January 18, 2022

About the Author: Sonja Joubert

Sonja Joubert is a master pianist classically trained by the late master Mr Josias Van Der Merwe and the late Adolph Hallis. She is also an excellent piano teacher with over 35 years of teaching experience, specialising in jazz and classical piano.

How to develop my sight-reading with excellent online piano lessons.

Sight-reading is not a gift. It is an acquired or practised tool.

Although some would claim to only play by ear, any proper musician or piano player will be able to read music, even if it’s not that fluent. Being able to read your sheet music fluently just places you on a much higher level

Being able to read music and sight-read properly opens the door to:

  • have the ability to enjoy learning piano pieces that you only dreamed of.
  •  give you the possibility to play with a band or another musician from a score
  •  give you a much broader picture of music.

Imagine if you struggled to read your newspaper or the ingredients for a recipe? Likewise, can you imagine a musician unable to read music or fluently sight-read? We can be so much smarter by knowing the basics of music and piano playing with simple reading or learning to read music.

Learning to read music properly and develop your sight-reading ability online is just as important as in any other face to face lesson.

No online lesson should ever only be by ear; even though learning to play by ear has been highly overlooked, it still does not mean that “reading” should be thrown out with the bathwater.

Musicians reading music

Developing sight-reading and being able to read music forms part of the basics of piano playing or musicianship, which can not be denied. It is part and parcel of your online piano lessons.

Being able to read music and sight-read fluently makes you:

  • look much better! You are one of the literate ones that understand music and are able to read and play it fluently!
  • If you had to play or “jam” with a friend, but you can not read the simple lead sheet he produced, it would not be great at all.

Being able to sit and fluently play from sheet music will give you:

  • confidence and a feeling of
  • joy and
  • importance, therefore, it is vital to develop your ability to read.

The more you develop your sight-reading ability, the greater your experience will be.

Keys of the piano

Ways to develop your sight-reading ability:

  • Sight-reading development can only be done by continuous “reading” of music, preferably as much as possible. So actually read your music with the specific purpose of developing your sight-reading.
  •  In your online lessons, you could discuss your reading frustrations with your online teacher, at which the teacher will be able to give special attention to adding extra time for sight-reading to your lesson every week. It is amazing how you will develop in reading better and better within a short time.
  • Being regular and consistent is key to improving your sight-reading.
  • The problem with sight-reading is that most students hate the idea thereof and struggle with their reading. Therefore, it is best to actively decide to put your mind to spending time reading music daily to become fluent.
  • In developing your ability to sight-read, the accent is on reading the music, not learning it bar by bar. Therefore it is crucial to start with easy music pieces that you can rather fluently conquer.
“Even though it is great to challenge yourself with difficult music, I recommend not going overboard with this. Start by sight-reading music that you think you could easily learn. After you feel comfortable sight reading on one level, start gradually making it more difficult. Don’t expect to become a pro overnight. It requires a lot of effort to learn how to sight-read well.” Mati Carter – 6 ways to develop your sight-reading.

Often or rather nearly always, sight-reading is left as a last on the list of musicianship. Sadly that will not help you in becoming fluent in reading.

Online piano lesson

One of the biggest problems with sight-reading development is probably the lack of available material to read, or rather the lack of simple yet applicable material for the student at his or her level.

Your online teacher will be able to help you find material to read.. There are a lot of sight-reading books and book series available that you can use to learn how to sight-read on the piano. Most books are available from Amazon. Starting from a level one sight-reading book and gradually moving through one level at a time is a great way to quickly improve your sight reading skills.

A great way to develop and improve your sight-reading is by following these steps:

  • Buy yourself a set of graded sight-reading books. You could use sight-reading books from The Royal Schools of Music, The Trinity College of Music, or any other graded book sets available on google. (Your online piano teacher could provide you with material as well)
  • Start with the lowest level of the graded sight-reading books. Grade 1 or even lower if needed.
  • Work through this level, doing a short piece or two a day.
  • Make sure that you find it relatively easy and are able to play slowly, correctly and with ease through the pieces. Then move on to the next level book.
  • Work this way through all the grades.
  • If you are a total beginner,  start with material that only does a few new notes at a time. One of the most essential steps in starting to read music as a total beginner is by saying the names of the notes. At first, do not play them. Just make sure you are able to say the names of the notes on the stave. Then proceed to saying and playing the notes.
  • Play or practise one hand at a time if you are still unsure of your notes and want to have an easy way to start improving your sight-reading.


The secret of sight-reading?

  • Read read read every day.
  • Find something you like and within your capability and read it often.
  • Your teacher will be the best one to help you find the material you need; else, google could suffice!
  • Make sure that your teacher gives attention to your sight-reading ability.
  • Sight-reading would and should be done weekly in your online piano lessons.

Do you want to improve your sight-reading?

Be persistent and be consistent.

Read, read and read!

Your online piano teacher will be more than willing to help you! Soon you will be able to read and enjoy! Remember to start with really easy music!

You can not run if you can not walk at first!   So keep on walking. Soon you will be running!

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


Join the most distinguished online piano academy for adults

Exclusive online piano instruction for adults of all ages and abilities (absolute beginners are very welcome!)