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  1. #101

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    I started sight reading late in life. It is a struggle.

    I had a great teacher for the first 2 years age 10 and 11. Learned enough to play a little rock and roll.

    Then I got a moron for a teacher (self taught) for the next 54 years.

    In 2017 went to community college for music (1 year certificate). Had to unlearn a lot from the moron teacher.

    Wished I had learned sight reading in the beginning.

    Cosmic Gumbo summed it up.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    For those of you that are really weak at sight reading let me ask you a question...

    Do you practice sight reading?


    I've heard the various reasons why guitar is difficult to read on and therefore why guitarists are poor readers. I'm not buying it, I say those excuses are just rationalizations.

    Like guitar; on the violin, the cello, the viola, you can play the same passage at various places on the instruments. Yet, those instrumentalists tend to be good readers.

    The piano player has to read chords and bass and melody at the same time, pieces with much more complexity than guitar pieces. Yet, piano players seem to be the best readers I've run across.

    I think it comes down to this...

    Most guitarists don't practice sight reading. It's that simple.
    In terms of jazz, I reckon lack of practice reading syncopated rhythms

  4. #103

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    Reading is great, I practice it whenever I can.

    I was making money playing rock guitar long before I learned to read. Reading didn't seem necessary for the kind of music I liked. The sightreading guitar players in my local music marketplace seemed to be tired, fat old geezers who sat down when they played their big, clumsy archtop guitars with thick, unbendable strings. Not like me, or Jimi. So went the thoughts of an immature youth...

    Once in awhile I would consider a college guitar course, but there, at that time, the pick was forbidden. Jazz was forbidden. Rock was forbidden. Steel string guitar was forbidden. All the things I liked about guitar playing were forbidden! I didn't want to put my foot on a stool and play old Spanish tunes... weird. And grow my right hand fingernails... I was a nail biter, so classical guitar was definitely out!

    A bit later I did start a college music program and in the first semester they tried to make me learn about figured bass. Great if you wish to be a Bach organist, I thought. Why am I here? I thought. So I quit.

    Hindsight is 20-20 and I made a lot of mistakes as a young man. But I'm still playing, still gigging, trying to open my mind more than it had been.

    But I gotta use a pick!

  5. #104
    You sound like a great guy.
    I’m a geezer but I’m not fat.
    Your post introduced me to Figured Bass.
    Reading is like anything else. You do it or you don’t.
    I long to read Shakespeare but so far, I haven’t done it (the work).

    I don’t know why I like reading. It almost has something to do with social stuff or avoiding loneliness.
    I can sit down on a rainy afternoon and “swap tunes” Chet Atkins, Joe Pass, Ted Greene or Bach (all having left us).
    Then there’s the (rewarding) challenge of becoming a Good Reader (hard!!!). You know - like a juggler who can juggle six balls and is hell-bent on juggling 7.
    But I’m different than many here. I don’t perform and likely never will. But my guitar and a book? I love it.
    My place in my Reading pursuit: Improving at rhythm and frets 9-12. And making more time.
    What a blessing the guitar is!
    Thank you for your post. I enjoyed it.
    i LOVE JazzGuitar.be. LOVE IT!

  6. #105

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    Please, don't anybody follow my music educational path!

    As a young guitarist I got to work with many musicians who were better than me, because I had a good sound, I never played too loud, I played with a steady rhythm, I played with extremely good intonation, and I transposed by ear easily. Unfortunately I had a bad attitude toward learning and legit music studies for many years. Mistake! I lost a profitable wedding band gig because I couldn't read the charts that the trumpet-playing leader put in front of us one night.

    Biggest jump ahead was when I started playing R&B and blues in bar bands with horn sections. Key of F! Key of Ab! Key of Eb! Four hours a night! These were new concepts for a rock guy who preferred songs in E, A, G and D.

    Ah well, what the f___. Many paths to the same destination, as they say...

  7. #106

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    I think you nailed it, fep. Most guitarists don't practice reading. They practice playing.

    lindydanny's 08-24-2010, 05:37 AM post and Reg's 08-24-2010, 08:56 AM post offer a lot of good advice for those who want to improve reading skills. I would add that in that first 15-20 seconds of looking at a piece, you also want to look through it beginning to end very quickly to find the highest and lowest notes in the chart, so you can make some initial determination of the position(s) under which most of the notes will fall.

    One thing that helped my reading (and also provided fresh ideas) was to dedicate a half-hour per day to sight-reading a variety of materials, never looking at any chart more than twice. The idea was to practice reading, not to practice playing. I went through the entire Real Book 1 and Jazz Standards Real Book this way, reading each chart once cold, and then once more an octave up. The second read was an opportunity to try to do a better job the second time through and to play the melody with different fingering. After two times through, on to the next chart. At various points in school, I also read the following just for reading practice: flute etudes, bass etudes, Bach inventions, Django transcriptions, classical guitar methods (Aaron Shearer and Fred Noad books), a ton of classical guitar repertoire (Sor, Tarrega, Segovia, honestly can't remember all of it) and just anything anybody put in front of me: other students' compositions, charts at casuals, etc.

