Not what you might expect, but sight reading music effectively actually requires quite a bit of preparation.
With practice, the technique you'll learn here can become a very quick habit. And done daily, at least for periods of time, you'll improve your sight reading quite dramatically!
After preparing the piece in your head (mental preparation), you will continue the preparation in the exercises below, by playing, or singing, a few segments in the score using two important steps:
Even though it hardly seems like sight reading with all this preparation, you will develop a "quick scan and test" technique, that you can do in under 30 seconds before actually playing the piece.
In this way you will be sight reading music with fewer mistakes and much more confidence.
Remember to do some sight reading practice every day you practice the piano. A little bit each day has the benefit of the accumulated effect.
This preparation is an important step to tweak your muscle “memory” a little in advance. But, please observe that you are not playing the piece though properly just yet- this is still part of the preparation!
After thoroughly preparing the piece in your head, and now having checked out positions, intervals and raised or lowered notes, it is finally time to actually play the piece.
You have carefully prepared the piece very well already so it is actually not the first time you see the score. But it will be the first time you play the piece for real, so to speak.
Here is what to do:
Phew! That’s it! Congratulations on your sight reading practice!
So, how did it go? If you made a lot of mistakes; simply pick an easier piece or just a smaller segment of a piece.
You can’t force the ability to read prim a’ vista by playing too difficult pieces. Step by step wins the race!
Review the steps of the mental preparation list in part 1 of music sight reading techniques for the types of mistakes you did. You'll most certainly have managed a lot on the list, but maybe not all.
Your goal should be that after following the 10 steps of mental preparation outlined in part 1, and the Physical Preparation you learned here; you'll be able to play the piece correctly at first try.
If not, pick an easier piece. If yes, pick a slightly harder next time.