ANDREAS C. LEHMANN & VICTORIA McARTHUR
From a psychological viewpoint, sight-reading involves perception (decoding note patterns), kinesthetics (executing motor programs), memory (recognizing patterns), and problem-solving skills (improvising and guessing). Sight-reading skills seem to be highly trainable and differences in sight-reading ability can be explained through differences in the amount of relevant experience and the size of the knowledge base (e.g., repertoire). The ability to perform with little or no rehearsal may be regarded as a reconstructive activity that involves higher-level mental processes. These are primarily initiated by visual input but also by conceptual knowledge and specific expectations. Common problems in sight-reading of pitches, rhythm, articulation, and expression are enumerated along with suggestions for their remediation through the use of technical equipment, practice of isolated parameters, and strategic preparations for playing.
When musicians speak of sight-reading, not all of them have the same activity in mind. Some might consider only the very first time one reads or plays through an unfamiliar piece to be true sight-reading, while others would allow the definition of sight-reading to encompass play-throughs after more extensive preparation. A conductor might even consider sight-reading to be the activity of silently reading through a score while imagining or performing appropriate conducting movements.
Rather than attempting a definitive circumscription of sight-reading, it is more helpful to picture a continuum of rehearsal, where playing a piece of music without any preparation would be located on one end of the scale while performing it after rehearsal to the point of overlearning would be located at the other end. One could limit the description of sight-reading somewhat by requiring that the music be physically played (gestured, softly voiced, or otherwise sounded) at an acceptable tempo and with appropriate expression, thereby excluding the mere deciphering of the notation, especially the tediously slow grop