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  1. #1
    I spent something like 200 hours trying to learn to sight read and I'm barely making any progress at all. I've been reading standards that my teacher has been giving me, bigband arrangements, etudes from berklee books etc. but the only way I could play those was to memorize them. I've also read through 557 jazz standards book (excluding stuff like donna lee which would take me hours). Still, when my teacher would give me even a simple melody to sight read, I can maybe do it in a very slow tempo. For the last month I spent 45 minutes a day reading "bebop bible", doing it very very slow and trying to read at least 2 notes in advance. I was able to read 2-3 pages a day, I finished the book eventually and guess what? I'm still in the same place where I was a month ago. I opened charlie parker omnibook a few days ago and I spent 30 minutes trying to read 4 bars.

    I'm seriously pissed off, because it's not my lack of discipline that makes me unable to read. That's something else that I can't figure out what it is, I feel like I have some kind of musical dyslexia.

    So what is the best way to learn or improve your sight-reading? That's easy: READ, READ, READ. The prescription for learning to sight-read is to sight-read. One need not practice reading for hours every day. Just ten minutes daily every day will result in tremendous improvement in one month.

    I've been reading 45 minutes a day every single day for the last month and I haven't made any progress at all. Am I retarded?

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  3. #2

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    What exactly is it that's giving you problems? Pin down the exact issues you have - is it playing in the right position(s), rhythm, pitch, accidentals, is it the inability to read ahead of what you are playing?. Break the problem down, then work on each aspect.

    It's true that the remedy for bad reading is to read, but it's important to read consciously and with a focus on the aspects that are giving you trouble. In my case, I can get the pitches pretty well, but reading complex rhyhtms at tempo can throw me. So I work on that.

  4. #3

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    White belt
    My Youtube

  5. #4

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    Reading bebop heads, standards, pieces that may involve position shifts or melodic phrases that are all good at some point, but they don't address a more fundamental association of written notes, physical position and sound. Those things need to be locked together in my opinion.
    Not making progress? Step back.
    Classical guitar methods, though they may seem a far cry from reading breezing through sight reading a Wayne Shorter solo, focuses on a strong foundation. I worked with the Aaron Shearer and Laurendo Almeida books and with no small amount of patience, put down a foundation that made other works easier after. I also got a lot from Sight to Sound by Leon White.
    But that's just me.
    Do you have friends or a group of like minded musicians who'd want to do this with you? Working with others allows you to make that sound/page connection stronger. And it's fun going through this with others. Maybe if you're so frustrated, you should just do what makes you happy. Tackle the reading when you're ready.

    David

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by sightreadingsucks View Post

    I've been reading 45 minutes a day every single day for the last month and I haven't made any progress at all. Am I retarded?
    Hmmm, that would be beyond a mere forum on guitar to determine, and beyond our scope to cure. If you find out you are, though, develop your ear and don't stop playing. You can still have a musical future ahead of you and you'll have as good a chance at success as anyone who graduated from a big music school.

    David

  7. #6

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    Many videos of Tommy Tedesco has Tommy explain how he worked every night for years developing his sightreading skills. I wish 200 hours could do it, but for mere mortals it will take more.

    Get some very simple compilation books with cowboy chords. Work through these one note melodies and then go to more advanced. I was once humbled when a fifteen year old guitarist bought a copy of Koonce’s Bach compilation from me. I asked her what lute suite she was going to tackle first. She replied she just wanted it to practice sightreading. Jeez.
    Check out my tracks at www.soundcloud.com/billmcmannis

  8. #7

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    Best guess:

    It sounds like you are reading music that is too hard for now for sight reading.
    Music more in the category of I can play this if I study for awhile.
    This is also a good activity but it is a different one than sight reading.

    Consolidation: Time spent reading easy music that is playable on 1st read.
    Expansion: Working with music at your present level or just slightly above.
    Reaching Beyond: Music that is somewhat above your level.
    Play in time, maintain place and form, get as much right as possible.
    Learn to make decisions on the fly about what to omit (if need be).

    Learn to recognize intervals on the page and instrument.
    Learn to conceptualize a group of notes at a glance.

    Work on fingerboard knowledge.
    Work on rhythm recognition and execution.
    Beyond playing the correct notes at the right time is feel and expression.
    Form an opinion on what the music should sound like and let that guide you.

  9. #8
    No band leader in their right mind would ask you to play something from Omnibook on the spot and expect a flawless performance. And sight reading skills are never gonna be good enough. Just keep on it and it kinda gets less hard, that's all - never ever perfect. There are people who do that 10x better you but probably practice this 10x more than you also. And only a few are sight-reading-mozarts (the ones that got it from UFOs).

    I'd suggest practice what you really need the most. Playing through 10000 classical studies will not train you to play bebop.
    Also, practice rhythm reading separately sometimes. Less stress that way.
    Also, practice sight-singing. This will help a bit with reading too.
    And surely practice your scales and chords in needed keys before even going to read some music. It's much easier to read something in f-minor if you actually know how play its modes/scales on the instrument. MUCH easier.

