Three Great Websites to Help Practice Sight Reading

  1. Rhythm is one of the most important things in sight reading. You could approximate the melodic shape, hitting only half the notes, but if the rhythm were correct, it wouldn’t sound half bad. Practice Sight automatically generate rhythm exercises of various lengths to work on. I’d recommend practicing these things a few ways: (1) clapping the rhythms, and (2) playing them on a single string on the guitar. Rhythm studies are actually a huge part of any college level ear training course–I had to buy an entire book of them (a $50 book!).
  2. Guitar School Iceland. Everyone knows about this website. My particular favorites for sight reading are the collections especially the “Guitar Moments I-IV,” which are graded. The “Guitar Tunes” collection is also good (all single line melodies).
  3. The Boije Archive is a collection of 19C guitar music. Once you’re a bit more confident in your sight reading, try reading through the various 19C guitar methods: Carcassi, Sor, Aguado, Coste/Sor. Or try reading through easier etudes. Sor’s Op. 60, 44 and 35 are all good options.

(1) Playing in time, (2) playing the correct rhythms, and (3) playing the correct notes are all important in sight reading. Being in time and correct rhythm are king. The right notes are nice too, I guess. Remember to try and focus on looking ahead a beat or two.

If you find yourself lost sight reading even the simplest pieces, try playing only the melody or one voice at a time. Or, barring that, you could try reading music written for single-line instruments. For instance, the Clarinet shares the same general range (on the staff) as the guitar (the guitar sounds an octave lower than written, however). Vocal melodies are also an option. There’s a lot of public domain music to be found on the International Music Score Library Project to help you out.

Just a few minutes of sight reading practice each day can make a huge difference.

Posted on in Musical Interpretation and Musicianship


  • Linda Tsardakas-Grimm
    Linda Tsardakas-Grimm

    Hello Chris, I just checked out the site and it really is excellent. Thanks for the tip!
    Regards, Linda

  • George

    Thanks for these great tips Christopher and others.

    I am very excited to announce the release of my new 95-page eBook on How to Practice Music Effectively. It is titled “Good Music Practice – A Practice Method for All Musicians.” This book is for anyone who needs to improve their music practice method.

    It is good for absolute beginners through to professional musicians and music teachers. Get detailed tips on how to practice music effectively plus info and free samples via the GoodMusicPractice website.

    Kind regards,
    George Urbaszek
    Bass Player and Music Educator