Good resources or tips, or both, for learning sight-singing?
May 15, 2015 10:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be auditioning for a chorus in August, and I'd really like to brush up on my sight-singing, since that's part of the audition. I had rather not take a class, so I'm looking for other resources. Snowflakes inside.

I'm already a member of a couple of choruses, but I'm leaving one of them and auditioning for another. I think the one I'm auditioning for may be a bit hard to get into, so I'd like to really nail the sight-singing, as I think that can actually make the difference between getting in and not for the more competitive choruses (especially for my voice part, the lowly alto).

I'm a fairly decent sight reader -- on a scale of one to ten where one is "can read music but totally could not sight sing even the simplest piece of music" and 10 is "could sight sing any damn piece of music you handed me, including atonal music," I'd put myself at around a five or six, depending on various factors like how tired or nervous I am. I don't care about getting up to 10 -- I'm not going to audition for any choruses where that sort of ability is necessary -- but I'd like to get up to around an 8 or 9.

Does anyone have an recommendations for really excellent books to use? I have one book that's ok (sorry, I don't have it with me so I can't tell you the title -- it's a big fat spiral bound thing), but it's really just a bunch of excerpts thrown into a book without a whole lot of pedagogy to go with it. It's fine for the excerpts, but I wouldn't mind a bit of narrative, so to speak.

I'd also welcome any suggestions on the best way to go about teaching yourself sight-singing outside an actual class. I mean, obviously, the best way is to actually get a bunch of music and sight sing it until you get good at it, like anything else, but I wonder if other people have particular methods that helped them get from, say, a five on my one-to-ten scale to an 8 or 9.

I do use Sight Reading Factory, which I find ok but a little annoying in some respects -- the inability to turn off dynamics drives me insane, for example, and it's touchy on an ipad (touchy as in sometimes won't play back or won't even play the tonic for me).

Thanks, everyone!
posted by holborne to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have and like Solfege, Ear Training, Rhythm, Dictation, and Music Theory: A Comprehensive Course by Marta Arkossy Ghezzo. It helped me brush up my sight-singing a couple of years ago for a similar situation to yours. It comes with a CD of the exercises so you can check yourself against that. Of course, you're right that practice is the most important thing! You can (and should) always drill yourself with any music you have lying around. There are a lot of books that are collections of little sight-singing pieces. I feel like you can't really go wrong with any of them! Good luck with your audition!!
posted by hansbrough at 1:34 PM on May 15, 2015

Best answer: The book you have is probably one of the Robert Ottman books.

The best thing I did for my own sight singing ability was 1) to learn to use solfege, and then 2) to sing songs I already knew on solfege. Like, CONSTANTLY. Sing along with the radio, on solfege. Sing along with the Muzak in the supermarket, on solfege. Going at it backwards like that really helped cement the sound and muscle memory of the different intervals and typical Western music gestures. Then I would practice the Ottman exercises or whatever on solfege, to help train the relationship between the appearance of the notes on the page and the intervals. Those two things brought me from "perfectly acceptable" to "pretty freaking good actually."
posted by KathrynT at 1:49 PM on May 15, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you! I actually tried doing solfege along to my iPod last night, and it was pretty helpful. (Who knew that the last line in the chorus of The Caesars "Jerk It Out" was "1 1 3 1 1"?)
posted by holborne at 11:45 AM on May 16, 2015

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