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Sight Reading and Singing are the terms used for the ability to read and sing a piece of music previously unseen and unrehearsed.  Relating the look of the notes on a score into their recognised audible sounds.  Many vocalists sing by ear and never find the need to learn to sight read, but 'Session' and 'Classical' Singers will need to be able to read sheet music on first sight.

A competent sight reader can use their skills to learn songs faster, deputise with any band and gain session work with producers and studios so it's definately worth learning and regardless of the form of singing you choose, learning to read and sing music can be fun as well as useful!

There are many freeware and shareware music games and programs available for learning to read music, some of which are provided below. Happy Note's games are suitable for all ages and the Music Tutor for teens upwards.  Those of you with a piano or keyboard available can use it to learn sight reading/singing by writing the note names onto a piece of sheet music and repetitively striking the proper note (e.g. "C") in it's various locations (the number depending on how many sets of octaves your keyboard has) then naming (or singing) it out loud as it is struck.

Piano Keys Image

In each 'Octave' there are a total of seven white keys (C,D,E,F,G,A,B). C is the note to the left of the groups of two black keys. The other notes are placed successively after C.  The black notes denote sharps and flats and the pattern of two black and three black keys is the key to recognizing the position of any given note (e.g. the note D is easily seen as that note which lies between the groups of two black keys).   Learn Piano Chords on the Virtual Piano!

gold staff divider

Some easy to remember sayings to help remember the lines & spaces.
Lines in the Treble “E G B D F” - Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
Lines in the Bass “G B D F A” - Good Boys Deserve Favour Always
Spaces in the Treble “F A C E” - As it reads Face!
Spaces in the Bass “A C E G” - All Cows Eat Grass

Another method which is commonly used is known as Solfege which is a system used to sing melodies.

10 Free Sight Reading Tips

Ten amazing free secrets help to sight-read any sheet music notation for piano, by Howard Richman the author of Super Sight-reading Secrets at Sound Feelings.  This free information provides self-study tools and solutions on reading music like a professional.  Sight reading takes time to improve, as with any self-improvement program, but these helpful tips will show you how to get there faster than you ever believed possible!

1 Develop Your “Relative” Sense of Touch.
Acquire the skill of playing so that you don”t need to look down at your hands. Without looking at the keyboard, glide your hands so you feel the two and three black keys (like Braille.) When you need a C, D, or E, feel for the “2s.” When you need an F, G, A, or B, feel for the “3s.”

2 Develop Your “Absolute” Sense of Touch.
Always sit in the same place. Middle “D” is recommended because it creates a symmetrical pattern in both directions.

3 Practice Finger Technique Without Looking at Your Hands.
A creative way to do this is to play your scales and arpeggios in the dark. This will add confidence to your sense of touch.

4 Learn the Four Groups of the Lines and Spaces:

Lines in the Treble “E G B D F”
Lines in the Bass “G B D F A”
Spaces in the Treble “F A C E”
Spaces in the Bass “A C E G”

5 Practice Only the Rhythmic Information.
In a composition you are working on, ignore the correct pitches.

6 Practice Only the Pitch and Fingering Information.
In a composition you are working on, ignore the correct rhythm.

7 Play Easy Pieces up to Tempo.
Force yourself to keep going no matter what. Don”t worry about mistakes. This helps you to look ahead.

8 Play Difficult Pieces Super Slowly.
Don”t dare make even one mistake. This helps to develop accuracy.

9 Look For Patterns in Music.
Don”t be afraid to look way ahead for a second just so you can anticipate what will be easy or difficult. Patterns are easy. If you detect a pattern then you can devote your concentration to other things.

10 Study Music Theory.
Professional sight-readers never read every note! They get a sense of the overall chord and “fill-in” the blanks. With a solid knowledge of music theory, this becomes natural and immediate.

Article by Howard Richman of Sound Feelings Publishing, Reseda, California.

These tips were prepared by Howard Richman and are offered for free as a courtesy. For the complete information to super-charge your sight-reading ability, order Richman”s bestselling book, Super Sight-Reading Secrets (listed in our books section below).  Don”t miss his $5.00 Secrets of Singing on Pitch complete instant ebook.

Sound Feelings Publishing
18375 Ventura Blvd #8000
Tarzana, CA 91356
Tel: 818-757-0600
email: info@soundfeelings.com
Website: www.soundfeelings.com

Sight Reading Books
In Association with Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com & MusicRoom

The following are a small selection from the many available in the Sight Reading & Ear Training Books page of our Books for Singers section which contains eductional, instructional, repertoire, diction, language and marketing books for singers and musicians.

