7 Sight-Reading Tips by Dr. Michael Dean “ClarinetMike”
- 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!”
- Rhythm First. I like to say, “Play the Rhythm, Guess at the Notes.” The idea is to “guess” at the rhythms first!
- 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.
- 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.
- Just Duet! Sight-read duets with a buddy – it’s fun and it’s good for you!
- Transpose. Occasionally transpose music while sight-reading (C and A Clarinet on Bb clarinet, Bass Clef on bass clarinet and alto saxophone, etc.)
- 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