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  1. #51

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    I'm forever grateful to my first and only guitar teacher (in 1966) using the Nick Lucas Plectrum Guitar Method book.
    Boom ching ching, boom ching ching.....
    I can read but I'm not a particularly good sight reader though.

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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by garybaldy
    I'm forever grateful to my first and only guitar teacher (in 1966) using the Nick Lucas Plectrum Guitar Method book.
    Boom ching ching, boom ching ching.....
    I can read but I'm not a particularly good sight reader though.
    I didn’t know Nick Lucas did a book!

  4. #53

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    TBH in my experience if you can read, sight reading is a matter of exposure. You know how it works, you just need to do it.

    I recommend teaching guitar, actually. Teach your students to read, great way to learn to sightread yourself.

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald
    Here's two top level classical musicians that self describe as "not good sightreaders":
    EI: I told Ursula Oppens, “Ursula, you must be able to sight-read this stuff,” but she said, “No, I just have to work really hard, in fact, I’m not a very good sight reader.” I was surprised that somebody who’s recorded and performed so much fresh repertoire doesn’t play it down pretty much right away. What’s your process?

    MC: Well, I would say I’m not a really good sight-reader either.

    Of course it's hard to tell on the internet, but, I'd never make a statement like this without having references. I probably should have included them originally.
    O.K.,
    Facts are established by norms . . . not exceptions. Play live . . . Marinero

  6. #55

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    I think there’s a belief that classical musicians are automata who flawlessly execute any music you put in front of them. This is not the case.

    In fact as Edwin Gordon pointed out, as much interpretation beyond the score exists when sight reading Beethoven as when sight reading Parker.

    And to understand the language is important as it is for reading text; good sight readers don’t read notes, they read phrases. As a result they will often correct mistakes when reading the music of a composer they know well!

    For this reason reading only classical guitar music is not by itself great preparation for reading bop lines, and so on.

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I didn’t know Nick Lucas did a book!
    I think I still have it somewhere.

  8. #57

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    "I think there’s a belief that classical musicians are automata who flawlessly execute any music you put in front of them. This is not the case." Christianm77

    Hi, C,
    "Flawlessly"--I never said that nor was it implied. That, of course, would be untrue. However, I never met a "poor" reader who was formally trained.

    "
    For this reason reading only classical guitar music is not by itself great preparation for reading bop lines, and so on." CM

    This, IMO, is patently false. Reading IS reading irrespective of genre. Does Jazz sheet music read differently than Classical? Are the notes, dynamic markings, time values, key signatures, staff, etc., different? No. However, if your talking about the untrained player's hieroglyphics referred to as TAB, you're right. The earliest musical notation was in Babylonia in 1400BC. I think someone who considers themselves a musician should learn one of the important elements of their craft/art: reading music. . . and notes are notes . . .Thus Spake Zarathrustra
    Play live . . . Marinero

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by BWV
    Who tunes a banjo in 5ths?
    Real banjo players. we doublers tend to go with 4ths and a 3rd. 5th aren't all that hard if you do a lot of banjo work, and it's a brighter, snappier sound, which I hate, so I stick to doubler's tuning.

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    i guess you don't consider graduates of jazz programs "formally trained".

    Where did I say that? Musicians who graduate from Jazz Programs ARE FORMALLY TRAINED. How could they play in the College Big Bands and Combos needed to graduate? On a personal note, after completing advanced university degrees in another discipline, I returned to the The Chicago Conservatory of Music, now Roosevelt University, to formally study advanced practical Saxophone, theory, orchestration, and composing/arranging, part-time as I played full-time with a 10 piece Jazz Rock Big Band in which I wrote all the charts. There was no difference in reading skills between Jazzers and Classical players at the conservatory. However, one of the very best readers I ever knew was a Puerto Rican Saxophonist who played in a full-time Salsa Band and played first chair in the Big Band at the conservatory. That guy could read! For the record . . . Play live . . . Marinero

    Baile, Hermanos . . . Baile!!!!


  11. #60

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    There is no such thing as you can sight read or you can't.

    It's all relative to the situation.

    If you can read as well as the other guys in your band and the music sounds good, you can sight read -- for that situation.

    If you then try to play more difficult material and you can't do it, then you can't sight read, for that situation.

    Well, then again, I guess if you've made a living in the LA or NYC studios for 30 years, you can sight read.

