Thursday, May 27, 2010

Three Great Websites to Help Practice Sight Reading

  1. Rhythm is one of the most important things in sight reading. You could approximate the melodic shape, hitting only half the notes, but if the rhythm were correct, it wouldn’t sound half bad. Practice Sight automatically generate rhythm exercises of various lengths to work on. I’d recommend practicing these things a few ways: (1) clapping the rhythms, and (2) playing them on a single string on the guitar. Rhythm studies are actually a huge part of any college level ear training course–I had to buy an entire book of them (a $50 book!).
  2. Guitar School Iceland. Everyone knows about this website. My particular favorites for sight reading are the collections especially the “Guitar Moments I-IV,” which are graded. The “Guitar Tunes” collection is also good (all single line melodies).
  3. The Boije Archive is a collection of 19C guitar music. Once you’re a bit more confident in your sight reading, try reading through the various 19C guitar methods: Carcassi, Sor, Aguado, Coste/Sor. Or try reading through easier etudes. Sor’s Op. 60, 44 and 35 are all good options.

(1) Playing in time, (2) playing the correct rhythms, and (3) playing the correct notes are all important in sight reading. Being in time and correct rhythm are king. The right notes are nice too, I guess. Remember to try and focus on looking ahead a beat or two.

If you find yourself lost sight reading even the simplest pieces, try playing only the melody or one voice at a time. Or, barring that, you could try reading music written for single-line instruments. For instance, the Clarinet shares the same general range (on the staff) as the guitar (the guitar sounds an octave lower than written, however). Vocal melodies are also an option. There’s a lot of public domain music to be found on the International Music Score Library Project to help you out.

Just a few minutes of sight reading practice each day can make a huge difference.

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