Weekend competition and review: Improve your sight-reading! Teacher’s book

Educationalist Paul Harris has written countless publications (over 500), and many have graced my music desk, both for my students (Improve your sight-reading! series, Improve your aural! series), and for my own reading (Simultaneous Learning, The Virtuoso Teacher).

This new volume (published by Faber Music) is intended to help teachers teach their students to sight-read. So just how important is a book like this? Very! I frequently run courses and workshops about sight-reading, such is the demand for finding the optimum way to improve what is essentially a demanding skill.

In this helpful publication, Paul has taken his own formulae, and carefully dissected it, step by step, running through the most important aspects, helping teachers to grasp a clearer understanding of how to ‘put it across’ easily to their pupils in lessons (always a challenge).

The book opens with much written information covering what must be considered before playing a note (I’m very keen on this; good sight-reading begins with sound preparation). Teachers are then guided through the most vital steps. After a note on how to use the book (and the Improve your sight-reading! series), everything is examined from developing musicality, to multitasking (which runs through the basics, such as rhythm, note and melodic patterns, verbalising, reading ahead, remembering the key, fingering) and the crucial Super Golden Rules. Handy sight-reading warm-up tips appear, before moving to the main body of the volume, which works through copious musical examples (in a similar manner to the Improve your sight-reading! series, but with more practice tips to implement in piano lessons).

Based on the Grade 1 – Grade 5 (ABRSM) piano exams, there are several stages of learning for each grade; each one focuses on a particular element (stage 1 in Grade 1 highlights the time signature 4/4, the crotchet beat and rest, and the key of C major, for example). These stages are clearly set out at the beginning of the chapter (for every grade), alongside an Activities notice board which seeks to explain various activities to be introduced to students whilst working through the corresponding chapters. Once the various stages have been worked through (with a page of musical tests for each one), we move onto Grade 2.

This book succinctly explains how to address the sight-reading factor, and teachers will no doubt find it a practical, convenient volume to keep at the side of the piano.

I have one copy to give away in my Weekend Competition, so please leave your name and comment in the comment box at the end of this post, and I’ll announce the winner on Monday evening. Good Luck!


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.

20 Comments Add yours

  1. lynnkie says:

    I am so haphazard about sight-reading; I’d love to have some guidance!

  2. Julie Cooper says:

    I have used the “Improve your sight reading books,” by Paul Harris, with my pupils for many years. I would love a copy of the Teacher’s Book because I am sure it will give me plenty of innovative ideas to help my pupils develop their sight reading skills more.

  3. KHONG MAY LEEN says:

    I have been using Paul Harris’s Improve Your Sight Reading since the first edition was published. I did the rhythmic exercises together with my students in the class. It is both fun and effective approach. The melodic exercises are short and consist of wide range of styles. As for English language is not common for our Asian children, i get them to define the meaning of the Title or any descriptive information given. Not forgetting to label the main keys for each melody. Of course observing the time signatures,rhythm, accidentals, and perhaps pedaling (for students grade5 and above).
    Sight reading is an essential skill that every student should develop consistently in order to learn a piece effortlessly and quickly.

  4. holora says:

    This book has been hm my to buy list for a while. I would like to win a copy.

  5. Katrina fox says:

    Would love to win a copy as I have a couple of pupils who still struggle with sight-reading despite all the strategies I have used with them, so could do with some further ideas!

  6. Julie says:

    I really need to incorporate more sight reading into my teaching,

  7. Nelson says:

    Great! I am always looking for books and tools to improve my sight reading… It is a very important skill. I’d love to win one!

  8. This book sounds incredibly useful and something I would dearly love to read and use in my lessons. Sight-reading is one of the biggest challenges facing pupils and musicians in general. It is one of the areas of musicianship that I have found fazes students the most. Becoming better at it is something I feel that could liberate students and would open up wider musical experiences for them.

  9. Jennifer Smith says:

    I have found Paul Harris to be a great resource: blogs, podcasts, books, etc. I think this new book will be a great addition to any studio. Jennifer Smith

  10. Adriana says:

    A crucial book for any piano teacher. I’d love to win it!

  11. Fran says:

    I would love the book. Cheers! Oh

  12. I love the books by Paul Harris. Thanks for sharing your insight of his publication “Improve Sight Reading”.

  13. Claire Bowes says:

    This sounds like a fantastic book that I could definitely use a lot in my teaching.

  14. Erika Schilsky says:

    I used to find sight reading just as hard as my pupils do, before I started accompanying friends. I improved immensely, as you can’t just stop and have a think. You have to carry on, come what may. I never found sight reading hard on the oboe. It’s all the bands and orchestras I played in. The trouble is, you have ro be a certain standard on the piano to accompany, so sight reading is a struggle for years. Plus of course it’s 2 hands, 2 clefs etc. So any help early on, would be great.

  15. Hannah Livsey says:

    Hi, I’ve book marked your blog to come back to in the future, so much to explore! I’ve recently given up my ‘other’ job to focus on teaching fulltime. I’m working towards a teaching qualification and I’m slowly building up my library – this looks like a must have to add to my wanted list! I’d love to win a copy.

  16. maggiejcgeorge says:

    Thanks for the opportunity – I would love a copy of this book to help my students more. Thanks Melanie 🙂

  17. Lynne Hall says:

    I love to sight read. this will help me to pass it on to my students

  18. Sounds like a great book. Would love to win a copy.

  19. Lavinia Livingston says:

    Sight reading is such an important skill and I am always looking for ways to help my students become better readers. This book would be a valuable teaching tool.

  20. Antonina Lax says:

    Paul Harris is one of my favourite authors. I had a chance to see some of his books and last year I got his “Virtuoso teacher”, which made me change my approach to piano teaching and offered really useful ideas and techniques. I am absolutely sure that “Improve your sight- reading” teachers book is another one of his practically oriented masterpieces and I would love to have my own copy

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