Plain and simple as the title suggests, this is a quick exercise you can do to see how you’re doing with sight-reading and identify your biggest obstacles.
Step 1: Find a video camera. This can be on your computer or your phone. If you have no access to a camera, use an audio recorder.
Step 2: Place camera at an angle where you can see everything from your hands to your head, as well as the sheet music in front of you. You can take a quick test video to see if everything fits in the frame.
Step 3: Record yourself sight-reading the piece attached HERE. You can, of course, use your own music as long as it is a NEW piece (one you’ve never seen before) at an appropriate sight-reading level. Only play the piece once.
Step 4: Stop the video, and play it back while going through this checklist. Mark your answers on a paper or print the checklist HERE.
- Did you stop? Did you sacrifice steady rhythm for the sake of trying to play all the notes correctly?
- Was your rhythm correct? As in, did you play all the correct note values as written?
- Did you briefly scan the piece before you played it to see the time signature, where to place your hands, what rhythms and notes are coming ahead, and what to expect in general?
- Did you tap the piece beforehand if the rhythm seemed challenging?
- Did you count out loud if needed?
- Did you correct any mistakes? (You should not correct mistakes in the middle of reading).
- Did the speed you chose work for you or against you? Were you going too fast?
- Did you look at your hands at all? How often? (You should avoid looking at your hands as much as possible).
- Did you actually go through this list?
Step 5: Reflect on the following questions:
1. What was your greatest area(s) of difficulty on this list?
2. What can you do to work on them in the future?
3. Are you practicing sight-reading at all or are you always repeating the same songs you’ve been playing for a while?
4. What’s your ultimate sight-reading goal? What do you want to be able to read and/or play if you were an excellent sight-reader?
Each item on the checklist is crucial to practice regularly in order to improve your sight-reading by leaps and bounds. Feel free to use this every week or so until you can regularly check-off every item on the list.
I’d love to know how you did with this self-evaluation, so don’t hesitate to comment below with your results.
In my next article, I’m going to give you something unexpected that you can do to turbocharge your sight-reading skills no matter what level you are reading at today.