Awesome Giveaway + Review: SightReadingMastery

SightReadingMastery Giveaway and ReviewWho doesn’t love sight reading?

Let’s back up:

Who hasn’t struggled with sight reading– teaching or learning?

It’s one of the hardest skills…

But it’s also one of the most important.

That’s where SightReadingMastery comes in.

Today we have an awesome giveaway with SightReadingMastery, a site that wants to help you teach and learn sightreading.

Does it really do the job?

I was pleasantly surprised when Evan, a reader and music teacher from Texas, emailed me about SRM.

He says SRM was created because he wanted to make learning and teaching sightreading easier, and because it’s such an important skill that we struggle with.

Read on to find out if SRM really makes it easier for people to learn and teach sight reading… and enter the giveaway to win a LIFETIME account. (Worth $348/year)

This review is a completely honest account of SightReadingMastery.

Enter the Giveaway for LIFETIME Sight Reading

How SightReadingMastery Works

You get a certain number of passages per month to sight read, and they’re added to your log as you go through them.

  1. Each passage is different and you can choose from 3 grade levels.
  2. You can listen to the passage that you sight read to gauge your playing.

All the passages that you don’t use will carry over to the next month.

And there’s a free trial: they’re confident. That’s always a good sign. :)

Usability

SRM works on a monitor and a tablet, but I used my tablet because I like to prop the tablet on the piano stand, like it’s sheet music.

Usability Details

First Impression: The Tour

I’m not one for “wordy tours”. For some reason, this tour lost me halfway through.

Details

My impression of it is that it shows you every feature, it doesn’t let you try or teach you how to use anything.

So I basically skipped the rest of the tour. And I got lost. On the “Setting” page.

Wait, what are the features again? Where did the nav go? What’s going on?

There’s no way to bring back the tour, and there’s no FAQ page.

So here’s my tour for you guys (in case you’re stuck). :)

See Tour
The Log

Press the logo to get here.

This is confusing because when you’re not logged in, the logo takes you to a different homepage; there should be an indication or ‘Log’ link.

This is where your past sightreadings are; you can always view them again.

It’s more like a home screen– you get more sightreadings by pressing the blue button.

SightReadingMastery Review

Settings

Edit: Now there’s an actual settings link under the dropdown.

Press your name in the corner for the settings page. (Hover for menu if you’re using a mouse.)

SightReadingMastery Review

Sight Reading

This is the good stuff. :)

This is what a sightreading passage looks like:

SightReadingMastery Review - Passage

Sight Reading Details

I’m impressed with the range of style of the sight reading passages: Blues passages and Andante passages, and so on.

The passages are never repeated once you see them, and they’re added to your log.

I like the concept: it’s simple and easy to use (once you get the hang of it), plus I didn’t find any bugs.

Listening to the passage after you play it is a great idea. So far, they’re accurate recordings (from what I’ve played).

I compared a couple passages to the corresponding ABRSM grades, and they’re pretty good about staying with the grade level.

The colour blue for the “Listen” button is really distracting though, especially when it’s on every sight reading page and right under the passage itself.

Teaching

I tried SRM with a couple of my students, and they liked the system too. :)

It’s easy to use in lessons because all the passages are “right there”.

Teaching Details

Evan tells me that the passages are written especially for SRM, so there’s a very low chance that you’ve seen them before.

The ‘Listen’ function is super useful because I can talk through it and we can go through rhythm exercises, but it would be great if there were a way to scrub to certain spots to point out error spots.

I also like the range of levels (for different students), but there’s no way to sort the passages in the log by level, although you can reuse those passages.

I suppose it wants you to generate new passages for different students, but what if you run out for the month?

See My Peeve

The Confirm Screen

SightReadingMastery Review

This is my one peeve.

There needs to be a way to turn off the confirm screen after you press “New SightReading”.

It really breaks the flow.

The only time we really need this reminder is when we’re learning how this works.

After that, it’s an annoyance.

Maybe a checkbox saying “Don’t ask me again” would work better. Or maybe have a pop-up only if the reader stays on the passage page for less than 10 seconds (in case they pressed it by accident).

SRM is trying to compete with the traditional sheet music, so it needs to be easy to move from one passage to another.

Quotas

I wanted to see if you can go over your quota and be charged extra, or what happens when you run out.

So I had a couple sight reading sessions with my students. But, something happened…

See Quota Details
SightReadingMastery Review

On one hand, I did request a lot of grade 3 sight reading passages at once, but I’d requested even more grade 2 passages before that.

There should’ve been at least 100 of each grade, since that’s the plan that I’m on.

But I’ve been assured that it doesn’t happen a lot.

