Why Should I Bother to Learn Sight Singing?

Any new skill is going to take some amount of effort to develop. But many times the end result is worth the effort.

Think back to your early days before you went to school. You could talk, but you couldn't read. All those marks on pieces of paper were a mystery to you.

Now you can pick up a book and read for enjoyment. You can read road signs. You can read labels in stores. You can read information online. Was it worth the effort to learn to read? I think you'll agree that it was.

In the same way, learning sight-singing will open up a whole new world for you. Learning sight-singing is the sort of thing that no one ever regrets.

What Is Sight Singing, Anyway?

Sight-Singing is the ability to pick up a piece of vocal sheet music and sing the notes on it accurately, based only on looking at the paper.

I like to compare it to learning a new language. If you want to understand a new language when you read it, you will probably end up putting in years of study in order to understand even a little bit.

On the other hand, if you just want to make the sound of a new language, to read it aloud, or perhaps sing it, you can usually learn to do that within hours. Especially if the letters have consistant sounds.

Music is like that. It would take years to understand everything about the music on the page. That is intuitive to many people. They see music as mysterious and ethereal. Something they could never understand.

But music is also like a language that only has 12 sounds in it. If you can learn to distinguish among them on the paper, and make the appropriate sound at the right time, you have it.

Some people think sight-singing involves having perfect pitch. If you see a 'G', you sing a 'G'.

That's not it at all. If you're singing by yourself, it doesn't really matter if you're singing the right notes, just that the relationship between them is correct. You can sing the same tune but in a different key.

Three Categories of Singers: Which Are You?

You might be a serious singer, someone who has been singing in school choirs, church choirs, or community choruses most of your life. But you've never had the occasion to learn sight-singing. If that's the case, we have some good news for you.

Or you might be a musician but not particularly a singer. Maybe you play the piano or guitar, or a wind or string instrument.

You can read music well on your instrument because playing a certain note involves putting your fingers in a certain place. But you really have no concept of what that note will sound like. We can help you take your musicianship to the next level.

Or, you may be a person who has never studied music in any form. Your music-making consists of singing along with the radio, or in the shower.

You may think that music is like some mysterious language that you could never learn. We hope to show you that it's not as hard as you think, and almost anyone can learn to sing from printed music in a relatively short time.

Serious Singer

If you're a serious singer, it will probably be clear to you why you need to add this skill to your arsenal. For one thing, people will assume that you have it, and if it turns out that you don't, it could be embarrassing.

If you're planning on going to college to study music, you will need to learn sight singing at some point in your education. And the more that you know beforehand, the better you'll be situated. You'll be ahead of the class on everything, and you'll come across as the singer with the most knowledge and talent.

Even if college isn't in your plans, a knowledge of sight singing will save you much time in learning or evaluating new songs. If you can evaluate a song without needing an instrument nearby, you'll have a big advantage over those who can't.

Also, knowing sight singing will open up opportunities that you might never have otherwise. The skills of sight singing are mostly transferable to writing music down. So if a melody occurs to you, you can write it down on staff paper without needing an instrument at hand to figure it out.

Non-Singing Musician

For the instrumentalist or casual singer, an ability to read vocal music will make you stand out among your peers. Most of them can't do it, and if they see that you can use that skill whenever you want, you will gain a lot of respect.

The instrumentalist is used to using a fingering and having the correct note come out. If he can know what that note is supposed to sound like before it happens, he'll be way ahead of the game in every area.

For the casual singer, if you sing in a church choir or a community chorus, you can help the singers around you learn the music by singing it right from the very beginning. It will save you time for every new song that you want to learn if you can sing it accurately right from the page. Directors will be eager to have you in their group if they know that you can sight-sing. They know that you'll be an asset to those around you (no matter whether your voice is good or not).


For the non-singer, sight singing seems like magic. The impression is that only skilled musicians can do it. But that impression is dead wrong. It doesn't take musical background to learn to sight sing, and if you can do it, you'll seem like a magician to your friends. Imagine talking to one of your singer friends, and demonstrating how the music goes in a new song that he's learning.

What Do I Do Next?

Of course, if you learn sight singing, you might decide to be a singer, rather than a non-singer. Having that skill opens up a lot of possibilities for you in terms of hobbies or fun activities that you can participate in. You can choose which of these opportunities to pursue, but it's a good feeling knowing that you have the talent to do it if you want to.

Whatever your level or lack of sight-singing ability, we have courses that will help you improve. Go to our Courses page and see what will help you take the next step in your Sight-Singing adventure.