Are you frustrated over how long it takes you to completely memorize a complex piece of music for the piano? Would you like to learn ways to make playing sheet music as easy as reading a newspaper? If the amount of time it takes you to learn to play piano music makes you want to quit piano altogether, read on for a list of tips and techniques that you can learn which can make sight reading music for the piano much easier and more enjoyable.

1) Stay with it! The more you practice your musical sight reading, just like the more you read books, magazines and other materials you like, the faster and easier it will become. Reading, and sight reading, is just like any other skill or talent that you might have. The more you engage in the activity, the better you get at doing it. Engaging in reading musical pieces that you enjoy will support and strengthen your skills even if it is not a piece that you are planning to use for a recital or something that has been assigned to you by your piano teacher.

Debussy Preludes sheet music

2) Relax while you play! Mistakes are a part of learning, and worrying about being absolutely perfect will actually cause you to make more mistakes! While you are learning to sight read, take it easy on yourself! If you miss a note, or forget a dynamic, fumble a slur or mis-use a pedal here and there, it’s OK. Keep going with your playing, and move on. Stopping to correct yourself interrupts the flow of the music, and keeps your brain from reinforcing the connections that are necessary for sight reading in the first place.

3) Pay attention to rhythms. Rhythms often pose a problem for beginning students. If you are having trouble negotiating a particular rhythm in a piece of music, take a moment to think about what it is that is giving you trouble. Begin with pieces that have identical rhythms and play those exclusively until you master the timing. If you can develop exercises that incorporate the challenging patterns you will help to train your fingers to perform the progression better the next time you come across it.

4) Focus on reading a single clef at a time. If you have no problem with rhythms, but notes pose a problem for you, you may benefit from dividing the music into its clefs and approaching it that way. If you find that either hand poses the majority of the problems for you, you can rest one hand while you continue to play using the other one. Run through the notes, ignoring the tempo and rhythm if necessary.

5) Get used to key signatures. Some keys are more complex than others because they incorporate a large numbers of sharps and flats. Begin by finding pieces of music that are written in simpler keys before you move on to something more complicated. Repeat the same technique when you move to a different and more difficult key. The more you play in that key, the more your fingers will retain their muscle memory and make each successive performance easier. Add even more power to this by using scales as a part of your daily finger exercises.