Getting Better At Sight-Reading In 4 Steps
Getting better at sight-reading is not only important for the development of becoming a musician but also helps middle and high school students get into all-state and county bands and orchestras. An important part of most auditions is the sight reading portion yet most musicians consider it their biggest weakness. Follow these steps to get better at sight reading quickly!
Get comfortable with complex rhythms
Rhythms are one of the easiest things to miss. Practice by clapping difficult rhythms in unfamiliar music. So, take the measures out of random pieces, make a flash card out of each measure, practice and repeat. Yes this is how you learned your spelling words but it works for sight-reading sheet music too.
Practice you scales
I know you are tired of hearing that sentence, but scales are the answer to everything. Being familiar with key signatures and knowing your instrument top to bottom is a necessity if you want to be successful with new music.
The nuts and bolts are this, if you can play Eb major and understand very well that Eb has 3 flats in the key signature, then when you have a piece to sight read set in front of you that has 3 flats and thinking about what notes to play just became one lesson thing you have to worry about.
Study before you start
Studying the important details right before you start can make or break your sight-reading. Look at the key signature and time signature and then glance over the notes, accidentals, rhythm, tempo markings, dynamics, and anything else that looks tricky. Typically students at all-state and county bands get 30 seconds to quietly prepare for what they are about to do. Get the most out of this time by practicing the order of the things you’ll look for.
Practice brand new music CONSTANTLY
Like most things, you will only get better at sight-reading if you practice at it. Buy difficult music and challenge yourself to read through pieces you’ve never seen or played every day. It’s very easy to over estimate how long it takes to prepare for sight-reading. If you sight ready for 5 minutes a day every day you practiced, you’d be a sight reading god.
Maybe my geekiest suggestion but if you have friends who are musicians, invite them over for a sight-reading party! Sight-reading is so much fun when you feel confident about it. Get your friends together and read through stuff together!