How to Sight-Read Choir Music


Most choral groups require their members to sight-read music. Sight reading requires the ability to look at an unfamiliar piece of written music and sing the notes assigned to the singer's part. It calls for a knowledge of musical notation and a good ear for rhythm and intervals. As with any other art, learning to sight-read is a matter of practice and study.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet music
  • Keyboard, piano or synthesizer
  • Learn the music staff for your voice part. Female singers and male tenors read from the treble clef, which has a curly symbol that looks like an "&" sign. The names of the lines are E-G-B-D-F from bottom to top, and the spaces are F-A-C-E. Male baritone and bass voices read from the bass clef, which has a symbol that looks like a backward C. Its lines are G-B-D-F-A from bottom to top, and the spaces are A-C-E-G.

  • Learn standard rhythm notation. An open oval equals four beats. An open oval with a stem equals two beats. A closed oval with a stem equals one beat. Every flag on the stem of a closed oval cuts the length of the note in half: one flag makes a half beat, two flags makes a quarter beat.

  • Learn the standard intervals. This is the difference in pitch between two notes. The most common training for this involves associating intervals with the first two notes of well-known songs.

  • Find sheet music for songs you are familiar with. Read along as you sing a song, either by yourself or along with a recording. This will reinforce the meaning of the symbols and make intervals more familiar.

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