The goal of this article is to introduce you to a fantastic skill that all musicians should work to develop – sight reading! I am a guitarist and I have written this article with guitarists in mind, but the information could have been useful to all instrumentalists and even singers. Sight reading is a skill that is appropriate for musicians of all levels. Beginner, intermediate, or advanced – I have never heard anyone say that they are too good at site reading. This should help give you a long-term perspective on what is sometimes a frustrating task to practice. Now, without further ado … "How to sight read!"
The ultimate goal when sight reading is to be able to play any piece of music through to the end the first time that you see it. Of course this partially depends on your technical abilities and the difficulty of the piece you are playing, but you get the idea. Developing this skill will give you the capacity to play with tons of different musicians in all different styles. I can guarantee that it will help you book more gigs, especially as a guitarist. I know so few guitarists who can read. It is just the nature of our instrument and how people learn it and the prevalence of tab. If you can sight read well as a guitarist, you will be head and shoulders above your competition.
One key that I always like to emphasize is for students to use real music when practicing. Certain exercises have value; for example, if you are learning all the notes on the B string in first position of the guitar, you might have a passage with only b, c, and d notes. However, I think that you will get much more out of your practice time if you are using some of the music you like as study material. Getting your hands on a good fake book can be invaluable. Also, check local music stores or the internet for translations of your favorite artists. As a bonus, as you are learning how to read read, you are learning to play your favorite songs!
Finally, the only way to improve at anything is consistent and focused practice. Sight reading is no exception. It is necessary to schedule time into your current practice schedule in order to achieve your goals. Most people only work on sight reading for fifteen to twenty minutes per day. This is perfect. Just make sure that you are doing it consistently. Just think, at fifteen minutes a day for two weeks you will have practiced only your sight reading for two to three hours. You will definitely start to see improvement at this time.
I hope this article helped answer your questions of how to sight read. I am publishing another article soon on tips that will make sight reading easier, but I did not want to bog you down all at once. Remember, consistent practice is the key. Good luck!