I've seen some sight reading how to guide and they all touch on things like look at the key signature, don't look at your fingers, when you play the wrong note, keep going, know the rhythm, look over the piece to find some patterns.

but what it doesn't say is how you read ahead, like practice reading ahead while you get the notes right. But what do you do? do you have to train yourself to see the notes on the keys when looking at the sheet music? how do I memorize the first bar and play it while memorizing the second bar?

2 Answers 2


It's pretty well what we do when we read out loud from a text, so chances are you can already do it in this situation. Transferring it to dots and black and white keys just takes practice. Start with simple pieces at grade I sight-reading level, where each hand is separate, and most of the notes (if not all) are within a handspan. By placing your fingers and thumb over the appropriate notes, there's no need to look at them. thus your whole sight can be on the dots.

Read the first bar, then play it, without reference. Go back, read it again, and slowly play it while looking at the next bar. it's a gradual process,, and eventually you'll move on so your hand has to slide sideways for the notes that would otherwise be out of reach. Still look one bar ahead, and think along the lines of 'the next note is on the line higher than the one I'm on now, so it's two steps away from here'.

Always play the scale from the key you're about to sightread - it gets you in the frame of mind of that key. 'I've got my D major hat on now'.


It is a great ability to read ahead on any piece on any instrument but it is a talent that takes a long time to refine.

The first step to doing this is to learn how to play without looking at what your hands and feet are doing, this will mean that your eyes are always able to be on the sheet music. To learn this, try to get (or make) some extremely simple sheet music where all successive notes are one or two tones distance from each other. Don't worry about timing at this point but just try to play the next note by feeling where the keys are then check if it was right. Eventually remember the whole bar and play the piece in the right time signature at different speeds in different keys.

When you have mastered the above try to memorise a whole bar, while playing this first bar slowly, look at the next bar and try to memorise as many notes as you can. Play the piece slow enough and try to even use a metronome until you can remember the first bar while reading and remembering the next bar. At this point you can play the second bar and read and remember the third bar and so on. At this point speed up the process and increase tempo and complexity of pieces you do this with. Don't ever think that you need to go the tempo of the original piece all the time but start at a manageable tempo and then increase it until you have reached the desired tempo.

To initially learn this process, which I still haven't mastered due to a lack of practice and motivation, I created a couple of sheets of one handed sheet music where there was one note per bar. I got to the point where I could play this at a significant tempo and memorise two to three notes ahead.

Good luck in this learning process!

  • could you share those sheet's you created? Nov 15, 2017 at 15:21
  • I literally just got sheet music lines and wrote one random whole note per bar, I a man unsure of exactly where I put them and how I would upload them
    – user30646
    Nov 16, 2017 at 11:28

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