This is a very interesting topic that someone asked me about the other day. It’s not that hard to sight-sing scales and it can be very beneficial to gaining a deeper understanding of your music. But the question is, how do you practice sight-singing intervals? Other than sight-singing a wide range of music, how is it possible to become better at sight-singing intervals that aren’t just one note apart as in scales?
You will see a demonstration in the video that accompanies this article that may help you achieve comfort in singing all of your intervals! I highly encourage you to watch the video for a thorough understanding of these techniques.
The first exercise (that I actually learned as a child) is based upon the notes of a major scale going up by a third and down by a step over and over again until you reach the octave above. Then go backwards going down by a third, up by a step on and on until you are back on the starting note an octave below. This is extremely helpful in hearing and singing thirds.
Later in life I wondered why stop at thirds? So (with some prompting by my father) I expanded my horizons to other intervals! First, try going up by fourths, down by thirds again and again as before – then reaching the top and going down by fourths and up by thirds which brings you back to the starting note. This is a challenging exercise which is very helpful in understanding other pitch relationships. If you are brave, you can go through all of your intervals in a similar manner. It gets progressively harder – wait until you try sevenths!
At first this will be a great challenge. But eventually, you will become fluent with all of your intervals utilizing these exercises. You will get to a point where you will begin to comprehend the notes of music you hear because you will have mastered all diatonic pitch relationships.
I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions about this topic or any other, please email me Robert@LivingPianos.com for more information.