    One cool way to practice sight reading is to write a good tune in Musescore or Sibelius, transpose it to every key. Then play it every key. But again, first play the needed scales & chords of that key. Write all those down also.

    I think the source of your frustration could be that when you're going through all that pile, you wont really learn any of them. Each new tune can have a new trick or two in their sleeve. So, expect getting better slowly but chill, it's not the most important skill in jazz at all.

  10. #9

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    The key, I think, is graded material.

    If you can read slowly in the first position (or more) then I'd suggest this:

    Get Complete Rhythms by Colin and Bower.

    Start with page 1 and read it in the first position.

    Then, read the same page, but play everything an octave up.

    If you can do it with a partner or a looper and a metronome (the book has chord symbols) even better. It's good to hear the chords.

    Then, page two. Go all the way through the book. It's so well graded, it won't feel difficult.

    At that point, you'll be able to read all over the neck, in several keys and with some swing era syncopation.

    After that, I'd suggest an old book called Advanced Dance Rhythms, but there are probably lots of good choices. I think most people would recommend a Berklee book by Leavitt.

    Lenny Niehaus has some good ones usually for saxophone.

    At that point, you'll be better prepared to read tunes.

    But, I think that for most of us guitarists, trying to sight read like a horn is hard. A line, not written on guitar, played at high speed can require considerable thought (at least for me) to find a way to execute it smoothly. That is, thinking through position shifts and picking patterns (if you're an economy picker you may have an advantage there). I play in horn bands where the guitar is often playing a line with the horns. If the tempo is brisk, I don't expect to be able to keep up the very first time I see the chart. But, with a little work, there's usually a way. The Omnibook is difficult to read.

  11. #10

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    To be a good sight reader, you've also got to have excellent technique. I play in two Jazz big bands that play all the latest charts, and the arrangers expect you to be able to play lines that horn players can play, but are very difficult to play on guitar at the ridiculously fast tempos they play at. When I have to sight read shows, they're much easier to play in comparison to a chart by Bob Mintzer, Gordon Goodwin, maria Schnieder, etc...

    How can you sight read something if you can't even play the thing to begin with? If you expect to become a good sight reader in a few months, you're being unrealistic. Most of the guys I play shows with who are excellent sight readers, studied other instruments when they were kids, and learned how to sight read before they played the guitar. They were taught to count every note they play, and every rest they don't play.
    Even a guitarist like Jim Hall couldn't read at fast tempos, as revealed in the book Jazz masters in Transition, where he literally can't play a piece conducted by Gunther Schuller, because he couldn't read at fast tempos. Schuller asks Hall, "You can't read this fast?"
    Hall answers, "No, you better get Barry" (Barry Galbraith, who could sight read so well, he used to help out horn players in studio sessions!).
    Galbraith has a good book on sight reading, where he goes into the problems involved in sight reading on the guitar. Galbraith was known for marking almost every measure on a piece of music he read, to map out position changes, fingerings, picking choices, rhythm subdivisions, etc...
    Sight singing the pitches won't help you, because it takes too long to think of the pitches, you have to sight sing the rhythms only while counting every single note.

  12. #11

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    Started playing piano in 2nd grade advancing pretty quick, went to trombone in 5th. Was a decent 'bonist in high school and so played also in orchestra.

    String players have incredibly dense lines of page after page of 32nd notes ... more black ink than white paper showing. Amazing.

    No tolerance of wind players who can't sightread 16th note runs ... at 135 beats/minute.

    But when you look at the string lines ... repeated patterns every flipping one. All they need to read is the base pattern and then learn to spot changes. Just apply the changes to the pattern. Which does take a few years in truth.

    So one learns to ply horn lines in orchestra, band, and jazz bands. Trumpet lines are written very different from 'bone lines, neither anything like reed lines. So you learn to read your type of "horn".

    Guitar is a completely different instrument. Horns, strings, and keyboards can pretty much use exactly the same staff/note graphics on the page.

    Guitar ... um ... not so much. We need extra symbols and/or chord notations.

    Our lines are more like but not the same as string players, but they rarely play more than one string at a time.

    And ain't nobody else in the band got any sympathy for it.

    I agree with some earlier comments, you need to start practicing with material you can mostly do. And after hours, as you figure out *how* to look at the music and see what you *need* to pay attention to ... then you can start trying more complex materials.

    Look for patterns ... repeated things ... learn to only "see" what you have to see. Oh ... yea ... first, figure out what is the base stuff you must see to play.



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  13. #12

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    Like Bako, I recommend you practice on pieces that you can sight read, don't sight read pieces that are too difficult. Also, learn to look ahead and read groups of notes. Like reading words instead of letters, read phrases instead of notes (where you can).
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  14. #13

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    Hijacking the thread a bit ...

