The benefits of Sight-Singing; piano playing tips from Melanie Spanswick

Today’s video blog focuses on sight-singing; an important and frequently overlooked aspect of musical learning. If you can build sight-singing into your practice regime, it will help you develop a secure sense of pitch.


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Can't Play, Won't Play says:

    I’ve seen people do this from either standard music notation or solffa in assorted Christian places and it really is quite a skill that to me cannot be nurtured in any old Tom Dick or Harry (as we Brits say). I’ve tried ‘la-la’-ing major scales from root to octave, and various intervals in succession but even though I can sing them perfectly, if it was written down on a piece of paper then for me it was virtually impossible to pick out a tune from it, apart from say 1-3-5-8 major or minor, which I’d play and play and play until my head was on the verge of going in my vain attempts to learn the piano. I think I can just about do it with ‘Johnny Todd’, however I know the tune anyway consequently the object is defeated.

  2. Simple things I use are – I play a simple tune and ask my pupil to sing it back and then find it on the piano – great for the jazzy minded pupils but not everyone (adults!) likes to sing so I start with just one or two notes and show them how I do it as my singing is not good and they usually laugh at my singing first! Well worth practising and I use paul harris “improve your aural” books with some pupils to practice alone πŸ™‚ Your vlogs are great Melanie!

    1. Thank you Ceinwen and thanks for your excellent, helpful comments too πŸ™‚

  3. Can't Play, Won't Play says:

    For me, the singing back was the best part of the exams I did as I have a pair of really good ears for music. Pity about the rest of the blooming things though. If I hadn’t taken any AB exams, I might have enjoyed the piano much more than I did so.

  4. Bn the miserable sod who sabbotages every post with negativity says:

    Go away misery, dont learn the piano if u dont want to. Ab exams are superb.

  5. Can't Play, Won't Play says:

    Bn the miserable sod who sabbotages every post with negativity says:

    November 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Go away misery, dont learn the piano if u dont want to. Ab exams are superb.

    Very wise and learned comment, sir. Do you by any chance work for the Associated Board??? Exams don’t work for everybody, it’s a fact.

    1. Happy pianist who never moans on twitter says:

      I love exams πŸ™‚ I love piano πŸ™‚ I love life πŸ™‚ I dont like moaners 😦 if you don`t like something why dont you stop doing it and move on?! These posts are not a sound board for your insecurities sweetness :_:

    2. autumnalpianistenvy222 says:

      now now children ! twitter posts are supposed to be pleasant when they are piano related πŸ™‚

  6. Can't Play Won't Play says:

    Actuallynumber six, exactly where have I ever said that I don’t want to learn to play the piano??? Open your little eyes, and you will see, my dear!!

    1. autumnalpianistenvy333 says:

      I had a teacher a few years ago who told me i was difficult as was bloody minded and although I was upset at the time I realised I was resisting everything they tried to help me with! I went back and changed ay attitude and now love learning new things. Not bothered about exams as not really got the inclination – just want to learn how to play and enjoy tunes to relax to. Learning is hard work but slowly getting there, if I cant do something then I stop and come back to it so I can enjoy it more. I also tried to learn a language and was getting no whre so switched hobbies

    2. autumnalpianistenvy333 says:

      have you considered woodwork instead of the piano? its so relaxing and the teachers tend to be more tolerant of us bloody minded so and so`s! i too had a teacher who told me I was difficult to teach and thankully it made me realise I was a pain in the rear end for moaning about being rubbish! so I stopped moaning and I feel regenerated

  7. Can't Play, Won't Play says:

    I am simply participating in debate and drawing upon personal experiences doing so. The general consensus with learning to play the piano is that it’s one big joyride, and indeed when I started to learn back in 2006 I too thought that, however I soon found out through poor experiences with teachers and exams it wasn’t at all so. Teachers continue to propagate the myth that ‘anyone can play the piano regardless of age or ability’ which I strongly disagree with. I never moan on Twitter, only on here. I have no Twitter account….get your facts straight, happy (but misguided) pianist!

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