How to Get Better at Piano Sight Reading (2023)?

Learning sight-reading of sheet music is the best and most recommendable way to improving in playing the piano. Sight reading is simply the act of playing a song by just reading the music. For easy sight reading, it is crucial first to understand how to read music as well as learning the basic music theory. Honing your music reading skills and performing drills capacitates you to play any song that you come across.

How To Play The Piano Without Looking At The Keys?

Every pianist is aware of how crucial it is to glance at the keys when first learning the instrument. Looking at the keys is the quickest approach to find the correct notes to play as you get used to the instrument and improve your ability to convert notation into music. But as you get more proficient at the piano, try to play without glancing at the keys. Although initially challenging to master, this talent will enable you to move on to more difficult songs, improvise, and use your instincts.

Your technique and proficiency as a pianist can be greatly enhanced if you can play the instrument without looking at your hands. By grouping the keys according to a pattern, you may quickly recall how the keyboard feels. On the keyboard, the black keys are arranged in groups of two or three, allowing you to recall the white key that comes before each group. The white key preceding it is a C if there are two black keys in the row. The white key before it is a F if there are three black keys in the cluster. You can memorize an increasing number of keys after mastering these fundamental notes.  

The black keys also have distinct tones that you can sense. You can tell the white keys are E and F by feeling the space among a group of two and a group of three black keys. You’ll have a solid idea of where individual notes are located once you put the information you learned from feeling the keyboard’s keys together. Finding one key to use as a reference when learning to play the piano without looking at the keys is a helpful technique. You can play every note on the keyboard using just that one key.

The simplest and most sensible option is to use the center C as your reference. This is so because most of the tunes you’ll play as a beginner begin with the middle C note. In music notation, middle C is prominent and is situated on the piano bench across from your torso. It now rests in the right hand’s natural posture. The nearest C to the center of the piano is middle C, which is not quite in the center. The middle C on a typical piano with 88 keys is the fourth C from the left. Just close your eyes and try to place your finger on the middle C key to practice finding middle C. Whenever you sit down to perform the piano, you should give this exercise a shot. Your ability to locate this key will get better with practice, even though you might not be successful every time at first. In order to get a sense of the entire piano without using your eyes, you should also learn where the other keys are on the piano in respect to middle C. 

You may create muscle memory for precise finger positioning and fingering by practicing. You won’t need to glance at the keys when playing the piano once you’ve gotten familiar with the finger motions required. With the right fingering, performing without glancing at the piano will feel natural. With practice, fingering will become automatic and you won’t even have to think about it. We advise practicing scales and arpeggios, that we’ll go into more depth about later, to get to this point.

Websites To Download Songs’ Sheet Music For Free.

  • Instruments, Genres, and Musicians are the three categories into which 8notes divides its content. It implies that you will be able to locate anything to fit your demands regardless of the genre of music in which you specialize. The majority of the sheet music on that website comes with an MP3 or MIDI file to enable you to listen to the music while looking through the other articles. 

There is more than just sheet music, too. The website has a full area devoted to extra content. Everything is available, including seminars on music theory and guitar scales.

  • Anyone who works with sheet music is familiar with IMSLP. The website was established in 2006 and currently provides the greatest selection of free printable sheet music online.

The library comprises 170,000 unique compositions, 20,000 composers, 65,000 recordings, 540,000 scores, and 555 performers as of this writing. You can consume all of the content in one lifetime. Simple search options include filters for era, ethnicity, instruments, languages, and genres. 

  • Pianotte’s disadvantage is that it only features piano sheet music. The good news is that there is a lot of contemporary music there. It ought to be your first stop if you prefer Coldplay to Chopin. Even some of the most well-known music from recent times is included.

Although the page may not be the most visually appealing, the site’s content more than compensates for it. You can download many hundred tracks, each of which is supplied in PDF format.

Browse using the A-Z listings, genre, most recent releases, and most famous categories. 

  • On Mutopia Project, there are over 2,000 songs that each have a Creative Commons license. This implies that you can download anything you want and do whatever you want with it without worrying about getting in trouble with the law.

The website focuses on orchestral music, but there is an increasing selection of new music and reinterpretations for you to listen to. A PDF and MIDI file are included with each download.

