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  1. #1

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    Ive been trying to practice reading notation more since its by far my biggest weakness, and as always its just not clicking. I know the notes on guitar. I know the notes on the staff. I know how to spell a c major scale or any major scale for that matter. But when i look at it notation i can barely get through. Like seeing a c major written in broken thirds is like impossible to read for me. Even tho if you asked me i know the notes are C-E-D-F...etc. So my only idea to remedy it is writing the notes above the staff. Is that okay to do for a while? Im trying to be musical about all this and not so pattern based like ive always been. I Know how to play a dorian, and i know the notes. But if you break it in thirds im slowed to like 20bpm. So notes above the staff, is that okay until i get a little better at reading? Or will it hinder my learning.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    No, not recommended. Some of my kids student are trying to do that, and i always tell them don't cheat, tough it out. Plus, if you are reading by looking at the letters above the stuff instead of actual notes, how would you know what octave you are supposed to play them?

    Also, make sure you practice ear training, in my experience reading is really hard when you are not 'hearing' what you're supposed to play.

    Hope that helps.

  4. #3

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    If you're trying to learn how to read DO NOT WRITE THE LETTER NAMES ABOVE (OR BELOW) the notes on the staff. That defeats the purpose. Like anything else, break reading down into small, bite size chunks. There's rhythm, the notes and symbols on the page and the location of the notes on the guitar. Three very separate things that you can practice each separately. That's what I have my students do. And they all read. Mostly.

  5. #4

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    In my experience:

    it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. Buy a bunch of sight reading books, eg. the three Levitt books, Tom Brunner's book, some clarinet and violin etudes, Some atonal stuff like Bergonzi, and Allard's "advanced rhythms" book, perhaps some fake books, transcribed Clifford Brown and Joe pass solos, chordal stuff too (I like Bill McCormick's books, but classical guitar pieces are great) and set your metronome to a tempo the you can read at, whatever that happens to be, even if its 10bpm. Sight read for half an hour a day (or more if you are ambitious), and in a year or two (or more if you are middle aged) you'll start to improve. No shortcut exists (other than starting when you are 5 years old). No point in setting the tempo higher than you can play either: slow and relaxed gets you faster progress than on the edge and making mistakes, although you should push yourself some too. Work in position, along a string, etc.

    Basically, it's a chore for jazz guitarists who would rather spend their practice time on soloing and comping, but man does it feel good not to freak every time you need to read a chart, or when someone hands you a lead sheet to a tune you've never heard.
    I spent a year doing this when I was 19, did some on and off over the decades, and then focused on reading when I was 53 (1.5 hours a day for 2 years), and it was extremely valuable to me. The stress I used to feel at gigs and rehearsals when I had to sight read are now virtually gone.

    and, of course, *don't* write the note names or fingers above the note. You want your brain to take the dot on the staff to go straight to the location on the fretboard, not to "pass through" intermediate steps like translating to the name of the note.
    Last edited by pkirk; 07-18-2017 at 06:31 PM.

  6. #5

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    I've written the GIT process many times and don't have the time to write it all out again, but will give the the basic bit to get you started.

    First, put your guitar down and yes I mean it.

    Look at the music your want to read, in beginning just work on a line or two. Now look at each note and say to yourself what the note name is like A, B, C, etc. Do this a couple times as a nice slow, steady pace, so you eyes get used to that note head inbetween or on those lines is that letter name.

    Okay now go thru the music again this time say what the rhythm value of each note is... quarter, quarter, eighth, half-note. Again training to eyes. Notes are written in the measure so the beats are easy to spot. What notes are on one, which notes are on two and so on,

    Okay now you have drilled the note names and rhythm now it's guitar time. NO, leave the physical guitar alone you're going to use the best guitar you have the one in your head. You know what position your going to play this in, now go back and look at each note and say to yourself the letter name of the note, the string and fret number it is on. Now say to yourself I will play it with my <fill in the blank> finger. If you're get stuck use that guitar in your mind and visualize you hand on the neck and see where the note is, Work through the all the music you want to read using this process.

    UPDATE: I forgot as last part of with the rhythm is turn on your metronome and clap the rhythms and a tempo you can handle them at comfortably.

