Posted by Doug Whitten on February 03, 2003 at 12:16:28:
In Reply to: Sightreading question posted by anon on February 02, 2003 at 23:07:38:
Different auditions utilize sight reading for different reasons. In an orchestral audition, sight reading is used to see if you have a depth of repertoire knowledge beyond just the excepts. In other auditions sight reading may be used to determine how quickly it will take you to prepare music, or solid your knowledge of scales, intervals or rhythms is.
Ideally (obviously), in sight reading you will play all the right notes at the right time in the right tempo with an artistic and informed style. And indeed, this should be your goal. But in the world of reality, all you can do is strive to do the best you can with what you've got.
To directly answer your question, which is the greater priority, notes or tempo, I would submit that neither should be the deciding factor. Rhythmic accuracy and musical style may be better predictors of success in a sight reading audition.
As was stated in the "depends" reply, the way to get good at sight reading is to do it often. To put this in perspective, there are only so many notes and rhythms that exist. The more music you play (sight read and "work-up")in practice the more prepared you are to "sight read." Simply, in terms of probability, the more that you sight read in practice, the more likely that you will have already seen a piece of music when it shows up as "sight reading" on an audition.