Effective (& Enjoyable) Ways to Practice Sight-Reading

1.     Play something new.  Every day, read a piece of music that you’ve never seen before.  Your goal is to get through it, not play it perfectly.  And it doesn’t have to be challenging.  In fact, it’s better if you start with things that are one notch easier than what you might take a few or a few to learn.  

2.    Electronic resources.  SightReadingFactory.com as well as several other websites and apps provides great material.  If you’re studying music in school, be sure to play your aural skills exercises on your instrument.  Sight-singing texts provide well-sequenced material for developing this skill.

3.    Learn musical patterns.  The most obvious pattern in music is the scale, but even scales can be reimagined in different ways (for example, in thirds or the patterns in Clarke’s Technical Studies).  Try playing basic rhythmic patterns on each note of the scale and imagine what it would look like on the page.

4.    Find patterns in your music.  Good music readers see groups of notes, not individual pitches.  Music Speed Reading by David Hickman presents a unique method for learning to recognize rhythmic groupings and melodic patterns.

5.    Isolate pitch or rhythm.  Get good at reading just one of these, before putting it together.  Any piece of music can become a rhythmic exercise by playing it on one pitch.  Or play the pitches at a single steady pace without the rhythms.

6.    Use a metronome.  It can be painful, but the metronome is a good teacher, forcing us to maintain the steady pulse in the music we are reading.

7.    Play duets.  Find another trumpet player or another player on any instrument to play stuff together.  Playing with someone else keeps you from stopping and provides real-life accountability for rhythm, pitch, and intonation.

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