How To Hear the Page

Sight Reading and Sight Singing:

Awhile back I wrote about 5 things about sight reading music. Basically, I shared sight reading tips and reasons why you want to practice sight reading.  Today I'd like to share with you some sight reading ideas.

How To Hear the Page

Have you ever looked at a page of music and known what it would sound like? Many musicians can do this and you can, too. Just as you hear words when you read them in a book, you can train your mind to know exactly what music you are reading will sound like.

Start by looking at the details of the music. It is not just a sea of black notes. when you look at a book, you notice words, sentences, and punctuation. Look for phrases, groups of notes, and rhythms in your music. This will make sight reading much easier.

Try the following tips on the example below. Answer the questions and follow the instructions. then try these ideas on the next new piece you play.

  1. Is the melody in the right or left hand? Hint: The melody line is usually the one that moves the most.
  2. What is the time signature? Look through the rhythms and then clap the melody while counting out loud.
  3. What is the key signature? What are the sharps or flats? Are there any accidentals, extra sharps or flats?
  4. Look at intervals between melody notes (you could label them with a pencil).
  5. Look at the harmony part. Is it made up of chords, arpeggios or single notes?
  6. Look at other features of the music. Are there dynamics? Where does the phrase end? Do the melody notes go up or down? (This is the shape of the music).
  7. Try to hear the music in your mind. Imagine what it would sound like as your eye looks at the notes.
  8. Sing the melody out loud, thinking of each interval. This will really improve your reading skills. (You can play the first note on the piano to hear the pitch.)
  9. Play the music and try to include all the things you noticed. Does it match what you heard in your head or what you sang?
A great resource (theory workbook) to assist you in answering some of the above questions is called, 300pg Piano By Ear Home Study Course.

EDly's Music Theory for Practical People l

Sight-Singing (Singing from musical notation, especially without prior rehearsal)

This snippet is taken from a book, in my own personal library, that I highly recommend by Ed Roseman called,  Edly's Music Theory for Practical People 

 "Sing a note and then another. This is a melodic interval. If two people each sing a different note at the same time, or if you play two notes together on a piano, for example, you have a harmonic interval.

The word diatonic refers to the notes of the major (or minor) scale, as opposed to the chromatic scale. It can also be used generally to mean "drawn directly from a certain scale without chromatic alteration."

Learning to recognize intervals, whether by sound, on paper, or on an instrument, is extremely helpful for many reasons. Among them are chord building, improvisation, sight-singing, composition, understanding and remembering keys and their related accidentals, and figuring out music by ear. If you are trying to play a melody that is in your head or on the radio, knowing your intervals eliminates most of the time spent searching for the right notes.

Intervals can be names generally by merely counting upwards (by going forward using the letters of the musical alphabet) from one note to the other, inclusively. For example, from C to E is a third (c to C is 1, or more commonly and elegantly, a unison, C to D is a second and finally, C to E is a third.) Count on your fingers if it helps; I won't tell. "C, C, E; 1, 2, 3!"

Unfortunately, this tells only part of the story. For example, C to Eb is also a third, as are E to G and E to G#. If you count the half-steps in these thirds - using the chromatic scale, of course - you'll immediately see that they are of two different sizes. Sure enough, the intervals C to Eb and E to G are both made of three half-steps, whereas C to E and D to F# are four half-steps! But these three intervals are, by definition all thirds!"

Have a successful time with improved sight reading and sight-singing practice!

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All the best,

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King
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