    Once you actually start to be able to read a bit, it can actually be fun, as CG points out. At first, though, reading CAN be a struggle to do all alone; putting yourself in an ensemble situation can socialize the at-first-monotonous struggle to connect eyes to hands. As a kid, I played trumpet in marching band and took group lessons on trumpet. This low-cost, highly socialized approach to learning to read really helped make those first efforts less frustrating and more fun. When getting my music degree, I read constantly on my own and in various ensembles and combos. Even if you don't want to complete a degree program, looking into any classes of interest at your community college or with community ensembles can provide opportunities for learning to read without "going it alone." Plus, as others have pointed out, reading in a group hones other musical skills, in addition to the instant reality check that occurs when the note you played doesn't fit in with what the other thirty musicians are doing. And don't worry about being singled out - most musical directors are NOT like J. K. Simmons' character in Whiplash .

    brian329's suggestion to read along (like reading a book, not with instrument in hand) while listening to playback of the music is a good one. I took a variety of classes (theory, musicianship, orchestration, arranging) in which we sometimes would read a full score while listening to playback, in order to understand the sound of a theoretical construct or an arranging technique. For a really jazz-guitar-centric approach to read-along, check out the numerous YouTube postings that Francois Leduc has created. (BTW he makes downloadable transcriptions available for just a few bucks a month.)

    Sometimes, I will just read music in bed, like reading a novel, with nothing playing it back, and without instrument in hand. This requires a theoretical understanding sufficient to hear it in your mind's ear, which is a skill that formal training will provide. That is, taking a theory class will help your reading as a side-effect. One of the biggest things that studying theory will teach you is how to understand patterns instead of reading note-to-note. For example, runs or stacks of thirds without accidentals are in-key chords/arpeggios that follow an easily understood set of rules. Once you know these rules, it's easier to read ahead and focus on the accidentals (which are out of key) instead of on the "vanilla" in-key stuff.

    Learning other instruments is another way to improve reading. You pretty much have to learn some standard notation in order to make any sort of sensible sound on a horn. And piano lays out the grand staff graphically. Regardless of what other instrument you learn, cultivating an understanding of music on more than one instrument (voice is an instrument, btw...) will cross-pollinate your musical skills. When you sing, you literally feel how far apart notes are. On a horn, your embouchre changes to get different notes out of a single fingering. On piano, you literally see how far apart notes are. And you get an interesting reality check on the fact that two notes very close together on piano (a half-step) can be very far apart on the guitar fretboard. In short, the more ways you learn to think about music, the easier it becomes to learn additional ways to think about music. The same applies to reading. Practice it as a separate skill. Practice it in different ways, and even on different instruments.

    Whenever my reading atrophies, I seek out reading situations. I play in pit bands for community theater productions and local reading bands, just to keep my skills up. As cg says, you get the book and a few rehearsals then it's time to go. It's a fairly challenging situation, especially given the odd tempo changes, key changes, and directed cuts in a typical musical theater score.

    And like cg, I enjoy reading for its own sake, but I probably gravitate towards improvising, learning tunes, and just playing a bit more than reading, so I'm again in that place where my reading is getting rusty. I'm gonna take my own advice and start reading as an activity on its own again.

    HTH

    SJ

  8. #107

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    Interesting question! As a hobbyist, I guess I learned sight-reading 6 times or so in my life, and promptly forgot it whenever I had to put down the guitar for any period of time. So at this point, I'm focusing more on the kind of stuff I'm less liable to forget 2 months from now.

    Again, this is speaking as a (probably dyslexic) hobbyist. If I had to make a living as a guitar player, you bet I would hitting the staves on the regular.

  9. #108

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    I learned to read from my first guitar lesson at age 13.

    I could read Real Book heads accurately enough to make the tunes recognizable.

    More recently, I started playing in horn bands. The reading is much more challenging in multiple ways.

    To blend with horns your reading has to be precise. Hit the note at the right moment, articulate as the chart indicates and release it at the right time. Miss any of that and the guitar will stand out like a sore thumb.

    And, most arrangers of horns are trying to be novel in their rhythmic content. So, it's not just one bar with two syncopations. It can be a 4 bar phrase with oddball syncopations in every bar. And, those horn guys, who were practicing in 4th grade, don't change the bored expressions on their faces, don't tap their feet and, usually, don't mess up.

    I have the usual shelf of books, and then some, but there was nothing in there that prepared me for big band charts. Who is going to publish a book of tattered charts, covered with pencil and ink doodles that meant something to somebody at some point, changing clef, changing key, changing time signature and with some essential details written over to the point where they're barely decipherable if at all? Counted off in dotted quarters, written in 6/8 and twice as fast as you were thinking when you first saw the chart. The uninitiated will think, wait, that's not fair!. But, I assure you, that IS reading.

