I have been playing violin for about 6 years now, and I can read music for it pretty easily. The thing is, I attribute that to me having the muscle memory related to positions on the violin, as I don't actually understand the intervals themselves.

I have also been singing in several choirs in the last year, and this new choir I just joined accepted me even though I can't sight sing, because they deemed it was good enough that I could read the bass line rhythmically and that I could replicate the notes of my fellow basses on the fly.

However, I don't feel like it's enough. I feel like I am being a drag on the progression of the choir because I can't just grab the music sheet and know what to do right away. I was trying to figure out how to sight sing, and I was wondering if anyone had any hints on how to do it, and how long it should take, considering the following:

  1. I don't play the piano, which makes it harder for me to replicate bass lines easily. (I could, of course, play on the violin but transposing is something I find exceptionally hard, specially across clefs.)

  2. My musical theory knowledge is not very developed. I understand the sheer basics needed to play the violin at a recreational level.

  3. I don't have a music teacher right now. I.e. I would be learning to do it by myself.


  • I think this what you mean by reading of sheet music is a question of solfege. Look up this tag and if you don’t find an answer there come back here and maybe you can precise your question. Jan 25, 2019 at 6:57

2 Answers 2


Try out the methode READING BY WRITNG

In your case with basic knowledge this will mean:

Play and sing the scale of the song you want to practice and notate it on a sheet (staff and clef)

always using the absolute and the relative note-names. Sing all kind of variations of intervalls of the scale:

  1. doredomidofadosodoladotidodo (the scale up and back tobthe root)

  2. domi refa miso fala soti lado tire do

  3. etc. the scale in fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths, octaves ...

  4. sing the triads and tetrads

(don’t forget to notate these exercises - later you can jump this step)

This will take you a few minutes but you can practice it mentally the whole day where ever you are and what ever you’re doing. You have to get addicted of this, it has to be burnt in your brain, your inner ear.

  1. Listen to the song you have to learn
  2. Play along your voice (violon)
  3. Sing your part with text (only a few bars 4 or 8
  4. Sing the same part just by note-names (rel. and abs.) and use the hand-signs
  5. Control your singing by accompaning with the violon
  6. Try to play and sing a few bars by heart, imagine the sheet music with closed eyes and with the hand-signs.
  7. Notate this short phrases and compare your result with the original.

If there are too more than 3 mistakes try a shorter phrase.

You will see that you won’t have to write down the whole song, you wiil discover the benefit of this methode for the training of your inner ear, your solfege training, sight-reading and instrument playing.

One basic conditions I haven’t developed here is the knowledge of the note-lengths, as I assumed this was not your problem.

  • When you say reading by writing, are you referring to dictation? Jan 25, 2019 at 10:38
  • this can be implizite but for dictating you'd need someone who dictates to you. No, I mean: you have to get the music in your mind and notate it. (as a child who has no idea of reading or writing but knows the capital letters and their spelling will be able set it's thoughts on a paper and so it learns reading by writing. This method would also benefit for adult migrants by the way, to lern the alphabet and the spelling and reading in a foreign language.) As everybody has some children or baby songs or Christmas songs in his heart so reading might start by writing this "inbuilt" phrases. Jan 25, 2019 at 10:50

This sounds more of a confidence issue than a musical problem to me! How do you KNOW you're jumping to the right note on the violin, particularly when there's a change of position? I think you're 'hearing' the note more than you admit.

But we all have room for improvement! Use the violin. If you find it hard to read bass clef directly, get some manuscript paper and transpose some of the choir music into violin range. Sing as you play. It won't hurt your bass clef reading to be able to sing from treble clef as well - pianists do it all the time!

  • "I think you're 'hearing' the note more than you admit" Do you mean that they have some sight-reading ability but don't realise it? I can't tell what you mean in the 1st para.
    – user45266
    Jan 24, 2019 at 23:39

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