Sight Singing Made Simple Sight Singing Made Simple by David Bauguess
Vocal Sheet Music And CD

This easy-to-use audio course for self study is a step-by-step introduction to music reading skills. This resource will be an effective tool for building confidence and skill. Ideal for individuals or groups. This course assumes no prior knowledge of written music.

Contents / Song list
Rhythm Practice, Reading Note & Rest Values
Meter and more practice reading rhythms
Reading Pitch from Syllable Letters
Reading Pitch from Notes on the Staff
Introduction of Counting Method for Reading Rhythms
Reading Skips from Syllable Letters
Reading Skips from Notation
Key Signatures
Echo Drills
Clef Signs
Eight Notes
Click here for reviews at Amazon USA
More info at Musicroom

Super Sight Reading Secrets Super Sight-reading Secrets by Howard Richman

This Book Will Help You To:- Increase your rate of visual perception. Play any note on the keyboard without looking at your hands, even jumping large distances. Look ahead. Keep from losing your place. Fake. Play contemporary classical music. Transpose notes (or chords) at sight.
Click here for reviews at Amazon UK
Click here for reviews at Amazon USA

Learn to Read Music

Learn to Read Music by Howard Shanet

A study of the fundamentals of reading musical notation that will teach the reader to read music in 4 hours.   Organised in small chapters with step by step instruction and exercises, this guide is useful to learn the rudiments of music, rhythm, pitch, notation and crammed with essential information.
Click here for reviews at Amazon UK
Click here for reviews at Amazon USA

Teach Yourself to Read Music Teach Yourself to Read Music:
Guide for Pop, Rock, Blues and Jazz Singers by Jeffrey Deutsch

Covers everything a singer needs to know to read music. Includes examples, exercises, songs, answers and an assignment for each chapter. The book starts slowly with the basics and adds more complicated elements one by one. It uses visual images to help you hear in your head what you see on the page. Unlike more other sight singing books, it is specially geared to the singer of pop music. Once you learn the system you can sight sing in any given key. The accompanying CD will help the singer monitor their efforts. This book presents a system for learning the grammar of music, the rules by which it is understood. It starts slowly with the basics of sightsinging and adds more complicated elements one by one. Each chapter includes and original song that is similar to music that the professional singer will be asked to sight sing. The accompanying CD will help you to monitor your efforts
Click here for reviews at Amazon UK
Click here for reviews at Amazon USA

Sight Singing Links

Gary Ewers Easy Music Theory
is an excellent site for beginners to experienced musicians who want to brush up a little!  These 26 free online lessons include instruction, quiz and answer sheets for sight singing intervals, timing, staff and more. Plus a handy 'Transposition' sheet!

The Sight Singers Resource
is an interesting site and a 'must read' for anyone wishing to learn sight reading/singing with Exercises for Practicing Sight-Singing Skills including:-
Getting a Feel for the Beat
Practicing Rhythms
Learning the Notes on the Piano
Learning the Note Names on the Musical Staff
Playing, Singing and Visualizing the Major Diatonic Scales on the Keyboard
Superimposing the Keyboard Scales Onto the Staff
Learning the Sounds of Intervals
Getting the Feel for the Key or "DO" of a Song
Singing Simple Musical Notation

Specimen Sight-Singing Tests, Grades 1-5
Specimen Sight-Singing Tests, Grades 1-5. Voice, 3.80, Grade(s): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.  ISBN:185472 945 4 - £3.95
Specimen Sight-Singing Tests, Grades 6-8
Specimen Sight-Singing Tests, Grades 6-8. Voice, 3.80, Grade(s): 6, 7, 8.  ISBN:185472 946 2 - £3.95

Contemporary sight-singing series, original compositions, arrangements, adaptations, settings, transcriptions from Prof. JOAN YAKKEY who has written albums, scores and books on sight singing. She presently conducts six treble-voice choral ensembles in Florence, Italy.  Joan is very happy to share her scores with others, visit the website for more information.

Drills for Sight Singing and Dictation
has warm ups, notations, midi exercises and melodic sight singing practice.

Sight Sing
New site aimed at teaching sight singing contains lessons and exercises with scores and example midi. Suitable for complete beginners also contains some practice scores for all soprano, alto, tenor and bass.

Sound Feelings
Author of Super Sight Reading Article Howard Richman

Scales & Key Signatures
Free online lessons complete with diagrams on Tetrachord, Scales, Key Signatures, Modal Scales, Chromatic, Whole Tone and Pentatonic Scales including scorable practice exercises!

