How to sight-read at the piano or “Get Rid of Your Fear of Sight-reading Once and For All”
First, sight-reading is a skill not an inborn talent. Patiently working through the steps, will in short order improve your skills.
A short story, a student of mine years ago came to me barely able to read music even though he was working at the advanced intermediate level on piano. He resisted all my attempts at helping him improve because of his ability to play from ear. Then he goes to high school and takes up the sax. Each day in class he sight read music he didn’t know. They started simple. He was surrounded by his peers. By Christmas he was sight-reading at his level. By June he had surpassed his level. Why?
Classical piano students
If you sight reading is weak, you might start at level 1 Royal Conservatory of Music Books and work through the exercises. If you use a metronome at slow tempi, you will see results in short order.
They ask you a series of guided questions to teach you to see patterns, not individual notes. For instance, in level 1 cover the following concepts.
Jazz piano students
If you just play be ear, I would recommend following the classical piano student routine. If you are a good sight reader of written piano music but struggle with sight reading jazz lead sheets here are some suggestions and concepts.
Sites like www.musicnotes.com allow you play the first page of popular piano piece for free. Find your favourite piece, print out the free page. With the sound of the music in your head, work it out.
If I can help, call me.
You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.
I'm a professional pianist and music educator in West Toronto Ontario. I'm also a devoted student and teacher of the drums.