And since the grades aren’t absolute, we switched grades…

SightReadingMastery Review

Nothing happens. No extra charges; you just can’t sight read anymore.

I like the way it calls me by name, but there’s no way to quickly upgrade or buy separate passages.

As a side note, the entire message is very redundant, and it would be smarter to include an option for upgrade and have a catchy title.

Plus, when is “next month”? The next calendar month or the next payment term? There should be a date somewhere.

“Whoa” makes me think I’m doing something wrong. Which I’m not.

From time to time, you get free sightreading passages– they’re delightful surprises, but I’d rather get the full amount of passages from my plan than random freebies.

Design

I pay a lot of attention to design– its can destroy even the best service (and sales).

See Design Notes

Overall, the design does what it’s supposed to. There’s a clear flow where your eyes are supposed to go.

But, it’s generic: there’s low brand recognition and the level of trust is low at first– this is important because SRM is a web service.

The quotations on the homepage are effective and they do pull you in, but the email subscription box is too wordy (and adds clutter).

Logo and Header

SightReadingMastery

The logo is strong, it’s easily recognizable and simple, but the proportions of the logotype (“logo text”) can be tweaked. (Plus it’s too close to the logo = no breathing room.)

The header is valuable real estate.

That’s where people look first, and that’s what should be consistent throughout, unless you have a different variation of the site.

The design for the “member” area isn’t different enough to justify a different header. It’s almost like “oops, I forgot to add nav links in” but there’s no way to go back (unless you log out).

SightReadingMastery Review

Edit: The social media buttons are now gone– a clean header– yay!

I wouldn’t put social media buttons (or anything unrelated to the brand) in the header because:

(a) people associate that with the brand, and

(b) people will seek you out on social media anyways if they like your service.

Having the buttons once on any given page is really enough; I see social media up to three times on one page.

Pages

The structure of the website is clean, but the way it’s used is cluttered.

People like to scan pages, and if it’s not scannable, they’ll leave.

Titles should be short and snappy, and sum up the content. Buttons shouldn’t have more than three words as a rule of thumb. Three words in a button is pushing it.

I like the colour blue for the “call to action” places, but again, it’s too wordy.

My design senses tell me that the pages are imbalanced; the secondary titles should be smaller than the header titles (and neither should be wordy).

Pricing

SRM offers 3 types of paid accounts, which is super smart.

Pricing Details

The only way that the accounts are different is the number of sight readings per month.

I’d like to see bonus functions as the accounts get more expensive.

For example, even the ability to sort sight readings into mini accounts for each student, for ‘Teachers & Studios’, would be great.

I see a small 30-day refund policy in the corner of one page– I’d push the 30-day refund and the 7-day free trial a bit more around the site because it’s something worth knowing.

Please note: At the time of writing this review, SRM included grade levels corresponding to ABRSM levels 1-3. As of Dec 6th 2015, this has been removed.

The Verdict

At its core, SightReadingMastery is awesome.

Design and user interfacing aside, the concept works really well. It can definitely use a couple tweaks, but there’s tons of potential and I see something big in the making.

In the future, SightReadingMastery will include sight readings for new instruments, so keep your eyes peeled!

Try it free for 7 days until Dec 28th here.

With that said, I’ll only give away what I’d use myself. ;)

Giveaway

SightReadingMastery ReviewArtiden is teaming up with SightReadingMastery to give away one lifetime “Re” account to a lucky reader!

The ‘Re’ account has 100 free sightreadings per month, for life. This is worth $348/year– did I mention “forever”? :)

To Enter

Leave a comment with one sight reading tip you have. (It can be something you’ve learned.) That’s it!

Bonus Entries:

Please leave a new comment that includes all of your bonus entries (and include a link if applicable).

Giveaway ends on Dec 24th 2012, midnight PST, and the winner will be announced here shortly afterwards.

  • 1 – 10 entries per person (see below for bonus entries).
  • Open to anyone worldwide; you’ll be contacted by email.
  • If you’re under 18, you will need to obtain permission from a parent or guardian.
  • The winner will be chosen randomly, and will have 14 days to respond before a new winner is chosen.
  • Please note that by submitting content to this giveaway (e.g. tips, photos), you are giving us permission to use the content in any way we see fit (e.g. reproduce, display, modify).

Good luck! :)

The Winner

Coolios, our winner has been randomly chosen on random.org! Congratulations to Joey, #39!

57 Comments

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  • Nadia December 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    This is great! This sounds basic, but a lot of my students rush right into the passages without taking note of the smaller details first, and that always gets to be the downfall. A big part of sight reading is believing in your own playing.