Suggested Pianos For Beginners Learning To Play Sheet Music

  • One of the thin and light keyboards under $500 is the Casio CDP-S150, which also has superb sounds, a duet mode for teaching together, and an accurate piano feel (referred to as key action, which we’ll cover below). Although this piano doesn’t have a digital readout, changing the sounds and other settings is still simple enough. The only significant issue is the lack of Bluetooth, which prevents you from using the Chordana Play app by Casio, which gives you access to more settings and capabilities, without using a wired connection through the less accessible USB Type-B port. 
  • Due to the Roland FP-10’s more realistic piano feel and precise sounds, some of our testers—including myself—slightly preferred it over the Casio CDP-S150. Although it supports Bluetooth, its controls are much less user-friendly than those of the CDP-S150. This allows it to connect wirelessly to a smart phone running Roland’s Piano Partner 2 app. Even so, the FP-10 would probably be our top choice if it weren’t for the fact that it’s now hard to find. Roland informed us that it anticipated receiving additional stock, but was unable to provide a timeline for the model’s return to widespread availability. Take one if you’re able to find one. The Casio is indeed a superb option in every other respect. 
  • The Alesis Recital Pro is unquestionably the best value, despite not playing or sounding nearly as well as our other recommendations. The Casio CDP-S150 is normally approximately $100 more expensive, and this piano’s savings are slightly audible in the caliber of the sounds it produces. But this keyboard is the simplest to use of our choices due to its simple button layout and LCD readout. It has to be purchased separately for roughly $20 to add a sustain pedal in order to be completely functioning.

How Long Does It Typically Take To Master Sight Reading?

If you’re a total beginner, it can take you 1.5 to 2 years to feel like you can actually read music by sight. As a rule of thumb, the repertoire you prepare for recitals and other performances will always be around two levels more difficult than the music you can sight-read well.

Tips to Improve Piano Sight Reading Quickly

piano sight reading tips

1. Read Ahead

To improve your sight-reading as well as increasing your knowledge regarding music theory, works magic in equipping you to look ahead while reading. This is one of the few and fruitful tricks that many pianists do not know, though it is very tricky. Do this through training yourself on how to read music as shapes.

Learning to see a second version chord as a shape, you will have to look at the chord shape and the top note without reading each note in the chord individually. Many vocalists and single line instrumentalists find this trick very useful. Learn to read in intervals rather than reading the notes individually which will help you in fast passages and in shaping phrases. Reading by interval is vital in transposing the instruments.

2. Read Sheet Music Daily

Before you start sight reading, memorize the positions of notes on the staff which will help you read the music even without referencing from materials. Ensure you have a cheat sheet with you as it will help you get used to reading the notes. This is the starting point for beginners, and consistent practicing can help you togrow better.

Practicing for at least 20 minutes a day throughout the week, will keep you improving and will gradually get you to an advanced level. Practicing helps refine your sight-reading skills, and it is recommendable for every beginner and those that want to improve their sight-reading skills.

3. Be Your Master

Sight reading becomes very difficult if done in a stressful situation as compared to when you do it on your own. A relaxed body can play better than when your body is stressed. Before playing, have a deep breath, maintain a comfortable position, and relax your shoulders and neck. Also, maintain a balanced playing position for a thrilling experience.

In sight-reading, you must control your body to enable you to control the mind which plays a significant role in the exercise. Studies show that practicing in a dark room yields excellent results because your body and mind will have a good connection with the instruments. Doing away with your ability to see, you activate your hearing and also boosts your sense of touch.

4. Study The Music Before Playing

While reading the music, try to imagine the rhythms and the melody in your head. Take quality time to sample areas that need polishing and where you face difficulties. A quick transition and a series of unfamiliar notes may pose challenges when playing and so, it is essential to study those areas before the actual playing.

Know when a particular part or beat is coming up to help you play more fluidly. Memorize the flow of the song to prepare for challenging sections. Before playing, listen to the song to get an idea of how the song sound and its flow.

5. Play Like You Mean It

Sight-reading can be worse particularly if you do it in the presence of people. Play with seriousness and trust in what you are doing. It is also challenging to play with the confidence of a well-rehearsed performance. Draw the attention of how good you do it and sound, rather than allowing the small mistakes get the better of you. Trick yourself and forget how nervous you are in order to make the experience beautiful.

