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For singers, sight-reading is the Holy Grail. If you can't sight-read, you will have to spend many tedious hours learning your music. Your choice of repertoire will be limited by how long it takes to learn, and your options for future choral work, be it amateur or professional, will be severely limited.
But to be able to pick up any piece of choral music and sing it accurately at sight may seem an impossible dream. So how can you master the art of sight-singing?
There is no magic secret here. And though it's true that some people seem to be able to do it instinctively, for most of us sight-reading only comes through practice. Andrew Wright, a choirmaster of many years' experience, has written this series of articles on sight-reading for you.
Sight-reading is largely improved through plenty of music-making. In short - mileage. Mileage makes perfect. If you want to improve your sight-reading standard, you should endeavour to read music daily in some way for a period of time. Once a week at choir practice will help. But if you want to make some real progress, you need to sight-read every day.
See if you can take music home from choir practice, or get a copy of some material that you can read through yourself regularly - ideally marking things as you learn. Be sure to go to practices regularly.
Books are invaluable for picking up ideas and techniques, and there are plenty available to choose from. Look for the right one for you. This will depend on how much sight-reading you've done already and what approach suits you. Above all check that sufficient technical examples are given, and practice is offered for each stage and concept.
Andrew Wright, Master of Music, Brentwood Cathedral
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