See, Hear, Sing: Graded Sight-Singing For All Ages

It's difficult to find a sight-singing course that works with both children and adults. To that end, we're offering a graded, sequential sight-singing course entirely online.

We'll post new chapters periodically, as well as eventually making audio recordings available for each exercise.


Who it's for
There are many sight-singing curricula available, but none really work well for church ministry. Most are written for college or college-prep students, and others are put together with little attention to pedagogical sequence. Still others are so broad in their goals that they become unwieldy - and filled with concepts that not everyone needs to master.

"See, Hear, Sing" was written primarily for use in a church music program, although it works in other scenarios too. The layout and writing style should be suited to upper-elementary and secondary students as well as adults.

One of the challenges of music education in the church is working with students (or adults) with a wide range of musical experience and training. This course requires no previous musical experience, but it progresses quickly into basic melodic lines that are representative of music for non-professional choirs.
Because “See, Hear, Sing” is intended for church and community singers, there are several concepts that are conspicuously absent: alto clefs, angular melodic lines, and mixed meters, for example. I’ve tried as much as possible to write exercises that make musical sense, similar to what a singer would actually encounter in choral music.

Most exercises are newly composed, but some are from the classical repertoire or the folk tradition and may be familiar on first hearing. I don’t think that’s a crutch. Learning to sight-sing is essentially the process of gradually connecting what you see and what you hear, like stretching together two ends of a rope that don't yet touch. An occasional familiar melody can serve to strengthen the connection through encoding (hearing, then seeing). The bulk of the learning, however, still begins with decoding: turning written notes into sound.

I’ve also tried to explain concepts only as much as necessary for the self-study learner. Music is best learned as “sound before symbol” – that is, experience before you explain. But this approach is largely dependent on a skilled teacher, which is often not available; so simple explanations are given where they’re needed.
How to use it
Chapters are designed around concepts rather than weekly lessons, which allows for flexibility of use. Each chapter introduces a specific skill or concept and a set of graded exercises in increasing difficulty. You can start in the middle of the course if you (or your students) already have some skill in sight-reading, but once you begin, it's best to proceed in chapter order.

In order to facilitate self-study as an option, recordings are available for every exercise. They’re only a crutch if you treat them as one. Ideally, you should use them to check for accuracy, and only after you're able to sing the exercises confidently and expressively.

Recordings are sung at concert pitch (sometimes in a different octave) and at a variety of tempos. The metronome is set to click on beat units. Additionally, the piano provides chords at the beginning of each exercise to establish the key, which allows you to sing along with the recording – again, after you've mastered the exercise.