    Guitarists don't do it well because the guitar tradition most of us fell into was folk, blues and rock, not the sort of band or classical music the horns and pianists have been playing since elementary school.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 04-20-2019 at 06:52 PM.

  10. #109

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    I teach all my guitar students to read for many reasons, and here are a few:

    1) Reading studies help students learn the names of the notes on the neck, especially when they learn to read up the entire fretboard. This kind of fretboard knowledge gives students the foundation they need to play many different styles.

    2) Rhythmic studies can help improvisers get out of "rhythmic ruts" and can help students understand how rhythms can be created or modified. (This can also be applied to chordal playing, especially when players tend to repeat the same strum patterns over different tunes.)

    3. There are lots of players who never learned to read, but they were not good *because* they couldn't read. With a good teacher and method book, it doesn't take forever to learn how to read and the process (my students tell me) is clear, rewarding, and fun.

    4. Oh, how could I forget: The Music! Learning to read can expose guitarists to so much great music, which is learned slowly and accurately, so it really stays in a players ears and hands.


    I spent a long time relying on my ear, and sometimes I found myself in situations where my ear was not good enough. I decided that when I began teaching (20+ years ago now, wow) I would do my best to make sure my students could become better players than me. Reading had been something my teachers (except for John Stowell) did not encourage me to work on, and eventually, I saw how it could really help players reach their full potential.


    Learn to read, or not. If it sounds good, it is good. Here's a link to my method book, The Guitar Lesson Companion, Volume One for folks who may be interested.

    Cheers,

  11. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    In terms of jazz, I reckon lack of practice reading syncopated rhythms
    Definitely. Besides regularly reading RB charts, anyone wishing to improve their syncopated rhythm reading skills might like to check out Charles Colin/Bugs Bower's Rhythms Complete. It's a slightly more user-friendly version of Leavitt's Melodic Rhythms book:

    RHYTHMS COMPLETE: KEYBOARD AND GUITAR EDITION: Dr. Charles Colin and Bugs Bower:

  12. #111

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    For those of you that are really weak at sight reading let me ask you a question...

    Do you practice sight reading?


    I've heard the various reasons why guitar is difficult to read on and therefore why guitarists are poor readers. I'm not buying it, I say those excuses are just rationalizations.

    Like guitar; on the violin, the cello, the viola, you can play the same passage at various places on the instruments. Yet, those instrumentalists tend to be good readers.

    The piano player has to read chords and bass and melody at the same time, pieces with much more complexity than guitar pieces. Yet, piano players seem to be the best readers I've run across.

    I think it comes down to this...

    Most guitarists don't practice sight reading. It's that simple.
    Each instrument family has special requirements for notation. There are some symbols and way of writing things that only make sense for a particular instrument. For example; classic guitar notation includes letters for the right hand and numbers for the left hand finger setting.

    Without hesitation I claim that prima vista for most part is impossible for solo guitar arrangements. We first have to analyze the notes and find the best finger settings for feasibility as well as tone (especially when the score doesn't contain finger setting instructions).

    "Sight-reading" and "prima-vista" is often used as synonyms, but are of different nature in practice.
    Sight-reading of chord symbols and single lead lines are often used by guitar players in orchestral situations and is business as usual. Sight-reading of a solo-guitar arrangement happens sometimes, but only after having practiced to a level the entire part has been more or less internalized.

    Your comparison to bowed instruments isn't entirely accurate, because of the different tuning and number of possible simultaneous strings, alternative fretting options doesn't present the same challange.

    You're right about the piano player having ten fingers, but so does the guitar player (12345, PIMA). For each note on the piano, there's only one possible key.

    There is no coincidence TABs are welcomed by guitar-players. The best system for guitar sight reading is a combination of TABs and standard notation.

    For the guitar player, ability to read standard notation is a valuable asset (a must), but sight reading of standard notation typically is of low priority unless we play orchestral parts (and this is where these skills are required and trained). Most guitarists will never come near an orchestral arrangement with a guitar part in standard notation. (obviously not talking about the single lead line melody in Real book.)

  13. #112

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    I think my lack of sight reading ability comes from the way I started on the instrument. I was a rock and roller to start. Then I moved towards blues. Neither had a reputation for the academic. Just pure emotion I guess. So I never cared to learn. And frankly, it wasn’t needed to crank out some Rolling Stones tunes or play some Muddy Waters or BB King.

    Today? I don’t have a reasonable excuse for it. I’m admittedly lazy and still learn by ear mostly. I do use charts frequently and only use musical notation if I’m having trouble getting a melody down by listening to it. Even then, it’s a slow and tedious process.

    Is is it better to be able to sight read? Absolutely! Is it the only way to do it? Not really. If I had to choose between being an excellent reader or a solid base of ear training I’d go with the ear training any day of the week. But... the most logical thing would be to strengthen both. So maybe it’s time to get off my butt and work on it.

