Improve your Sight-Reading

As ABRSM and Trinity Autumn exam season approaches, now is good time to be practising some of the components of the exam that often get overlooked. So, we talked to Mr. Boyle to ask his advice on how to get your sight-reading exam-ready:

What to look at first…

Key signature, time signature and tempo should be at the top of a sight-reader’s to-do-list. Without these, nothing will make sense!

Look ahead

A classic mistake is to start at the very beginning when first looking at a new piece of music. Find the bits that will be the most challenging – the bars with lots of accidentals, with complicated rhythmic patterns, or with fast note values, for example – and try and work out how to do them before looking at the easier parts.

Give yourself time to think…

Even if you are told to play at an “Allegro” pace, take things a little easy. Getting more correct notes and rhythms will get you more marks than playing at a break-neck speed, so give yourself time to think as you go along by playing slightly slower.

Studies are your best friends…

Every instrument will have certain musical ideas that come up again and again – scales and arpeggios are particularly common ones – so if you can nail those, you’ll be much better prepared for your sight-reading. Studies are conveniently written with these ideas in mind, so will be excellent practice for sight-reading.

Practice may not make perfect, but it will help…

It sounds obvious and dull, but practising sight-reading will really help. Not only will it be useful if reading music is not your strong point, but it will also make approaching unfamiliar music much less scary.

Come along to Mr. Boyle’s “Improve your Sight-Reading” sessions, held every Friday lunchtime, and see how quickly you’ll improve!

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