Today I was reviewing my sight-reading ability with Celine, from S&C Music. Amongst her advice, she gave some sage guidance: “sight-reading is the most important educational skill to learn when it comes to playing the piano because it empowers you to understand and play music faster.”
Imagine preparing to read a speech in your native language. As you are comfortable with the words and grammar, you can remember the address’s content quickly, and you can then focus on quality delivery and how it sounds. You may even be able to read the speech once and remember the essence of what it’s about and be able to present immediately. Now, imagine attempting to perform the same speech, but you are doing it in Mandarin, or Greek. It would clearly be more challenging to learn, and because you are unfamiliar with the language, your focus would be on each seperate word. You can see that it would be much more challenging to prepare the speech in this scenario.
I experience this myself a few years ago when I moved to Italy to work in a resort spa. I did not know much of the language before I started, but I soon learnt how to speak Italian but ONLY related to the Spa and fitness area. Oh yes! I could give a perfect tour and instruction in Italian (albeit with a distinct British accent) in the gym and was very comfortable with this. However, when a guest asked me something I was not expecting, such as when asked about sanitary products, I lost the conversation flow. It wasn’t until I learnt the grammar and a more numerous vocabulary that I became comfortable in all conversations.
The point is that sight reading is like learning the language of music and is the gateway to playing a multitude of songs and styles- and this is what everyone loves to do!
So is sight-reading enjoyable?
Well, think of it like this. Sight-reading is like going to the gym. You may not enjoy the process of working out, but you do enjoy being slim with tight abdominals, right? There you go. Consider sight-reading as your piano “work-out” and fluent playing is you looking great on the beach!