Ten years ago I inherited a wonderful band program from a talented teacher. Included were a large, clean room with well-kept equipment, a great library, and a giant metal bookshelf full of oversized purple binders. The latter struck me as odd. I opened a binder to find hundreds of pages of snippets for sight reading, coded by number and letter. The theory was that you’d have students grab a binder, then, after randomly calling out a letter and number, they’d sight read the associated piece.
It was a great pedagogical tool, but not particularly reproducible because of the difficulties presented by copyright. And those books were huge as they had to offer a range of examples to last each year. They also challenged the structural integrity of music stands, and after a binder fell off and squashed an oboe, I became a little less enthusiastic about the idea. Certainly there was a better way.
Today SmartMusic has introduced ten levels of sight-reading exercises, graded by level. To locate them click on Find Music on the left side of the Home screen to see “Sight-Reading Exercises” as circled above.
These exercises are through-composed by musicians and arranged in increasing levels of difficulty for your students’ benefit. Each exercise opens with a “curtain” down so you can’t see the notation until you click Start Take. Then the curtain is lifted and you have 15 seconds (or longer if you wish) to study the exercise before playing.
Check it out and let me know what you think by clicking on “Comments” below.