How to Sight Read Music Vocally

Sight reading can be difficult and stressful for a vocalist. Unlike instrumentalists, a vocalist is unable to rely on the instrument to help produce the right pitch. With an instrumentalist, if the right key is depressed and the proper embouchure formed, the pitch will come out easily. With a vocalist, the instrument is her entire body. This, in conjunction with having to be able to instantly read music that may be rhythmically challenging, is a difficult proposition for even experienced vocalists. The best remedy is daily practice reading rhythms and new melodies. But when it comes time to perform, success can come with a few simple steps.

Step 1 Prepare ahead of time by tapping rhythms and mentally singing through sight-singing texts with melodies in several keys.

Step 2 Start a sight-reading session by looking at the rhythm and mentally or physically tapping it.

Step 3 Assess the key signature and any accidentals that might be in the melody.

Step 4 Investigate the melody and sing it through in your mind before attempting to sing the melody.

Step 5 Perform the melody only when it is possible to mentally imagine the entire melody and the rhythm is comfortable.

Once the sight-singing has started, do not stop singing. If it is necessary, keep the rhythm and make up the notes as you go. Keeping the rhythm will show that you can make mistakes and continue singing. It's OK to make mistakes; most singers are unable to sing a piece without first studying it.


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