Learning to sight-read music is an important part of developing musicianship. This article teaches you strategies to learn how to sight-read before exams.
The task of sight-reading music often instills apprehension in people, especially children learning their first instrument or taking their first exam. However, regardless of which instrument you play, there are certain tools that you can use to help you learn to sight-read well. As an essay writer free
, I elaborated the following strategies that can all be considered to a greater or lesser extent depending on the instrument and the grade.
Examine the Sheet Music
There is an adequate amount of time provided within an examination setting to allow the pupil to look at the music (ABRSM
). He or she can mentally “play” the notes, get an idea of speed and check for any surprises like accidentals or repeated bars of music.
Key Signature and Time Signature
Checking whether or not there are any sharps of flats in a piece of music is vital before you start to play. Similarly, it is important to know whether the piece is in a 3/4 or 6/8 rhythm or whether there are any syncopated beats.
Dynamics in Music
As well as considering key signatures and timing, there are always dynamics to follow. These should be grade-appropriate instructions such as Diminuendo, Crescendo or Forte. If you play a wind instrument it is necessary to plan where you are going to breathe so that you can actually get louder!
Form of the Music
One of the first requirements for Interpretation is to know whether the piece is in a Rhythmic or Lyric form. In other words, is it a song or a dance? Obviously, the treatment will differ in each case and this point should be decided before the performer plays a single note. The title very often tells the Form of the piece. When it does not (or if there is no title) we must decide from the character of the music itself.
When the piece is in Rhythmic Form, then it is important to concentrate on the Tempo, Rhythm and Accent. When it is in a Lyrical form, then the melody line must be preserved. A certain elasticity of Tempo is not only allowed but desirable. Accents must never be allowed to intrude on the melodic flow and should be just strong enough to give identity to the rhythm.
Mood of the Music
Another equally important point of Interpretation is the matter of mood. The performer must decide whether the mood leans towards the cheerful or tragic side – and be governed accordingly. Again, the title of the piece often gives a direct clue. For example, a piece of music called “Lazy Summer” is likely to be a gentle, uplifting melody rather than a rousing waltz. Music for children usually has very descriptive titles, like “Monkeys Dancing,” which helps younger children to gauge the mood of the piece.
Style of the Music
Style, when applied to music, pertains not only to the style of the individual composer but to the period in which the music was written. Music has been roughly divided into three periods known as the Classical, Romantic, and Modern periods. Each has its style and these various styles become more definite and more easily recognizable as the pupil gains experience.
Practice Sight Reading Music
The ability to competently play a piece of music at sight can be improved with practice and grades in college
or school. Begin with old examination papers, Christmas carols, and generally any sheet music you can obtain. Use all of the above strategies and practice scanning ahead as you play.
If you spend some time assessing the Key, Rhythm, Form, Mood, and Style of the piece of sight-reading, before beginning to play, a very decided step in the right direction of correct interpretation is assured.
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