What Is Sight Reading?

What is sight reading?  If you are asking this question, you are in the right place.  In the music business, sight reading is pretty important.  It many ways, it can either make you or break you as a musician.

You can either do it well or not very well at all.  It all depends on how much time and effort you put into.

We’ll get into the specifics in a moment.  First, let’s define what sight reading is…

Definition Of Sight Reading

Sight reading, as it pertains to music, is the ability to read and play (or sing) music you have never seen before.

Notice the word “ability”?  This is good news.  It means anyone can develop this skill and get better at it all the time!

The “never seen before” part of the definition refers to music you are reading for the first time.  Gulp!  This can be really scary….especially if you have to sight read in front of other people!

How Can We Get Better At It?

Here are few ideas you may want to try if you are interested in learning how to sight read well.

1.  Develop a plan of action.  You need to have something to put into place every time you have to sight read.  Having a plan of attack will save you a lot of time and frustration in the end.  If you need assistance, check out this idea for a music sight reading plan.

2.  Know what to look for before you start playing.  This is part of your plan.  Make a list of things in your music that could potentially give you problems when you start playing.  If you need to, mark these things right into your music.

3.  Practice sight reading.  I remember spending an entire summer sight reading one etude (study) out of a book every day.  I improved dramatically in my playing/reading ability and noticed a difference in how quickly I could learn a piece of music.  This was the best thing I could have ever done for myself while I was in college studying music.

Why Bother Practicing Sight Reading?

The better you are sight reading, the less time you need to practice.  That’s enough to motivate me right there!

Better development of sight reading skills is not just for professionals or those who audition regularly.  It can help you in your daily playing and learning too.

With enough practice, you will begin to notice how you can mentally process the information on the page a lot faster and easier.  This result is less practice time in order to learn something new.

Another Way It Can Help You

Treat sight reading like a little quiz or check-up from the doctor to see how well you are doing.  Where are your deficiencies?  Are there any areas that need to be worked on?

Collect this information and use it to your advantage.  You may even choose to sight read music filled with these things in order to get better at it.

So, What Is Sight Reading Again?

A skill you can develop to become better at reading something for the very first time.  The end result is better playing/reading ability overall and less time needed to learn something new.

Sight reading can really sky-rocket your experience level with music because you are choosing to read a wide assortment of music.  Focusing on 1-3 pieces of music every day for several weeks or months can limit the amount and types of experiences you will have.

Sure, focusing on a few pieces is needed in order to really learn them well.  However, if you want to develop your skills in better reading and faster learning overall, sight reading something different every day will do this for you.  Add this to your regular practice regimen.

Always Remember:  The more experience you have in doing something, the better you become at it.

The experience received through sight reading a wide variety of music will allow your confidence to soar.  Your skills will really improve for all kinds of different situations.

You can do this!  Keep your chin up and put a plan into action that works for you every time.  Sight reading really can be your friend.  Good luck!

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