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Unread 07-25-2007, 09:47 AM   #1
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Sheet Music

So, I want to join advanced choir next year, and a requirement is that I will have to be able to read sheet music. I can sing in key, and many times, I play the vocal melody on the piano as I'm singing a song so I know which notes I am singing. I know what my range is, what notes I can/cannot hit etc.

Do you have any tips on how I might be able to teach myself to sightread sheet music? I don't really have any sheet music around the house except for a bunch of beginner piano books. Also, can "real" singers just look at a piece and be able to sing it, or do they need a reference note?

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Unread 07-25-2007, 10:17 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by CDBongo View Post

Do you have any tips on how I might be able to teach myself to sightread sheet music?
Sightreading, especially for vocalists, is all about learning what any given interval sounds like. Once you get your starting pitch (to answer your other question, no, it is not required that "real singers" have perfect pitch [i.e. the ability to sing a piece on tune without a reference point to start from], though they should have good enough relative pitch to sing all the way through a piece after hearing the starting pitch), you should be able to go through the song knowing how the tune will sound (and, thus, how you should sing it) by looking at the intervals between successive melodic notes. How much you stay in key depends, largely, on your vocal technique. If you have poor technique or just a poor ear, you'll tend to go flat as you get to the end of the piece unless you've had a piano or other instrument plunking along with you throughout.

My advice would be to sit down at your piano and play through a piece of vocal music you've never seen before and sing along as you play the melody on the piano, but stop after every pair of notes and re-sing them, making a mental note of the interval you've just sugn. You need to get in your ear what each musical interval sounds like (it helps if you name the intervals as you sing them) so that you can know how to sing them when they come up in music you're sightreading.
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Unread 07-25-2007, 10:30 AM   #3
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You could also learn sight reading using solfege. It assigns a syllable for each note of the eight note major scale: Do, re, me,fa,so,la,ti, do. Do is the root note of the scale so if the song is in the key of C, then Do is C. Sound of music anyone? "Do a deer, a female deer; re, a drop of golden sun,..."
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Unread 07-25-2007, 10:38 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by presbystrat View Post
You could also learn sight reading using solfege. It assigns a syllable for each note of the eight note major scale: Do, re, me,fa,so,la,ti, do. Do is the root note of the scale so if the song is in the key of C, then Do is C. Sound of music anyone? "Do a deer, a female deer; re, a drop of golden sun,..."
Yes, that would also be very effective. The nice thing about learning solfege is that it makes learning intervals easier, because you're always using the same syllables for the same intervals. You'll come to associate a perfect fourth with "so-do" or "do-fa," for example, which helps a lot with the memorization aspect of learning all the intervals. Eventually, you'll look at an interval in the music, think the sound of the interval in solfege, and then be able to sing it.
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Unread 07-25-2007, 12:39 PM   #5
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So intervals is an important key? That makes sense. I'll try that. Thanks
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Unread 07-27-2007, 06:10 PM   #6
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The best way to learn to sightread is to do just that, sightread. I have always been a good sightreader but, as with anything, the more you do it the better you become.
I also agree with the solfege suggestion. If you practice with this you are also focusing more on the notes than the words.
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