6. Practice Rhythms

To sound like an excellent sight-reader, be super to stay on top of the beat. This way, it is easier to get caught up when you play the right notes than you entirely losing your place in the music. A wrong rhythm can mess you up all the way, but a wrong note is over in a flash. Various books are explicitly designed to help you in practicing the rhythms.

You can also get this information from the internet to mold you into a successful sight-reader. Some of the informative sight-reading books include; Modern Reading Text in 4/4 by Dr. Louis Bellson and Sight Reading Rhythm by Jim Zimmerman.

7. Know Your Theory And Train Your Ear

Knowing your music theory helps you sound like you know what you are doing. This is significant in sight-reading, as you get to learn the core chord progressions as well as learning to hear them in the music. Train your ears on the various chord intervals and have theoretical knowledge to help with musicality, phrasing, and intonation.

8. Make It Fun

Though this may sound weird, do not give it a little attention. To color your sight-reading experience, have fun to your maximum. You can only grow better if you enjoy what you do. Having fun motivates you to do sight-reading over and over, which yield positive results in the long run.

Pick your favorite music and invite friends over for a jam session, and reward yourself for milestones to keep things exciting. However, do not overdo it all at once. Allow yourself to make some mistakes and do not forget to celebrate your victories. Above all – have fun!

9. First Focus On What Is Easy

It is fundamental first to master the easy things rather than struggling with the difficult things with which you have no idea. Look for what is easy about the piece without focusing on the tricky bits. Get the general gist of the selected music with an emphasis on the core elements of it such as the tonality, predominant rhythmic feel, and the melody shape. With this, you will get most of the piece right, and you will achieve some level of fluency.

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With consistency, a combination of these tips will help you succeed in sight-reading. Practicing will help you refine your skills and move to an advanced level. These are recommendable tips for both beginners, and every other pianist who want to improve on sight-reading. If you love what you do, you give it your all, and you will enjoy the outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1. What are some basic prerequisites to understand before learning about sheet music?

  • The Staff is musical pitch is represented by a group of five diagonal lines and four gaps.
  • The G clef, or treble clef, is the musical notation that appears on top of middle C on the second-lowest line of the staff.
  • Bass Clef: The musical notation at the fourth line of the staff, corresponding to the F note below middle C.
  • The time and amplitude of a sound are indicated by musical notes, which are symbols used in music. 
  • How your fingertips lay on particular keys is known as finger placement. The kind of finger determines the proper hand position on the piano. The thumb finger might be placed on middle C, for instance. 

2. What are Arpeggios? 

Because notes are skipped, arpeggios are distinct from scales. Arpeggios are a particular kind of broken chord in which the notes are performed either in upward or downward sequence. Arpeggios are extremely pleasurable to play because they are harmonic. Arpeggios are frequently used in compositions, so practicing them can benefit you in more ways than simply your finger dexterity; it will also help you learn faster because you’ll be able to identify them in music. 

3. Why is it important to play piano without seeing the keys? 

  • When playing challenging pieces or attempting to play music outside of your comfort zone, confidence is essential.
  • You run the danger of missing a note while you’re looking at the keys instead of the score. Additionally, having to watch the keys will severely limit your capacity for sight reading.
  • When your attention is on the keys, phrasing and other artistic piano performance approaches might be challenging.
  • You’ll be able to switch between performing on various pianos without any difficulty.
  • You’ll have the skills you need for improvisation if you can play a piano without looking.

4. Why should one learn to read music? 

Grabbing the pattern of the piece and how it is put together is made possible by being capable of reading music, which helps you have a deeper understanding of the entire composition. Like most oral languages, sheet music has symbols that have existed for a very long time. Each sign stands for a unique song’s pitch, rhythm, and pace. The methods employed by the individual playing that musical composition are likewise represented by the symbols.

5. What are basic scales in piano?

Each note in an octave is referred to as a scale in music. It’s recommended to begin with the minor and major scales while learning piano scales to practice without glancing at the keys. The very first note of the 12 notes in an octave is where the names of the minor and major scales come from. 

Being in love with music, Larry started this website to help piano lovers get the most detailed and accurate information with his 5 Years of experience of working in a music store.

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