How to improve sight reading?

February 27, 2018, 2:39 AM · My sight reading is not as good as it should be, even though i have been playing violin for 10 years this year. What can i do to improve it?

Replies (7)

February 27, 2018, 2:42 AM · Do more sight reading.

I know this sounds like a sassy answer but it really is the solution. Get one of those tune a day books and sight read one or two a day, sight read pieces from orchestra parts, sight read everything you can get your hands on.

The more you do the better you get.

Edited: February 27, 2018, 4:59 AM · A great way to improve sight reading is to read through chamber music while listening to recordings on YouTube (or Spotify or iTunes etc.). Start with Haydn Trios and work your way up. All the scores and parts are available for free on IMSLP. The good thing about this method is that the tempo is strict and they do not wait for you if you screw up. For this reason you should start by reading from the score so that you can find yourself more easily if you get lost. Once you get better at it you can switch to violin parts and have fewer page turns. Also note that "reading some trios" or "reading some quartets" is something you will do later in life with other musicians so you might as well develop the other skills -- harmonic sense, appreciation of style, and knowledge of the repertoire.
February 28, 2018, 4:09 AM · Playing in an orchestra at least personally really boosted my sight reading abilities rapidly so give a go at playing residentially or long term at some chamber or orchestra ensemble group would really help other than doing plain sight reading.
February 28, 2018, 4:13 AM · I'm revisiting sight-reading, having dodged the problems for many years. Good advice in the two posts above. There's no magic and certainly no quick road to reading music - you just have to do it. For what it's worth, and in no logical order, I found playing in a learner orchestra boosted my sight-reading and confidence very quickly. Working on scales and pieces for examinations was also very helpful. Recently i've gone back to working with beginner level pieces and sight-reading exercises (Paul Harris has written a whole series for violin and other instruments, which are well structured. I discovered that i can sight-read some types of music reasonably well if i'm not trying to actually play the music at the same time. Once i'm trying to produce the notes on the violin things dry up as soon as there's a dotted rhythm, or semiquavers. I'm trying to remedy this by playing just the rhythm and not the required notes first, then moving to the proper notes. As with other problems, breaking sight reading down into its components can be helpful.
Edited: February 28, 2018, 3:58 PM · Sight read for 30 minutes a day (download free music, flute music etc).

Turn on your metronome and set it to a slow speed. Gradually increase the tempo of your reading, over several months.

Tap your toe inside your shoe.

Count everything aloud (count the subdivisions).

Look ahead of your counting/playing, aim for at least one bar ahead. This is "hard" at first, but it is most important. Memorize the first bar (measure) of dots while you count yourself "in". This will start your eyes off ahead of the music you will play.

Play, and don't stop (playing, or counting aloud).

Make sure you maintain a steady, comprehensive routine of technical work, every day. Allow an hour for this. Every day.

Keep up your daily effort for at least 21 days before you start to think about whether or not you are improving (and by then you surely will have improved).

Did I mention to count everything aloud, all the time?

February 28, 2018, 4:48 PM · Sight read music within your scope of comfortable playing.
Sight read music that goes beyond that scope.

When sight-reading ALWAYS maintain the beat - let the notes go if you must.
If you have to slow it down to do that - slow it down.

March 3, 2018, 4:06 PM · I mentioned obtaining free music for sight reading material in an earlier posting here.

People in the early stages of developing their skills can use music from sights like these:

Of course, advanced musicians need repertoire. Plenty out there.

Violinists should have no trouble finding enough sight reading material.

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