Sight-Reading Practice Tips

Sight-reading means playing through a piece for the first time. Every time you are given a new piece of music and looking it over, you are sight-reading. It can be very frustrating at first when you miss notes and struggle to play it.

Did you know that you can practice sight-reading? Like scales or pieces, sight-reading gets easier the more you do it. Try to spend some time each day playing simple songs that you have never seen or heard before.

Here are some tips on how to practice sight-reading:

1. Start by looking through the music without playing.

2. Play slowly. You are not trying to play the piece at the correct tempo. Find the hardest place and play the piece at the tempo you can play that section.

3. Use a metronome to keep a steady beat. You can also count aloud.

4. Look at the music and not at your hands, unless you have a big jump to play.

5. The music for sight-reading should always be a bit easier than the pieces you are learning.

There are three reasons why you should practice sight-reading:

1. You will learn new pieces much more quickly.

2. It is fun to be able to sit down and play new music easily.

3. You can accompany other musicians and make money.

If you ever want to play for church or with an ensemble, it helps to be a good sight-reader. Learning to recognize intervals, whether by sound, on paper, or on an instrument, is extremely helpful for many reasons.

Among them are chord building, improvisation, sight singing, composition, understanding and remembering keys and their related accidentals, and figuring out music by ear playing. Sight-singing means singing a piece of music at first reading. If you are trying to play a melody that is in your head or on the radio, knowing your intervals eliminates most of the time spent searching for the right notes.

When reading a piece of music from left to right, you are training your eyes to see past the bar lines and rapidly viewing notes through the measures,of music, counting rhythm out loud and moving towards the double bar line. The overlapping information also includes reviewing of what your right hand is playing, when your left hand is playing lower notes and reaching for 2 black keys, for example.

I like to introduce flash cards for increasing sight-reading skills. Remember that the ultimate goal of the flash cards is speed. I believe flash cards should be quickly shown with increasing speed to accelerate the student’s comprehension and response in identifying each card.

Flash cards can be used for a particular advantage in strengthening sight-reading skills. Students should use them for daily drills at home. You should immediately recognize white keys at a fleeting glance.

Along with sight-reading, it brings continual developing responses to fingering. Using fingering in new positions breaks the association of any finger number with any key.

The basics of recognizing the notes in the Treble and Bass Clefs and seeing whether those notes are repeated on the same line or space are all components to sight-reading training. Notes stepping down to the next line or space need to be instantly recognized as well.

You will have a successful time with improved sight-reading when you learn to recognize intervals by name and sound, and by their appearance on either staff. Have fun with these sight-reading tips.