7 Sight-Reading Tips

Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” after a concert.

7 Sight-Reading Tips by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”

  1. Sight-Read. “Just Do It!” The best way to learn to read at sight is to do it every day. Make sure to sight-read all different kinds and levels of music. A nice book to start with is Rubank’s Supplementary Studies by R.M. Endresen. It’s been arranged for many instruments. This book is inexpensive and has a million uses – ClarinetMike says, “Get it!”
  2. Rhythm First. I like to say, “Play the Rhythm, Guess at the Notes.” The idea is to “guess” at the rhythms first!
  3. Scan Plan. At an audition, contest, or even a rehearsal, you usually get a little time to look over the music before sight-reading. Have an organized plan, a “Scan Plan,” to quickly check things like tempo, style, key, key changes, accidentals, busy areas (areas of fast notes), etc.
  4. Don’t Stop, Keep Going. Keep forging ahead as you sight-read – don’t worry about mistakes. If you get lost, start back up where you stopped, never repeat anything.
  5. Just Duet! Sight-read duets with a buddy – it’s fun and it’s good for you!
  6. Transpose. Occasionally transpose music while sight-reading (C and A Clarinet on Bb clarinet, Bass Clef on bass clarinet and alto saxophone, etc.)
  7. Play With Recordings. Try sitting in front of a big HD (4K) TV sight-reading along with a video of a major orchestra, wind ensemble, or jazz band playing a work. (NOTE: Some orchestras don’t play at A=440.)

ClarinetMike says, “Check out the quotes below.”

The main things we’re looking for are a tone that blends with
the others players, outstanding musicianship, and thorough
preparation, which spills over into sight-reading – being able
to get a piece of music performance-ready very quickly.
Acclaimed Conductor Jerry Junkin
(from “What Are The Top Qualities You Look For When
Hiring A Wind Musician?” WINDPLAYER #59, p. 12)

If you aren’t prepared enough for a rehearsal or a lesson,
being great at sight-reading can save your neck.
Somewhat-Famous Clarinet Blogger

About ClarinetMike

American Clarinetist Michael Dean “ClarinetMike” performs and teaches internationally and across the USA to consistent praise such as, “world-class clarinetist and pedagogue,” “consummate performer,” “inspirational,” “outstanding teacher,” “super,” “brilliant performer,” and “one of the best clinicians I have ever seen.” Dr. Dean’s career is headlined by appearances at Carnegie Hall, ClarinetFest, NACWPI, Royal Northern College of Music, and Eastman School of Music, with recent recitals and master classes in Italy, Spain, Canada, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, and Texas. He recently returned for a fourth summer to the beautiful Italian Alps of Vipiteno, Italy as Clarinet Artist Faculty in Residence at the international Orfeo Music Festival. He is featured on 6 commercial CD’s including his soon-to-be-released new CD, Postcards from Silver Lake. He is also prominent on New Media, such as YouTube. He was clarinetist with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra for 11 years and he’s also performed with the Southwest Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Abilene Philharmonic, Southeast Chamber Players, Red Mesa Trio, and Duo 35. He has given more than 500 master classes, clinics and performances at universities, conservatories, conferences, festivals, high schools, junior high schools, and a diverse array of venues. As “ClarinetMike,” he writes for his noted and widely-read ClarinetMike Blog – viewed in 150 countries on 6 continents, clarinetmike.wordpress.com. His blog is the #1 clarinet blog on the Internet according to Google Search and a recent ranking on Feedspot. His articles also appear in professional journals such as the Southwestern Musician, The Bandmasters’ Review, WINDPLAYER, and NACWPI Journal. He is a past president and former officer on the National Board of the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors (NACWPI). After a successful 20 years of teaching clarinet at the university level, he relocated to his native Texas due to family concerns. He is currently an active clarinet and woodwind performer, teacher, clinician, blogger, and consultant based in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Michael Dean studied clarinet performance at Texas Tech University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Texas at Arlington. His teachers include Robert Walzel, Phil Aaholm, Carol Jessup, Bob Ackerman, and Jess Youngblood. He is a BG France Performing Artist and his professional website is clarinetmike.com. Mike and his family live in Hurst, Texas. His family’s new Golden Retriever, Nimbus, is a relative of Andy.
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