Music Sight Reading Method – Part One

Many music books are used to teach how to “read” music, but in all reality they teach the values of the notes, articulations, dynamics, etc. and not the actual process of “reading” music.  Many students enrolled in school bands and orchestras do not practice their music because they do not know how to read and count it, and consequently become frustrated.  They will have a tendency to learn their music by rote and therefore a great amount of rehearsal time is often wasted.  Those that do practice the music and count it wrong learn their mistakes well and develop bad habits that are hard to break.

Think of the confidence the student will have, not to mention the rise in his or her interest level, by being able for the first time to keep his or her place in the music and to be able to stay with the group throughout a piece!  Many students get lost very quickly and become very frustrated. This method will help keep the player in meter even if the actual rhythms are played incorrectly, and this prevents the player from becoming lost and frustrated; this can’t help but improve the playing level of the whole group.  I might also mention that stronger players will not become so frustrated by being “drug down” by the weaker players as before. Lack of confidence in reading leads to tremendous insecurity and impedes any sort of musical “happening”.

Click here to preview Part Two from Music Sight Reading Method


Here is an excerpt from Part One, Music Sight Reading Method…

Ex. 2.  The important beats in this measure are Three and Four.  Think “and Three and Four.”  Let count Two take care of itself.

Ex. 3.  Think “and Two and Three”.

Ex. 4.  There is a tendency to treat the eighth rest as a quarter rest, thus putting five beats in this measure.  Reading back from the end of the measure will ensure that the half note comes on count Three.

Ex. 5.  The sixteenth note entry is liable to be late.  Concentrate on count Four.

Ex. 6.  Don’t dwell on count Two.  The important thought here is “and Three.”

Ex. 10. The important count in the first measure is count Three and in the second measure, count Two. Don’t dwell on count One in the second measure as this can cause the eighth rest to be played as a quarter rest. The same applies to count Two in the third measure. Concentrate on count One and count Three in the third measure. Otherwise, this measure will likely end up with four beats.


Ex. 16. By reading through the measure note by note and not seeing the entire measure at once will likely cause the first quarter note to be played as a half note. By reading back from the end of the measure you will see that the last two quarter notes take up half of the measure and therefore, must be played on count Two. By realizing this, the syncopation will be played correctly.

Ex. 21. The important counts here are count Three in the first measure and count One in the next measure. The eighth note should be associated with the following quarter note. Here again, read towards the beat by reading ahead and coming back.

Ex. 26. The tendency, at a fast tempo, in this passage is to play the quarter note in the second measure on count Two. Don’t dwell on count One in the second measure as it goes by too quickly. Read back from the end of the measure line in the second measure and concentrate on count Two in this measure.