Sheet Music: Sight-reading Tips for Kids
April 7, 2022

Many contemporary musicians do not use sheet music. This is not because it isn’t helpful; some are just not bothered to learn. Sight-reading is a great skill to have. The ability to look at fresh music on paper and play it instantly is unmatched.

Like all great skills, starting early can give you an edge. Besides having more time on your hands, brain plasticity levels are still very high, so new skills are easier to learn.

Here are some tips to help kids with the process.

1. Find lessons

Sight-reading is a professional skill that usually requires proper music education. It would be a great idea to build a solid foundation. Get a teacher for your kids to make the journey easier, as self-learning can hinder progress. Also, music education introduces them to other music theory concepts beyond sight-reading that can be beneficial to their musical journey.

2. Start easy

This may sound like a no-brainer, but in reality, many people overlook information overload as a real problem. Learning in gradual steps instead of a crash introduction is the only sure way to learn effectively. Start with simple time signatures, intervals, and fundamental note values. Only after these can concepts like dotted notes and dynamics be introduced. This way, the child isn’t burdened with learning too many things at once.

3. Repetition helps

Consistency is critical when it comes to picking up a skill. Like learning a new language, consistent practice will help internalize what has been learned. Repetition might be playing a passage until perfection. Repetition might also be attempting to sight-read many beginner-level pieces and making corrections. That way, you can avoid monotony and truly learn sight-reading as a skill and not just a passage. It is better to do little work regularly than take long breaks from the craft. Children will only end up forgetting what they’ve learned.

4. Mark the Sheet Music

Musical notation might seem complex at first, especially when it appears like a lot is happening on the paper. It sounds counterintuitive to add more to that, but words are way easier to read than music notation. Marking beats or making written notes can help recognize things when playing a passage over instead of trying to remember everything by heart. Making such markings and notes in pencil is advisable to avoid permanently damaging the music sheets.

5. Take your time

When learning the skill, recognizing notes and note values, rests, accidentals, and notations can take a lot of time. Often, you will find that children can’t play the music at the desired tempo, but that’s not an issue. Starting slow assists with pattern recognition and help solidify learned skills. Slowly building up the tempo is easier than making sudden jumps.

Sight-reading is a necessary skill for classical musicians. It has been proven to assist with foundational rhythmic knowledge, ear training, and teaching music. It also promotes language learning in kids. Ultimately, it is advisable to get kids started early to make their music journey easier and open more options to them.