Monday Mailbag – The Purpose of a Sight-Reading Book

What is the benefit of using a sight reading curriculum? Isn’t every new song in the student’s book an opportunity to sight read?

My emphasis on and philosophy of sight-reading tends to shift the more that I work with students. I agree that the number one way to build fluent sight-reading skills is to play through a LOT of new music. However, what I’ve discovered with many of my students is that they don’t intuitively recognize patterns in the music that seem obvious to me. This is why I recently started using the series, Joining the Dots with a few of my students.

So far it’s going really well! The students are experiencing great success with the approach and are even enjoying it (I intentionally chose a few students who don’t prefer sight-reading, to put it mildly :-)). The way each unit is organized, it does a great job of building pattern recognition, utilizing keyboard topography skills, and incorporating rhythmic awareness through improvisatory activities.

These are some of the specific benefits that I have found from using a sight-reading book. I’ve used a few others over the years as well, and find that for most students it is necessary to intentionally point out patterns over and over again before they start to automatically recognize them in their new pieces. And as students develop confidence in their sight-reading abilities through shorter, systematic pieces, hopefully they will be more inclined to play through new music on their own at home.

Any other thoughts? I’d love to hear from others on this topic! Do you use a sight-reading book/curriculum with your students? What benefits have you experienced from doing so?

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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