  14. #113

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    Pretty sure it's NOT like riding a bike....

  15. #114

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    At this point, I'm a good reader by almost any standard, but I didn't make it a priority until 5 years ago (I'm 42) and before that I wasn't a particularly good sightreader. I made a couple very dramatic improvements that came from playing in big bands, studying classical bass, and practicing reading A LOT while I was doing lots of gigs that required reading. If there was anything I stumbled on at a gig, I'd craft exercises around it and find material to work on that kind of thing: reading in cut time where your eyes need to move fast across the page, reading ahead (a key skill), reading accidentals and things in weird keys, changing time signatures, all that stuff. It was a lot of work but last week I subbed in a big band playing extremely complex music and afterwards the bandleader complemented me on my reading, which made me feel so good!

    I think what I sometimes miss in these conversations, is why do you want to be a good reader? It is certainly possible to be a good jazz musician and play standard tunes and such whilst being a relatively poor reader.

  16. #115

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    [QUOTEI think what I sometimes miss in these conversations, is why do you want to be a good reader[/QUOTE]

    I offered a few points in my post in this thread, and I'm always happy to learn more from other players.

  17. #116

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Palmer
    I teach all my guitar students to read for many reasons, and here are a few:

    2) Rhythmic studies can help improvisers get out of "rhythmic ruts" and can help students understand how rhythms can be created or modified. (This can also be applied to chordal playing, especially when players tend to repeat the same strum patterns over different tunes.)
    Yes, ability to read note time-values (rhythm) is important. The traditional TAB-system doesn't include rhythm. (The reader is supposed to know the song by ear. The TAB is just an instruction where to fret.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Palmer
    4. Oh, how could I forget: The Music! Learning to read can expose guitarists to so much great music, which is learned slowly and accurately, so it really stays in a players ears and hands.
    Yes, isn't this how we do it? We read and repeat, bar by bar, until we have internalized it.

    But "sight-reading" as in prima vista, is something else. (refer to my previous post). I will never be able to read advanced arrangements prima vista (it's virtually impossible), why I prefer to dedicate my time elsewhere.

    In short: Guitarplayers, like other musicians, benefit from the ability to read, but are seldom in a position where sight-reading is required.

  18. #117

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    @JCat I used quotes to respond to pcscanwald's post in my reply, so I wasn't replying to your post there.

    I'm wondering if you agree that sight reading requires good reading skills, and if you want to sight read complex pieces at fast tempos, all you need to do is increase the challenges a little at a time, making sure that each new skill is truly mastered along the way.

    In a first lesson with a brand new guitarist, I introduce SMN, demonstrate whole, half, quarter, and dotted half notes, and ask them to play those rhythms using one note. Then, I show them what 3 notes look like on the staff and they are quizzed on those 3 notes, with the worksheets, until they know them cold. (People learn by recollecting!) Then we put all those skills together in a couple reading studies that they play (sight read) with a backing track. Most of the time, students can find their way though the piece ok, and if not, they have plenty of exercises to go back to, which prepare them for the reading studies. There are so many exercises and reading studies in the book, which gives me the opportunity to make sure that students have really mastered the skills, and not mastered the reading studies.

    When students are given material that is paced correctly and offers just the right amount of challenge, they can learn anything!

    I think what I'm hearing you say is: What's the point of learning to read so well that you can sight read complex pieces at fast tempos; is that right? I bet you have pretty decent reading skills and you could sight read with 100% accuracy lots of music, and I bet those great skills you already have help you learn (measure by measure until you have internalized the music, as you put it). But, I wonder if you (or someone like you) would be able to learn written tunes faster if you (or they) took a little time to develop stronger reading skills.

    So, maybe a person will never be on a bandstand forced to read a complex piece at a fast tempo in front of a critical audience, but they may want to pick out part of a Joe Pass arrangement, without taking the whole weekend to figure it out.

  19. #118
    I am older. I am not a professional musician. I play alone or with a few other amateurs. My interests are acoustic blues, Chet Atkins, classical, Jazz Standards.
    My first instrument was the clarinet: monotonic, no chords. I first picked up the guitar as a “strumming machine” - an accompanying instrument for folk and pop songs.
    But, for some reason, I wanted to “look under the hood”! That, to me, meant ”chord spellings, rhythms, key signatures, intervals.
    and, for some other reasons, I was enthralled with the core notion that I could SEE (sheet music) how Chet Atkins accomplishes Mr. Bojangles. Standard Notation has more details than tab.
    I find it thrilling to learn “sophisticated” pieces by reading.
    sometimes I deliberately refrain from hearing the tune until I’ve learned it through reading.
    So I’d characterize my reading as FUN. I can learn a piece of music from a piece of paper.
    At the same time I’m learning to actually PLAY and improvise.
    towards this goal I consult my “friends” (William Levitt, Ted Greene and Andrew Green)
    I recently watched a biography of Bill Evans. Bill said something like “I reads everything I could. I sought out pieces I couldn’t read.”
    In “The Making of Aja”, someone said Becker and Fagen sought out terrific readers. I’d like to become a terrific reader but that may never happen - but I can amuse myself.
    Finally - since people get egotistical about reading - I’ll quote Fizzy Gillespie. He said about a trumpeter he played with in Cuba: “He can’t read a note of music but he can play his ass off!”
    Reading for me is a vehicle. It allows me to hang out with Bach in a cabin with no electricity.
    To me that’s very cool.
    Peace, Jazzers. This has to be the coolest site ever!!!!
    Raiss a glass to strong fingers, no arthritis and resilient fingernails - and MUSIC!!!