Sight Singing Tips
Handy tips for singers and pianists by Teacher and Choir Director Fergus Black

Newsgroups are also useful for discussion of Sight Singing

Check out our list of useful newsgroups and listservers in the 'Groups & Communities' section.

Visit our Vocalise Lists & Links

Free Sight Reading Software

Includes a basic introduction to reading sheet music along with two games to help children and adults recognise notes. ReadMusicFree

Dolphin Don's Music School
Includes 10 games that teach ear training and reading of notes, rhythms, key signatures, intervals & chords, full version includes 240 levels, keeps score for 30 players. To download a Demo version of this SHAREWARE visit their site Dolphin Don's Music School

Learn Music Theory the Fun Way with HAPPY NOTE!
With Happy Note!, you can learn music theory as if it were a game. Actually, with Happy Note!, music theory IS a game, or more exactly a series of games. Designed by licensed music teachers, these games are true computer games with all the bells and whistles (score, lives, Hi-Score, etc.) They both Entertain and Educate, and make boring music theory lessons a thing of the past. Thanks to Happy Note!, children and adults can now learn music theory the fun way.

New Free Game - Learn about rests the fun way with HAPPY NOTE!
Learn about musical symbols (rests and notes), with the help of an elephant, and a ball! Happy Note! Note Cracker is a game for people of all ages that the entire family will enjoy. It remains fun to play even after you're done learning. It features 4 gaming speeds and a Hi-Score list that keeps track of the 10 highest scores.
HAPPY NOTE! NOTE CRACKER & NOTES IN SPACE Translated from the original French by Laurent Cartayrade Copyright © 1999-2000 Pascal Riben. All rights reserved.

New Free Game from HAPPY NOTE - Sing & Learn Treble Clef ABC Reading Lessons!
You can now download for free all Happy Note! Sing'n Learn Treble Clef ABC Reading lessons. No previous knowledge of music is required to use Happy Note! Sing'n Learn. Furthermore, just as the Learning menu of our computer game Happy Note! Treble and Bass Clef, Happy Note! Sing 'n Learn uses color notes to make learning a new note easier. To download it (automatic file setup is only 600 KB) or try it online, go to: Happy Note - Treble Clef

New Free Game from HAPPY NOTE - Sing & Learn Bass Clef ABC Reading Lessons!
After the treble clef, you can now download for free all Happy Note! Sing'n Learn BASS Clef ABC Reading lessons. No previous knowledge of music is required to use Happy Note! Sing'n Learn. Furthermore, just as the Learning menu of our computer game Happy Note! Treble and Bass Clef, Happy Note! Sing 'n Learn uses color notes to make learning a new note easier. To download it (automatic file setup is only 600 KB) or try it online, go to: Happy Note - Bass Clef

Music 101
Music101.zip is an aid to help you learn to read music better - also has the Music 101 Guitar Zip here
click here to download Freeware Music101.zip size 65kb or browse round the site Franks Download Page

The Music Tutor
The Music Tutor for Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 is easy to use. Each edition has 'Lessons' under the lessons menu. These lessons have accompanying text that is displayed in the instructor box. As you proceed through the lessons, examples will be displayed in the work area above the instructor box. Questions appear periodically. You answer the questions by pressing the option button next to your choice with the mouse pointer. The Music Tutor then checks your answer and displays a message box telling you if you are correct. After you complete the text for each lesson, you may select the practice session for that lesson. The practice sessions are designed to help you go over the material in the lessons with repetition. The Practice Sessions are also designed to allow you to come back to the Tutor when ever you need a brush up on that area. You may find that some of the practice sessions will be useful for a period of months until the concepts are securely learned.
The Music Tutor is designed to be used at any pace. You may choose to go through all the lessons at once, or to do a bit at a time, coordinating the ideas you learn in your music lessons with the concepts and practice sessions provided by the Music Tutor.
Pitch and Key Signatures edition.
How to use the Music Tutor: An overview of the components of the music tutor. Recommended for first time users.
Lesson One - Pitches and the Staff: The lesson covers the pitch names for all of the lines and spaces of the staff. It also discusses the clefs used with the grand staff.
Lesson Two -Sharp Key Signatures: This lesson introduces you to all of the Major key signatures that use sharps. It discusses the need for accidentals and why they are required to indicate the keys.
Lesson Three - Flat Key Signatures: This lesson takes you through all of the flat key signatures for Major keys.
Minor Keys - A Brief Overview: This lesson briefly introduces the relationship of major keys to minor keys. When you arrive at the point in your musical training that you need to learn and practice recognizing the minor keys, this section of the Music Tutor will be helpful.
Notes and Time edition:
Lesson One - Rhythmic Values of Notes: This lesson introduces whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes,sixteenth notes and the use of the dot to modify the rhythmic value of a note.
Lesson Two -Time Signatures: This lesson presents four time signatures: 4/4, 3/4, 6/8 and 2/2. The importance of the beat (or pulse) and how beats are grouped into the various time signatures is discussed.
Download The Music Tutor (mtutor15.zip) SHAREWARE or go to their site Carner Enterprises and check out their violin and cello downloads!

