Sight reading…

… it’s not as scary as you think!

  • Every time you learn a new piece of music you are sight reading – teachers and students shouldn’t treat it as an intense part of the exam there’s no way to prepare for

Prepare in advance:

  • Yes you can practise sight reading. Whether this is with pieces you are just starting to study or a quick new piece in your practise. Flute Tunes have a random generator and a tune of the day with clear difficulty levels so you can find the perfect challenge
  • Learn those scales… scales are valuable for a number of reasons.
    – they teach us patterns we can then look out for in sight reading. Pieces are often based around scales and arpeggios meaning that, if we know our scales, we know we can already play some of the piece!
    – learning the key signatures help us learn what to expect.
    for example:Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 18.27.09.png
    from this key signature and first few notes we can see it’s in F major. It is helpful to expect B flats, lots of Fs and F major scale/arpeggio motifs.
  • Be familiar with common rhythms and time signatures. There are lots of ways to practise this such as working on challenging repertoire with your teacher, writing out your own rhythms or watching our time signatures music theory video.

activity: set a metronome to 60 and practise clapping different rhythms. Move between crotchets, quavers, minims, semiquavers etc. Try to keep as steady and rhythmical as possible. 

  • Sing. This improves your ear, notation reading and helps you translate the page into sound without relying on your instrument.

In exams and auditions:

  • Keep going! Yes you might play a wrong note or weird rhythm but they want to see that you can recover
  • Count yourself in. This will help with the previous point as it will establish a strong reliable pulse. Use this time to hear the piece in your head before you play.
  • Quickly scan to find the trickiest bits. There might be a bar you want to play slowly, an accidental you want to make a mental note of or some tricky intervals to prepare.
    Finding the fastest, most difficult bar will give you an idea of the pulse (in a faster piece you don’t want to start too quickly and come into problems later)
    Utilise the time you have to really study the piece, its challenges and style.
  • Don’t forget the details. Elements such as dynamics, articulation and performance directions make a huge difference so it sounds more like music than an exercise. It is an easy way to create contrast, interest and give the impression that you are really comfortable in interpreting new music.Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 23.45.36

A huge part of sight reading is confidence so you can get into the music and really feel the pulse and style. Revise these tips but on the day just try to enjoy the new music.

Published by Jessamy

Forte Flutes began as a collective of tips and resources for musicians and flautists of all abilities. I have combined it with my personal blog and music news. I am a professional flautist, piccolo player and teacher. Please enjoy the blog and feel free to drop me a message.

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