Students can be fearful when it comes to sight reading. It is a totally different way of playing piano from the learning ‘note by note’ approach. You can’t listen to the piece before you play it, and no one is teaching it to you; you’re on your own!
Sight reading, however, is really fun! Once you master a few steps to sight reading a new piece, you’ll get better and better with each try, and then you’ll be playing pieces easier and learning them faster than ever before.
Here are 5 great tips for learning to sight read better!
Most importantly – relax! Take a couple of deep breaths and stay open to the process of learning to sight read. Push aside any preconceived ideas about how hard it might be, and decide that you are going to have fun with this, and dive in!
2. Look over the whole piece
Take a minute or two to look over the piece. Look at the name of the piece and the composer. How many pages is it? Do you see any difficult passages? Does it look easy? What are the different tempo markings through the piece? What dynamic markings do you see and how often do they change?
3. Look at the time signature
What is the time signature? Are there any places in the piece where the time signature changes? Take a minute to look at any difficult rhythmic passages and go through them mentally. Observe any fast passages that have 16th notes or complicated rhythms.
4. Look at the key signature
What sharps or flats do you have noted in the key signature at the beginning of the piece? Are there any places in other parts of the piece that have a different key signature? Are there any measures that have accidentals written in?
5. Look at the first and the last 3 measures
Lastly, take a look at the first and last few measure of the piece. Get a feel of how the piece starts and finishes. Keep in mind what you have already observed in terms of the time and key signatures, rhythmic patterns, dynamics, and any measures that change pattern in some way, as you gather the basic idea of the whole piece together; like you’d look at the beginning and ending of a book.
Developing your sight reading skills will enable you to play more pieces and learn them at a faster rate. You can get so advanced at sight reading, that you’ll be able to sit down at the piano and play anything that is put in front of you. It’s an exciting way to share your skills with your family and provide some great entertainment.
Start with some easier pieces to sight read at first, and then move on to more advanced pieces as your skills grow from your online piano lessons and as you get more comfortable with playing a variety of different pieces, and above all - have fun!
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