The Music Box Version 2.7
The Music Box Version 2.7 requires Windows 95 and a sound card. This download upgrades all previous Music Box Versions 2.x for registered users.
Welcome to the newest version of "The Music Box - A Personal Ear Trainer". We keep adding new features to make your ear training sessions more challenging and complete. Please feel free to download the unregistered version and visit their web site from time to time to check for the latest releases which are available to registered users at no charge.
Point and click dictation - no music paper needed
Point and click sight singing, click a note and it plays
Point and click on intervals, triads or seventh chords and they play!
Practice any group of intervals from ½ step to an octave
Practice major, minor, diminished and augmented triads
Practice dominant, major, minor, major-minor, diminished and half-diminished sevenths
Practice intervals, triads and sevenths individually or in dictation sequences
Create dictation melodies in either the treble or bass clef
Practice melodies with eighth notes, quarters, dotted-quarters, half notes, dotted-half notes, whole notes and quarter rests
Up to 30 intervals, triads or sevenths in a dictation sequence
Up to 60 notes in a melodic dictation sequence
Set your own tempo Meters - 4/4, 3/4 , 6/8 or no meter
Choose a key, let the computer pick the key or do not use a key
Wide variety of instrument sounds
Print out blank music paper
Include a measure of beats to become accustomed to the tempo prior to melodic or rhythmic dicatation
Music Notes based on Tip of the Day metaphor with helpful notes on "The Music Box" and historical tidbits
Practice recognizing major, minor and a variety of other scales
Practice recognizing the church modes
A visual metronome to help with practicing or learning rhythms
Triad or Seventh dictation sequences based on the same root or random roots
Many other features to make the program a flexible and powerful ear training tool
Two options for downloading "The Music Box"
1. Standard .zip file that you will need to unzip. VERSION 2.7 Available NOW!!! Download the program to your download directory. Then unzip the files into a directory of your choice, preferably "C:\Program Files\musbox32" or something similar. Read the readme.txt file that is included in the zip file for details. Click here to download 260 kb zip file or go to their site Carner Enterprises and check out their other downloads!

From the Family Games - Notecard web site: - NoteCard is a small program with a simple purpose: to help the user learn to read the musical notes, and to recognize them instantly. Although fluency in note-reading is only one aspect of learning to read music, it is the most tedious to master; yet it is a vital skill that is as important to reading music as facility with the times tables is to arithmetic.

The quickest way to learn the notes is by means of flashcard drill, and this is what NoteCard provides. There are 12 levels of difficulty, covering an expanding range of notes, until the entire staff (optionally both staves) has been mastered.

If you or someone in your family is just beginning to learn to read music, NoteCard will help you.

AHA! Software, Inc. FILE NAME - nc_inst32.exe - 426K Click Here for this Freeware DOWNLOAD

Piano Chords - Virtual Piano
Learn piano chords on the Virtual Piano.   Click on any variation and the chords are displayed on the piano keys and the notes used are listed under the keyboard!!  A great tool for beginners who want to learn chords and more advanced players who would like to brush up on their inversions!!
This neat application can be used online and added to your webpage!!  You can Learn Piano Chords online or Download here.  Its a small download at only 9.3kb .zip plus its FREE !!

Thanks to Colm Mac Cárthaigh for providing this free script.
Visit his Website http://www.clubi.ie/colmmacc/

Sight-Singing Trainer 1.2
If you need to improve your sight-singing skills then Sight-Singing Trainer may help. Test your accuracy by singing the notes presented in short exercises displayed on the screen into a microphone. Sight-Singing Trainer will check your accuracy and correct any mistakes. This version will expire after ten uses, at which time a registration key will be required to continue using the program. Click Here to download demo ssinger.exe 117.19K Shareware or visit the authors site Fast and Soft.

A great, open-source xylophone applet!
Fun to play the xylo; educational too.
See the music being written as you play.
Playback features included. Source included! - courtesy of Java Boutique who have a host of great musical java applet programs - FREE! Click Here to try it out ONLINE and/or DOWNLOAD!

Visit our Vocal Software Section for free Spectographs, Articles, Reviews, & Free vocal software.

Downloads page for more great Free Fun and Educational Music Software Downloads.