    Now the mental part of learning the music is done, time to pick up the physical guitar, set your metronome to a nice slow pace. Now time for the physical playing of the music so go for it. What the key is here is splitting the mental part of learn from the physical part. Most people don't realize they are trying to learn two things at once and that's why it's difficult.

    Do this process for everything you read everytime. In the beginning this process will take some time, but very quickly you will become fast and doing this. If you get a chance to watch some musician in a session or situation they are reading a piece of music for the first time you will see all of them scanning the page and this is the process going on, but at very high speed. They have trained their eyes and at this stage it more about looking for unusually things they need to slow down the process and figure out quick.

    Learning to read music is more about training your eyes to see rhythmic groups, to see chords, to see scale fragments and arpeggios. Just like reading the words in this post you're not breaking each word into letters and figuring out what word it is, you've read enough books and things to know, "m u s i c" is the word music. Learning to read music is the same thing,

    Remember use that guitar in you head for learning as much as the physical guitar.
    Last edited by docbop; 07-19-2017 at 11:50 AM.

  7. #6

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    The posts above mine offer some good advice. As a cr@ppy reader, I did the same type of thing you are contemplating. It is a waste of time and a distraction. What helped me was studying classical guitar via the two Christopher Parkening books as well as Howard Morgen "Concepts" book. I offer those since I find books just dedicated to reading dull so I would rather practice/learn my reading using something that was enjoyable to play. Along with that pick up William Leavitts Melodic Reading for Guitar.

    Melodic Rhythms for Guitar: William Leavitt: 0073999494501: Amazon.com: Books

  8. #7

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    Ok got it. No writing notes above the staff. And all great advice i will try so far. And im glad someone mentioned the leavitt books because they are on my amazon shopping list. If they're that good ill get them and use them with the book i have now. The jazz guitar workshop book. Its taught me my scales and modes thus far but the "active" reading part is slowing me down. Ill check out the parkening books one day... Thanx for all the help guys. And the visualization thing totally makes sense and i will start doing that. Thanx!

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  9. #8

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    I play mostly jazz, so I've never used anything for reading but Real Books and big band charts. Read through a Charlie Parker head...who needs anything more?

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    I play mostly jazz, so I've never used anything for reading but Real Books and big band charts. Read through a Charlie Parker head...who needs anything more?
    Need more keys. Parker had his favorites...

    For OP: Look at my sig, there is a sight reading app at the top.
    pros:customizable - meaning if you want to learn the notes on the neck in a certain place, then its easy to set up the range.
    cons:no rhythm, no keys - its not gonna take you there the whole way. Well, I only needed to know the notes quickly. For real sight reading it's not enough but can help a bit.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop
    I've written the GIT process many times and don't have the time to write it all out again, but will give the the basic bit to get you started.

    First, put your guitar down and yes I mean it.

    Look at the music your want to read, in beginning just work on a line or two. Now look at each note and say to yourself what the note name is like A, B, C, etc. Do this a couple times as a nice slow, steady pace, so you eyes get used to that note head inbetween or on those lines is that letter name.

    Okay now go thru the music again this time say what the rhythm value of each note is... quarter, quarter, eighth, half-note. Again training to eyes. Notes are written in the measure so the beats are easy to spot. What notes are on one, which notes are on two and so on,

    Okay now you have drilled the note names and rhythm now it's guitar time. NO, leave the physical guitar alone you're going to use the best guitar you have the one in your head. You know what position your going to play this in, now go back and look at each note and say to yourself the letter name of the note, the string and fret number it is on. Now say to yourself I will play it with my <fill in the blank> finger. If you're get stuck use that guitar in your mind and visualize you hand on the neck and see where the note is, Work through the all the music you want to read using this process.

    Now the mental part of learning the music is done, time to pick up the physical guitar, set your metronome to a nice slow pace. Now time for the physical playing of the music so go for it. What the key is here is splitting the mental part of learn from the physical part. Most people don't realize they are trying to learn two things at once and that's why it's difficult.

    Do this process for everything you read everytime. In the beginning this process will take some time, but very quickly you will become fast and doing this. If you get a chance to watch some musician in a session or situation they are reading a piece of music for the first time you will see all of them scanning the page and this is the process going on, but at very high speed. They have trained their eyes and at this stage it more about looking for unusually things they need to slow down the process and figure out quick.

