Sight Reading For All: Applications of Sight Reading for Teachers and Students

Sight Reading For All

Sight reading is a fundamental skill that offers a myriad of benefits extending beyond the traditional scope of music literacy. This article explores the applications of sight reading for private music teachers, music students, and band directors. 

Practicing sight reading not only improves music literacy, but also helps musicians build a strong foundation for further musical development and enables them to tackle more challenging music in the future. 

MakeMusic is currently offering free subscriptions to Sight Reading Studio – a new application that quickly generates unlimited music for individuals or ensembles. Sight Reading Studio is fully customizable, offers instant feedback, and is free to use through June of 2024. 

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Tips for Band Directors

Band directors can harness the power of sight reading in various ways to aid in the development of their students, both as individual musicians and as an ensemble. Assigning sight reading as homework offers students the opportunity to hone their skills independently, ensuring continued progress beyond the confines of the classroom. Additionally, sight reading activities can be incorporated into sub plans for days when directors are not present.

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 One innovative approach is to gamify sight reading. Create a class leaderboard based on difficulty, accuracy, or time spent and have students complete sight reading activities to receive placement on the leaderboard. 

Since Sight Reading Studio can generate endless combinations of instruments and parts, all fitting within standard harmony rules, it’s the perfect tool for group learning for any combination of students! This friendly competition fosters a supportive environment, motivating students to improve their sight reading abilities while creating a sense of camaraderie within the ensemble and making learning enjoyable.

Tips for Private Lesson Teachers

Private music teachers can use sight reading as a tool to help develop students’ musicianship during lessons. Sight reading for five to ten minutes at the start of a lesson can serve as a musical ice breaker, and an expected challenge for the student to help get them into “performance mode”. 

Observing the sight reading process in real time also allows teachers to gain insights into their students’ musical comprehension and technical proficiency. Direct observation allows private teachers to provide immediate feedback and discuss necessary alterations or improvements to the students’ approach.

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Sight reading during lessons can serve as a diagnostic tool to help teachers identify weak areas in their students’ playing, and begin addressing them within their lessons and the repertoire they work on. Sight Reading Studio offers a plethora of presets and refinements that can be used to target any number of elements in a student’s playing, as well as the ability to save and share custom templates unique to each student’s needs.

Tips for Students

As a music student, sight reading can be a valuable tool in your arsenal for musical growth. Students can leverage sight reading to prepare for honor band auditions and Music Performance Assessments (MPA) contests, where sight reading is often required. It can also be used as a tool to work on other elements of your playing such as rhythm, aural skills, and musicality. 

Sight Reading Studio enhances all of these elements by offering a range of difficulties and styles, all customizable within the preset creator! By regularly engaging in sight reading practice, you can: 

  • Improve your ability to confront and conquer unfamiliar pieces
  • Enhance your overall musicianship
  • Lay the foundation for becoming a well-rounded and confident performer

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Sight reading can introduce you to unfamiliar musical styles and challenges, broadening your musical scope, as well as an activity to focus on when you aren’t sure what to practice! Use material for other instruments as your sight reading exercises to practice in styles that are atypical for your instrument – for example a clarinet etude book is going to be a much different playing style than French horn! 

The abundant applications of sight reading emphasize its significance in music education not only as a skill, but also as a tool to further musical growth. As teachers and students alike embrace this skill, they open doors to a richer and more fulfilling musical experience, characterized by continuous growth, adaptability, and a deep appreciation for the art of making music.

 In effort to underscore its importance, the full version of Sight Reading Studio is free to use through June 2024, making it the perfect tool to try new sight reading activities with! 

To get started, simply create a free MakeMusic Cloud account (or login if you already have one):

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 Kate Warren is a freelance hornist and private teacher based in New Haven, CT.  As an educator Kate is passionate about creating resources for music students and works extensively within social media to promote music and music education through her instagram page @katewarrenmusic. Kate is an in-demand lecturer and researcher, regularly presenting and speaking on gender and equity in brass playing and has recently published her second book, 3 Week Fundamentals Boot Camp.

Kate holds a Masters of Musical Arts degree from Yale University, a Masters of Music in horn performance from the New School, studying with Erik Ralske, a Bachelors of Music in horn performance from Florida State University.

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