by Parker Publishing Company, Wes Nyack NY.
ISBN 0-13-891481-8.  There are 80 "sheets" of exercises which may be reproduced (permission granted in the Forward).
 
I have used this book with all ages, even college choirs, and it produces results.
 
Marilyn Carver
on October 18, 2012 5:39am
Hello....No one has mentioned Audrey Snyder's "Sing At Sight".   It is available in two part or three part (I like the 2 part for MS), and the best thing is that it comes with these correlating CDs for each exercise.  Students first must orient themselves to the scale (or at least determine what is "do") by singing the scale.  They use hand signs.  They follow the written notes of the scale, or follow your lead with the hand signs.   Then they clap and count the exercise.  Next they clap the exercise but just SPEAK the names of the syllables.  Next they sing it, a cappella.  Finally, at the very end, you add the 15 or 20 second accompaniment recording.  It is fun b/c it uses all different types of accompaniments:  rock, classical, country, Eastern music sound, jazz....and varies it each time.  Students never know what is going to pop up!   I tried it once with HS and it didn't work so well.   But have had success with it at the MS level.  The challenge for the teacher is sticking WITH it, and not giving up when concert time comes!   Good luck!
on October 19, 2012 4:23am
Please feel free to review www.ronniesanders.net where you can find TONS of FREE sight singing materials for many different levels of choirs.  Just click on "Free Sight Reading Materials."
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