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS
    That was the main instrument of the great Johnny St. Cyr.
    I know, right? Original 20s banjoists AFAIK played a diversity of instruments and tunings. To me Johnny St Cyr almost sounded like a guitarist in his soloing approach... I remember transcribing one of his solos...

    Well what can you say other than in this life there are a lot of people who couple a profound confidence in their own opinions on absolutely everything with a more or less total lack of knowledge of anything outside of their immediate wheelhouse?

    I just hope I eventually learn not to be one of those myself. I can’t help other people’s weird hang ups lol.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-17-2021 at 03:37 PM.

  13. #62

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    "There is no such thing as you can sight read or you can't.

    It's all relative to the situation." rpjazzguitar

    No, RP . . . it's not relative to the situation. You can read music or you can't. Period. When I needed a sub for a gig when a horn player was sick(frequently in Chicago's Winters), I had a list of players I knew could read my charts. They didn't have to improvise. They didn't need to be creative. They had to read the horn charts. One of my favorite subs was a Classical clarinet player who doubled on sax. He was a bitch of a reader and after awhile, even memorized some of the charts. But, he could play the new stuff as well. When you're a working band, there's usually no time to practice or get the charts ahead of time. Would you hire a carpenter who had to study a 2x4 before he cut it? Not on my watch. Play live . . . Marinero

  14. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    "There is no such thing as you can sight read or you can't.

    It's all relative to the situation." rpjazzguitar

    No, RP . . . it's not relative to the situation. You can read music or you can't. Period. When I needed a sub for a gig when a horn player was sick(frequently in Chicago's Winters), I had a list of players I knew could read my charts. They didn't have to improvise. They didn't need to be creative. They had to read the horn charts. One of my favorite subs was a Classical clarinet player who doubled on sax. He was a bitch of a reader and after awhile, even memorized some of the charts. But, he could play the new stuff as well. When you're a working band, there's usually no time to practice or get the charts ahead of time. Would you hire a carpenter who had to study a 2x4 before he cut it? Not on my watch. Play live . . . Marinero
    So do you think every guitar player who is a graduate of a jazz program can read that well? I mean according to your binary definition of read vs can't read?

  15. #64

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    "There is no such thing as you can sight read or you can't.

    It's all relative to the situation." rpjazzguitar

    No, RP . . . it's not relative to the situation. You can read music or you can't. Period. When I needed a sub for a gig when a horn player was sick(frequently in Chicago's Winters), I had a list of players I knew could read my charts. They didn't have to improvise. They didn't need to be creative. They had to read the horn charts. One of my favorite subs was a Classical clarinet player who doubled on sax. He was a bitch of a reader and after awhile, even memorized some of the charts. But, he could play the new stuff as well. When you're a working band, there's usually no time to practice or get the charts ahead of time. Would you hire a carpenter who had to study a 2x4 before he cut it? Not on my watch. Play live . . . Marinero
    What if a player could read your charts but not Zappa's or some other harder chart? Can he sight read?

  17. #66

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    I have no idea what M is on about, but I have not found reading classical guitar music very good preparation for reading bop lines or pop 16th note rhythms for example. It may be written in the same alphabet but the ‘words’ are different.

    the reason I say this is because this is often offered as a piece of advice. If you want to read read classical guitar music. Fine, but read other stuff as well. I mean, maybe some stuff in flat keys for a start?

    Anyway, I play in a few bands with classically trained musicians (the majority of the Hot Club of Jupiter have classical backgrounds) and a lot of the players in big bands are classical players. It doesn’t alter the fact that if you want to read in a musical style you need experience reading in that style.

    Training can teach you the notes, maybe some tricks of the trade. But when it comes down to it, the real teacher of so many musical skills is miles on the clock. Musicians playing in horn sections will learn to phrase together and so on.... not every classical player has this experience, some have spent years only playing chamber music or whatever, but most good readers out there freelancing do it all from commercial music to Mahler symphonies.

    So someone might be able to read the pitches of a Charlie Parker solo or a Mozart sonata. But really good sight readers (and yes they exist and are BUSY) get the style and feel of the music too and as I say, correct mistakes etc in the chart. Again, so often in London there is no rehearsal, or maybe partial rehearsal (maybe running some tricky bits if you can persuade people to turn up an hour before the gig.)

    And that’s the advice really; if you want to be have good all round reading, read widely and eclectically. Again, teaching is actually really good for this.