    Learning to read music is more about training your eyes to see rhythmic groups, to see chords, to see scale fragments and arpeggios. Just like reading the words in this post you're not breaking each word into letters and figuring out what word it is, you've read enough books and things to know, "m u s i c" is the word music. Learning to read music is the same thing,

    Remember use that guitar in you head for learning as much as the physical guitar.
    After using Practice Sight Reading and Sight Singing Exercises Online – Sight Reading Factory(R) alongside my young daughter for months now (and making progress), the GIT approach really speaks to me - because it requires conscious thinking.

    And I love the thought of thinking through new repertoire - thoroughly! - on that guitar in your head.

    Thanks very much!

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by destinytot
    After using Practice Sight Reading and Sight Singing Exercises Online – Sight Reading Factory(R) alongside my young daughter for months now (and making progress), the GIT approach really speaks to me - because it requires conscious thinking.

    And I love the thought of thinking through new repertoire - thoroughly! - on that guitar in your head.

    Thanks very much!
    Omg, this looks rad.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    Omg, this looks rad.
    The suggestion came from the forum.

    As I'm fond of saying, there's a paradigm for 'meaning' in reading comprehension (language/literacy) that goes from the 'literal' to the 'inferential' - and I find it helpful to look at musical information in the same way.

  14. #13

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    Writing the notes? I might differ slightly from the prevailing conclusion on this thread by saying it really depends what you are working on.

    The way I see it reading is divided into a number of key skills. These are the main ones as I see it:

    1) Reading and audiating rhythms
    2) Decoding the notation (note recognition)
    3) Fretboard mapping (where are the notes?)

    Now if you are primarily interested in mastering 3), writing the notes out allows you to focus on this aspect if you are still very slow with it. In fact writing the notes out themselves works 2). This is at the beginner level. You are going to need to wean yourself off this, but it may not be the worst thing ever if you bear this in mind.

    The other option, of course (and this is very traditional) is to start with the simplest possible material and work through graded reading examples that slowly add a repertoire of pitches and rhythms. This is a great idea in principle. My only problem with it is often a sensibly sized book cannot give you enough reading examples that you can get enough practice (at least for me, but I am quite stupid at music) and if you work through the same exercises again and again without memorising them. Working through the same exercises in different positions is a good way to practice 3) though.

    Here are some exercises I have used to work on these elements:

    1) Working on a number of rhythmic cells that you learn to 'hear' as soon as you see them. I recommend Mike Longo's system personally, but there are others.
    2) Speaking the notes aloud as you read them, away from the instrument
    3) Play through the scale position speaking the notes aloud as you play them. Make sure you practice the scale up, down in thirds and triads etc to make this hard once the basic scale has been mastered

    Materials for reading practice:
    1) Bellson - Modern Reading Text in 4/4
    2) Leavitt - Reading Studies for Guitar - great for positional work
    3) Work through whatever positions you usually practice.

    As you get more advanced, there's also a big element of learning to read whole sections of music. Just as an adult age reader is reading words and sentences rather than spelling out words from letters, the more you read the more you will be able to identify scales, scale patterns and arpeggios etc. The more you read music by a certain composer or improviser the more you will be able to recognise their licks. For instance, if you read through the Omnibook you will start to be able to spot certain key Parker phrases at sight.

    Furthermore, I haven't touched on audiating pitches (i.e. sight singing) on the stave (and connect the stave to the fretboard) - this is a very good skill to develop as it will bring ear training into the central 'engine' of you musicianship so to speak. This BTW is the sort of stuff I work on most of the time these days.

    Anyway, I find working on reading difficult but a lot of fun. Good luck!

    PS: I posted this without reading all the comments on the forum. I see now some recommendations are similar to mine. Cool. I never went to GIT BTW.
    Last edited by christianm77; 07-23-2017 at 05:31 AM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by pkirk
    Basically, it's a chore for jazz guitarists who would rather spend their practice time on soloing and comping, but man does it feel good not to freak every time you need to read a chart, or when someone hands you a lead sheet to a tune you've never heard.
    That said, I actually found that working on reading rhythms really helped with my soloing and comping.

