Over the past two weekends, I have been involved with the Tennessee mid-state band audition process. I judged blind auditions on keyboard and snare drum and came to a couple conclusions. First, many of these kids have great command of the instruments. They can play the prepared solos, rudiments, and scales very well. On the other hand, a small percentage were impressive on the sight reading portion.
In terms of keyboard sight reading, my students look at the music with pure terror in their eyes. In trying to give them tips, I've come up with a hierarchy of needs for sight reading a piece of music:
I've written out an exercise with 4 examples that have helped my students improve their Rhythm & Direction skills. The note heads have been removed, so any notes in the written key signature are correct. Eliminating the note heads allows the student to not fear hitting wrong notes. Strive for correct rhythms and contour. It doesn't have to sound pretty.
The only way to improve your sight reading is to do it every day!
I hope this exercise helps to improve your sight reading! Feel free to share this with others, too.
Updates from music educator and composer, Matthew Curley.