  20. #119

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    Classical - sight reading might be done during practice in a recursive rubato style with frequent pauses to write fingering and position marks on the score while studying a new piece, but would any classical guitarist ever truly sightread in front of anyone other than their student or their teacher?

    Folk, Blue Grass, Old Blues, Rock and Roll - do these forms really have sight reading as part of their history?

    Pop, Country, R&B/Soul - maybe in the studio, but does sight reading ever happen in performance?

    Theater pit, cruise ships, Vegas - sure, sight reading (and many other deep skills) required, a specialty of high degree allowing the performance of new music, in some cases new music on a daily basis. How many really need to be able to do that?

    Jazz - my sense is that there are lots of kinds of jazz, based on influences (some listed above!), and the degree to which one needs or wants to sight read is mostly coming from sight reading's role within those influences... for many jazz guitarists, sight reading may be a solution looking for a problem.
    Last edited by pauln; 05-02-2019 at 08:34 PM.

  21. #120
    I am not directing this comment toward any particular poster:
    I think of “Reading” and “Sight-reading” differently.
    I have no need to “Sight-read”.
    I do have desire to “Read”.
    Reading to me is like Tab, only richer.
    And, yes. Acoustic blues is often transcribed (Stephan Grossman) made a career of that.

  22. #121

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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Palmer
    @JCat I used quotes to respond to pcscanwald's post in my reply, so I wasn't replying to your post there.

    I'm wondering if you agree that sight reading requires good reading skills, and if you want to sight read complex pieces at fast tempos, all you need to do is increase the challenges a little at a time, making sure that each new skill is truly mastered along the way.

    In a first lesson with a brand new guitarist, I introduce SMN, demonstrate whole, half, quarter, and dotted half notes, and ask them to play those rhythms using one note. Then, I show them what 3 notes look like on the staff and they are quizzed on those 3 notes, with the worksheets, until they know them cold. (People learn by recollecting!) Then we put all those skills together in a couple reading studies that they play (sight read) with a backing track. Most of the time, students can find their way though the piece ok, and if not, they have plenty of exercises to go back to, which prepare them for the reading studies. There are so many exercises and reading studies in the book, which gives me the opportunity to make sure that students have really mastered the skills, and not mastered the reading studies.

    When students are given material that is paced correctly and offers just the right amount of challenge, they can learn anything!

    I think what I'm hearing you say is: What's the point of learning to read so well that you can sight read complex pieces at fast tempos; is that right? I bet you have pretty decent reading skills and you could sight read with 100% accuracy lots of music, and I bet those great skills you already have help you learn (measure by measure until you have internalized the music, as you put it). But, I wonder if you (or someone like you) would be able to learn written tunes faster if you (or they) took a little time to develop stronger reading skills.

    So, maybe a person will never be on a bandstand forced to read a complex piece at a fast tempo in front of a critical audience, but they may want to pick out part of a Joe Pass arrangement, without taking the whole weekend to figure it out.
    Very good Susan,
    Reading skills are important, no doubt. In order to write I also have to be able to read. Guitar players, like any group of musicians, benefit from reading skills. Most of us are poor sight readers of standard notation compared to other musicians (subject of thread). But we all have different individual abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Poor readers would have to rely on the ears, and ear training is good training too.

    I just want to emphasize my understanding of the difference between "reading" and "sight-reading":

    Ability to read means I can interpret music from standard notation (with or without an instrument at hand).

    Sight-reading means that I can play music (that I may not have heard before) on first sight (aka "prima vista"). Sight-reading often means I need to be able to read ahead a number of bars.

    I sight-read chord symbols and single lead lines and double stops. But I need to analyze chord melody arrangements and classical pieces. Time required is mostly a matter of performance difficulty rather than note interpretation. I have played other instruments as well on the band stand and conclude; for me, sight reading of advanced guitar standard notation is out of the question. Guitar players shouldn't have to feel inferior to other groups of musicians because it's more or less impossible to sight-read piano style harmony finger play.

    (I document my own solo arrangements with a combination of tabs and standard notation, that's by far the fastest way for me to recall and refresh a piece.)

