What Is Sight Reading?
Sight reading piano sheet music is just like reading a book. When you read a book, you see the words with your eyes and sound them out with your mouth. For a toddler who is just beginning to learn how to read, he need to decode the word one by one and read it out slowly. But after he reads for a longer period of time, the reading skill improves gradually until it becomes an automatic process.
For piano sight reading, the concept is the same. The only difference is you need to convert the piano scores into music by using your instrument. Similar to reading skill, sight reading skill will improve with time and practice. The more you do it, the better you will become. So if you’re not a decent sight reader yet, don’t worry. You will reach the desirable level one day if you keep practicing. The key is do not give up easily.
What Do You Need to Practice Sight Reading?
For effective sight reading practice, you need to have a bunch of sheet musics to start off with. Normally, you’re expected to be able to sight read materials which are two levels lower than your current grade. For example, if you’re currently at grade 3, you should be able to sight read sheet music from grade 1 fluently. Therefore, start collecting sheets music two grades lower for your sight reading practice.
You can download lots of free sheet music from the internet. Alternatively, you can purchase books specially published for sight reading practice or simply purchase sheet music of your desired level. You can check out some of the piano sight reading books here. Besides, you can even look for websites or apps that provide free sight reading practice.
How Much Time Do You Need to Spend on Sight Reading?
It is recommended to incorporate sight reading into your daily practice. Having a short 10 to 15 minutes session daily is better than practicing for 30 minutes once a week. So, just make it a small part of your practice every day if you want to see improvement fast.
How to Practice Sight Reading?
1. Firstly, prepared yourself before you attempt to sight read the music. Look at the clef, key signature and time signature. Get a general idea about how many sharps or flats are there and which keys you need to press. You can also try to play the scale of that key.
2. Scan through the sheet music for the hard parts especially those with accidentals or several ledger lines. Look for the highest and lowest notes in the sheet music and find them in your piano keyboard.
3. Tap or clap the rhythm and get the feel of it. Getting the rhythm correct is very important in sight reading. Sometimes, the wrong note you play will be unnoticed if you’re playing with the correct rhythm.
4. Look at the performance directions to get a clue about the feeling of that piece of music. Is the music fast or slow? Happy or sad? Or is it a dance, march or ragtime?
5. When you start playing, look at least one bar ahead. If you feel it hard to do so, try to start by looking one or two notes ahead. You will find it easier with more practice.
6. Lastly, play the music with confidence as if you’re doing a performance. Keep going and do not stop even if you made a mistake. Pausing halfway to correct your mistake will only make it more obvious to the audience.
Watch This Useful Tutorial by Furmanczyk Academy of Music:
Say Goodbye to Procrastination!
You can conquer your fear of sight reading if you start practicing today! I’m sure hard works will pay off one day. And if you practice smartly, you’ll start improving in no time! There are courses which can help you to speed up your sight reading progress with some useful approach too. Read my review of the course here!
Do you have any sight reading tips to share with us? Kindly leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!