If you’ve watched my sight-reading video https://vimeo.com/528132450 you may be interested in a list of the suggestions there, including some things that I only referred to in passing. These are things I’ve found useful — both to my students, and to myself.

MOVE YOUR EYES TO LOOK AHEAD

Get past the challenging spots, and especially be determined not to let your eyes get stuck at the end of a line, or other visual division point.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE SCORE

Looking up and down between the music and your hands, really slows down your sight-reading. We actually have a ‘lower peripheral vision‘ which means that we can see where our hands are (sort of) without taking our eyes off the music.

LEAVE THINGS OUT

Learn to see what’s important and what’s not. It does take practise to not play something that you see in front of you.

MAKE IT UP

Particularly if you’re sight-reading a popular song, which you know. Use your ears as well as your eyes, and make it sound ‘right.’ Don’t get stuck with what’s on the page.

FIND A REASON TO SIGHT-READ OFTEN

Give yourself a chance to get better; it will happen more quickly than you might imagine.

MAKE SIGHT-READING OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOURSELF

Here are suggestions I didn’t get to in the video:

• you’re a parent with a kid learning the violin or the clarinet? Sight-read their accompaniment, or learn to play it.

• you sing in a choir? Sight read the music, or the accompaniment.

• you’ve got a kid brother or kid sister also playing the piano? Say YES when your piano teacher asks if you’d like to play a duet together

• you’re in your high school band? Ask your crush if they’ll play some music with you. Get your music teacher to find music for the two of you, or search online.

• you’re in college, studying music? Never say no to chamber music or accompanying, even if you think you don’t have time.

• you’re in college, not studying music, just playing piano for fun? Go to the music department, and read the notice board until you find someone who’s looking to make music with someone at your level.

• you’re an adult learning to play the piano, or improving the skills you have? Ask your teacher if there are any other students (kids or adults) at your level, who want to play piano duets.

KEEP GOING!

Once you’ve started to play, be determined to maintain the rhythmic beat. You can always go back and check on the hard spots later.

FIND SOMEONE TO PLAY WITH

It could be a singer, a piano duet partner, another instrumentalist … sight-reading is much more fun together with someone else.

If you’re isolating because of COVID, and you can’t find a duet partner, why not record one part of a duet, then sight read the other part, as you play along. Try recording without a click track!

What are your favourite sight-reading techniques, which I’ve missed mentioning? Leave a comment and let us know.

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