    Reading guitar parts in horn bands tends to be challenging. Here's are some reasons why:

    1. It may not even be a guitar part. It may be a piano part and the pianist may have the same one. Even if you could play it, why have two instruments doing the same thing. And, it's going to be the guitarist who has to figure something else out.

    2. The chord symbols are above the staff, but the timing of the hits is within the staff. That means your eyes are flitting up and down -- reading the chord names and then separately reading the timing. Look over at a horn chart ... all they have to do is play one note after another.

    3. Guitar, more than other instruments, has a lot of choices about where and how to play each note. The chart won't have tab. You have to figure out the fingerings yourself. You also have to decode staffs with multiple notes, which may or may not be playable. Or, if they're playable, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea to play them. Sometimes it's the harmony in the horns and the band doesn't necessarily need to hear it on guitar. So, there are a bunch of reasons it can take the guitarist a little longer to decode a chart. Another reason is that the horn guys were all practicing reading in the 4th grade and you weren't. And later, when you were strumming Beatle songs, they were still counting.

    4. Despite all these problems, the guitarist can't complain. That's because the pianist has it worse. He may have all the same issues in the right hand -- and then he has to play a whole other hand. Frankly, I don't know how they do it.

  15. #14

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    I found it helpful to play songs everybody knows, such as Greensleeves and Scarborough Fair, from a score. You know when you are getting it right, and there are grace notes or other complications. I made most progress when I stopped using scores with an accompanying tab, since I was no longer reading two things at once.

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by sightreadingsucks View Post
    I spent something like 200 hours trying to learn to sight read and I'm barely making any progress at all. I've been reading standards that my teacher has been giving me, bigband arrangements, etudes from berklee books etc. but the only way I could play those was to memorize them. I've also read through 557 jazz standards book (excluding stuff like donna lee which would take me hours). Still, when my teacher would give me even a simple melody to sight read, I can maybe do it in a very slow tempo. For the last month I spent 45 minutes a day reading "bebop bible", doing it very very slow and trying to read at least 2 notes in advance. I was able to read 2-3 pages a day, I finished the book eventually and guess what? I'm still in the same place where I was a month ago. I opened charlie parker omnibook a few days ago and I spent 30 minutes trying to read 4 bars.

    I'm seriously pissed off, because it's not my lack of discipline that makes me unable to read. That's something else that I can't figure out what it is, I feel like I have some kind of musical dyslexia.

    So what is the best way to learn or improve your sight-reading? That's easy: READ, READ, READ. The prescription for learning to sight-read is to sight-read. One need not practice reading for hours every day. Just ten minutes daily every day will result in tremendous improvement in one month.

    I've been reading 45 minutes a day every single day for the last month and I haven't made any progress at all. Am I retarded?
    There's a distinction to be made between reading and sightreading as well. You can't reasonably expect to read "at sight" that which you can't otherwise read our play at a pretty decent level. There's a place for rehearsing things and working them out, playing them multiple times etc, based on difficulty level or new positions etc. There's a certain percentage of playing which should involve repetition of the same music. You learn different lessons in playing and reading things repeatedly.

    SIGHT reading is working on the specific skill of performing something at tempo, the first time reading it. When you do this stuff in school, sight reading is ALWAYS done at a lower level of difficulty than the "hard stuff" that you're currently seriously shedding and repetitively practicing at a really basic level of simply learning to PLAY it. This probably goes without saying, but a lot of self taught guitarists seem confused about this detail.

    You need a pure sight reading stack – material that you don't repeat over and over. No practicing , just pure reading at sight.

    But you also need to be practicing repertory , and practicing READING things repetitively. People who sightread really well also READ really well, and they are very often shedding material which is more difficult... and beyond their ability to read "at sight" - at least "at tempo".

  17. #16

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    to be clear..."sight reading" vs reading a Beatles tune lead sheet

    I started with tunes I knew..I would read the lead sheet to "In My Life" with out the guitar and hum/sing/tap the melody..then write it out..in several keys..with different position/octaves ..THEN read and play it..and yes this method worked for me

    I worked in a duo setting for a few years..we read through a "fake" book..and read it cold..even some parker tunes..they took ALOT of work..but for the most part..they were tunes I knew and could hum and read "the melody" .. we had about 30 tunes we could read chords and melody .. we would switch chord.melody tasks each time through the tune until we knew it..all fine and good

    but give us a page we didn't know ..ahhh..yeah snails moved faster..I still have to work through a piece to be able to "hear" what it is saying...even when I did studio work I would hope to have time to at least play it through once to get a feel of the music..It can scare your fingers off to miss a bar and not knowing what the tune is supposed to sound like..try to "catch up"

    so if your just reading a tune with no pressure on you to play in tempo..you can just play it bar at a time..if you freeze..its ok..just visualize the notes and fingering in your head..I did this type of stuff for years with all my new material practice..I would literally read one bar..play it in my head fingering frets etc..then play it..
    then hum the line..all they way through the exercise..today that is ingrained in my practice approach

    making "mistakes" .. many stop playing after hitting a wrong note..alot of people I worked with said..naa.keep going..try to stay in tempo..recovering in tempo can be more important than playing it right


    now..sight reading is a very different animal...you have overcome all the above..you can play in ALL keys and octaves in all positions...just like reading a book..your reading entire sentences at tempo not one word at a time.

