Updated: Nov 15, 2020
How to improve sight reading - Resources
“Sight reading is really hard and my son doesn’t want to practise it”, “there are not enough exercises in the Sight reading book to improve this skill” – these are usual questions I often get from our students' parents.
It is true: sight reading for piano is hard and boring at the beginning, but I believe this belongs to the learning process. For other instruments, it is an easier task as they don`t need to read in two clefs at the same time. I try to turn this into a positive point by saying that it feels better when one can achieve a good result in something harder. There might be months without getting any better but after hard and consistent work you might find yourself being able to read music without your teacher`s help.
Sight reading is not something you can improve in a blink of an eye. It requires determination and constant work. I keep on repeating: “the more music you will see, the better you`ll become!” It is essential to practise at home and not only during the lesson; it really will be hard to get good marks. It is a skill that one needs to build up gradually step by step.
During face-to-face or online piano lessons, I make sure that I work on sight reading at least 15 minutes to guide the students for their own practise. There is not magic trick, it will come with constant practise and not by practising during the weekly lesson.
There is great material you can use to vary your daily practise to improve on this skill:
Improve your Sight reading by Paul Harris: I love this book. It comes for all grades and it literally teaches you how to sight read. Working on two stages a month really helps building up confidence. The rhythmical exercises and the prep question on how to prepare a piece are beneficial for developing a musical thinking.
Improve your Sight reading A piece a week by Paul Harris: This is another fun book where the students need to prepare a piece in one week. You don`t need months to learn a piece! Unfortunately they come only up to Grade 5.
Improve your Sight reading Duets by Paul Harris: This is suitable for children who are struggling to practise on their own. I usually give them few minutes before attempting playing together. It also develops the ability to carry on even if mistakes occurred. The result is more pleasant to the child ears as the piece is played as a duet. This book also comes up to Grade 5.
Joining the Dots by ABRSM: This book offers training on key signatures, piece structure and it is a good idea to use it alongside Piano Specimen Sight reading by ABRSM.
ABRSM Sight reading app: a good interactive way of learning for our children born in this technological words. Games and points seem to be helpful to keep them motivated
I hope this offers a deeper insight about Sight reading material for anyone looking to improve this valuable skill.