A Labour of Love
12 May 2021
Spending a year without being able to perform live has been incredibly challenging in every possible way for so many musicians. That being said, the enforced silence has produced a huge variety of innovative projects both related to performance and/or education. I think it has given many people the chance to finally turn their attention to projects that they have never previously been able to find the time to bring to fruition.
In my own case, my ‘lockdown’ project has been simmering away since 2012 when I had big plans for a Sight Reading book for harp that broke the process of reading music down into its component parts. I’ve always felt that in order to sight read well, students need to understand what to look for in the music; to have a process and to truly understand what is on the page. This might sound obvious, but in fact as a teacher, it can be very easy to assume that a student understands something due to having covered it in a piece. However, when the idea in question is seen again in isolation, it can quickly become apparent that the understanding is not as solid as first thought. What if there could be a series of books that covers everything a student needs to know and understand in order to sight read well? A series that breaks everything down and explains it, with plenty of exercises to practise each new idea with……
Voila, the A - G of Sight Reading for Harp was formed!
My initial drafts were not brilliant – there was simply too much information to fit into just one book. Two children, performing work and life took over, and the project was shelved.
I spent the first lockdown home schooling my two children which didn’t leave any real time for anything other than my immediate harp teaching work. However, when the children returned to school in September 2020 and my performing work had still not resumed, I decided that it was the perfect time to rekindle my long neglected idea.
With some very helpful feedback from close friends and colleagues, Eleanor Turner and Keziah Thomas, my initial drafts transformed into multi-coloured, engaging books tailored to progressive levels in the learning process (I based each book around the ABRSM and Trinity music exam syllabus requirements for sight reading). Each book contains fun quizzes and chapters clearly explaining each bit of required knowledge (with plenty of practise exercises to work through).
I have now published the first three books and am hard at work on the fourth. The response has been wonderful, and I have had so many messages from people saying that this is the first time that they have really understood how to read music.