It has been forever since I’ve taught voice lessons, until recently. I am enjoying them so much more than I used to, and I am not sure why. Maybe it’s because I am working outside the home as well and therefore enjoying music lessons because I get to teach them from my own house. Or maybe it’s because I just plain enjoy people and their company more than ever.
But it could also be due to the fact that sight-reading is much easier for me now that I have been our church’s pianist for two years. One of my good friends, who also happens to be my employer and former piano teacher, always told me that the best way to improve sight-reading is to play under pressure. She was totally right! Teaching voice is so much simpler when you don’t have to worry much about the accompaniment.
So, for anyone interested, here’s what I know about sight-reading:
Play new music every single day – music you’ve never seen before, or that you only see rarely. A good way to do this is to play through a hymnal, covering maybe one or two songs per day. To get some experience reading other types of music, try reading from octavos. They come in all styles and range from very simple to very difficult. I was lucky that my piano teacher had a huge collection of octavos to choose from, and about once a week, I would bring twenty or thirty new ones home and just play through them and take them back. So if you know any other musicians, you can borrow music from them for this purpose.
It’s important to play pieces that are just above the level that you already sight-read well.
Also, be sure to turn on a drum track or a metronome to create some pressure to stay in time. Also, drum tracks are just fun to play with. 🙂
Always look ahead in the music so you can see what’s coming up.
If you have to drop notes, retain at least the bass note and the melody.
And if you get really confused, just play the chord structure until you can jump back in to the accompaniment.
So that’s what I know. Not, much, but perhaps it will help someone out. If you all have any other tips, leave them in the comments!