Should I sight-read hands separately or hands together?

Try to always sight-read hands together. Having said that, if you’re a beginner and you’re still learning the treble and bass notes, consider starting hands separately and then hands together once you’re familiar with the notes in both clefs.


FOR MORE INFO >> How to Sight-Read Both Clefs at the Same Time & FREE Exercises

General Questions on Sight-Reading

When sight-reading, try to look at least one beat ahead which can mean looking several notes ahead, depending on the piece. To do this effectively, learn how to read groups of notes.


FOR MORE INFO >> How to Look Ahead when Sight-Reading

If you’ve been playing piano for a while and you still can’t sight-read music, it could be due to several reasons:

  • you don’t practise sight-reading on a regular basis
  • you memorise the moment you learn a new piece and don’t use the score
  • you always learn pieces hands separately
  • you lack music theory knowledge
  • you lack technical skills


FOR MORE INFO >> 10 Habits to Avoid When Reading Music & How to Break Them

Learning to sight-read is a long process. How long it takes you to learn sight-reading will depend on how much time and effort you devote to reading music every day. If you only sight-read once a week, it’s going to take you much longer than if you sight-read every day.


FOR MORE INFO >> How Long Does It Take to Learn Sight-Reading

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  • Roger Dalton says:

    Just starting sight reading and of course hit some wrong notes. But since I’m playing through the music without stopping, I don’t always know when I’m playing a wrong note. Is that a problem?

    • That’s a good question. I think it depends on why you are practising sight-reading. If you’re not preparing for a sight-reading exam, I think it’s fine to slow down or to stop when you hear a wrong note and correct it. People (me included) give the advice of never stopping but I think this only applies when you shouldn’t stop – either during your sight-reading test or when you’re accompanying someone and you need to play in time with the other player. In the early stages, I think it’s important to develop the skill of detecting mistakes when you’re playing from the score, by ear if you can rather than by checking the piano keys. Ideally, you should sight-read at a tempo where you can play as accurately as possible while also keeping in time. If you find yourself hitting wrong notes all the time, then it’s probably an indication that the music is too difficult for you to sight-read or that you are taking it too fast. I hope that helps.

  • Emmanuelle Fonsny

    Emmanuelle Fonsny

    Emmanuelle Fonsny, or Manu, is a piano and violin teacher, composer and accompanist based in Sydney, Australia. She is passionate about sharing her love of music and her sight-reading and practice tips to help other pianists become more confident sight-readers.



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