Sight-Reading and Hesitation

March 4, 2020

Hesitating during sight-reading is a bad idea, and I learned this the hard way.

I had been hired to play for voice lessons at a rather prestigious music school. I didn’t know as much vocal repertoire as I would have liked, so a lot of what I was doing was sight-reading. And I thought I was a good sight-reader (and I was, all things considered).

But in one lesson, a mezzo-soprano was singing a fast Mozart aria with pretty elaborate coloratura, and I got thrown off. I only needed to play two chords per measure, but I kept second-guessing where she was in the measure, trying to follow her runs note-for-note.

We had to stop and do it over and over again. Pretty embarrassing for me.

Even more embarrassing was when they told me I probably wasn’t right for the job, and they needed someone who could sight-read better.

It was a simple mistake with a simple fix. My attention had been on the notes, when it should have been on the beat.

I don’t make that mistake anymore.

About the author

Michael Korman has played the piano in opera productions and recitals, as well as directing music at a church and coaching classical singers. He draws upon his experiences with meditation and mindfulness to inform his views on music. In addition to music, Michael also holds degrees in computer science. When he's not playing the piano or meditating, he might be practicing drawing or calligraphy.

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