In order to improve my piano sight-reading, I want to practice recognizing intervals on the staff faster. If possible I'd like to combine the interval-recognition with a training for my finger memory, i.e. combine recognizing intervals and playing them.

Is there a good exercise for doing this? Aside from, well, taking a score and identifying the intervals? I thought about preparing a practice score with only two intervals at a time, going up and done randomly. But perhaps there is a better way of doing this.

  • 1
    Sounds like a mobile app (in waiting?) to me! Commented Oct 12, 2011 at 1:23
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    I would recommend musictheory.net - they have great customisable exercises for lots of this kind of thing.
    – user1316
    Commented Oct 19, 2011 at 15:30

3 Answers 3


Flash cards can be an effective method. You can make up a few dozen cards with different intervals, with multiples of each interval starting on different notes and so on. On the back you can have the name of the interval or something like that. Then you'd play/name the top card, flip it and confirm, play/name the next card, flip it and confirm, and so on. Then shuffle them up again and switch your playing and flipping hands.

There are some examples here.

  • I guess that would work fine for identifying the intervals. However, it takes them out of the "flow" of a piece. My problem is rather this: Given a spot in a piece with the fingers on the corresponding keys, recognize the following interval and play the right key. Hence I'd prefer to train several intervals one after the other. But I guess I simply could put more than one interval on each flash card. Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 23:05
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    @FlorianBrucker It's true that flash cards remove you from the context of real sight reading. But as a targeted exercise for increasing the speed at which you can recognize intervals, they are effective. Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 7:49

I've tested many different things in years, from online flashcards to books to some sort of software and so one. By far one of the best options is Notable by The Noteable Software Company.

It analyses your reaction time and gives you the charts and statistics of your real ability of recognizing the notes, as well as a road map to the progress. It has some unique features for defining your own tests and drills. One of the great things here is, It constantly re-exam you with your mistakes to improve your ability.

Although I own an old version of it [version 5.2], but in their website they offer few options ranging from free-to-try to professional edition.

Notable Notable Notable

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    Looks interesting. Only available for Windows, though, which won't work for me. Commented Nov 30, 2013 at 22:04
  • Unfortunately, this does not appear to work on Windows 10 (an error message pops up when trying to launch the program). On the other hand, it doesn't claim that either (it says Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / NT / XP / VISTA / 7).
    – Smi
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 21:20

If you're running Windows then I would suggest RandomABC (SightRead.zip) which generates random ABCNotation tunes within a a given range. Then you could just print out random scores to test your sightreading. You could also manipulate the ABC files for any interval range you were interested.

So spend a couple of hours generating the tunes you want, print them, shuffle them up and there's your practice sheets.

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