I get a lot of questions regarding how to
become a better sight reader.
Sight reading skills are developed over time.
True Story: I went in to sub on a Broadway Show several
years ago for a very well known trumpet player. When I sat down and opened
his book, what hit me was every downbeat was marked, every fingering was
written in, and every articulation was marked. I couldn't believe it! I called
him the next day and asked why all the markings in his book. His response
was "You didn't make any mistakes did you?"
One of the exercises I used to do with Jimmy Maxwell
1) Find a piece you are having difficulty with
2) Set the metronome to a ridiculously slow speed.
3) Sing the phrase out loud and finger the notes on
the horn as you sing
4) Play the phrase with the metronome (make sure you
are with the clicks, if you're not on the beat you'll hear the clicks.)
5) Once you get it, increase the speed one click at
a time until you reach the correct speed.
On a new piece of music, look it over for any potential
trouble spots. Mark in the downbeats. Sing the phrase and finger the notes.
Look for patterns (scales, arpeggios, 3rds, 5ths, etc.) Look for repeating
phrases and patterns. Usually, you wil find the same lick repeated throughout
the piece (or a variation of it)
Another exercise you can use is to put a newspaper
on your music stand. Play your scales and read the paper. Then recall as
much of the article as possible. You will see how difficult this is to do
both. With practice you will get better at doing both. This will actually
help you with your sight reading.
And when you practice, practice SLOWLY!!!!! We all
have a habit of practicing too fast, practicing mistakes instead of nailing