Sight-Reading can be a very intimidating thing for piano students. We take a great deal of time teaching students how to practice to perfect pieces, and although they may not enjoy doing so, at least they get to do it without having an audience present. On the other hand a significant part of being a musician involves playing from scores that you have never seen. Hence, the need to practice sight-reading. The difference with practicing sight-reading is that you cannot stop and correct mistakes. You cannot play the same exercise multiple times because then you are not sight-reading! When using printed sheet music exercises for sight-reading practice students tend to practice in the same way that they practice their lesson pieces. All of this can be very frustrating for both student and teacher. That’s why in my opinion the iPad app SightReadPlus is such a great tool. Read on to find out why I think so!
Appearance: There is no clutter here! SightReadPlus has a very simple appearance which is free of distractions. If you have students with ADDHD, autism, dyslexia, or students who are very easily distracted (as I do) then this app is definitely one to try in your studio! I also like the appearance for older students (teens and adults) because it does not have a cartoonish feel. Lastly, I’d like to point out the calming blue background. I’m not sure if the developers chose blue intentionally, but I love it because it counteracts the tension that the idea of sight-reading can evoke.
Cool Features For Students: When students ace an exercise they get a fireworks show! Another great thing is that the app is designed in such a way that the student can do it independently. Hand position guides prevent the necessity of the student having to ask the teacher “where do my hands go?” There is even a finger number guide to help the student as well. As if that were not enough, the student can also touch the Rhythm button to practice clapping the rhythm before attempting to play the exercise. That’s right, no embarrassing moments here!
Cool Features For Teachers: First and foremost is the fact that this app is used with your acoustic or digital piano!!! It listens to the student play his or her instrument and gives immediate feedback. The ability to track an unlimited number of students by name is brilliant! Many other apps only allow tracking a very small number of students which can be quite frustrating especially when new students enter your studio. Another thing I find useful about SightReadPlus is its somewhat secret feature that allows the student to practice 5-finger patterns. This feature is tucked away inside the equally awesome Key Choice feature that allows you to choose the key of the sight-reading exercises. Finally, as a teacher I LOVE that there are 40 exercises in each level and when a student struggles with an exercise they are automatically required to do further practice before moving on. This shows the student that it takes a LOT of practice to develop sight-reading skill. According to one of my 11-year-old students, “It makes you want to get it right because you don’t want to redo the exercise!”
My Wish For Future Updates: One thing that would make this app even more amazing would be the addition of exercises that drill Grand Staff sight-reading.
Cost: $7.99 While the cost is more than a lot of other apps, there are no in-app purchases. That’s right, once you purchase the app you get to use ALL of the features!
I would like to give a special Thank You to Melissa Harris, President of Cape Cod Music Apps, Inc. for giving me the opportunity to test this app with my students. Melissa has also graciously offered one lucky reader a FREE copy of SightReadPlus for use in their studio as well!!!