Before You Start…
1. Check out the key signature.
2. What key are you in?
3. Is it a major or minor key?
4. How many beats are in each bar?
5. Is there a tempo marking?
Quickly scan the piece to root out surprises. Is it in mixed meter? Are there tempo changes? Any hidden high notes? This is all helpful information.
Get Your Note
Play the opening chords, or at least your first note, on a piano. The more information you and your ears have, the better.
Tap the Beat
Establish the beat for yourself by tapping it on your leg or collarbone. This will help you stay in rhythm when things get crazy.
Practice singing with a metronome to get your rhythms as accurate as possible
Rhythm, Pitches, Words
If you start to get lost, this is your order of priority.
When you practice sight reading, words are not very important; sing “la la la” if you have to.
Pitches, while important, are not as important as the rhythm in sight singing.
If you sing the wrong pitches and the right rhythm, you’ll know exactly where you are in the music and be able to catch yourself, even if it sounds bad. If you sing the wrong rhythm, on the other hand, you’re in danger of losing your place in the music and having to stop.