Improving Your Sight Reading Skills

Whether you’re a member of a music group or preparing for an audition, you’re going to have to know how to sight read sheet music.  As you continue to practice and go through the rigors of learning new music, you will naturally become better at sight reading.  When my students want to focus on improving this particular skill set, below are the two elements that we work on exclusively:

  • Understanding rhythms
  • Reading through music in all key signatures and registers of the piano or cello

Understanding Ryhthms

In my personal opinion, the best foundation for improving your sight reading skills is to have a firm understanding of rhythms and note patterns in different time signatures.  I usually have my students clap and count rhythms out loud so that their brains are actively engaged in understanding where each note falls in relation to the main beats of the measure.

EssentialsForStringsFor both my piano and cello students, I get rhythms for the clap-and-count exercises from the “Essentials for Strings” book.  What I really appreciate about this book is that each section of rhythms starts off with a diagram illustrating how to count each note type in the specified meter.  After clapping and counting out loud, I then have the student pick either one key on the piano or one open string on the cello and play the rhythms utilizing a metronome to keep a steady beat.

 

Practice Reading Through Music

I think it’s important to practice reading music in all of the key signatures and registers of the instrument.  First, I like to concentrate on finding music excerpts that represent each major key.  By playing in all of the keys, you will start to internalize the finger patterns and hand configuration changes associated with the different key signatures.  When it becomes 2nd nature to process any indicated sharps or flats, you’ll be more confident about where your fingers go when reading through new music.

It’s also necessary to practice reading and playing notes across as many positions or ranges that you can.  When you understand all of the notes that are available to you in various positions and ranges, you’ll always have an idea of how to approach any piece of music that is put in front of you.  Since cellists have to know how to read notes in 3 clefs, I also make sure that my cello students get adequate practice switching between bass, tenor and treble clefs.

 

 

 


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☆ Star Student Spotlight ☆

I’m so proud of my student, Samantha.  She recently attended the Campbell orchestra retreat with her school orchestra where she was recognized for her excellent playing technique.  She was asked to do a playing demonstration that was used as a model of bowing style for her fellow section members.  In addition to becoming a leader amongst her orchestra peers, she has also been “A”-cing her playing tests.

Samantha has been studying cello with me for a few years now, and I have had the pleasure of watching her blossom into a more confident musician.  I enjoy teaching because it brings me such happiness to share the joys of music with others.  Students like Samantha make my job so much easier and validates for me that I made the right decision in choosing to pursue a career in music.

Not only does Samantha shine as a cellist and maintain good grades in her other classes, she’s also a member of her school’s lacrosse team.  She’s definitely an inspiration to us all.

sam1

 
 
 

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Contracts For Atlanta Union Musicians

I was a member of the Atlanta Federation of Musicians for a few years and found their contracts to be very helpful when booking jobs.  In my personal experience, Atlanta really isn’t a big union town when it comes to hiring contract musicians, but I could always negotiate the use of the AFM contracts if I wanted my employer to contribute towards my pension.  The following contracts can be found at atlantamusicians.com/contracts-agreements.

Contracts & Agreements

Local Contracts and Agreements
L-1 CONTRACT For all standard engagements – contains pension remittance form. LS-1 Contract
For local single engagements – (pension contributions can be made on behalf of contractors)
LS-1 Q&A
FAQ about LS-1 explained
AFM-EPF Remit Form Pension Agreement Limited Pressing Agreement
Electronic Media B-Forms
AFM Report Form B-03 AFM Report Form B-04
Made and Played Local Commercial Announcements
Page 1
Page 2
Compact Discs, Phonograph Records, Soundtrack Releases, Video Promos
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
AFM Report Form B-05 AFM Report Form B-06
Demonstration Recordings
(Audio Only)
Page 1
Page 2
TV & Radio Commercial Announcements
Page 1
Page 2
AFM Report Form B-07 AFM Report Form B-08
all Motion Pictures
Page 1
Page 2
all Video Tape
Page 1
Page 2
AFM Report Form B-09 AFM Report Form B-10
all Limited Pressing Recordings
Page 1
Page 2
Commercial (Syndicated), Public & Local Radio, Non-Commercial I.D.
Page 1
Page 2

 

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