“He can sight-read anything perfectly without practicing.” “She was born with sight-reading talent.”
Have you overheard these comments? Do you believe either statement can be true? Are some students born with special gifts making sight-reading easier for them? Can students sight-read without practice?
The answer is no. All pianists start at the same place, with the same tools. Sight-reading skills must be developed over time and with the right kind of practice.
Music research has also demonstrated that sight-reading is a learned skill, not an inborn talent (Lehmann & McArthur, 2002).
To learn to sight-read, the following must be present:
- Some time each day to specifically practice sight-reading (not performance, which is a different process)
- A reasonable practice environment—quiet, well-lit and without distractions, (ideally) using an 88-key acoustic or digital keyboard
- Sight-reading music materials chosen for their systematic progression in difficulty and their motivating qualities