    There are many current threads that relate to training efficiency; -How to organize training to get results?

    I would encourage people to learn to read. The few of us that need to be able to sight-read will know.

    Some people here probably would like to sight-read melody lines from Real book, that's great. Go for it.

  23. #122

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    I learned to read from my first lesson.

    There's a potential downside to reading, which is that is makes it easier to avoid the more difficult work of ear training and transcription. But, of course, you don't have to neglect one or the other.

    There are, in my experience, a large number of advantages to being able to read well. In no special order:

    1. There are gigs you can only get if you can read. In my case, it's big band, octet with horns, and small band gigs where the leader wants you to play arrangements without rehearsal.

    2. It's a good way to learn the fingerboard. Do most non-reading jazz players know every note on the fingerboard instantly without any thought? If you do, and you take the trouble to learn every key, and the notes in the chords and scales you use, you can make adjustments on the fly by thinking about the specific voice/note you want to move. Obviously, you can do it by ear too, but it doesn't hurt to know the notes. I've posted before that it seems easier to me to do certain things by note name than by geometric shape. Apparently, I'm alone in that view, but that's how I do it.

    3. In my case, my ability to read has allowed me to play with much better players than would otherwise be the case. It's because they can't easily get a guitarist who can read.

    4. I enjoy it. I guess some people don't.

  24. #123
    rpjazzguitar,
    Your point #2 helped me remember how much reading helps me know all the notes on the fingerboard.
    Point #3 is true for me too. My knowing how to read allowed me to play duets with a fine player.
    #4 is true too. I find learning to be exhilarating. I think most people do.

    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I learned to read from my first lesson.

    2. It's a good way to learn the fingedrboard. Do most non-reading jazz players know every note on the fingerboard instantly without any thought? If you do, and you take the trouble to learn every key, and the notes in the chords and scales you use, you can make adjustments on the fly by thinking about the specific voice/note you want to move. Obviously, you can do it by ear too, but it doesn't hurt to know the notes. I've posted before that it seems easier to me to do certain things by note name than by geometric shape. Apparently, I'm alone in that view, but that's how I do it.

    3. In my case, my ability to read has allowed me to play with much better players than would otherwise be the case. It's because they can't easily get a guitarist who can read.

    4. I enjoy it. I guess some people don't.

  25. #124

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    Guitar players are poor sight readers because we use tabs and fretboard diagrams. We memorize pieces or sometimes we learn the piece by ear and memorize even more.

  26. #125
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Sioco
    Guitar players are poor sight readers because we use tabs and fretboard diagrams. We memorize pieces or sometimes we learn the piece by ear and memorize even more.
    This thread is older (like me). I remembered.: Modern classical guitarists (Julian Bream, Christopher Perkening, John Williams, et al) (only?) sight read. Their music is not improvisational. Yes?

  27. #126

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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarStudent
    This thread is older (like me). I remembered.: Modern classical guitarists (Julian Bream, Christopher Perkening, John Williams, et al) (only?) sight read. Their music is not improvisational. Yes?
    Many classical type musicians can only play by reading.

    I knew an excellent classical violinist who could only play that way. She could not improvise or play by ear.

    Very odd. A simple blues improvisation was impossible for her. I'm sure with practice she could have learned to do it.

    Reading music is like reading a language. It takes years to become fluent and it's best to start young.

  28. #127

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    I'm a geezer, and promised myself I'd get serious about sight reading many times over the years. In the last year my skills have vastly increased using a program called Sight Reading Factory. It is highly customizable, preset levels, can separate rhythm from melody, any key, any instrument, unlimited material of any length The best part for me is tempo control...i.e, starting slow and working up.

    SRF has been working great for me--and it is so convenient being a click away on my desktop. Doing 30 minutes or so a day, I am truly making progress. I do lots of rhythm only practice to start, and melodic practice--a different key every day, in 3 or four positions. I do both easier reading at fast tempos, and harder stuff slow as necessary.

    I have no connection with the company, aside from being a highly satisfied customer. I feel like I'm making up for lost time, having started really late. (I was a jock in school and missed out on the orchestra experience.)

    Anyway, I think the program is great and may help someone here. And has free trial!

    Sight Reading Factory(R)

  29. #128
    Respectfully: I find it predictable that classical musicians (players) can’t improvise. Their job doesn’t call for (allow) improvisation.

    Classical composing is a different kettle-of-fish altogether. I recall reading that improvisation is real-time composing. Prerequisites include chord-spellings, chord progressions, diatonic chord sets, rhythm-vocabulary, etc.


    Classical players (vs. classical composers) don’t compose. They interpret. Their job is bringing to life what’s written. A core skill is to sight read. And not just notes but rhythmical figures too.


    Different jobs. Yes?

