10 Essential Tips for Approaching Piano Sight-Reading

10 Essential Tips for Approaching Piano Sight-Reading
Piano and sheet music

If yourself or your child are taking an ABRSM or Trinity Grade, you will need to spend some time preparing for the sight-reading element of the exam.

Here are 10 top tips for practising your piano Sight-Reading.

  1. Observe the Key Signature: Start by identifying the key signature and associating it with the major or minor key. Visualise the sharps or flats required and memorise the key before you begin playing.
  2. Pay Attention to Fingering and Hand Position: Once you have the key signature and if fingering numbers are provided, I would place both your hands in the right position and your fingers over the keys as your first port of call.
  3. Look For Musical Patterns: Quickly identify any note patterns, shapes or repetitions. Note any chords, arpeggios and scale-like passages. Recognising these patterns will help you read the music more efficiently.
  4. Nail the Rhythm: Initially, practice tapping the rhythm separately with both hands. This helps you grasp the rhythm before adding the notes.
  5. Tempo: Take note of the tempo indicated and the time signature. Start by playing well below the marked tempo to ensure accuracy in your rhythm.
  6. Read Both Hands Separately: Reading with both hands together can be challenging. Start by practicing each hand separately and then gradually combine them as you become more proficient.
  7. Start Slowly: Begin with slow tempos to build confidence and avoid hesitations. Slow speeds encourage reading ahead and reduce the chances of making errors.
  8. Keep Going: The most critical aspect of sight-reading is to never stop. Even if you make mistakes, try to continue playing to the end. Over time, you'll learn to ignore errors and focus on the overall performance.
  9. Explore Different Styles: Try an eclectic variety of musical styles, from classical to jazz to pop. This flexibility will allow you recognise different genres and prepare you for various musical challenges.
  10. Set a Timer: Eventually you will need to be accustomed to preparing your sight-reading quickly and efficiently. Setting a timer for short periods can focus your attention on the important things.

Book a lesson with Ben here