    years ago your handed a lead sheet and you have to figure out the tune..what positons your going to use for what sections of the tune and what fingering will work for multi note passages..what else is called for..effects if any..reverb/trem/overdrive etc..volume and feel ... if this is for singer..and there are solo parts for horns keyboards and guitar..you may have to absorb how they solo also and reflect the melody back to the singer..
    yeah it takes a different kind of practice to be cool in a studio setting..

    it a very different world today..you can get "studio quality" in your living room now..take all the time you need to get it right and not run up a studio bill of $$$$$ .. and the pressure is gone..

    when I hear how Steely Dan did some takes in two or three tries .. I have to remember who was playing guitar with them..Carlton..Diaz..Baxter etc
    play well ...
    wolf

  18. #17

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    Read very slow, half tempo or so, and normal tempo. Do this alot, and I'm talking about at a table or desk without an instrument. When you feel anxiety while reading, take a break.

    Visualize yourself doing well, and adopt the most positive attitude possible. I see it as a task (or series of tasks) not work. Find a pace, and approach that let's you work up to it if it helps. Normal pace the first run through does not always work best for some of us! That's okay with basic material or songs that are not particularly challenging for an individual.

  19. #18

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    Good suggestion. Kids playing horns in school learn to read (and play) together in different settings. We guitar players work on reading alone (if at all) and expect to have it together when we get in a real situation. Working with others would help.


    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    Do you have friends or a group of like minded musicians who'd want to do this with you? Working with others allows you to make that sound/page connection stronger. And it's fun going through this with others. Maybe if you're so frustrated, you should just do what makes you happy. Tackle the reading when you're ready.

  20. #19

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    I have recently been working with A Modern Method for Guitar, by William Leavitt to work on my sight reading. It begins with single notes in first position, then quickly incorporates intervals, triads, and more complex chords using those first position notes. The exercises are melodic and repetitive, and I found that I quickly not only learned the notes, but learned patterns of triads , and became able to begin identifying groups of notes functionally. I am still working in first position, but should be moving forward very soon.

    http://berkleepress.com/guitar/a-mod...-123-complete/

    This is all three volumes in one, but they come in individual volumes as well.

    Also, when I was teaching myself saxophone years ago I was given some good advice in learning to play from sheet music. I was told that when visualizing the note on the staff internalize the name of the note while playing it on the horn. While saxophone is much simpler than guitar, that three-part process still helps. It also helps to know the fretboard backwards and forwards, which I am also working on. Good luck!
    Last edited by snoskier63; 10-10-2018 at 10:00 PM.

  21. #20

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    +1 to ^

    A Modern Method for Guitar, by William Leavitt was really good for my sight reading.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  22. #21

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    Going through some organized rhythm reading primer is a time saving tool that teaches you to recognize simple rhythms and then builds on them.

    It helps to have rhythmic reading studies because how these rhythms get written might not seem logical at first, but you learn to understand things like why in one situation a dotted 1/4 is written, but in another instance a 1/4 tied to an 1/8...same values...it can get confusing unless you get trained to recognize these rhythmic notations.

  23. #22

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    Do 5m of Bellson a day.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Going through some organized rhythm reading primer is a time saving tool that teaches you to recognize simple rhythms and then builds on them.

    It helps to have rhythmic reading studies because how these rhythms get written might not seem logical at first, but you learn to understand things like why in one situation a dotted 1/4 is written, but in another instance a 1/4 tied to an 1/8...same values...it can get confusing unless you get trained to recognize these rhythmic notations.
    Great point. Also, depending on the source, rhythms can be accurately notated, but in ways which are much harder to read. It will be easier to learn to read using material that is properly (not just accurately) written.

    For example, in a bar of 4 beats, it is a good idea to have a note right on beat 3. If, say, beat 3 occurs in the middle of a syncopated quarter note, a good copyist/engraver will show tied eighths. That second eighth is there so you can see where beat 3 is.

    Another subtlety is to have the spacing between the notes reflect the note's time value. So, you don't stick a bunch of quarters/dotted-quarters together really close and then spread out some sixteenths. But, you'll sometimes see charts engraved that way and they're harder to read. I think the usual notation programs take care of this, but I've seen plenty of material presented poorly.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Going through some organized rhythm reading primer is a time saving tool that teaches you to recognize simple rhythms and then builds on them.

    I've been looking for one in particular and wondering if you or someone here could help. I used to have a copy in the 80's and can't remember what it's called. It was rectangular, about as wide as something like the Modern Methods but about half as high. Very plain cover, possibly grayish.

