Thomas, age 7 tries Sight Reading Flashcards

A few weeks ago we watched Natalie as she used my Sight Reading Flashcards for the first time. Now we have a chance to watch her twin brother Thomas give it a try. It's interesting to see how differently they approach the same task. Natalie is more serious, Thomas jokes and pranks his way through. Both of them learn all the concepts they need to, and both have a good time.

Here's a peek behind the scenes at my studio this week: 

Having the right materials can make all the difference in your ability to teach sight reading, and your students' success. 

Get your copy of Sight Reading Flashcards (with a studio license) here. 

First Lesson in Sight Reading

It's never too early to start being a good sight reader.

Sight reading is all about getting rid of those little voices inside your head that say, "Is this actually an F? I'm probably wrong." It's all about getting an automatic keyboard response to the visual cue of the music.

This is a short video I shot of my student, Natalie, working for the first time on my Sightreading Flashcards. This shows us working on the very first set—just reading landmark notes in quarter and half notes. It is simple, but challenging for a young student. 

Be sure to watch to the end where there's a little extra footage of a surprise at her lesson the week before. Enjoy!

Get your copy of Diane Hidy's Sight Reading Flashcards here.

Sight Reading Duos

It seems so obvious, but I'd never thought to do it.

Mary and Dora after sight reading together.

I had created pages and pages of Sight Reading Flashcards. But I'd never used them with more than one student at a time. At one of my group classes last Saturday, I had three girls about the same age of varying abilities and with quite different strengths.

I asked them to sight read some of the flashcards with one of them playing the right hand and one playing the left. The process was fascinating.

Even in the short time they did them, there was discernible progress in their rhythm and reading. Their skills were solidifying almost before my eyes.

One thing I really loved about this was the way they taught each other. Their good playing rubbed off on each other. I did almost nothing but ask questions when something went wrong.

Here are just some of the skills they were learning:

  • Music Reading
  • Following along and waiting their turn
  • Patience when another student had a problem
  • Listening and looking for patterns

We did it in a Round-Robin style - one student started playing the right hand, then switched to the left hand as a new student rotated in. 

A brilliant symphony pianist once told me the most important thing to practice sight reading is conventional patterns. "The weird stuff," he said, "You can't predict that. So you gotta be great at the stuff where you can see patterns."

The most telling thing about this happened halfway through class. Mary asked if they could watch the video they'd just made. I said, "Sure," and we started.

We'd watched about five seconds when Mary blurted out, "Can we just DO some more sight reading? That's way more fun!"

Here's Mary playing Popcorn Clouds, a piece I wrote for her earlier this year.

The first page of  Popcorn Clouds .

The first page of Popcorn Clouds.

Popcorn Clouds  comes with Preparing to Play Teaching Tips to help you teach it successfully.

Popcorn Clouds comes with Preparing to Play Teaching Tips to help you teach it successfully.