Improve your sight reading: for saxophone

This review was published on: July 30th 2018

The Improve Your Sight-Reading books will already be familiar to most teachers of clarinet, but here is a new edition for saxophone, covering Grades 1 to 5. This edition has been redesigned to support the ABRSM syllabus requirements that came in this year. Earlier editions did not look particularly dated, but Harris and Faber have used the opportunity to freshen up the appearance. Pages are clearly laid out and user-friendly.

Each grade is divided into three stages which introduce two or three features. Rhythmic exercises introduce new note or rest lengths and time signatures; melodic exercises use rhythmic patterns and introduce dynamic marking, key signature and other musical detail. Prepared pieces cover character and include more variety than the exercises. Plenty of question boxes encourage thought about the pieces and also suggest ways to continue developing, as well as reminders of useful strategies such as clapping the rhythm and counting the beat. Improvisation and composition starter ideas are provided and each stage ends with ‘Going Solo!’ pieces to work on.

I have not yet taken a pupil through the whole book but I was able to find the right stage to suit the levels of the pupils that did help me test this new edition. The logical progression was understood and those that tried the composition and improvising tasks used the stimuli effectively. The only thing missing – perhaps because this goes without saying – is the instruction to go and join a band or ensemble, as that is the real-world test of sightreading. However, a mixture of formal and informal learning is the best combination, and this is an excellent resource for teachers and pupils to help improve sight-reading skills.

Steohanie Reeve

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The Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 3010228, whose registered office is at Flat 51, Parkview Apartments, 122 Chrisp Street, London, E14 6ET. Email: membership(@) Tel: 01642 769 558

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