In 2014 we wrote a post called “How Four Mistake-Busters Can Turn Students Into Sight Reading Superstars“. That post has since been pinned over two thousand times by piano teachers searching for ways to help their budding sight readers become more accurate and efficient.
Today, for all of you visual learners, we thought we’d create a video of the four Sight Reading Tips in action. Using a simple musical excerpt, the video below will show you how to use “on the page” markings to teach your piano students sight-reading strategies that they can commit to memory.
A Video Demo of Sight Reading Strategies
Check out our video below. Keep reading after if you wish to revisit the script.
How To Improve Accuracy And Efficiency When Sight Reading
Once your students have mastered a basic approach to sight reading (using our FAST approach described here) it’s time to strive for a higher level of sight reading ability.
In this video, we thought we’d demonstrate how to go through these four “Mistake Buster” tips so you can then show your students exactly how to take a piece apart when sight reading.
When I’m first teaching my students to follow these four steps, we perform them directly on the page. As my students become more adept at these “Mistake Busters” all of these markings instead become internalized (as in traditional sight reading)… but while they are first learning these strategies it helps to put the markings directly on the page.
The first Mistake Buster is all about knowing what to ignore. This means that your students are quickly able to figure out what they don’t need to spend time looking at. Usually this means ignoring measures with repeated notes, simple rhythms, held notes, stepping patterns, measures where only one hand is playing etc… anything that they know they don’t need to spend valuable time analyzing. We just cross those measures off. This helps your students to learn to avoid spending time looking at those measures.
The second Mistake Buster is understanding and using our knowledge of primary chords (or for your younger students, tonic and dominant). This gives students a framework to work within as they sight read. So, go through and circle all of the primary chords and/or the tonic and dominant.
The third Mistake Buster is learning to look for relationships between notes that leap. If your students can easily recognize melodic intervals then they’re usually comfortable up to a 5th… but when confronted with leaps beyond a 5th it helps to be able to quickly look to previous parts of the piece to find relationships that will help provide some context and clues.
The final Mistake Buster is to look for chord tones in the left hand. This helps with any broken patterns, such as Alberti Bass, and teaches your students to look at the overall harmonic picture rather than note-by-note. Understanding how to identify chord tones is a great way to become an efficient sight reader.
With these 4 mistake busters in place your students’ accuracy will be greatly improved when they sight read!