Originally posted by Texas Bob:
I was hoping for something more along the lines of the Perfect Pitch course but would instead help with sight reading. Something with sight reading drills perhaps.
In my experience, the best way to improve sight-reading is to sight-read. I don't see why a course would really be necessary, as long as you have enough sheet music to practice with....
This is all coming from a piano background, so maybe if you're on another instrument, it'd be a little different. But, if you're having trouble recognizing notes above and below the staff, you don't need to try to sight-read anything that has anything five lines about the treble cleff.
1) Find something that has relatively few chords and that doesn't go more than about 1 or 2 lines above/below either staff. It should be something that, if you practiced, you would have no trouble playing; that is, if you wanted to perform it a week from today, you'd have no trouble doing so.
2) Now, before you even touch the instrument, look through the music; notice any "trouble spots" that might be there (for instance, since you say you have trouble with chords, notice any chords). Get a mental idea of what these trouble spots would feel like to play. How will your hands be positioned? Where will your fingers be? What will this sound like? Don't feel like "sight-reading" means that you're playing a piece of music just as soon as it hits the music stand; you do have a couple minutes to look through it! You know the first two steps of the PR system? Use them on music, too!
3) Where's the hardest measure of this piece, now that you've looked through it? How slow would you have to be playing in order to be able to play this most difficult section, if you were just reading through, without practicing beforehand? Whatever that tempo is, is how fast you're going to play the entire piece, okay? This way, the beat is always steady -- I can't emphasize how important it is for the rhythm and tempo to be right because if they are right, no one will notice a few missed notes (if the notes are perfect, but the rhythm is wrong, however, the performance will not sound right).
4) Okay, now that you've previewed, and you have a comfortable tempo, play the piece! If you miss a note, a chord, a measure... who cares?? Sight-reading performances don't have to be perfect.
5) Now, repeat this process over and over, and each time you'll get a little better. When you're finding that you can easily sight-read 2 lines above the staff, then go for something that goes 3 lines above it. Then 4, then 5, etc., etc., etc.
In my experience (I've got some of it, I promise! ), there really aren't many good books on music techniques. The best things are advice, and above all, PRACTICE! Just do it!
I hope that helped.