Learning to sight-read well makes all aspects of piano study easier. Capable sight-readers take less time to learn new pieces. Capable sight-readers play music for fun.
I offered the following solutions to help a student this week.
1. Practice clapping and counting rhythm aloud. Verbalise, let’s hear you. Don’t count in your head. My drum teacher has me do this weekly, and I’m a professional musician. It really helps. For piano students I suggest the RCM sight reading books daily. VERY VERY SLOW is fine. Use a metronome. The idea is not to stop.
2. Practice the scales applicable to the key of the piece to be sightread. I suggested she spends more time on technique. Scales, chords, arpeggios played with joy and attention.
3. Dig in on theory. I showed her how I’m able to recognize the scale and chord patterns at sight. In the beginning, she could mark those in the score before playing. Good sight readers see patterns, students see notes.
4. Sight read with the metronome. No stopping. If things fall apart keep counting and come back later in the piece. Or drop one hand and continue with the other. I told her to imagine playing in an ensemble. No stopping is possible.
If I can help you, 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.