4 Ways Adult Piano Students Can Improve Their Sight Reading Skills

Posted on: 17 April 2017

Younger piano students may have the advantage of time to learn and grow, but taking lessons as an adult--in some ways--can be just as advantageous. Since you aren't a parent forcing your kid to practice, you probably actually want to practice and spend your time wisely when you do. Many adults taking lessons especially want to get better at sight reading. If this is one of your main goals for piano lessons, here are four ways to improve that skill.

1. Print Out Sheet Music You Actually Want to Learn

Your teacher may assign you some specific pieces to improve certain skills or focus on theory, but when you sight read, you should get music that you actually want to play. There's tons of free sheet music online--especially pops. You may want to look for sheet music by Patrick Doyle, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Ramin Djawadi, and the like, since these composers well-known tunes will be easier for you to decipher. Since you want to sight read with as much fresh material as possible, you should print out two or three pieces a week instead of sight reading the same material over and over. Of course, if there is a piece that you love, you should take it to lessons for further practice.

2. Practice with an App

Sometimes piano just comes down to rote memorization, which can be boring. If you need to brush up on both the bass and treble clef or any key signatures, you may want to download a game to make it more fun. There are many apps for iPhone and Androids, and while some have a small fee, there are many which are free.

3. Start Slow and Break It Down

One of the biggest difficulties with sight reading is rhythm. If you already know how a piece sounds, you may be tempted to barrel through easier parts to get to that proper tempo. However, this kind of playing makes for very uneven rhythms. Instead of worrying about getting every note, focus on just playing through the piece without stopping. It's easier said than done. You may be tempted to fix a mistake or correct a sharp or flat, but you should use a metronome and keep playing through. If this is too hard, you can try slowing the rhythm down even more or you can break up the clefs. For instance, try just sight reading the treble clef, then the bass clef, then both together.

4. Memorize the Circle of Fifths and Practice Your Scales

Before you start a piece, your teacher has most likely told you to look at the time signature and key signature. Being comfortable playing different scales is vital to recognizing chord patterns and maintaining the proper sharps/flats. Not only should you memorize the Circle of Fifths, but you should practice warm-up exercises before sight reading. Book series like Dozen a Day have some good finger stretching and scale progression exercises you may want to look into.

For more information, talk to a professional like Las Vegas Pianos.