    I had a friend studying at Manus School of Music in NY at that time and it was part of their curriculum. That's how I ended up with it.

    I remember it being super helpful, and very well organized. It really taught you to see rhythmic phrases, almost like a kind of short-hand. I'm trying to brush up my skills after a long layoff, and somewhere along the line it's gone missing...

    Failing finding that one, is there something like this that you or others might recommend?

  26. #25

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    ccroft,

    Was it this one? This is used in many colleges. Robert Starer said he put this together while on jury duty.
    Very systematic.

    9780881889765 |

  27. #26

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    Bako: I think that's it! It looks different than I remember, but I haven't seen it for about 20 years. After staring at it for a while it started to look more familiar. Oddly, it's the name Robert Starer printed out on the cover that really rings a bell. I've placed the order.

    Now I fully expect to open some box somewhere in the house and find my old copy. I've been trying to find it for about a year. I know it's here somewhere.... dang it!!

    Thank-you very much!

  28. #27

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    Just putting out a reminder to the novices reading this that you don't have to practice sight reading to play jazz well. Being able to read well enough to figure out the notes and chords on the written page is extremely helpful though...

    Players have to decide what is important to them, if it's playing a lot of material with others in a pro or semi pro environment, then practice reading - a lot. But if you're writing music, or just specialising in improvising against your own tunes, or common ones, then sight reading isn't a skill that will help you much. Life is short for Jazz players - so concentrate the time on where you get the best mileage for your own thang...

  29. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Just putting out a reminder to the novices reading this that you don't have to practice sight reading to play jazz well. Being able to read well enough to figure out the notes and chords on the written page is extremely helpful though...

    Players have to decide what is important to them, if it's playing a lot of material with others in a pro or semi pro environment, then practice reading - a lot. But if you're writing music, or just specialising in improvising against your own tunes, or common ones, then sight reading isn't a skill that will help you much. Life is short for Jazz players - so concentrate the time on where you get the best mileage for your own thang...
    Sounds a bit like saying that practicing reading is ONLY beneficial to later reading- performance situations. That's just not the entire context of what reading gives you.

    You don't ONLY read books to get better at the act of reading more books etc.

  30. #29

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    Yeah I think it’s easy to think of great players who didn’t read and then draw the false conclusion that being able to read would have in any way lessened their playing.

    Clearly reading is not as necessary as a good ear for playing music, but it opens up a lot of musical knowledge and literature otherwise inaccessible.

    You should certainly learn to read which is not the same as being able to sight read - your ability to sight read will depend on how much sight reading you do.

  31. #30

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    There is a huge difference between being able to read music and being able to sight read to a high level. For the purpose of analysis or self instruction, then rudimentary reading is fine. I hear about players taking lessons where they are made to focus on sight reading, probably because their teacher learned that way. If you gave yourself 10,000 hours to get good at Jazz improv, you could easily get away with 100 of those learning to read music to a basic level. And yes there are players who are good at both, but in my experience not many of them are guitar players!

    FWIW I spent many years practicing reading and got OK at it, but I realise now that I did far more than I needed to for my needs, both back then as well as now.

    IMVHO of course. Is this a contentious thing to say?

  32. #31

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  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by sightreadingsucks View Post
    Am I retarded?

    Absolutely and categorically not. Which, I suspect, you already know.

    Some people can do it, others find it very hard. If you can do it, it can be improved. If you can't, not much will improve it whatever you do. And there are many other skills which come into that category, not just sight reading music.

    I think it's rather cruel for your teacher to insist that you torture yourself trying to do what obviously doesn't come easily. He/she should get somebody who can do it for their band, or whatever it is, and let you focus on what you're good at.

    And if this is for an examination that demands that you do it then that's precisely what's wrong with examinations. They just lump everyone together and create anxiety. It's stupid.

    I know tons of people who can use their fingers but can't use a pick. And people who can't play the piano because they can't use both hands together - but they can play a guitar.

    And people who can sing beautifully but can't hum while they play. And people... etc etc.

    You've tried and, for some reason, it's obviously very difficult for you. I say stop flogging yourself and do what you really can do and excel at that.

    (But the trouble with human nature is that you probably won't, you'll keep on thrashing yourself more and more and more till the end of time!)

  34. #33

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    Way back in the eighties I had a book called „Ten“. Ten guitarists were sharing their experience and each one gave a lesson on one aspect of playing.

    Tommy Tedesco did the sight reading lesson. He started out by saying that sight reading on the guitar is much harder than on most instruments, since you can play any note on several strings, and with any of four fingers - sixteen ways to play a note when for piano players and horn players there is only one! This comes from one of the top musicians in the industry.

    In his lesson, he covered several aspects, like changing time signatures, changing keys, accidentals etc. This was already professional stuff, and way easier than any Charlie Parker head. Don‘t do the tenth step before the first.

    Finally, if this is any consolation, even classical guitarists are usually bad at sight reading for the same reason: there are too may ways to play a given tune to get it right the first time.


