Sight Singing: A Beginner’s Guide

sight singing exercises

Have you always wanted to learn to sight sing/read music? If you learn how to sight sing, you’ll be able to pick up a piece of music you’ve never seen or heard before and sing it on the spot.

I’ve put together a beginner’s tutorial on sight singing to get you started. All of these concepts have much deeper levels that we will explore in future posts. For now, I’m going to teach you the basics of what you need to know to start sight singing some simple melodies TODAY!

Sight Singing Step #1

The first step to becoming a good sight singer is to know your way around the major scale. You should be able to sing it a capella and in tune on solfege syllables. If you need some help with this, check out this video & article –  How To Sing And Play The Major Scale

solfege scale








Sight Singing Step #2

The second step is learning the names of the notes on the staff (treble clef most importantly). Most vocal music (other than baritone and bass parts in choral music) is written in treble clef.

sight singing


Lines- Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

Spaces- FACE






Sight Singing Step #3

The third step is learning basic rhythmic values. When you read music, the notes on the page represent pitch as well as rhythm.

sight singing






Rests are periods of silence in music. They work the same way that notes do, except they represent silence instead of sound. For example, a quarter note is a pitch that lasts for 1 beat. A quarter rest is silence that lasts for 1 beat.

music note rests







Sight Singing Step #4

Time signatures and Key signatures. For now, we are going to keep it simple and focus only on  4/4 time and the key of C Major.

(I will be posting full tutorials on time signatures and key signature in the near future.)

What is a time signature?

time signature

You can find the time signature at the beginning of a piece of music. It looks like a fraction- two number stacked on top of each other. The top number in the time signature tell you how many beats are in each measure of music. A song with a time signature of 4/4 has four quarter note beats per measure.

sight singing




What is a key signature? 

sight singing


A key signature is a set of sharp or flat symbols placed together on the music staff. You can find the key signature at the beginning of a piece of music- right between the clef sign and the time signature. The key signature tells you what key the piece of music is in and what notes are sharp or flat in that particular key.

Examples of other key signatures-

key signatures




sight singing





Key signatures might seem complicated, but really it’s just memorization. The goal is to be able to look at a key signature and think “Ah yes- I see three flats in that key signature. This song is in the key of Eb Major.” Here is a link to a great tutorial on key signatures.



Sight Singing Step #5

Practice! Here are some sight singing exercises to get you started.

Your first note is C-


First try the exercise on your own. Then sing with the audio to make sure you are doing it correctly. Using a metronome is always a good idea to keep rhythm. Try 60 bpm.
sight singing exercise




sight singing exercises






sight singing examples





sight singing exercises





sight singing







Do you have any questions about sight singing? Leave them in the comments section and I’ll answer them!


  • Dori Suess

    Reply Reply September 3, 2016

    love it love it love it

  • cody colasanti

    Reply Reply September 16, 2016

    This is a great page for everyone to use not just people in chorus but aso musicians and just anyone who might like the performing arts. Thank you mrs domulot for recommending it.

  • Debbie

    Reply Reply January 19, 2017

    I’m teaching a friend to read music and found your website. There’s lots of great info here! So thank you for that. But I was wondering why you chose to use Do, Re, Me instead of the names of the notes (C, D, E)?

    • Meghan Nixon

      Reply Reply February 17, 2017

      Good question, Debbie! I’m using the “movable do” system which is widely used for sight singing in the US. In movable Do, Do is always the tonic of whatever key you are in. For instance, if you are in the key of G, Do is G. If you are in the key of Ab, Do is Ab. All of the major scales are made up of the exact same intervals. This means that once you know the scale, you can sight read in any key. (You do need to know how to identify what key you are in from the key signature). I hope that answers your question!

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