Updated: Feb 22
Sight-reading tips to approach (ABRSM) Piano Grade 1
Exam season has arrived and many students at WKMT are busy with their instrumental exams. One of the most worrying tasks is the sight-reading, especially for children as they are in the process of learning musical notation.
During my teaching experience, I decided to write a few tips to help my pupils in improving this important skill. Apologize for the very simple style of writing but it is meant to be directly addressed to students approaching their Grade 1.
Learn to sight-read music:
The sight-reading has not to be perfect. The most important things are rhythm, keeping the musical flow, trying to get the mood of the piece of music and don't worry if you do few mistakes on notes. You have up to half a minute to look through the music before the actual test so, try to get the most out of it. That is what you have to do in 30 sec:
Look at the first note you are starting with your right and left hand and carefully position your hands on the keyboard. Then, DON'T MOVE. In grade 1-2, pieces for sight-reading keep the 5 fingers position.
When reading music, sometimes you don't need to know which note exactly is because the way it is written gives you directions where to go like a satnav in a car! If you see a succession of notes in lines and spaces, one next to the others, it means that you mustn't skip any key on the keyboard but if you see two following notes in two consecutive lines or two consecutive spaces, it means that you need to skip a key on the keyboard. Remember, this rule only works if your hands are well-positioned from the very beginning!
Look at the key signature and if you find any flats or sharps, position your finger/s on the appropriate black key so, that you are sure you are not missing them.
Look through the parts that you think are more difficult and play them first ( many quavers, notes with the left hand on the bass clef, particular rhythm... ).
Look at the tempo Andante, Allegro, Scherzando, Dancing, Sadly (they give you the mood, it is very important that you try to adhere to the character of the piece and you'll have a good mark if you do this even if you are not playing all the notes right!).
And now....3-2-1 breath and.....Go and please DON'T STOP, DON'T GO BACKWARDS. Always push forward!
The other VERY important thing is to be quicker at reading music. I understand that it is boring but once you have passed the boring steps, I promise you that sight-reading is going to be easier. Don't you think that it is nice to open a music book and be able to play everything in it? It is like reading. Once you know how to read, then a world is opened to you
You can also practice sight reading with other book resources. Or...you can open any other easy piano book and try to play something.
Also, ABRSM developed an abrsm sight reading app, that might be helpful
For information about online piano lessons or preparation for exams click here.