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  35. #34
    There's a lot of hard science around learning to read. It's not rocket science. It's actually exponentially more difficult the older you get, but ANYONE can learn and improve at certain levels. If you're having trouble, you shouldn't be trying to do something MORE difficult than what younger students are doing, with their more malleable neural connections or whatever .

    Get a series of modern, graded band methods , probably Bb clarinet edition. Some of these will have three or four volumes or grades, which start very very basic and gradually get more advanced. Practice reading from those everyday some. Start at the beginning , and you should be able to easily read those at sight. If the beginning is too easy, flip back to a section which is a more appropriate level. You may have to go to volume 2 etc. (These band methods move at a much MUCH slower pace then typical Mel Bay type books, but those are good later as well.)

    The point of these products is not to teach you the hippest music or the music appropriate to whatever style you're interested in. The purpose of them is to teach you fundamentals of music and to read and improve at reading as QUICKLY and EFFICIENTLY as possible. These methods have taught literally MILLIONS of unmotivated, apathetic young students a great deal of musical content, as well as inspiring others who are more talented and motivated to move on to bigger and better things.

    "See Spot run" isn't compelling, even for kindergartners, but that's not the point of the "see Spot run" type of reading material. Its sole purpose is to teach READING. Once you learn to READ, you can read ANYTHING, but there are more efficient ways to learn to read than simply plodding through the real book, if you can't handle that material or can't handle it at sight.

    Stop hacking away, and sharpen the saw.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    There is a huge difference between being able to read music and being able to sight read to a high level. For the purpose of analysis or self instruction, then rudimentary reading is fine. I hear about players taking lessons where they are made to focus on sight reading, probably because their teacher learned that way. If you gave yourself 10,000 hours to get good at Jazz improv, you could easily get away with 100 of those learning to read music to a basic level. And yes there are players who are good at both, but in my experience not many of them are guitar players!

    FWIW I spent many years practicing reading and got OK at it, but I realise now that I did far more than I needed to for my needs, both back then as well as now.

    IMVHO of course. Is this a contentious thing to say?
    I dunno, I think it's complicated. I'm still kind of a shapes player to a large degree. I have to STOP and think for a split second to name a note. But that's because I learned to improvise jazz before I learned to read it.

    But, I think learning how musical words look when written down is pretty helpful - like you see the phrase written, hear it in your head, play it on the guitar.

    I also think there's an implied linearity of thinking in your comment. This is something some players seem a bit anxious about (including myself lol.) For instance, things I've been asked:

    1) If I learn another instrument will it deduct from my guitar playing?
    2) If I read more will it be bad for my ear training?
    3) If I learn ear training will it detract from my technique?
    4) If I study standards will I stop writing and performing my own material?
    5) And - recently - if I practice slurring upbeat to downbeat will I no longer be able to play rock guitar?

    The answer to these is of course, NO.

    1) Piano can help with guitar fretboard understanding, sax with phrasing etc
    2) Ear training and reading are interlinked - rhythmic reading requires audiation for example
    3) Audiating can help with technique - it's far easier to play something you can hear
    4) Studying standards will help you work on the art of composition or at the very least give some raw material
    5) Developing flexibility in your slurring can really develop your technique

    Music is a coupled system, not a series of isolated skills. Everything feeds into everything else. Reading can be a part of literally everything you do on the guitar.

    Also I am far from convinced by the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours thing as it has ended up being presented in pop culture. I don't think it's a very helpful way of thinking about things. I think something that was far more balanced in the context of the book.
    Last edited by christianm77; 10-13-2018 at 09:55 AM.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve View Post
    Tommy Tedesco did the sight reading lesson. He started out by saying that sight reading on the guitar is much harder than on most instruments, since you can play any note on several strings, and with any of four fingers - sixteen ways to play a note when for piano players and horn players there is only one! This comes from one of the top musicians in the industry.
    Respect to Tommy T, but I think that's a little bit overstated. I mean we have frets! And in practice there are usually 2 or 3 practical possibilities for a note, it's not that bad.

    Yes it is easier to read on the piano.... It's possible to be a great sight reader - musical typist - and a really unmusical player lol.....

    But is reading on the guitar harder than sight singing? Harder than reading on the orchestral strings where you have to intonate each note? Harder than memorising a series of arbitrary fingerings and possibly adjusting your embouchere for each note like on a wind instrument?

    On a brass instrument, you really have to audiate the sound of the note to be able to play it - I spent a couple of weeks learning to play C major on the trombone - interesting experience!

    Problem is not the instrument - it's the culture and pedagogy. People start guitar later. It's always been an amateur's instrument, and use of Tab goes back into the late middle ages. And we don't connect ears and reading enough IMO.

    I do think guitar charts typically present a lot more diverse info - that can be hard to process, chords, then single note lines, stabs and so on. Horn parts look so CLEAN by comparison.

    When working on reading with students the #1 thing I have to is stop them from freaking out.

