Reading music can be a challenging task. Some people believe that this skill cannot be taught. This is not correct. Just like any other skill music reading can be taught, practiced, learned, and perfected.
In this article, I will discuss some of my personal favorite techniques which might help you to get better at music reading. Use them regularly and over time it will get easier for you to sight-read musical scores and organ compositions.
There is one thing which I have to clarify here. These suggestions are for people who already know how to read notes of the treble and bass clef.
If you are looking for tips how to learn to read music from scratch, this article will not teach how to do that. Instead, it will give you the advice on how to get better at sight reading.
First of all, let us think about the chorales and chorale harmonizations by Bach. They are so beautiful and their harmonies are spectacular. We know that Bach never wrote a treatise on harmony. But these harmonisations are like a real textbook of harmony. Many theorists after Bach analyzed them and developed a system of tonal harmony.
So going back to these chorales, one thing I do regularly is to sight-read them. Just one page per day.
Of course, many people have difficulties in playing Bach's chorale harmonisations. You see, although these pieces are short, they contain 4 fairly independent parts. So it might be too hard to play such a choral for you. If this is the case, this is what I would do:
Take one page per day. But don't play both hands and feet together yet. Start with one voice only: the soprano and play one page just this voice quite slowly. Take a comfortable tempo.
The next day play next page the soprano again and so on until you reach the end of the collection. You will start noticing much improvement along the way. By the time you finish the collection, the soprano line will be easy for you.
Then start sight-reading other voices like you did with the soprano (bass in the pedals with the 16' registration).
Then play in combination of two voices...
Then in 3 voice combinations...
Finally, play all parts together (soprano and alto in the right hand, tenor in the left, and the bass in the pedals).
This approach takes a while to go through various voice combinations. But in the end you will feel much more confident about reading music.
If you really want to develop unbeatable sight-reading skills, check out my systematic Organ Sight-Reading Master Course which is intended for organists who want to perfect such seemingly supernatural abilities as playing fugues or any other advanced organ composition at sight. To successfully complete the practice material of this course will only take 15 minutes a day of regular and wise practice but you will learn to fluently sight-read any piece of organ music effortlessly.
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Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.