You are currently viewing Sight-Reading For Guitar – A Complete Guide For Beginners to Advanced

Sight-Reading For Guitar – A Complete Guide For Beginners to Advanced


By far the most challenging aspect of playing guitar and especially the classical guitar is the sight-reading.

Throughout the many years of teaching guitar to a whole spectrum of students of different ages and backgrounds, I can easily say that the student who has an excellent sight-reading for guitar, will dramatically achieve better results, and in a shorter time than the one who struggles with sight-reading.

But this skill can be improved with practice and regular reading. However, there are not many resources out there dedicated to only sight-reading for guitar. Even the books by the graded exams like ABRSM & Trinity College, assume that you are working with a tutor, and he will teach you how to sight-read.

Until now.

I was lucky to personally know Chelsea Green as she works in the American University in Cairo or the AUC as we call it, and she passed me the book (which is completely FREE by the way).

Chelsea did an amazing job in breaking down the process of sight-reading for a guitar into small chunks, and If you know my way of teaching you know how I like this approach.

Not only do you have all the exercises in a print format, and in many units that literally take by the hand if you are a beginner, but also it comes with an Audio and Video for each unit that explains in details everything you need to know about reading music.

Each unit is filled with exercises from a few bars to one full page, and in a variety of composers so you don’t feel bored at all.

But what I really find to be most useful is the Duets (30 original duets to be exact). Here you can test your knowledge of what you learned and play along with a second guitar to see if there is a flaw in your rhythm.

Here is the link to the book, but I strongly recommend that you keep reading just so you know the outcome of this book, the requirement, and of course the amount of effort that Chelsea put into this complete guide.

Thank you Chelsea.

Sight-Reading For Guitar Book & Video

Sight-Reading for Guitar: The Keep Going Method Book and Video Series teaches guitar players from all musical backgrounds to understand, read and play modern staff notation in real-time.

The Keep Going Method is designed to impart the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for sight-reading with efficiency, fun, and encouragement. The skill of sight-reading is difficult to develop, primarily because it is traditionally taught inefficiently.

Further, students encounter high levels of emotional discomfort in the beginning stages of skill acquisition. The method in this book is designed to impart the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for sight-reading with efficiency, clarity, and encouragement. All types of guitars apply electric, steel-string, and nylon-string.

Each unit contains brief descriptions of musical symbols, play-along duet exercises, compositions, encouragement, and methods for self-assessment. The series contains 20 units that start at the beginner level and progress to the intermediate/advanced level.

At the completion of the series, guitarists will be able to sight-read most rhythms, pitches, and other notations relevant to guitar notation.

The series also features 30 original duet compositions, of varying styles, created exclusively for this series!

sight-reading for guitar

Why Sight-Reading For Guitar is Difficult?

Sight-reading is especially difficult to master on the guitar, for a variety of reasons. Each reason is carefully addressed in this series. The first reason is due to the unique design of the instrument.

The sight-reading guitarist must be able to:

  • Play multiple pitches at the same time.
  • Find multiple locations for the same pitch.
  • Not look at her hands while reading notation.

Learning to sight-read can be emotionally uncomfortable. Since most guitarists learn to sight-read alone, they can mistakenly believe their frustration is a reason to quit. Bear in mind that all good sight-readers have experienced frustration.

They are good at sight-reading, in large part, because they developed the right attitudes and behaviors to overcome discomfort.

The main obstacle, however, is that most guitar methods don’t emphasize the most important thing about sight-reading, which is to keep going.

In order to develop the synthesis of seeing, understanding, processing, and reacting to information in real-time, students must train in playing to the end of the piece without stopping, regardless of mistakes and other distractions.

Beginning sight-readers learn quickly when paired with experienced sight-readers. This is why duets are at the heart of this method. Every unit contains exercises and compositions with play-along duets.

You, the student, will play the Guitar 1 part of the duet along with the recording. The recording contains the Guitar 2 part, which is played by the more experienced sight-reader. The recording will not stop playing when a mistake is made, which will inspire you to keep going.

What to Expect?

The series consists of twenty-two units in total. It starts at a beginner level and progresses to an intermediate-advanced level. Each unit contains two sections: theoretical and practical.

The theoretical section presents descriptions of musical symbols. This information can be learned from the video at the beginning of each unit, or from the written content directly below the video.

Knowledge gained in the theoretical section is applied in the practical section, which contains sight-reading tips, attitude tips, and play-along duets. Along the way, you will encounter hundreds of stylistically diverse duets and dozens of original compositions created for this series by an internationally diverse group of composers!


At the completion of this series, guitarists will be able to sight-read most of the notes playable on the guitar, intervals, basic chords, time signatures, key signatures, challenging rhythms, ornaments, expressions, articulations, navigation symbols, dynamics, tempi, notations for specialized guitar techniques and much more.

More importantly, guitarists who have successfully completed the series will cultivate useful attitudes and behaviors for sight-reading for guitar. This method does not teach every notation applicable to guitar music.

However, it does impart enough theoretical knowledge and practical skill for guitarists to successfully guide themselves toward a comprehensive understanding of guitar notation.

What is the Requirment?

No prior knowledge of music theory or modern standard notation is required. In other words, when it comes to music theory and sight-reading experience, you can be a complete beginner. Of course, you will need a guitar. All types of six-string guitars in standard tuning can be used: electric, steel-string, or nylon-string. You can use a pick or fingers to play the exercises and compositions.
A minimum level of intermediate playing technique is required. You are ready for this series if you can play scales and switch chords in medium-fast tempi. This series does not teach guitar-playing techniques. However, links to existing resources about relevant techniques or music theory are included for further study.


Chelsea strongly advises printing the scores and sight-read from hard copies. The collection of exercises and compositions, entitled Keep Going Scores, is available in the Appendix.

Sight-reading for guitar is easier to develop when scores are at eye level, preferably on a music stand. This placement ensures good posture, easy page-turning, and consistent skill acquisition. If printing is not an option then you can sight-read from soft copies, which are available in each unit.

Two Types Of Users

Two types of learners can use this series:

  • Self-learners are individuals attempting learn on their own. If you are a self-learner, please strive to maintain a positive attitude and accurate self-assessment.
  • Guided-learners are students under the guidance of a teacher. If you are a guided-learner, please play the duet exercises and compositions with your teacher in place of the play-along recordings. Teachers are encouraged to make assessments and further recommendations.

How to Access & use the series

This series is designed for a variety of learners in a variety of contexts. As a result, some content is available in several forms:

  • Theoretical information exists in video and written form at the beginning of each unit. I advise you to learn from the video and use the text as a reference.
  • Scores for the play-along exercises and compositions can be accessed as a PDF printable collection in the Appendix and can be viewed online in each unit. I strongly advise you to sight-read from the hard copies.
  • Audio files of the play-along exercises and compositions can be accessed at end of each unit and as a downloadable collection of MP3s in the Appendix.

If you find this post helpful in any way, please consider sharing it with your friends on Pinterest.

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] If you really want to boost your guitar level and take your sight-reading seriously, then I strongly recommend that you read this article about Sight-Reading for Guitar: The Keep Going Method. […]


Thanks for sharing this great tool!