I have had multiple people ask for sight reading hacks. I always smile. This is like asking for construction hacks. You don’t want to mix sand and gravel; you just want a short cut to a mansion. Things do not just happen like that.
In this article, I shall give you a few tips on how to sight read/sing better. It is worthy of note that these are not hacks, they need full practice and commitment.
- Build On What Is Known.
Most people have knowledge of tonic solfage notation system. I always advice to build from here because just like language, if you understand pidgin English, there a better chance at grasping proper English. Get an empty staff sheet or draw out five lines (and four spaces) and write out scales. Then pick random solfa passages and try to write them out in staff notation.
- Practice Known Pieces On Staff.
Get the sheet music of your favorite songs. Songs you know by heart, already. Maybe your best hymn. Then, try to sing it on staff. You may be singing from you consciousness because you already know the music, but trust me, your subconscious is actively picking the patterns of the staff music and registering it.
- Pick A Random Song And Try To Write It In Staff.
Remember we are starting from what we know? It could be a hymn or a theme song from your favorite film/musical. (Please leave out orchestra scores for now, unless you are that brave.) Get the solfa score and transcribe to staff. Or listen by ear and write the tonic solfa, then transcribe to staff notation.
- Get A Score And Sing/Play Another Part.
For singers, get a SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass. This is sheet music in grand staff written for a choir – could also be in open score). Sopranos, try singing the bass part; basses, sing alto part, etc. Trying to sight sing unfamiliar parts will build the part of your brain involved with sight-reading and also build your alertness.
- Practice One Unknown Music In Staff Daily.
Best way to archive this is to get any of Bach’s chorales. Sing/play all the parts. There are hundreds of hymns here and they all modulate at some point. This will not only build your sight, it will also train your musicality.
Get Bach’s chorale, CLICK HERE
BONUS: This will prepare you for ABRSM/MUSON grade 6 Bach’s chorale analysis question.
I am Music Estate’s Music Director