Sight reading is the ability to look at a piece of sheet music and to play it out as it is written. Sight reading is a valuable skill for any musician to learn, and if you are getting more serious about your piano playing, it can make a huge difference to how you progress. Sight reading is a skill that can take time to develop, but in the end, it is worth the effort that you put in.
Sit Down With the Piece
Before you sit down at the piano, take a look at the piece on its own. Scan it and look for spots where you think you may be challenged, and go over them in your mind. Look for any time changes or any other hurdles that will need to be overcome to play the piece correctly. Most people think of sight reading as the ability to play a piece of music that you have never seen before, but there is nothing wrong with simply spending some time with a piece before you start to play.
Make Sure That You Can Identify The Notes
When you are sight reading, an instant and instinctive recognition of the notes is essential. New piano players often make small notations next to notes that they do not recognize, but this is a poor idea. Make sure that you know each note that you are going to look at, and make sure that you can locate it immediately on the keyboard. Some piano students benefit from flashcards that will help them drill on note identification. If you cannot identify the notes in your score, you will be stumbling a great deal.
Get Comfortable With Looking Ahead
When you first start sight reading, you are going to be focusing on the notes that you are currently playing. As you get more comfortable, however, you should start looking ahead. Do not look too far ahead, as this can lead to losing your place. However, start by making sure that you know what is coming in the next measure This is a great way to get really familiar with your piece even as you play it.
Stop Looking At Your Hands
Even experienced piano players have days where they want to look at their hands. However, sight reading requires your eyes, and if you are looking at your hands constantly, you will be missing out. Remember to be disciplined about this; if you are looking at your hands or even glancing at them, make yourself stop. Concentrate on the notes in front of you and make sure that you know what is going on on the sheet music.
It can take a beginner one to two years before they are full competent at sight reading. If you intend to progress with the piano, sight reading is a skill that you need, so make sure that you give this skill plenty of time. Be patient with yourself; some days, it will feel like you are not advancing at all. Just stick with it!