How Long Does It Take To Be Able To Sight Read Piano Music
If you are a complete beginner, it may take 1.5 to 2 years before you feel like you are really sight reading. Heres a general rule: the difficulty of the music you are able to sight read well will always be about two levels below the difficulty of the repertoire you practice for recitals and such.
So if your teacher has you practicing Fur Elise , you should be practicing your sight reading on music like Clementis Sonatina in C Major.
Now, there are exceptions to this rule. Lets say you took lessons for several years, but your teacher never helped you get better and faster at reading. You may have simply worked very hard at one or two pieces of difficult repertoire each year , and you learned largely by rote and repetition. In these cases, you may be able to play a difficult piece of music, but you cant sight read even an easy piece of music fluently. This is a common situation, and one that causes much frustration for pianists. Its the result of oversight on the teachers part – the ability to read must be taught in tandem with everything else at the piano.
If this sounds like you, go back to the fundamentals: make sure you can read music flash cards quickly, slowly practice sight reading every day, and dont worry about the fact that you are sight reading easy music. You will progress rapidly.
Putting The Hands Together In Sections
At this point, you should have a firm grip on what both hands can do individually. Now its time to see how they all fit together.
Because the rhythm has been thoroughly prepped in the previous steps, its a matter of simply putting the hands together in small sections.
Start by playing 2 measures at a time slowly. If there are any mistakes, then try to read them again until you can correct those mistakes. Ideally, to learn a section of music efficiently, you should aim to play each section at least 3 times in a row correctly.
This may take many more attempts to fix, however it will ensure that the section is thoroughly practiced.
Once you have a few small sections ready, start piecing them together into larger sections. A simple form analysis of the piece will help you find logical areas to section off. Most beginner pieces have a clear beginning, middle, and end section.
More substantial pieces will have more developmental material in between each of those sections.
Over the course of a few practice sessions, you will start to see the piece take form. Areas that were difficult for you will be more ingrained in your hands. You will even start developing a bit of memory and execution of playing the notes will be much sharper.
With consistent practice, this is how you can put a piece together the right way.
How To Read Music Faster & Improve Your Sight Reading
Understanding these basic structures at the piano will help you to read piano music faster, especially when youre sight reading. Viewing a phrase, you will no longer see each note as a separate entity rather, youll see the relationships between them , as well as patterns that make up scales like the chromatic scale or the major scale. Knowing how sharps, flats, and enharmonics work means that you wont be stymied by an unusual flat, like C flat. Instead, youll easily translate it to B natural in your mind. With these tips, you should be sight reading more fluently and accurately than ever before.
Now that you understand the patterns of the keyboard, dont hesitate to try to find examples of these in your piano music! You will discover a unique language that is logical, organized, and creative all at once, and decoding it will result in many hours of delight making music at the piano.
Need some extra help? A private piano teacher can lead the way! Search for a teacher near you here.
Post Author:Nadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!
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Reading Music By Intervals
Knowing your way around the piano without having to constantly look down is a valuable skill to develop. You can support this skill by learning to read intervals. An interval is the distance between any two notes. Recognizing intervals is a quick and practical way to learn how to read sheet music because your fingers respond to the shape of the music. By recognizing common shapes and patterns, you will not have to think as much, and will therefore speed up your processing time, making you a faster reader.
Who Is The Course For
- Made for the self-taught piano student learning at home
- Piano players that want to read music faster and play difficult songs well
- Students who feel like theyre not making any progress
- Students looking for a step-by-step method learn new pieces fast
- Students who dont have private piano teachers
- Self-taught musicians that never want to lose their musical progress
- Students that are struggling with what fingering to use
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# : Repeat Steps 5 And 6 Again If You Run Into Any Problems
You know, in this last step, you would have run into new problems and written them down. Now its time to devise ways to tackle them and then play through a big chunk or the entire piece.
This process is similar to when programmers catching bugs. After they catch a bug, they have to run the program again to spot anything not working properly.
Familiarizing Yourself With Key Signatures
One last step to take before embarking on playing through piano music is to familiarize yourself with key signatures. Key signatures can be found at the beginning of each staff.
They are an indicator of which notes are going to be augmented with a sharp or flat anytime they occur in the piece of music. Unless otherwise instructed to be a natural note, those notes will take on the blanket settings that the key signature asks for.
Take a look at the example below.
In this example, the key signature has two flat notes. They are B flat and E flat. As you can see the actual notes dont have any symbols next to them.
However because the keys have been identified by the key signature, you will make that application to all the notes. So in this case, the B and E shown in the image would need to be played on the black keys.
The reason composers use key signatures is that they help make the music much easier to read. They also set the entire key for a piece and help with the entire harmonic structure of the music.
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Who This Course Is For:
- This course is designed for complete beginners who’d like an overview of how sight reading works at the piano and who’d like to learn how to read any note on a piano score.
- It will also help piano students who can already sight read but who hesitate over certain notes, e.g. in the bass clef.
- This course is NOT for piano students who can already read the notes on a piano score and would like to improve their ability to read rhythm, key signatures, or complete pieces of music. It’s just for beginners who’d like to learn how to read individual notes really quickly.
Do Not Reread The Words On The Page
Before we move on to the peripheral vision part thats the real kicker youre going to want to make sure you break the habit of rereading the words on the page.
If you watch the average persons eyes as they read, you will notice they jump and flit about. They do not just flow evenly back and forth, as they should. This is because the average person you do this, too tends to backtrack over words they have already read. This is one thing that prevents you from being able to increase your reading speed.
