The Art of Sight-Reading
Sight-reading is the ability to play or sing a piece at first sight, that is, to play or sing music that the performer has not seen before. It’s a skill that is important to all musicians, but it is essential for anyone considering a career in music–especially orchestral musicians or session musicians.
The question then remains: how does one learn how to sight-read?
The answer is.. you sight-read!
There’s many ways to improve your ability to sight-reading, and it all circles around slowing down and taking steps to make it easier.
For piano, you can write down the different note names of the piece in case you need help remembering the notes. Also, notice the patterns in your music before you begin to play. If your problem lies not in the notes, but in the rhythm, it’s a great idea to write out the rhythm of the notes above them and always begin with a steady, slow beat. Practice hands separate or together based on your level of ability!
For singers, you can also write out the rhythm of the notes, and remember to keep a steady beat! Learning solfege is a good tool to help you learn how to maneuver through the different pitches on a piece of music, so that would be the first step! If you do know solfege, write out the different syllables above the appropriate notes on the page.
For all sight-reading, it’s important to take it slow at first and choose simple pieces to ease yourself into it–also take it slow in tempo and then speed it up! Only do each piece once each session and then move on to a new piece! Remember, your sightreading ability will always be at a lower level than your regular lesson pieces.