  30. #129

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    Quote Originally Posted by Onlyserious
    I'm a geezer, and promised myself I'd get serious about sight reading many times over the years. In the last year my skills have vastly increased using a program called Sight Reading Factory. It is highly customizable, preset levels, can separate rhythm from melody, any key, any instrument, unlimited material of any length The best part for me is tempo control...i.e, starting slow and working up.

    SRF has been working great for me--and it is so convenient being a click away on my desktop. Doing 30 minutes or so a day, I am truly making progress. I do lots of rhythm only practice to start, and melodic practice--a different key every day, in 3 or four positions. I do both easier reading at fast tempos, and harder stuff slow as necessary.

    I have no connection with the company, aside from being a highly satisfied customer. I feel like I'm making up for lost time, having started really late. (I was a jock in school and missed out on the orchestra experience.)

    Anyway, I think the program is great and may help someone here. And has free trial!

    Sight Reading Factory(R)
    I tried SRF myself, but it was more on the piano. I gave it up because of their nasty monthly fees.

  31. #130

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob32069
    #1 reason guitarists are poor sight readers: tablature
    Yes, exactly! If tab wasn't there as a crutch, guitarists would have to learn to read music in the traditional way.

  32. #131

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Sioco
    Guitar players are poor sight readers because we use tabs and fretboard diagrams. We memorize pieces or sometimes we learn the piece by ear and memorize even more.
    I never use those, except to teach. I'm a slow reader (slower on piano) b/c of laziness, nothing else. I prefer to work on other things. But I'm making myself not only do, but enjoy it.

    You use a different part of your brain and different skill set reading. That gives a rounded picture, taken with the ear and improvising skills. And it makes you know the board and all the possibilities, LH-wise. And as you memorize you will see those patterns again, and it becomes that much easier. When you put the ear and craft skills together it's pretty powerful. And it opens up work opportunities.

    Earlier I read through Chopin's famous Prelude #4 on piano. I had analyzed it before, but I didn't peek, just did it slow---it's marked Largo anyway, so what's the rush? Then I dug out a Debussy piano collection I've had for years, but never cracked. Didn't feel up to going to the keyboard again, so I checked out a few analyses. Tomorrow I will go back to the Chopin and do some guitar studies I've been checking out. It holds the attention more IMO when the reading is useful and connected to things you actually play routinely. Barry Galbraith's Fingerboard Workbook is very jazz-based. All the phrases are 8th note and harmonically mother's milk. I want to get his 2-part Invention arrangements next. Then there's an old classical studies book I found years ago in a library basement: Mauro Giuliani etudes. It's a lot of 3rds and 6ths that I use anyway, and I can try different fingerings.

    For sight-reading and more intervallic studies,sheet music is very good. Just go through the tunes w/o stopping for mistakes. If it helps use a metronome.

    I'm trying to make use of the forced shut-in time. Aside from composing and general shedding this is a great opportunity to get rusty skills up to speed...

  33. #132

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff
    you did know that Miles Davis went to Juilliard, right?

    Ya, but he never let it get in his way!

  34. #133

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    Now we're quoting 10 year old posts....must be a jazz history day.

  35. #134

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B
    Ya, but he never let it get in his way!
    I've heard Max Roach say on Phil Schaap's Bird Flight that they made Miles put a mute in and play soft on the Charlie Parker record dates b/c he 'wasn't the fastest sight-readers'. I think he was more interested in taking the scores home from the library.

    Until he couldn't take Julliard's racist s$$t anymore, and was learning what he really wanted on The Street, so he split...
    Last edited by joelf; 04-05-2020 at 02:45 PM.

  36. #135

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    I am SO slow reading at piano! Spent 1 1/2 hours reading and analyzing (my real purpose) Clair de Lune. Don't care if it takes til next year. I'm seeing those delicate, floating voicings with implied pentatonics. You see where so much of what we use came from, just using different names. 'They' were way ahead of 'us' harmonically---no earth-shattering insight.

    Got the Galbraith and Giuliani out for after a well-earned break...

  37. #136

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    After being bored to tears playing "Twinkle Twinkle little Stars" and other assorted goodies
    up and down the guitar neck, I chucked sightreading for the time being. Some blokes I know are
    into gypsy jazz guitar. They can play all the standards under the sun but not ONE of those little
    black dots. I don't know, guess reading music is cool, but...

  38. #137

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    #1 reason why guitarists are poor sight readers is that they don’t do it all the time from early childhood.

  39. #138

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    Yep. we don't do it. Beginner guitarists can sound pretty impressive within weeks without knowing more than a few chord shapes and most don't get past that. I came round, when I started to study harmony, scales etc.

    The Hendrix books make me laugh - like Hendrix spent time writing out his 1/4 bends and vibrato.

    I wouldn't worry about it; all this 'you better be prepared to read it perfectly from the off so you can be with 'the pro guys' for whom time is money' is yet more willy waving - certainly of no importance to the majority of people here.

