Zhukov, Katie (2005). Good sight-readers: Born or bred?. In: Proceedings of the 7th Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference. 7th Australasian Piano Pedagogy Conference, Adelaide, S. Aust., (1-7). 12 - 16 July 2005.
The myth of good sight-readers being born with the talent persists in piano studios. Many teachers do little beyond reading through unfamiliar material in lessons. Research has revealed that sight-reading is a complex skill and identified a number of useful strategies aimed at its development. This paper will attempt to provide some directions and make practical suggestions for piano teachers by reviewing the literature on the topic and focusing on three main areas: accompanying, improvement of rhythmic errors and structural analysis. Research suggests that experience in accompanying and especially the size of accompanying repertoire are better indicators of students’ sight-reading ability than the amount of deliberate practice undertaken by students. Studies have shown that the overall sight-reading ability is closely linked to the capacity to read rhythms and that the greatest number of errors and improvement occurs in the category of rhythm. This suggests that improvements in sightreading of rhythms have a significant effect on the overall performance and are best achieved by mental rehearsal, counting out loud and the use of syllabic systems. Other factors contributing to fluent sight-reading include knowledge of period, style, form and phrase structure, which allow the performer to anticipate and correctly predict the flow of music. Training in recognition of tonal patterns and macro/micro-analyses are beneficial activities that help students develop an understanding of music.