Common Core Reading & Writing Activities
The ability to read music at sight with good musicianship is a necessary an important skill for every student musician to develop. At one time or another, you will be called upon to sight read unfamiliar music.
Sight reading is a normal part of auditions that are routine for getting into school groups, state bands, community groups, military bands, music schools and conservatories. In addition, you will frequently have to read new music in school ensemble (group) rehearsals. Lacking the skill to be in control of these
situations can be frustrating and sometimes embarrassing. The goal, then, is to help you develop skill and confidence in being able to read music fairly accurately the first time around. Highly developed sight reading skill is one mark of an accomplished musician.There are many different approaches to sight-reading, but this is perhaps the most common. The STARS method is an essential way to tackle the approach of new music.
S -“Sharps and Flats”:
At this point, you notice the key signature for the piece you are in, where it changes, and what notes you should be expected to play within the key signature. Knowing your scales will help, as you are likely to encounter them here.
T - “Time Signature / Tempo Markings”:
You want to see if it is in 4/4 (simple meter) or something like 6/8 (compound meter). This will help you determine how fast to play and how to count the piece. Skim ahead in the music, and circle and indicate any tempo changes so they don’t surprise you (as much) when you go through them. Take your metronome out and try and internalize the tempos before you play a note.
A - “Accidentals”:
Accidentals are any notes that are changed from the normal key signature. These are sharps, flats and naturals placed into the music. The accidentals lasts for the FULL MEASURE unless it is cancelled.
R - “Rhythm”:
This is similar to knowing time signatures, but when you start to break down and analyze the rhythms so that you can understand them. Find the difficult spots then break them down and divide them into sub beats.
S - “Signs”:
The Signs are anything else that you approach on the page. Dynamics, articulation, repeat signs, and final ending marks. You need to know these to know if you have to repeat certain measures. Knowing the dynamics will help you understand where to build your phrases when you play, and may help with the articulation. Articulation, the way we‘speak’ the notes, can highly change the feeling of the music so they must be considered and played.
More sight reading help
1. Sight Read More: “We learn by doing.” Set aside a specific part of each practice period for sight reading practice. Just as you work to improve your tone quality, rhythm, and/or technical skill, the same
is for sight reading. If you have difficulty sight reading music, start with easy material first. As your skills begin to improve, gradually increase the difficulty of material.
2. Develop the Proper Attitude: “A strong desire to become ann excellent sight reader.” Every new piece of music encountered inrehearsal (including the music in your method book) should be viewed as
an opportunity for developing your sight reading skill.
3. Develop Your Powers of Concentration: “A question of mind over matter.” Reading music at sight requires total concentration. Practice sight reading when your mind is fresh and alert.
4. Don’t Stop: “Good sight readers are constantly reading ahead.” When you sight read a piece of music, don’t stop until you reach the end. In ensemble (group) sight reading, always try to keep your place in
the music by focusing on beat one in each measure: skip what is toodifficult and come back in when you can.
5. Know Your Instrument: “Good sight readers recognize patterns of sound and rhythms.” Technical proficiency (know-how) on your instrument is necessary if you wish to become a good sight reader –
scales, articulations (tonguing), dynamics, flexibility, tone, alternate fingerings or slide positions, and so on.
6. Analyze the Music Before You Play It: “Sight read it in your head before you sight play it on your instrument.” Use the S-T-A-R-S method!