Improve at Sight-reading





Introduction: Improve at Sight-reading

Whether your instrument is the piano, oboe, drums, or your voice, sight-reading is an essential skill for a musician to have. This Instructable will teach you how to improve your sight-reading skills on your instrument.

Step 1: Commit and Learn the Basics

The first step to improving at sight-reading is committing to consistent practice. A good starting point is to practice fifteen minutes on sight-reading every day.

Before you can start sight-reading through the Mozart symphonies, though, you must know the basics of reading music. Kevin Meixner presents the basics in a written article format in this website, and Ricci Adams' helped me to test out of Theory I and II in my freshman year of college. But perhaps the best source is someone you know who is an experienced musician: your band director, piano teacher, and choir director will all be more than happy to talk with you about music.

Step 2: How to Practice

When choosing material to sight-read, don't choose material that is very hard at first. Always start your practice session with a piece that you can play at the written tempo without much difficulty. Once you have played through that as a warm-up, move to something that requires a little more concentration.

Always take the piece at a tempo that is comfortable for you and do not stop playing, even if you make a mistake. If you are in an audition, the judge will not want you to stop playing just because you've messed up.

Step 3: Tips

-Make sure your music is where you can see it comfortably. There is too much to concentrate on without having to worry about whether you can see the music.

-Use a metronome! It isn't just for drummers. Using a metronome will encourage you to keep going when you make a mistake.

-Learn scales! You must practice scales every day. Not only do scales help you get familiar with your instrument, scales appear everywhere in music (eg: Joy to the World is just one big major scale at the beginning). Once you can play scales, you can recognize them in music and it makes sight-reading tons easier.

-Finding sight-reading material can be difficult, but be creative. Read out of a hymnal, a piano book, a band workbook, anything!

-Do not get discouraged when you make a mistake. It's always tough when you first get started, but once you get the hang of it it can be quite fun.

I hope you enjoy the music you make.



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    How do you explain to someone what a "partial" is if he/she has little technical knowledge of music, brass instruments, etc?  I just found out about them a few years ago after playing piano all my life.  I thought to myself, "partial what?  what is it a part of?  Playing trumpet now, I know what they are, but I still can't explaiin them!

    I didn't really find this helpful since I am a busy student and cannot manage to practice sight reading every day! lol...I play the clarinet and am trying to branch out to piano and violin. My sight reading sucks!!! I want to get better and will at least attempt to follow your instructions when I get a little more time on my hands!!!!!!! I also have a sight reading and concert contest coming up. Wish me luck! Thanks for trying to help us strugglers!

    I've tried to learn to read for years. I have ADD. I get to the point of knowing where the notes are and then I just can't make the rhythm and notes work together! It's SO frustrating! I'll try your system and see if it helps.

    i've played piano for 3 years, and i stil suck at sight reading! don't worry!! you'll get better with practice! do you play anything??

    Apparently not. lol. I thought I played Violin, Guitar and drums, but hey, I can't read so phooey.

    Sorry! I didn't mean to insult you! I just mean that even after I've played piano for 3 years, I still need to work on sight-reading!

    Not responding to you— sorry!! You didn't insult me at all... I just feel "left out" a lot as a non reader... it's a personal thing, lol. I appreciate your comments and input. :—)