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Why Is Sight-Reading Important

Let’s Face It, Developing Sight-Reading Skills Is Tough

This is how most people feel and consequently, they ignore working on the skill. Most beginner and intermediate players see it as an “extra” skill that can be cast aside since they don’t really need it right at this moment. Since they don’t need it for the performance, it is forgotten, like sight-reading is not important. They have the sheet music that they need to work on, so why bother?

If this sounds like you, I’m about to tell you why you should bother. Maybe it sounds like your students. Or maybe you’re an advanced player and you sight-read fairly well, but you want to be better. That’s good, we never stop learning!

You’re training to learn faster

Isn’t it just exhausting to get a new solo for, say, an audition and spend hours upon hours just trying to figure out notes and rhythms? What if notes and rhythms could be done in under an hour?

An excellent sight-reader will learn new solos much faster. They will be able to have notes, rhythms, dynamics and articulation down in less than a an hour.

If you can read it through and catch all the notes and rhythms quickly, then you can spend the rest of your time working on what really matters, musicality.

You NEED to develop this skill

A lot of young players dislike sight-reading, some are scared of it and others even hate it. But you have to start doing it daily, not just at concert band assessments.

You see, sight-reading is like knowing how to read words. Actually, it’s exactly the same. People who can’t read can still speak by listening to others and mimicking the sounds. This is what you as a musician might do in band. You get new music and overtime you learn how to play it simply by osmosis. This is NOT good. It’s like saying you’re a fluent Chinese speaker because you can say words. While you can absolutely get around by just speaking, what happens when you get lost and can’t read the street signs or your traffic ticket?

You will get a confidence boost

Feeling ready to read anything gives you that extra edge against your competition. You will be able to arrive at auditions, gigs or simply the first day of concert band at school or college, feeling good, relaxed and prepared.

Also, confidence is something that not only shows in your demeanor but also comes through your tone. It’s an all-in-one music vitamin.

You will have more fun

Naturally, practicing can sometimes get boring due its monotonous nature. We play the same or similar warm-ups and routine drills on a daily basis, and this repetitive pattern can wear our musicianship down over time.

The warm-up and routine are inevitable and must be done daily, but after that’s finished we have choices. However, these choices can be severely limited by your sight-reading skills. If you are not doing so great at sight-reading, then you will probably go to the same etude or solo you’ve been working on and play it again…

Kill that habit by instead pulling out a new book, opening it to any page and just reading. You can also try my simple melodies as your sight-reading exercises.


Now that you know why developing this skill is so important, look out for the next blog to see how you can get better at sight-reading. Keep playing and have fun!

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