  38. #37

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    by that logic wouldn’t pianists have 10 ways to play each note? haha silly
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  39. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by joe2758 View Post
    by that logic wouldn’t pianists have 10 ways to play each note? haha silly
    Not really. All instruments have octaves . Guitar has multiple unisons though. More than other strings even, because it's tuned in and 4ths rather than 5ths.

    I think obstacles to reading on guitar are legitimate. The other difficulties with other instruments , honestly , are more to do with technique : embouchure etc. But when it comes to pure reading, embouchure only HELPS the association to absolute pitch . Guitar does mutch the opposite. C major at the seventh fret basically feels kinesthetically identical to B flat major at the fifth fret.

    This has advantages of course, but it's mostly a disadvantage to reading absolute pitch. I feel like in a lot of ways we're talking about several different issues at once.

  40. #39

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    sorry matt, i agree. i meant the overstatement by bringing fingers literally into the equation. ie i meant 10 fingers not 10 octavesp
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  41. #40

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    Attachment 56613
    This is a good book. Carol is a world-class sightreader and a teacher with decades of experience (both with students of bass and guitar.)
    "Correct fingering is about half of reading music well." Reading rhythms is also stressed. Well paced, starts simple and moves steadily along.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Respect to Tommy T, but I think that's a little bit overstated. I mean we have frets! And in practice there are usually 2 or 3 practical possibilities for a note, it's not that bad.

    Yes it is easier to read on the piano.... It's possible to be a great sight reader - musical typist - and a really unmusical player lol.....

    But is reading on the guitar harder than sight singing? Harder than reading on the orchestral strings where you have to intonate each note? Harder than memorising a series of arbitrary fingerings and possibly adjusting your embouchere for each note like on a wind instrument?

    On a brass instrument, you really have to audiate the sound of the note to be able to play it - I spent a couple of weeks learning to play C major on the trombone - interesting experience!

    Problem is not the instrument - it's the culture and pedagogy. People start guitar later. It's always been an amateur's instrument, and use of Tab goes back into the late middle ages. And we don't connect ears and reading enough IMO.

    I do think guitar charts typically present a lot more diverse info - that can be hard to process, chords, then single note lines, stabs and so on. Horn parts look so CLEAN by comparison.

    When working on reading with students the #1 thing I have to is stop them from freaking out.
    I sight-sang a Bach Motette this morning. I finger the notes on an imaginary fretboard, or an imaginary saxophone, to help me along Sight reading on guitar is making me want to kill myself. Please help. I can sight-read trombone charts. So I guess I’m okay with single lines. I can sight-read a moderately difficult classical guitar piece. As to charts - I get the piano chart if I‘m lucky, or the iReal Pro changes. But I‘ve been playing classical guitar for 40 years now, don‘t take my word.


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  43. #42
    Dear Sightreadingsucks,

    I'm doing fine, thank you. The problem is not me, it's you! At this point I kindly ask you not to practice me anymore, because there is no point. YOU SUCK!

    Sincerely not yours,

    Sightreading

  44. #43

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    It all depends on what you're trying to do.

    Here are some advantages to reading well.

    1. It can give you access to playing with better players -- in situations which require reading.

    2. It gives you access to written material to expand your knowledge.

    3. If you are reading single notes as if you're a horn with a horn section, it will improve your precision/time.

    4. If you can read, it makes it easier to write down your ideas.

    5. You can handle any situation requiring reading. For me, this has included lots of of gigs where the leader needs me to play tunes I didn't know.

    6. It may force you to play things you might not have played otherwise -- which can lead you to develop additional techniques.

    7. If you don't know the fingerboard and the names of the notes in the chords and scales you use, it's a great way to get started learning that material.

    Disadvantages:

    1. It's easier than developing your ear and it's seductive. It makes it too easy to avoid the hard work of ear training.

    2. It takes time and, apparently, not everybody enjoys it. (I always liked reading --still do).

    3. Too easy to be dependent on the chart -- so you may not learn tunes as efficiently.

    4. There are situations which require that you play without reading -- and that takes practice too.

    My recommendation: learn to read early, it's harder to do as an adult, apparently. But, don't neglect the side of musicianship that doesn't involve reading.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 10-13-2018 at 07:21 PM.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Music is a coupled system, not a series of isolated skills. Everything feeds into everything else. Reading can be a part of literally everything you do on the guitar.
    Naturally we've sorta strayed from the subject of the OP. Just wanted to say I agree most egregiously. This is one of the main reasons I'm brushing up. At this point in life it's not like I'm going to develop some skill that's gonna get me gigs and further my career or something.

    Like most musicians I'm obsessive. I recently overdid it trying to get some heads up to speed and had some finger pain. Needed to give my hands a break. Since I'm so slow at it, reading some simple violin music is a great way for me to do that while still being connected to my guitar journey.