    I can’t wait to try SRM with my students; I’ll be entering a couple more times. :)

  • Becca December 12, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Don’t set an amount of material to go through at each sitting, instead set a timer for a set amount of time. Then just focus on doing the best you can until the buzzer goes off!

    You can use a bookmark that folds in half with a magnet on both sides to mark the last bar completed for each session. That way you never lose your spot!

  • KRISTIN S December 13, 2012 at 8:49 am

    You can use it with a monitor or on a tablet.

  • KRISTIN S December 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Email subscribed (ohwhattamess at hotmail dot com)

  • KRISTIN S December 13, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Shared on twitter:
    https://twitter.com/WLM_Media/status/279267305064644610

  • Notes on the Giveaway on Artiden | SightReadingMastery December 13, 2012 at 8:59 am

    […] is teaming up with Artiden to offer an SRM “Re” account free for life to one lucky pianist or piano teacher! This […]

  • Gail December 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Sight reading is a priority in my piano studio!

  • Nolene Smit December 13, 2012 at 11:00 am

    A very good tip!!!! Its wise to “read over” the easy parts in a sightreading passage, such as triads etc, and to look for difficult parts like cluster chords, intricate harmonies, accidentals, etc. This is especially useful in the examination environment where you only have 30 seconds to look through the piece before being marked on it. It has helped me a lot too!

  • Evan R. Murphy December 13, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Hi! Founder of SightReadingMastery here. :)

    Just wanted to let everyone know that if you sign up for a free trial of SRM to get 5 bonus entries into the giveaway, your free trial will be automatically extended through Dec 28 (three days after the giveaway ends). This will allow you time to cancel in case you turn out not to be the giveaway winner and you don’t want to pay for SRM.

    I’ve created the following blog post to deal with this and other SRM-related questions about the giveaway as they arise: http://sightreadingmastery.com/blog/artiden-giveaway-review-notes If anyone has questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me! My email address is evan@sightreadingmastery.com.

    Here’s my sight reading tip, which I learned from my high school band director many years ago: When sight reading, base your tempo around what appears to be the most difficult passage. This helps combat the tendency to play too fast, and increases your chance of getting through the piece without stopping.

    (Don’t enter me into the giveaway because I included this tip. Please give the free copy of SRM to someone else! :) )

    Can’t wait to see who wins! Thank you, Grace, for putting this all together!

  • Kelly December 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Practice Practice Practice

  • Vivian December 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Look at the sharps and flats there are in the song and say them in your head a couple of times to make a mental note of them.

  • Rei Miyasaka December 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Memorize the shapes of triads as they appear on the score (root, first inversion, second inversion, open, closed, on a ledger line between ledger lines), and as you’d lay them out with your hands.

  • Chris Clifford December 14, 2012 at 5:23 am

    Play at a steady pace and DON’T stop to fix mistakes – play through them.

  • Rusu Alexandru December 14, 2012 at 11:17 am

    SightReadingMastery is an online library of professionally composed exercises designed to
    help musicians become better at sight reading.

  • Rusu Alexandru December 14, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Shared on Twitter:https://twitter.com/andupustiu17/status/279666753867505664

  • Rusu Alexandru December 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Shared on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/allexinnoalexys/posts/433214996732677

  • Piano Related Giveaway: Win Sight Reading Passages for LIFE – Contest Bee December 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    […] is teaming up with SRM to give away a LIFETIME supply of sight reading passages (for piano and other instruments + voice). Just leave […]

  • Trina December 15, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Work on a single clef at a given time! Also try not to use the cheats like Every Good Boy Does Fine, this can take longer to convert the note while you are playing.

  • Marilyn Sitar December 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Listen to the song first on u tube

  • Ken Masters December 16, 2012 at 3:13 am

    I wish I am godlike in playing piano. I tried level 1 but hated praticing 15 mins everyday

  • Sam B December 16, 2012 at 6:09 am

    This sounds interesting. To be honnest, my wife is the piano master, not me (o:
    She recently commented about how she is missing it (she kind of left it aside when she became a young adult) and how she wants to pick it up again.

    I’m sure this lifetime account would be great for her, but also to eventually teach piano to our kids! I hope to win this, to surprise her! *knock on wood*

  • Roberto G. December 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Repetition is key. Don’t just sight read one piece, keep on sight reading pieces as practice not just songs you want to learn. Also if you have limited amount music, swap music with someone and continue learning!

  • Roberto G. December 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    https://twitter.com/bgrobmyer/status/280403795098353664

  • Feuilles partitions gratuites PIANO December 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    […] […]

  • Den December 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    My tip would be just keep practicing as you will see progress.

