Saturday, April 20, 2013

Developing Super Sightreaders : Consecutive SR Contest

 Sightreading is one of the most practical skills for a pianist that is often neglected.... at least it was for me.  Over the past few years I have searched for useful ways to incorporate sightreading practice more consistently in my studio.  One of my favorite tools to help improve sightreading skills for my elementary students is the sightreading challenge sets (available for free download at   Starting with the pre-reading sightreading pattern cards(which I condensed by printing multiple cards per page) I put all of the levels in order inside sheet protectors in my teaching binder.

 What I love:
  • Reminders at the top of each page to STOP & look for patterns before playing
  • Reminder to choose a slow tempo
  • Short sightreading samples perfect for lesson starters (or enders)
  • Very gradual increase of difficulty
  • Dynamics include
To reinforce these concepts even more, I've been challenging my students this month to see how many consecutive measures they can sightread without any errors.
Goal - read as many measures as you can in a row with accurate rhythm, notes, dynamics, etc.
When you make a mistake your score restarts at zero and you move on to the next sample.  (Each sample increases in difficulty)

Tips for success:
This one is so hard for some students who just want to dive in and play without analyzing patterns or looking ahead to prepare for challenging spots.  I made the rule that as soon as I hear a sound from the piano, the race starts.  But they are free to "ghost-play" it first by silently playing through the sample if they wish.

  I choose a  s   u   p   e  r      s  l   o  w  tempo and play the sightreading excerpt along with the student.   This helps them hear rhythmic and note errors immediately.

I use post-it flags with each student's name # of consecutive measures earned to track where they left off.  The more measures the student accumulates, the more careful they become at following these tips, because the pressure is on not to start over at zero.

Other sightreading resources & ideas:
Diane Hidy's Sightreading Flashcards.

Interesting Post on Sightreading Research at Foxx Piano Studio

354 Free Reading Exercises in C Position by Michael Kravchuk


  1. Heidi, I love this idea! I'm totally stealing it!

    1. Glad you like it! I happened to read a few of your old blog posts this weekend & it was just what I needed on a dreary day. I love your insight that life isn't supposed to be like Eden, that Eve chose the more challenging option of having posterity because it would lead to progression. I've been fighting reality lately & wishing I could jump back to an "Eden-like" life even though I know that having "Mountains to Climb" will be better for me in the end:)