Andreas C. Lehmann and Reinhard Kopiez

in Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780199298457
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology


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Sight-reading is defined as the execution – vocal or instrumental – of longer stretches of non- or under-rehearsed music at an acceptable pace and with adequate expression. Some people also label this ‘playing by sight’ or ‘prima vista’. Similar to improvisation, sight-reading requires the instant adaptation to new constraints, which places it among those that motor scientists refer to as open skills. This article briefly looks at how music notation is perceived and then moves on to the structure of sight-reading, taking into account the real-time conditions under which it takes place. This includes a discussion of perceptual and problem-solving issues. Finally, the article outlines the course of skill acquisition with its characteristic differences between novices and experts, and presents a model of sight-reading performance.

Keywords: music notation; sight reading; problem solving; skill acquisition

Article.  4939 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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