    Another thing that comes to mind about reading in general: I know many improvisers of various musics & instruments who feel learning to read well might harm their musicality in some way. Like they somehow need to protect the 'magic'. This 'magic' must very fragile indeed if reading a little Bach is going to somehow ruin it. Maybe it's not as precious as they think it is. Reading the newspaper in the morning over coffee isn't going to mess up someone with the talents of a Stephen King when he gets to working on a book later in the day.

    Also... I like Bach, even at the super slow pace I play it. The guy knows how to turn a phrase.

  46. #45

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    My two all time favorites are Jim Hall and Wes.

    Jim Hall studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music, majoring in composition.

    Wes' wikipedia bio says "he was not skilled at reading music".

    If you choose to learn to read, or not, you're in good company.

  47. #46

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    Read chorales by Orlando gibbons or Bach, 30 mins a day before your practice, as a part of your warm up. Then move on to something like the Bach inventions, or Bach solos. The inventions have a lot of notes in them so it's good practice for note identification. It's good to learn to read in first position. But I generally read from 5th position as it gives you a bigger range.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft View Post
    Another thing that comes to mind about reading in general: I know many improvisers of various musics & instruments who feel learning to read well might harm their musicality in some way. Like they somehow need to protect the 'magic'. This 'magic' must very fragile indeed if reading a little Bach is going to somehow ruin it. Maybe it's not as precious as they think it is. Reading the newspaper in the morning over coffee isn't going to mess up someone with the talents of a Stephen King when he gets to working on a book later in the day.

    Also... I like Bach, even at the super slow pace I play it. The guy knows how to turn a phrase.
    Haha lol. So true.

    People who think this way probably overestimate the amount of 'Magic' they have lol. Good musicians are interested in learning stuff.

    It's worth pointing out just to clarify:

    Sight reading as opposed to reading is a professional skill that - for instance - if you play lots of standards jazz gigs you probably won't develop as highly as if you play theatre bands in London's West End (London is the sight reading capital of the world because no one can do rehearsals.) If you read each and every day with other players you will be a better sight reader then if the majority of your gigs are playing standards by memory. (OTOH the standards player's memory may be a lot more developed!)

    But reading itself - well you can learn to do that. Everyone should lol.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    London is the sight reading capital of the world because no one can do rehearsals.
    Interesting point. Around here, at least one rehearsal is mandatory, even on the low-key, semi-amateur level that I‘m on. Or maybe because Sight reading on guitar is making me want to kill myself. Please help.

    I can‘t remember an occasion in the last few years where there has not been at least one rehearsal, and if you couldn‘t make it you didn‘t play. That included amateurs as well as pros. Anyway, I‘m talking concerts here, not theater music, wedding gigs and stuff where the music is not the focus of attention. But I digress...



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  50. #49

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    I agree with others. Study at your level or you will become frustrated. Meaning, don't skip levels.

    If you were to take an Accounting class they would not allow you to start in Advanced Accounting. Maybe one person in a million might thrive. People lose sight of this concept when studying music, especially non-classical styles.

    To echo others, I have observed that William Leavitt's method books helped me tremendously. Make sure to include his Melodic Rhythm Studies and two (2) Sight Reading books too, which are also "leveled". Melodic Rhythm studies helps with syncopation and puts you in a better position to approach jazz.

    Try the Snidero series for guitar too. Easy Jazz Conception. Lennie Neihaus is good too, as mentioned above.

    Fakebooks too but don't worry about sight reading them to much if you're not very far along in the above material. Just read and memorize. Tackling Parker heads is a different ballgame altogether! That is, its very advanced.

    Don't forget, Beginner-Intermediate-Advanced (and multiple levels of each) applies to sight reading just like it applies to anything else - from Accounting to Kung Fu, to speaking Greek to playing the violin.

    Plan your studies, work hard, be patient, and enjoy the journey.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve View Post
    Interesting point. Around here, at least one rehearsal is mandatory, even on the low-key, semi-amateur level that I‘m on. Or maybe because Sight reading on guitar is making me want to kill myself. Please help.

    I can‘t remember an occasion in the last few years where there has not been at least one rehearsal, and if you couldn‘t make it you didn‘t play. That included amateurs as well as pros. Anyway, I‘m talking concerts here, not theater music, wedding gigs and stuff where the music is not the focus of attention. But I digress...



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    Yeah, it's really not a good thing unless you want to record music on the cheap (Hollywood used to use the LSO all the time, London voices etc, now they tend to go to Eastern Europe. I suppose they are cheaper.)

    Rehearsals and playing together makes for better music. NYC jazz is the best in the world, and part of this is to do with rehearsals. But its a more compact city than London.

    I think both the layout of the city and also the culture of the musicians here - there's a macho thing about just going in and NAILING it first time. That can be cool.... But the bands that sound GREAT are the ones that play together a lot.

    Well maybe not macho .... more like .... there's a weird Brit thing of not wanting to seem like you are trying too hard. It's not cool to have a work ethic, but to look like you do it effortlessly.