Sight Reading Practice
Introduction to Sight Reading – Learn How to Read Music Notes in Singing
If you haven’t done it already check out my Solmization course first. It is a great way to get going with reading music notes and furthermore a great tool for every musician.
Being able to read music notes in singing means being able to sight-sing. Sight-singing is the skill of singing a piece of written music even if you haven’t seen it before. One way to do this is to internalize solmization scales so well that you can anticipate the pitch of the following note by reference to the pitch of the current note. In order to do that you need to be able to run through the following steps as fast as possible:
- Identify (or know) the key you are in
- Link the absolute note names of this key to the relative ones we have learned before
- Know (be able to internally hear) the sound of the interval of each possible combination of two syllables within your scale
- Identify the syllable of the note you are singing (e.g. do)
- Identify the syllable of the following note
- Sing the interval between those in your head and remembering the pitch of your target note (e.g. re)
- Sing your target note out loud
Now this seems like a lot of brain effort and it actually is. You won’t be able run through them consciously at normal speed. First of all you have to transfer some of the steps to your unconscious mind so that you can focus on the more important ones. Moreover, some can be prepared before you start singing.
Start off by identifying the key. If that seems like a challange to you, go check out my article how to use the circle of fifth. The key-signature of your piece determines what note connects to the syllable “do”. All other syllables fall in place automatically. Look at the example below for further clarification.
After that, it can be helpful to read through your sheet of music and call out the relative notes like, “do-re-do re-mi-re …”.
The next step says: “know the sound of the interval of each possible combination of two syllables within the given scale”.
This part needs a lot of repetition and that’s why I have developed this series of sight reading practices that offers enough material to internalise each combination. Studying this material will guide you in the process of developing a feeling for intervals and notes within a scale. Start out by practicing seconds, then thirds, fourths and so on. Take the following steps as a guideline while studying:
- Prepare yourself mentally and physically. Take one or two deep breaths and close your eyes for a second.
- Use a metronome and set it to a comfortable tempo ( for example 60 bpm ). If you don’t have a metronome just use this one.
- Play the beginning note on a piano, guitar or whatever instrument you have available and sing along.
- Sing the exercise using solmization (do re mi fa …) or just use lalala or dadada
- Try to sing each exercise in one go at the first try. If you can’t keep up reduce the tempo a bit.
- Sing each exercise once and then go to the next one. You can always come back to previous exercises later to rehearse it.
- Have fun and try to practice on regular a basis.