  • Jennifer L December 16, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Shared on Facebook and Twitter.
    My tip for sightreading: look ahead a few bars no matter where you are in the piece, to prepare yourself for what’s to come.
    On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?object_id=458271257543570
    On Twitter: https://twitter.com/416J/status/280526668400037888

  • Marc-Andre Taillefer December 17, 2012 at 5:59 am

    You can use it with a monitor or on a tablet.

  • Lynette Mattke December 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Do a little bit each day, and don’t choose music that is too difficult, so you can keep it fun!

  • Vivian December 19, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Shared on Facebook.

  • nichol tone December 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Practice makes perfect

  • daniel rotshteyn December 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Always make sure you are grounded in the key and in the time signature. The later is frequently breezed over. Also tried out the free trial and it was pretty sweet.

  • Emrah December 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Take the tempo as slow as needed in order to catch any detail on the score..

  • lindsey December 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    the biggest help for me — knowing what the song sounds like before hand.

  • Lolita December 20, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Playing the piano is tough for me. Sight reading slows me down during piano lessons.I would be so happy to be able to speed up my sightreading. It’s the only thing that I wish I could master.

  • Joey Lee December 21, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Sight-reading is a separate study from practicing repertoire and should thus be practiced with a different mindset and approach. The student should pick a slow enough tempo that they can maintain at least a 95% accuracy (the minimum percentage required for building fluency in reading determined by Language Arts guidelines based on research) and avoid stopping or interrupting the steady flow of rhythm at all costs. As such, a student must learn to FEEL the rhythm while playing – be it by tapping the left foot, counting the beats aloud, etc. – if expressive playing is the desired result.

  • Kevin Rait December 21, 2012 at 8:37 am

    At last a resource that I can work on at my own pace and develop my skill level.

  • Noel Nevins December 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Be sure that the music you’re practicing sight reading on is easy enough that it’s possible for you to play it without pauses. If you keep needing to pause to figure out notes or fingerings, the practice won’t you to learn to play evenly as you read.

  • Michaael December 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    My sight reading tip is this. Focus on recognizing intervals on the score and learn what that distances feels like with your fingers.

  • paul godwin December 22, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Understanding music theory is as important to sightreading as having fingers.

  • paul godwin December 22, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Signed up to artidens website!

  • Anthony P December 22, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Sight reading is easy once you get it.Remember the time signature which will help when keeping a slow steady pace. Gradually, do as many as possible when you are mastering sight reading and your technique.
    Ardisen:
    http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailconfirm?k=OENz0vZGPHxU0orGYAlLbRzBEgE
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sigurado/status/282505973032185856

  • harold December 22, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    My tip – use music you know. It does no good if you don’t know the music you are training on.

  • Bill S. December 23, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Always look at the piece first before you play it and make sure you have a firm grasp of where sharps and flats are.

  • Bill S. December 23, 2012 at 2:00 am

    When sight reading read ahead out of the corner of your eye so you konw what’s coming up and will not have to fumble around when you get there.

  • Bill S. December 23, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Try and gauge how slow you will need to play the piece to play correctly when you look it over the first time, but try to maintain a steady beat.

  • anthony December 23, 2012 at 4:27 am

    I’m an adult beginning piano at 45. And I’ve been strugling to find the best method to learn piano for me, at my age!!
    I really enjoy this SRM and I think this is what I need.

  • ariel December 23, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    practise each hand separately

  • Marianne S. December 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Go slow! Reading is fun. My son has a tendancy to guess at words, because they start with the same as one he knows.
    Different becomes difficult

    Just go slow!

  • Chad h December 24, 2012 at 9:11 am

    I like being able to use my iPad

  • Chad h December 24, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Great way to learn with multiple learners in the family

  • Chad H December 24, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Great program

  • Evelyn December 24, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I honestly don’t have any tips, because it’s not something I know how to teach…but I would love to learn! Awesome giveaway. :-)

  • Manuel December 30, 2012 at 7:14 am

    If you analyze the chord progressions siightreading can be easier

  • Google July 11, 2014 at 11:45 am

    First of all I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask
    if you do not mind. I was curious to find
    out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
    I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing however it just seems
    like the first 10 to 15 minutes are wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints?
    Cheers!

    • Grace Miles July 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words. I have a hunch that you’re not a spammer because you’ve provided an email address.

      The way I write is try to separate the process of writing vs editing. So the ‘writing’ part is where I try to get all the words out, not worrying about quality or anything like that. The ‘editing’ part is cutting down on words, so I can go crazy when I write.

      And don’t worry, some of my blog posts take 20+ hours with 200+ revisions. I don’t think the time is ‘wasted’ per se, it’s just spent doing something not as efficient.