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  • Writer's pictureEfrain Munguia

Ways to Utilize the Sight-Read to Succeed series; Part 1

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

This blog will be divided into two separate blogs, and will include four sections: 1.) Criteria, 2.) Rhythm Rudiments, 3.) Scale Warm-Ups, and 4.) Sight-Reading Exercises. This first part will include the first two sections.


These pages list all of the possible key and time signatures, rhythms, and other criteria that one can anticipate to see in that level's sight-reading exercises. All student-books, as well as the teacher's book, contain a list of such criteria. I feel it is important for students to see what can be used in the upcoming exercises.

Key Signatures I have utilized these pages to introduce keys and the scales that associate with those keys. We expand on this by connecting finger-patterns to each string on each instrument; e.g. what will the finger-pattern look like in the key of b-minor on the violin's G-string? Students answer with extended 3rd finger and half-step 4th finger. We then take this knowledge and put it to use in the Scale Warm-Ups.

Time Signatures After keys have been covered, we move into time signatures. Students must understand the importance of time signatures and also understand how they work. In my experience, students ALWAYS remember what the top number means, but always struggle remember the purpose of the bottom number. Their understanding of "the type of note that gets the beat" seems to go in one ear and out the other. That is when I utilize the example of four quarters and a dollar bill; using the quarter as a quarter note, and the dollar bill as a measure. "How many of these quarters can fit into this dollar"? I slowly start to see that light bulb turn on and they understand. I then expand this into other meters to test their understanding. "So in 4/4, the bottom number tells us the quarter note gets the beat. What about the meter of 6/8?"

Rhythms Following keys and time signatures, we move onto rhythms and what the student can expect to see. I will begin to incorporate the elements of the criteria pages into our warm-ups at the beginning of class, but now with rhythms. For example, I will ask students to warm-up on a b-minor scale in 3/4, with a rhythm from the criteria page written on the board.

Rhythm Rudiment Pages

Following the criteria pages are a plethora of rhythm exercises that the director may use in a number of ways. These pages only contain rhythm patterns in the meters that are assigned to a particular level. For example, level II Rhythm Rudiments will only contain rhythm patterns in 4/4, 3/4 and 2/4. Below are different ways a director can utilize these exercises:

  • Teacher demonstrates the rhythm before students play

  • Students count/clap/shadow-bow rhythms before performing

  • Teacher plays one measure as students listen; students then repeat that measure as the director performed it (Call & Echo)

  • Teacher claps a random rhythm on the page and students figure out which rhythm the director is clapping

  • Teachers assign a rhythm exercise to a section(s) and students perform their assigned section. Example: Violins, play exercise #1; Violas, play exercise #3; Cellos & Bass play exercise #4.

  • Play the exercises with open strings

  • Play the exercises as a scale (each exercise is 8-measures in length)


To be continued...

Keep an eye open for the 2nd part of this blog. It will include insight on our Scale Warm-Ups and Sight-Reading Exercises!

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