    My aim would be to bring reading and the other aspects of my playing closer together. And after a while, reading becomes fun. I think for very fluent readers reading through a solo can be productive improvisation practice at least for language, note choices, basic rhythms etc.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    :

    1) Working on a number of rhythmic cells that you learn to 'hear' as soon as you see them. I recommend Mike Longo's system
    OK, I'll bite. What's the "Mike Longo System"?


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  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    OK, I'll bite. What's the "Mike Longo System"?


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    It's a way of counting rhythms that abstracts really nicely into a system of rhythmic solfege. I really like it. The book is called How to Sight Read Jazz and Other Syncopated Rhythms

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    I play mostly jazz, so I've never used anything for reading but Real Books and big band charts. Read through a Charlie Parker head...who needs anything more?
    There's an interview somewhere with Charlie Baty, ex-guitarist for blues band, Little Charlie and the Nightcats. He admits that he hadn't read at all up to his twenties but became a Charlie Parker nut and jumped straight into the Omnibook. Better to engage yourself with music that resonates and learn some repertoire in the process.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by wanderingchords
    Ive been trying to practice reading notation more since its by far my biggest weakness, and as always its just not clicking. I know the notes on guitar. I know the notes on the staff. I know how to spell a c major scale or any major scale for that matter. But when i look at it notation i can barely get through. Like seeing a c major written in broken thirds is like impossible to read for me. Even tho if you asked me i know the notes are C-E-D-F...etc. So my only idea to remedy it is writing the notes above the staff. Is that okay to do for a while? Im trying to be musical about all this and not so pattern based like ive always been. I Know how to play a dorian, and i know the notes. But if you break it in thirds im slowed to like 20bpm. So notes above the staff, is that okay until i get a little better at reading? Or will it hinder my learning.

    Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk
    Depends on what you mean by "know". You have to really own it, so that your fingers instantly go to the right place. I'm guessing you might benefit from a graded method that starts with just a few notes and progresses gradually from there.

    I used Colin and Bower "Rhythms" or maybe "Complete Rhythms". It works!

    Others recommend Levitt. No argument, but I never used them (I'm older than those books).

    No shortcuts! Every key, every octave!

  20. #19

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    Howard Roberts had a book on sight reading that had some good tips..I used the book for several months..I wrote out some of the drills in every key and learned to play them in as many positions as I could..now I did the same years before with the Mikey Baker book one exercises..

    my take on reading:

    It is much like learning words and how they are put together..at first you are reading one letter at a time..then one word at a time..then sentences etc

    the real difficulty is in the beginning not being able to "read/hear" the Phrase .. in the beginning reading a series of notes that doesn't have a "period" after it leaves the ear unsatisfied and the "reason" to play the phrase is ambiguous at best. But if you have a two bar phrase that has a definite end..now you have a "goal" to reach and you can hear it when its complete. Charlie Parkers tunes were a series of these type of lines.
    Bebop lines are great to aid reading when you feel your ready for them..to me they are a series of riffs strung together with a punch at the end of them..the Bop!

    Thus many "teachers" start with simple melodies like jingle bells happy bday etc..learning and being able to sense progress in reading is very important..also the confidence that you CAN do it..yes it will take some work to achieve a certain level of confidence..but even slow and steady progress is important to gaining confidence to be able to read a Parker tune at some point.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    I play mostly jazz, so I've never used anything for reading but Real Books and big band charts. Read through a Charlie Parker head...who needs anything more?
    Exactly! The real books are great for reading practice, large easy to see print, short accessable melodies(most), of songs you'll be playing. You should be able to sight read many RB tunes at close to performance level or at least fast enough to "feel" how the tune goes, to learn the song.That won't happen overnight, but if you keep at it, it will happen.

  22. #21

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    Sight reading by working through "exercises" vs. jumping into the Real Book (or equivalent): why not both?

    My problem as a beginner (a very new one at that) is that I have a lot of trouble with keys having more than a few sharps or flats. I know the circle of fifths pretty well and can figure it out, I'm just really slow. I am also still learning major scales (I already "know" them intuitively by ear or by "feel" or some other mysterious psychological process).

    Does familiarity with major scale patterns make it easier to read music for guitar?

    Any tips on getting more comfortable with all the keys?