Wanna get better at sight-reading?

I believe that our ability to sight-read is directly related to our ability to read out loud.

Growing up, my mother had me read books out loud. She would stop me if my tone of voice did not match the message, if I did not breathe in a place that made sense for the phrase structure, or if I didn't change my voice when a new character was speaking.

The focus was never on reading new words, but on interpretation.

I hadn't had the occasion to read out loud for years until last night, when my husband told me he had read out loud for his Navy shipmates a very difficult section of a book. So of course, I had to try reading it out loud myself to see if I was still able to read without tripping on words.

That's when I realized that it felt the same reading out loud as it did sight reading a piece. In both cases I look for the structural points of the music, and interpretation takes center stage over the actual pitches.

I've always been a strong sight-reader, and now I wonder if that's thanks to all the "words-sight-reading" my mother made me do (thanks mum).

Picture from http://www.fortcollinsreadaloud.org/


  1. For years I have asked my incoming students what books they are reading and what their favorite books and authors are. Those who have few or none do struggle more with phrasing, form, and overall musicality. I wonder if it would scare them off if I had them bring a favorite book and actually read aloud at the interview?

  2. Gail, I suppose scared off or not, you're the one in the end who decides what they should do to be tested!!!
    I think it'd be neat to try giving as homework to a student to read a different paragraph every day, and then the teacher picks one during the lesson, and it has to be read with full interpretation.
    Or maybe if a student would have to sight read a paragraph out loud before sight reading, that would improve the sight reading, just from using the same brain parts from on to the other.
    I really would love for this to be tested!

  3. Oh wow, Geraldine and Gail. I've been thinking about the whole reading out loud test for several years now but have yet to try it with anyone. I'm so glad you've brought it up! And now that you've posted this, I'm going to be thinking about it again.

    Thanks for writing this post, Geraldine and thanks for joining in, Gail!



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