I recently began learning sight singing from Robert Ottman's book.

I've gotten to the point where you should sing simple melodies, with the biggest interval between 2 notes being a major second. The book says that if you have the major scale in your head it should be easy to sight sing these melodies, but I can't.

Are there any exercises I can do to stick the major scale in my head that would make me progress in this situation?

3 Answers 3


I suggest you sit at a piano, and slowly play a major scale, but just before you play each the note you sing the pitch you think you're about to hear.

If you're feeling more ambitious you can do the scale notes out of sequence - but again try to sing the note before you play it. If you find certain intervals hard you can concentrate on those, repeating until you start to feel more confident.

Moving on from single notes, you should also try singing a run of notes from the scale, say the first or last four or five notes, and then check with the piano to see whether you sang the right notes or not.


When it comes to basic building blocks like the major scale, it's often best to learn it by playing it on a piano or other instrument until you can mimic the sound yourself.

As for repertoire, the opening of "Joy to the World" is a great descending major scale. Try singing this before the beginning of every Ottman exercise to get yourself into the key and to start conceptualizing the major-scale space.


I'd head straight for the eponymous song 'Do a Deer', from the Sound of Music. Another would be 'Scales and Arpeggios' from the Aristocats.

  • 3
    Do you know what 'eponymous' means? If there were an eponymous song from The Sound of Music, it would be called 'The Sound of Music'. Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 11:44
  • @No'amNewman - I do, except it wasn't used correctly here! I was thinking of the song that is entitled with the tonic sol-fa names. And if it were an eponymous song, surely it'd be named after a person called The Sound of Music - or in this case, more accurately, he'd have been called Do Re Mi... Go on then, what's the word I should have used?
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 13:35
  • 'Well known' and 'canonical' spring to mind. But this isn't an English language stack overflow site..... Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 5:05

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