You most likely do this without even realizing that you are doing it, which makes it a bit of a tricky habit to break out of. The easiest way, even though you may feel a bit childish, is to use your finger or bookmark to guide you along.
Keep your finger running back and forth across the page, without stopping or going back. Keep tracking the words as your finger continues to make its way down the text. When you get to the end, think about what you read. You did not go back over a single word , and yet you still recall what you have read.
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Dont Forget Your Free Tools
We hope youre excited to start reading music! In order to help you along on your musical journey, weve created a few FREE tools to start practicing with.
First, were offering you a FREE Beginner Notes download! just add the free song to your cart and proceed through checkout to claim your copy, and be sure to take a look at our huge Beginner Notes sheet music assortment, all of which youll be able to play using the steps above. Play popular hits like the Star Wars Theme, Let It Go from Frozen, or Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, just to name a few. Were adding NEW Beginner Notes daily, so be sure to check back often and learn to play all your favorite songs!
Weve also created a handy guide for lettering the keys on your keyboard or piano. , to print, fold and place on your keyboard. Once you become familiar with the keys, you can easily remove it and continue to strengthen your note-reading skills. For those who dont have access to a keyboard, you can download a free keyboard app for your iPad here, or a free Android keyboard app here.
And dont forget to download our 100% free iPad, iPhone, Android and desktop apps! The apps offer instant access to all of your Musicnotes sheet music files, plus leading-edge tools and features created by musicians, for musicians. Say goodbye to hauling around stacks of paper, and experience the ultimate in sheet music accessibility.
Good luck, and most importantly, have fun!
Reading Sharps Flats Naturals And Keys
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Learn The Order Of The Notes
If you can remember a telephone number, you can learn the order of the notes. The specific order you need to learn is
E – G – B – D – F – A – CIt is as simple as that. Memorize the sequence of letters. You may wish to use a mnemonic such as Every Good Boy Deserves Fun And Chocolatebut you will find it faster in the long run if you just memorize the letters in that order.
The Amazing Power Of Simplicity
In just 3 or 4 hours — set aside one evening instead of watching 3 or 4 television programs you’ll forget right after you watch them — I can have you understanding the three principles of music reading. Within the first hour as we cover melody you will know all the notes in both the treble and the bass clefs, as well as the little short lines above and below the staff, plus all 7 of the flats and all 7 of the sharps and how they affect each note. And you’ll know the order of the sharps and the order of the flats as they always occur.
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The Mental Flip Strategy: Reading Piano Notes For Beginners
You must flip the orientation of the sheet music in front of you mentally, so you can read the vertical orientation of the notes.
In order to begin to think about and practice this mental flip, there is an extremely helpful strategy you can use. You can actually turn the sheet music so you are reading the notes down the page. Doing so allows you to more easily understand the spacing between the notes and more intuitively grasp where your fingers should be placed on the keys. This technique is also helpful for visualizing the grand staff as a whole and where the octaves on the keyboard are located.
# : Use Various Techniques For Different Passages
Now that you have broken the piece into smaller chunks, you can learn them one by one.
Each section will take different amount of time. Some sections might be straightforward and you only need to make sure that you have followed all the instructions. Some sections might be technically or musically challenging, in which case you want to identify the difficult aspects and find ways to tackle them.
One important point to remember:
When you find one section particularly challenging, take time to learn it and know that this will build your technique. If you do so for each piece you learn, youll find that pieces of the same level become easier and you are able to more quickly learn more difficult works.
In the video above, our instructor Michelle Huang demonstrates the ways to learn a piece of music by Lully. You might find many of the steps she discusses useful, such as practice each hand separately, clap to count the beats and figure out the rhythm, practice similar phrases together, start from slow, etc. Youll have to find various ways to tackle other challenges.
If you want to play evenly, you might try a technique metronome displacement our drum instructor Brendan Bache talks about. If a passage has complicated rhythms, you can vary the rhythm.
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What Are The Finger Numbers For Piano Players
When learning how to read sheet music, its important to remember that each of your fingers have numbers 1 5. Thumb is number 1, the pointer finger is number 2, middle finger is number 3, ring finger is number 4, and pinky is number 5. All piano players from beginner to advanced use finger numbers for reading sheet music.
Pro Tip: Now, as you read through new songs, write in the note names. Then, sing the note name or finger numbers while playing, which will help you memorize the names of numbers of the notes on a piano. Once youve practiced this, erase the letter names and test yourself to see if you still remember the playing pattern and tune of the song.
Master The Basic Music Theory
Without knowing the basics of music theory, you cant expect to be a fast reader.
When you dont have the very fundamental knowledge of notes, key signatures, musical sings, and clefs, its going to take a long time to identify whats written on the sheet music and press the corresponding keys on the piano.
Can you immediately recognize the notes on the staff and know which key you should be pressing?
If not, you should start by mastering this skill, because its the most essential one.
You can use a free site like musictheory.net to practice it. It has a bunch of exercises that teach you everything you need to know about the basics of music theory.
My favorite exercises for improving piano sight-reading are under the Keyboard Identification section.
For example, in the Keyboard Reverse Identification exercise, you are required to press the correct note on the virtual keyboard that is shown in the staff.
I think its a really helpful exercise and practicing it every day for 5-10 mins is well worth your time.
Another alternative might be practicing with music notes flashcards like this one. Its similar to the exercise above, though you get the chance to press notes on a real piano/keyboard. All you need to do is to randomly select a card, and try to immediately press the indicated note on the key. Try to press the key as fast as you can.
Its a better and more fun way to get faster at reading music, which I highly recommend.
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