• Manuel Diewald

Useful Tips for Sight-reading

My name is Manuel Diewald and I am a Sydney-based guitar teacher in West Pennant Hills with a B.Mus. (Hons) (First) in Music Pedagogy from The University of New South Wales (UNSW).


Sight-reading can be quite difficult and may seem overwhelming at times though there are some useful tips and tricks to consider when you sight-read some music next. Before going ahead and playing the music you want to scan through the music and be aware of what is going on in the music. these include:


The time signature. Knowing how many beats per bar and what value that beat is will be helpful to understand the feel of the piece.


The key signature. This is helpful to know firstly what notes we are mainly going to use including any accidentals if they are present. Looking ahead for any accidentals that are not part of the key signature is also helpful.


Primary chords. By knowing the key signature we can quickly understand what the primary chords are within that key signature so we get an idea of what to play. Primary chords are I-IV-V


What position/s we are playing in. Finding out the key signature means that we can have a good understanding of the positions we are able to play in so we are not jumping around and moving into unnecessary positions.


The melody. Having a quick glance at where the melody is (In the upper, middle, or bottom voice) can help us to understand what notes to bring out.


Patterns. Finding patterns in the music makes it easier to sight-read a piece easier. If there are many patterns that repeat then we know how and where to play them all over the piece and rely less on being surprised or thinking it is different from the rest.


Here is a checklist that you can either write down on your phone or in your practice diary or simply on a piece of paper you keep next to where you practice.


  • time signature

  • key signature

  • Primary chords

  • Playing Position/s

  • melody

  • Patterns

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