Sight-reading on the piano is something many people struggle with. But with musically fluent skills, you can look at a score that you’ve never seen before and hear the music it depicts instantly in your imagination, without any thinking or working out.
The kind of sight-reading that most people do involves decoding the notes onto the piano keyboard and only then do they find out how the music sounds. Imagine having to type all the letters of a book into a machine one by one, before you get to hear the words. We wouldn’t even call that reading!
Being able to sight-read fluently opens up a whole world of music to a pianist or keyboard musician. And a fluent grasp of musical notation means that you can write down any music that you can hear in your mind. This makes composing and creating scores easy.
The skill of fluent sight-reading – to look at an unfamiliar score and hear the music playing in your imagination – opens up a whole world of music!
Sight-reading musical notation is not nearly as difficult as it seems. Once you know all the tonal blocks as sounds and places within the clear structure of the keyboard map and all the rhythm cells as they unfold within the rhythmic structure of the musical groove, learning to recognise these elements in a musical score is relatively easy with practice. To sight-read effortlessly, you must stop reading separate notes. This training helps you to join the dots together so that they make complete shapes that you instantly recognise and hear internally.
Musical notation is actually a very clever shorthand. You just need to stop treating a score as a list of linear instructions telling you what keys to play and for how long. This mechanical, passive – and very unmusical – approach makes sight-reading too complex and difficult – in fact, pure drudgery. It can also make the notation system appear illogical. Instead, when you rely on a strong and clear practical grasp of principles and elements of musical language that you use naturally to express yourself musically, you find sight-reading a musical score as intuitive and easy as reading words in a book.