How to improve your sight-reading
As an organist, I have been working in club land in the North of
England for the past 30 years or so and one of the crucial
qualifications in this environment is the ability to sight read
music on demand.
When I say music this can be anything from a beer mat to a
ripped piece of paper repaired with sellotape and stained with
To be fair most of the music is written by professionals and is
nice to read but not always easy.
As a club organist, you do not get a band call. In fact, you are
lucky to get five minutes to scan through between 10 and 15
pieces of music. Some written in different keys, and every
organist will tell you they hate it when they get the dreaded 6
sharps or 6 flats or even 7 sharp keys in a piece of music that
just happens to contain a solo especially written for you.
So how do you improve your sight-reading? Well I asked my music
teacher this very question as I embarked on my club land career.
His answer was to practice sight-reading. He went on to tell me
that session musicians practice by picking up any music book
start playing on page one and continue until they have finished
Does it work? Yes it does. Try it for yourself, pick up any
piece of music you can find, preferably one that you are not
that familiar with, then start to play, but do not stop. If you
make a mistake it does not matter, you are not practising how to
play this piece of music you are practising sight-reading this
piece of music.
If you really want to test yourself. Get yourself an audience. I
practice my sight-reading every week in front of a 200 plus
audience. Its surprising how your concentration improves.