Sight reading sheet music / Advice from a flutist / Catsup Magazine graphic text is overlaid above a light blue, low opacity decorative box, which is centered mostly covering a photograph of a music stand with Laufey's

How I sight read in daily practices

Sightreading, the process of interpreting written music notes and their symbols for playing on a musical instrument (including voice).

Figure out the key/sheet music layout

How low/high are we going? Are we using alternate fingerings? Transposing anything? Any jumping around the music with D.C. al Coda or anything else? Which symbols jump out at you?

I heart F sharp.

A fermata 𝄐 on the last note is probably nothing to plan ahead, but bar repeats should be calculated if you don’t plan on vibing it* out live-time.

*I like to vibe it out! It’s part of the sightreading fun.

Working out the tune

A metronome set to the music’s tempo would greatly help, although one is not necessary to play a piece.

Going slower than the written tempo allows for music players to focus on note placement and finger movements.

Advice: Listen to the piece after attempting it.

I like to wait to play a clip of the song to allow myself to truly sightread and attempt the piece first.

It’s funny—I have a recording of myself practicing a popular song from the early 2000’s and I remember hearing the notes but not identifying the melody while I played. Upon listening to the recording, I immediately hear the music for what it is.

Connecting the phrases

The last step to sightreading a music piece is to continue practicing! Breaking the music down and practicing certain pieces at a time can help strengthen individual phrases, which when combined will be an enjoyment-filled, beautiful playing session.

Happy practicing! Please share your own sightreading advice if you so feel like by leaving a comment or contacting Catsup via email.

Stay artful.

More flute-related content:

Five Actually Good Places to Find Free Sheet Music for Flute Players in 2024

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