Singaporean students tend to perform worse at the sight reading portion of the ABRSM piano examinations than their counterparts from other countries. It is noted by many international ABRSM examiners that the pianists in Singapore tend to perform well at other segments of the exam such as pieces and scales, but not at sight reading. Almost all the examiners state that Singaporean students perform quite poorly at it. Here are some tips to help Singaporean pianists perform better in the sight-reading segment.
First of all, students should start with easy sight-reading exercises to gain confidence and fluency in playing. This allows you to focus on reading the music accurately without being overwhelmed by technical difficulties. Now, as you feel more confident and learn how to read sheet music accurately, you can gradually increase the technical difficulty level as you become more comfortable sight reading on the piano.
Second of all, before you even begin sight reading and playing on the piano, it is important to identify key elements such as the time signature, key signature, and any accidentals. Take note of any recurring patterns or motifs in the sheet music. This will provide you with valuable clues about the overall structure and direction of the piano piece.
Third of all, Singaporean pianists should pay close attention to the rhythm and pulse of the music. One of the common mistakes that Singaporean pianists make for the sight reading portion of the ABRSM piano exams as noted by the examiners is that they can be technically accurate when it comes to playing the notes, but the rhythm and entire melody sounds like it was played by a robot with no emotions. Take note of dynamics and articulations. Sight-reading is not just about playing the right notes, which is the most common mistake pianists in Singapore make. Pay attention to the dynamics as well as articulations as indicated in the sight reading sheet music. This will add expressiveness and musicality to your sight-reading performance, which is commonly lacking in Singaporean pianists’ playing during the sight reading performance of the ABRSM piano exams.
Fourth of all, getting a good piano teacher in Singapore will help you accurately spot a lot of the potential mistakes you may be making as mentioned above, and hence help you immediately improve your playing. A tutor will help you fast forward your learning on the piano.
Last but not least, you need to get in practice sessions. Many pianists in Singapore love to spend endless hours on the pieces segment of the ABRSM piano exams, but virtually zero practice sessions on the sight reading segment. While the mark allocation is lower, piano sight reading is still a very important part of the exam. Make sure to get in enough practice sessions for it.