How to Sight Read Part 1: Why Sightreading is Important

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Sightreading is an incredibly important skill for any musician. Being able to take a piece of music you have never seen before and play it at sight; it’s a pretty amazing skill to have.

I remember as a child I progressed in my piano playing but for a long time I was terrible at sightreading. I used to see other musicians, like my father, who could sightread nearly anything! I have developed my sightreading to a high level, but it took a long time and a lot of work to achieve this skill; and it’s something that continues growing with your musical experience.

But why is sight reading so important? There are a number of reasons.

As you study an instrument you only get to study a limited number of pieces which require a great deal of work to get to a performance level; usually committing them to memory. And really, there are only a certain number of pieces you can learn in a year – and really only a finite number you can master over a lifetime. But who wants to be familiar with only a limited number of pieces? Most people will want to be able to play a broad spectrum of music and get the opportunity to try out other pieces just to see what types of music they want to learn.

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to sit down and try a piece out to get a sense of it; to see if it’s worth studying? This is where sight reading can be incredibly useful. If you continue practicing sightreading on a daily basis, eventually you should be able to do this.

Another huge benefit to sight reading is playing with others. Meeting with other musicians informally and sightreading music together can be a rewarding experience; exploring new music with others offers a huge benefit to improving your playing and may even open new opportunities for your performances.

A huge benefit to learning how to sightread is the ability to spot trouble parts in music you are learning. If you can make it through a piece you will undoubtedly be able to tell which parts will require more practice than others. Being able to sightread a piece and go through it a few times will help you tremendously in figuring out what parts to focus on in your practice.

Really there are countless reasons why sight reading is important. It is something that every professional musician should be able to do on a reasonably high level. It’s also great fun exploring a wide range of music and being able to play with other musicians without necessarily practicing hours in advance.

Next week I will provide some tips on how to improve your sight reading skills. Thanks for joining me Robert Estrin here at VirtualSheetMusic.com