The Basics of Sight Singing

One teaching method that is becoming more and more popular today in singing lessons is that of “sight singing”. Sight singing is the ability to read notes and melodies of a song at first sight, and people who can do this immediately get to memorize a piece that they are assigned to perform. Sight singing is very important for people who aim to become professional singers, mainly because it speeds up their time to memorize songs and perform these properly with less practice.

But how does sight singing work?

  1. Knowing the solfege notes by heart.

The fundamental step of sight singing is by knowing the notes by heart. Students are taught the notes on the scale for them to be familiar with their sounds even when they are placed in different positions. If you have seen the classic “Sound of Music,” the protagonist Maria (Julie Andrews) taught the von Trapp children how to sing by means of the solfege notes “Do-Re-Mi,” and this is thus a form of sight singing.

Knowing the notes by heart requires a lot of practice, so if you are serious about learning this singing method, you should dedicate time to memorize the notes and their sounds by heart.

  1. Knowing the notes on the minor scale.

While we are all familiar with Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do on the scale, there are also notes in between them, thus the minor scale. Some of the intervals between these notes are lowered ranging from a half step to a whole step, and these are indicated by changing the vowel sound of the solfege note. It can be difficult to learn the notes on the minor scale, thus it is recommended that you have embraced the major notes already before moving towards this scale.

Some of the examples of the lowered notes in the solfege scale are:

  • Natural minor: do re mefa sol le te do
  • Harmonic minor: do re mefa sol le ti do
  • Melodic minor, ascending: do re mefa sol la ti do
  • Melodic minor, descending: do tele sol fa me re do

The chromatic scale only goes up in half steps, has syllables that are rarely used in most songs. While not recommended until you are totally confident at sight-singing, knowing these can help a lot in sight-singing a note in the music sheet. These notes are marked with a sharp or flat symbol.

  1. Practice singing with your favorite songs.

Learning sight-singing is difficult, but schools that offer singing lessons guide you through this technique. It is thus important that you practice as much as you can by using your favorite songs and from there you try to identify the “tonic note” of the piece. Knowing where the tonic note is, you can then sing the song in solfege.

Practicing songs in solfege gives you a more technical view of the piece you are singing. It also helps a lot that you know how to sing in solfege because it allows you to memorize the song’s melody in one sitting, and afterwards you can just replace the notes with its actual lyrics.

Sight-singing can be very tricky, but with proper guidance and patience, this chapter of your singing lessons course can definitely bring you wonders once you step out and pursue a singing career.