I've just finished a big project - re-writing all the wind sight-reading books to support the new syllabus. Often people ask me whether I enjoy this kind of work and my answer is absolutely yes!
There really is no excuse for pupils to find sight-reading 'difficult', unpalatable, or in any way, a less enjoyable part of their learning.
It's really a question of making no assumptions about what our pupils really know or understand and simply ensuring that they get the sequence of thought that will enable them to sight read accurately, fluently and confidently. Here's what to do:
1. Pulse MUST be understood. Can they simply clap a sustained and even pulse? In two, three, or four time (which will do nicely for the first few grades). Do they understand what this means?
2. Can they then subdivide this pulse? Clapping crotchets and thinking, speaking or maybe singing quavers for example. Or tapping crotchets with one hand and quavers with the other. But not just doing it - it's doing it, and really understanding what they are doing.
3. Can they then look at an appropriate sight reading exercise (rhythm ones always first!) - tap the pulse with one hand and the rhythm with the other, or play the rhythm on one note, or sing the rhythm (always whilst tapping the pulse, with a foot maybe or with a metronome). Do they really understand how the rhythm fits the pulse? They MUST! By the way - if it's 'difficult' it's the wrong one to be doing!
4. Do they really know the key? They MUST! Play the scale lots of times. Not a few times but LOTS of times! They must know the scale.
5. That's it really. Then they will know what to do - they will understand (properly understand I mean) the rhythm and the pitches. And that will mean there will be sufficient brain space for them to put the expression in as well!
Be scrupulous about this. Don't cut corners. And your pupils will thank you for it more than you can know!
Here's a useful (and short) video that explores these points:
The new series covers Flute (Grade 1 - 8), Clarinet (Grade 1 - 8), and Oboe, Bassoon and Saxophone (Grade 1 - 5). Hope you enjoy using them and find them helpful.