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Sight Singing

I can't sight sing.
 
I'm an expereinced singer that has been singing seriously since the age 7. I've sang in various school choirs, but my main training comes from singing in a boys choir for 8 years (I was a soprano for 5 years, and been singing low bass since then). I've got a very good ear, and an excellent memory for memorizing music (part of the reason, I believe that I never learned sight singing).
 
I just began my freshman year, and I'm taking piano and voice lessons, and I am involved in a number of vocal ensembles. Unbelievably, even after my considerable vocal expereince, I still consider myself to be a relativley weak sight reader. I can pick ocasionally pick apart a tune very slowly, but it is very difficult for me to sight read reliably for the first time.
 
My question is, does anyone have any tips for how I might increase my sight reading skills? It's becoming very frustrating.
Replies (7): Threaded | Chronological
on November 10, 2012 10:05am
Ethan -- John and Ann have given you great expert answers.  I just want to say:  don't get frustrated; stick with it.  I was in the same boat, about 35 years ago.  I'd always learned pitches from someone else, and since I could play piano, that's how I taught myself my parts.  So when I heard other people sight-singing, I was shocked; it seemed almost like magic.  But if I learned, you can too, and you'll soon get the hang of the basics.  
 
To repeat terrific advice from ChoralNet and elsewhere that I've taken to heart:  "sing with your ear."  That is, learn sight-hearing or knowing what an interval sounds like from seeing it.  Once you can hear it in your head, then singing it comes naturally.  
 
There are some great "training wheels" too.  Here's a list of songs for interval recognition posted by Virginia Commonwealth University:  http://www.people.vcu.edu/%7Ebhammel/theory/resources/macgamut_theory/songs_interval_recognize.html.  
 
Go for it!  chris 
 
on November 10, 2012 10:56am
I have been teaching sight singing for many years, and I often see among my students good singers that are weak readers.  I think that many singers learn to sing at an early age by ear and the brain doesn't learn how to make the connection between sound and visual perception.   You need to create that connection.
Practice makes proficience.  The more you do it, the better you get at it.  Any sight singing book will help you if you practice every day, at least 15-20 minutes.  Using solfege syllabus for pitch and conducting for the rhythm are helful.
Good luck!
 
Manena
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