- Read the notes in groups. Find the starting pitch and look for scale steps, skips, and familiar patterns (such as triads, seventh chords, scales in thirds, etc.).
- Think relative to the key. Learn to hone in on specific notes that you are likely to see, such as the root, fifth, and seventh (the leading tone).
- Practice reading small chunks at sight. Put on the metronome, read a single measure in your mind without playing, then play the measure in time with your eyes closed. Repeat this process with larger chunks, always with the metronome, always in time.
- Visually break the measure into parts. Most meters can be broken into halves. 4/4 is two chunks of two beats, so always identify beat three with your eyes - in cut time, this is "big beat two." 6/8 is two groups of three eighth notes, so look for the fourth eighth note, again like the second big beat. 9/8 has three big beats, and 12/8 has four.
- Use the big beats as landmarks. Try to notice if you are playing on the big beats, or if you are resting, or sustaining through with long notes or ties.
- Tap the subdivisions! Speak the rhythms while tapping steady subdivisions. I find it helpful to tap with two hands on my lap, always starting with the right hand, and always alternating hands. For example, when subdividing eighth notes, the downbeats will always be in the right hand, upbeats with the left. In compound time, I tap the big beats with the right hand (think RIGHT, left, left, RIGHT, left, left).
Good luck, and remember to COUNT OUT LOUD!