Ginger Zyskowski: Sure Sight-Reading

Ginger Zyskowski has performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Rich Little, Jack Benny, the Mills Brothers, Milt Jackson, and played percussion for the National Touring Company of Jesus Christ Superstar - 25th anniversary tour. She also owns the Professional Drum School in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Drummers do it in All Directions

Sight-reading is important to all musicians, and a plan for including sight-reading in your practice time is essential. Often, sight-reading is overlooked in the practice studio because it can seem tedious and boring. Here is a system to make sight-reading more fun and that can be used by any musician.

This system is what I call ‘drummers do it in all directions!’ It works best with music measures lined up evenly on the page, such as beginning snare exercises or basic rhythm patterns. Some books that can be used along with this system are The New Breed by Gary Chester, Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed, and Understanding Rhythm by Michael Lauren.

To apply this system, read your music in the following directions:

  1. Left to right, the standard reading method.
  2. Up and down, start at top left measure; read down to bottom by column measure; go right to next column measure and read up to the top in a column. Continue this pattern to the end of the page.
  3. Z pattern, start at top left measure and read to end of first line; go down to the next line and read backward from right to left. Continue in this “z” pattern to end of page.
  4. Hand-to-hand, start at top left measure; read the first line with right hand only; read the second line with left hand only. Continue alternating hands on each line of music.
  5. Zigzag, start line one-measure one; line two-measure two; line three-measure three; line four-measure four; and continue to end of line and go backwards down the page.
  6. Backwards, start at bottom right measure and read from right to left including reading the rhythms backwards.
  7. Two-pagers, open out two pages of music and read line one across both pages, then line two across both pages, and continue to the bottom of page 2.