Get an easy book of music in the key of C (no sharps or flats) and practice sight reading.
* Note: Fake Books typically have just the treble clef line vs. left and right hand keyboard parts. Some fake books only have chord names and maybe strumming patterns. For these excises, we want the treble clef melody line of notes.
** Note: A book “for C Instruments” is not at all the same as a book “in the Key of C”. The word “Easy” in the title is a better indicator that all the songs have been transposed to the Key of C, which is easier to read.
Once you have your book, set your metronome or click track to 60 BPM, or slower if necessary, and Play straight through from page 1 to the end of the book, whether you know how the song goes or not, then repeat.
Even if you make mistakes, keep moving. It’s ok to sound mechanical at this point. You’re learning to build your reading skill. As you get better, increase the metronome speed slightly. This builds your sight reading skills in a way that working on one song at a time, or one section at a time does not.
Before buying a metronome, read our Practice Aids page in our Guitar Gear section.
- First time through, just try to get the melody line down with a basic sense of rhythm. Don’t even play the repeats, just keep moving. However, if you are making too many mistakes slow it down to where you can play it pretty well. Speed will come with time.
- Second time through, take a minute before each piece and look for the returns and any tricky rhythms. Try to tap them out ahead of time, then play through the piece.
Find as many books as you can. Go through 200 pages a day. I’ve heard of people using Hymnals, Flute Books, Holiday Carol Books, anything they can find. The more sight reading you do, the easier it will come.
Reading music is an important skill to have. As you internalize it, you will overcome the fear or resistance to reading music.
Join the discussion and share your sight reading tips.
Join the discussion and tell us why.