A piano tutor insight on Sight-reading...
Piano sight-reading is a multitasking skill that involves playing the current measure while scanning the next, moving fingers to the keys without looking, using prior musical knowledge to comprehend the music, and relating to the music at an emotional level.
Better piano sight-readers have a greater knowledge of musical styles and repertoire, which provides a database of familiarity for the chunking process. No lesson should go by without a bit of sight reading.
As teachers we commit to produce pro-active sight readers. Effective piano sight-readers scan the music before a performance, while considering the tempo, the time and key signatures, and possible difficulties. Rhythmic reading is the most important and challenging musical component of sight reading. One can practise this in isolation, even away from one’s instrument.
The most effective way to become a successful piano sight reader is to practise the skill regularly. Just as with reading a book, in time students will recognise clusters of notes as phrases rather than as individual entities.
The beauty of this skill is that it speeds up the learning process and opens up new and wider opportunities for playing piano with others. It requires thorough teaching but it really worths the effort.