Monday Mailbag – Sight-Reading Ideas

Do you have any fun ideas for helping students improve their sight-reading skills?

Oh yes! This is an area that is really important to me, so I’m always trying to come up with better ways of helping them develop sight-reading skills. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that sight-reading encompasses a variety of different skills. In other words, a good sight-reader must be able to quickly identify notes and locate them on the keyboard, assimilate intervals and see patterns in the music, process rhythms accurately, maintain a consistent pulse and be able to play through mistakes, etc. The best way to improve fluency is to just do a lot of it. That’s why I love for students and parents to buy new books of their own volition and play through the pieces for fun. That said, I’m going to categorize a few of the ideas I’ve used that contribute to sight-reading skills:

Note Accuracy
Flashcard Mix-Up Game (here’s another version of the game for an earlier level student)
Mr. Whack-It! (a favorite for note id)
Point and Play

Intervallic Reading
Piano Keyboard Dice Game
Across the C’s Series
Susan Paradis has an excellent Notes in the Fast Lane series: Levels 1-4, Levels 5-8, Levels 9-12

Rhythm Accuracy
The Rhythm Chart
Wendy has a great set of progressive Rhythm Drills that I use all the time!

Feeling the Pulse
Do a studio-wide Feel the Pulse: Have a Heart! challenge

This is an area that I want to hone in on even more this year. One of the things that I’m planning to do is utilize more of Jon George’s pieces. I love his compositions, but tend to shy away from them because the collections often include a variety of pieces placed outside the normal range a student is familiar with (e.g. both hands in bass or treble clef, use of ledger lines, etc.).  However, I think this is exactly what I need to be doing more of with my students. They need to be comfortable all over the keyboard, reading notes anywhere and everywhere, and developing better intervallic reading skills.

So…those are a few ideas and my plan for the year. I know there are hundreds of other possibilities, though! Please chime in with additional ideas. What fun ideas do you have for helping your students develop better sight-reading skills?

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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