    My reading has developed mostly as a result of having to play in big bands, and significantly in composing using score software. For me, the biggest help was realising the importance of 5th position. Low A to high C in the range where most melodies take place. Took me ages to venture out from 3rd.

    And true, you have to do lots of it, too.

  40. #139

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    I read like xxxx because once I've decided where to fret the note and a fingering too memorization wants to take over

  41. #140

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    What I've done is go out and get the Wohlfart (spelling?) books and I practice some single lines as much as I can. I also take my Real Book (which a lot of people don't recommend for different reasons) and I practice reading the melody lines and I combine them with chords where the melody is played on the instrument. Over the last year, I've dramatically improved on single line sight reading but now I have to tackle chords. It just takes time to learn. Don't be afraid to give the technique the time to be learned. It may take longer than you think but in time you'll get there.

  42. #141

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    My emotional path through sight reading so far:
    1) This is impossible. Everyone who says they can sight read is lying.
    2) I have early onset Alzheimer’s.
    3) I am actually reading B-C-D whole notes in open position on the B string. At 40 beats per minute. With only a few mistakes. I am Mozart reincarnated.
    4) Wait.... the guitar has more than one string?
    5) I am reading E-F-G quarter notes in open position on the E string. At 50 bpm. Mostly playing the wrong notes. No matter! I will be composing the next Concierto De Aranjuez next week!
    6) Eighth notes are the devil’s spawn. I am in hell.
    7) There’s a thing called sixteenths? I will sell my guitar collection and begin collecting drier lint. I will have the most awesome drier lint collection in North America.
    8) I am reading the entire C scale in open position at 65 bpm. Steve Vai should start looking for a new career.
    9) What’s that curly thing? A ‘rest’......??? I am in hell.

    And so it goes....

  43. #142

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    I think of sightreading as kind of a split skill between deciphering the page and reproducing on your instrument. Most of my sightreading deficiencies on the guitar stem from the former, deciphering the page. Once I became a good reader on bass, which happened in my late 30s, reading bass clef, I subbed a gig playing guitar in a big band, and found I could read almost as well on guitar in treble (it was a snarky puppy arrangement, it required legit good reading).

  44. #143

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald
    I think of sightreading as kind of a split skill between deciphering the page and reproducing on your instrument. Most of my sightreading deficiencies on the guitar stem from the former, deciphering the page.
    Yeah, I’d agree with this. It was never more obvious than when I was playing in big band, the quality of the charts could vary widely depending on where they were originally sourced from and some work was required on occasion to, as you say, decipher what was going on. Also this is prone to happen when you are backing vocalists, there can sometimes be inaccuracies on the chart that can be covered up if they are touring with an MD, who knows the show so well that they’ve almost memorized it and haven’t got around to fixing the charts, so you end up with one eye on the chart while trying to look out for cues from the MD.
    Cheers!
    Last edited by Jazzism; 04-16-2020 at 12:47 AM.

  45. #144

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  46. #145

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    What are you trying to say with this one liner, that all guitarists sightreading problems are down to ignorance?
    I would offer a suggestion that sometimes reading on the instrument is complicated by the fact that some arrangers and people that write charts don’t know how to write for the instrument.

  47. #146

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    #1 reason is lack of motivation. (slackers)

  48. #147

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    Because they are smarter about how they should spend their valuable practice time.

  49. #148

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    It's important to know your instrument and be able to read music at some capacity. But being a sight reader is a whole different ball game. It's difficult to acquire and it requires constant maintenance. You have to be using it to keep it up. It's a specialized skill that's not applicable to the lives of many musicians.

  50. #149

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    I think of sightreading as kind of a split skill between deciphering the page and reproducing on your instrument.
    I agree, but have found the opposite of what you subsequently say. I have spent a lot of time composing music using score writing software and listen to it back a lot. I now think my sight reading is really pretty good, understanding the page, the timing. The playing aspect is where it falls down as I don't practise that end of it. But yeah, the split is correct to me.

  51. #150

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    It's important to know your instrument and be able to read music at some capacity. But being a sight reader is a whole different ball game. It's difficult to acquire and it requires constant maintenance. You have to be using it to keep it up. It's a specialized skill that's not applicable to the lives of many musicians.
    Difficult? AYFKM? It’s f*$&ing torture. But dammit I’m 59 years old and I am going to learn to sight read if it’s the last thing I do on the guitar. This is after 45 years of playing, and only having started learning to sight read on guitar in earnest this year. But I wasn’t consistent in integrating it into my practice routine until a few weeks ago, and I can see now how important it is to do it consistently every. single. f*$&ing. day. I am doing it mostly to get the entire fingerboard memorized cold. I know I will be a better, more well rounded guitarist if I can read standard notation. I am a tab junkie. I am also eager to play some Bach. I know there’s some Bach that’s tabbed out, but I think it would be amazing to be able to look at a Bach minuet in standard notation and actually be able to turn that into music.