Sight singing is the skill where a singer can look at a piece of music and then perform it. Some singers who are very good at this are capable of simply picking up a piece of sheet music and performing it relatively competently on the spot. If you are invested in learning this very useful skill, you’ll find that it takes time and effort, but at the end of the day, it is entirely worth it!
Learn to Read the Notes
As a singer, the notes are just as important for you as they are for musician. Sit at a piano, look at a note chart, and start memorizing. Play each note as you look at it, memorizing where it is on the staff and what it sounds like. Some people who have perfect pitch can identify notes from sound alone, but even if you have perfect pitch, this takes time to learn. This is something that can take time, but it is an essential part of how you move forward in music. Practice makes perfect, so set aside some time every day to work on learning the notes.
Learn the Beats
Time signatures will tell you everything that you need to know about the numbers of beats per measure and what notes get the beat. Part of sight singing is singing the song at the right speed, and that is what this tells you. Once you figure out how to read the beats, check to see how fast the song goes. There is usually a word somewhere on the music that describes the mood and speed of the song in question, and this can guide you towards singing the song appropriately.
Look Before You Leap
You do not need to pick up a song and start singing it immediately. This will cause you to stutter and pause very quickly! Instead, scan the song before you get started. Take a look at any time signature changes that might affect the way that you move forward, and also any changed dynamics. Suddenly realizing that that note should be sharp or flat can be a real surprise as you sight read. Especially when you get started, be sure to hum the melody before you burst into song.
Work From Beginning to End
It is often tempting to drop a piece of music if you are having trouble with it. This can lead to you having fairly large blind spots in your sight reading abilities. Once you start a piece of music, make a commitment to it. If you take it all the way through to the end, you will be a better sight singer for it.
Read Music For Fun
At the end of the day, practice makes perfect. The more new music that you pick up and try to learn, the more capable you will be. Remember that sight singing is a skill; it is not a measure of how good a singer you are. If you are patient, you can learning to sight sing. Simply start picking up pieces of music, and see what you can make out of them.