Music students enjoy sight reading tools thanks to foundation grant

Special to the Bulletin
Students are using iPads to sight read on Google classroom using a sight reading subscription provided by the Brownwood Education Foundation.

Seventh and eighth grade choir students at Brownwood Middle School have been improving a specific and crucial skill for music education — their sight reading skills.

Students are using iPads to sight read on Google classroom using a sight reading subscription provided by the Brownwood Education Foundation, middle school choir director Kristi Wied said.

“Students gain confidence in sight reading as an individual," Wied said. "When students compete at All Region in the fall it is usually the first time they have had to sight read individually. This program allows the students to hear their high and low points, and fix mistakes before going to competition.”

The Brownwood Education Foundation provides grants for various teachers and projects, and Wied’s application showed a unique incorporation of technology into her classroom. STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) projects provide application for students and help ignite their sense of wonder and problem-solving, and sight reading with this resource proves to be a creative endeavor for music students, as a whole or individually.

“This program is great for the more timid or shy student who may be too embarrassed to sight read alone in person, but can produce great results when sight reading as an individual in a room alone,” Wied said.

The foundation purchased one “Sight Reading Factory” subscription per student, and students have been using them weekly since receiving them. Regular sight reading practice is key to improving sight reading ability, but it requires fresh material. The company’s website illustrates the possibilities for what the subscription offers students, such as, “Sight Reading Factory's unique algorithm for composing music on demand makes practicing sight reading easy and fun. You'll never practice the same music twice.”

Individuals can practice on iPads, exploring real music in unlimited exercises and at multiple difficulty levels. Full ensemble sight reading exercises can be projected to the front of the classroom for choir practice sight reading together. Educators can also use the assignments and recording feature as a tool for assessing their students.

These tools help students gain confidence in their personal skills, which helps them improve their social skills, resulting in positive effects on academic achievement.

“Thank you, BEF, for the grant for middle school choir sight reading materials,” Wied said. “These tools will be used in years to come to develop stronger choir members in the district.”