Daily Percussion Sight Reading

Daily sight reading drills for percussionists – improve your sight reading ability! This image automatically refreshes each night and a new piece of percussion music will appear here. The music library includes all types of percussion instruments and genres from rudimental, marching percussion, orchestral and concert, and more!

What is Sight-Reading?

An important skill for any musician is being able to read music. It’s the language we use to communicate how and what we’re supposed to do and when. Being able to look at new music and play it and/or understand it is an amazing skill! If your goal is to advance your musical ability or work as a semi-professional or professional musician this is paramount to your success. What you’re training your brain to do is identify various symbols and process each one of them to create the music that was intended by the arranger or composer. Sight-reading is a skill that takes time to develop, similar to the way we develop our ability to read books and expand our vocabulary. Sight-reading requires practice and patience, but in time your ability to read music will grow naturally.

Why Sight-Reading?

It creates confidence

Being able to sight-read music quickly can help musicians measure their ability and overall progress, and affirms that hard work pays off. Strong sight-readers also gain an edge in auditions and other professional settings where limited review time is provided before the performance.

Better ears = stronger accuracy

Being able to hear the music before playing or singing a note is an incredible skill that sight-readers develop. Sight-reading helps the ability to feel the rhythm and get the general direction of the piece by looking at the music. This improves overall accuracy tremendously because of the ability to anticipate rhythms before playing.

It’s fun

Playing the same or similar warm-ups and routine drills can often become monotonous. Being able to pull out any piece and play it can be fun, challenging, and rewarding. 

Expanded musical opportunities

Strong sight-readers may find additional opportunities to be of service to other musicians. For example, drum set or mallet percussionists who sight-read well might find themselves accompanying soloists or filling in with bands or during studio sessions. They can also play individual parts for rehearsal purposes. 

More joy 

Musicians who are strong sight-readers will find learning new music far less stressful, which can ultimately create more enjoyment and connection with their instrument and encourage long-term playing. 

Tips for Sight Reading Success

While sight-reading often improves in the background alongside general musical ability, there are various ways to ensure success when it comes to deliberate sight-reading practice. Inspired by the recent blog article, 9 Tips for Sight-Singing Success by Andy Beck, here are some practical tips for optimizing sight-reading practice:

  • Sight-read often. Every day, if possible. Without a doubt, practice pays off.
  • Isolate rhythms. Finding rudiments and other musical phrases within the piece can be helpful. Working on these passages first can help the overall piece.
  • Tap a steady beat or pulse, and try not to stop. Even if you make a mistake, keep going.
  • Review before you start. Notice the time signature and key; determine the starting note; examine the rhythms, notes, and intervals; identify potential challenges; then “sing” silently to yourself—all before the official start.
  • Emphasize independence! Perform solo or with an accompaniment that does not double the part.
  • Always look ahead. As a matter of fact, never look back. While you are singing or playing bar three, your eyes (and mind) should be preparing for bar four.
  • Don’t forget technique! Make sight-reading practice musical—a lack of support or confidence might imply errors.