I recently saw a fellow musician on Mastodon asking for piano-specific sight reading tips. Sharing below what has helped me and what I wish I'd learned sooner!
1. Practice sight-reading something new every day. It doesn’t have to be a long piece—in fact, the shorter, the better. Playing through an old hymnal is a good place to start, especially if you are wanting to learn how to recognize chords more easily, as most hymns are written out in four-part harmony. Also, many hymnals contain enough hymns to keep you busy playing a new one every day for a whole year.
2. The music you choose for sight-reading practice should be at an easier level than your current level. If you are at an intermediate level, try sight-reading at an advancing beginner, or elementary, level.
3. Keep your eyes on the music—don’t look at your hands. Learn to play by feel.
4. Play slowly, and keep the rhythm going. I recommend counting aloud.
5. Always look one measure ahead.
6. To help you get better at recognizing chords and chord patterns in your music, I recommend practicing, not just scales, but arpeggios as well. Practice the I, IV, and V(7) chords for the key of the piece you are sight-reading. And maybe to make things more interesting, also practice the ii, V(7), and I chords, as well. (If you still struggle with reading a chord the first time you see it, try building it on the keyboard from the bottom note up.)
Some useful books:
There are lots of videos on YouTube about sight-reading but Jazer Lee’s (Learn Piano with Jazer Lee) videos are the most concise.
Wrapping it up!
These are several methods that can help you improve your speed and accuracy when sight reading. The best method for you is the one that you can apply or use every day. So - try these out for yourself and see what works for you!
If you have any questions that you'd like me to answer for you - send me an email Here and I'll respond to you directly or on this blog!