  18. #67

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    I learned to read music when I was five. I sight-sung the whole Brahms Requiem once (don‘t ask). On CG I can sight-read Sor and the like, but not Villa-Lobos (not till I figure out which chord he wants me to slide all over the fretboard). I can sight-read a lot of horn charts but when it‘s a funk tune I‘ll have to count the 16th before I can play it. I agree with Christian that a lot is about reading phrases and not individual notes - I guess that’s why I’m better at some things.

    From personal experience, reading classical music is different from reading jazz.

    What does that make me?


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  19. #68

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    Exactly... it’s comprehensible input. It’s not just reading that helps with this.... spending time learning the Rule of the Octave really helps with reading 18th and early 19th century guitar music but it’s no help at all with a Rodrigo piece. Or a big band chart.

    OTOH transcribing Charlie Parker really helps me read bop lines...

    It’s not one skill, it’s a whole slew of them - ESPECIALLY on guitar where you might have a load of different types of notation on a chart, for instance what DaShigsta has posted on his thread. One of my teachers (a classically trained musician) described it as a highly specialised form of improvisation, and I like that.

    (For instance despite not being the best reader - although to my surprise people seem to think I’m decent - I was once hired because the previous guitarist, a classical player, simply couldn’t read the guitar part for a children’s opera. The composer, unfamiliar with the voicing capabilities of the instrument, had written the part out as mix of chord symbols and standard notation.

    Anyone used to playing sessions, big band stuff and shows would have been fine... but someone who only reads classical guitar music in standard notation has no chance.)

    In terms of reading dots, if you can link it up with audiation that’s the secret really. Audiation works the same way; in gestalts, chunks, not note by note.

    The thing is you have to do with jazz rhythms for instance. You can maybe get by with playing pitches mechanistically on a guitar, but you have to hear rhythms from the page.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-18-2021 at 04:36 AM.

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I have no idea what M is on about, but I have not found reading classical guitar music very good preparation for reading bop lines or pop 16th note rhythms for example. It may be written in the same alphabet but the ‘words’ are different.

    the reason I say this is because this is often offered as a piece of advice. If you want to read read classical guitar music. Fine, but read other stuff as well. I mean, maybe some stuff in flat keys for a start?

    Anyway, I play in a few bands with classically trained musicians (the majority of the Hot Club of Jupiter have classical backgrounds) and a lot of the players in big bands are classical players. It doesn’t alter the fact that if you want to read in a musical style you need experience reading in that style.

    Training can teach you the notes, maybe some tricks of the trade. But when it comes down to it, the real teacher of so many musical skills is miles on the clock. Musicians playing in horn sections will learn to phrase together and so on.... not every classical player has this experience, some have spent years only playing chamber music or whatever, but most good readers out there freelancing do it all from commercial music to Mahler symphonies.

    So someone might be able to read the pitches of a Charlie Parker solo or a Mozart sonata. But really good sight readers (and yes they exist and are BUSY) get the style and feel of the music too and as I say, correct mistakes etc in the chart. Again, so often in London there is no rehearsal, or maybe partial rehearsal (maybe running some tricky bits if you can persuade people to turn up an hour before the gig.)

    And that’s the advice really; if you want to be have good all round reading, read widely and eclectically. Again, teaching is actually really good for this.
    Hi, C,
    Thanks for your honest reply. We must accept that we agree to disagree. When I write, I write from my own experience. As a young aspiring Jazz saxophonist, I purchased Oliver Nelson's "Patterns for Improvisation." I was also studying Classical Sax and studying Marcel Mule's Etudes(among others he wrote) for Saxophone. They were both pedagogical and intended to induce fluency of technique and SIGHT READING. I used both during my warmup time before studying a piece: one Jazz; one Classical. I honestly couldn't tell the difference when I sight read the exercises. Music is music, C. It just comes in different flavors. Play live . . . Marinero

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by docsteve
    I learned to read music when I was five. I sight-sung the whole Brahms Requiem once (don‘t ask). On CG I can sight-read Sor and the like, but not Villa-Lobos (not till I figure out which chord he wants me to slide all over the fretboard). I can sight-read a lot of horn charts but when it‘s a funk tune I‘ll have to count the 16th before I can play it. I agree with Christian that a lot is about reading phrases and not individual notes - I guess that’s why I’m better at some things.

    From personal experience, reading classical music is different from reading jazz.

    What does that make me?


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    Hi, D,
    You are one of the good contributors here. And, like C, I believe you are a gentleman. However, this "Black Magic" you and C are talking about does not represent a reality I lived for 16 years as a full-time working musician and a part-time solo performer for the last 40 years. As I said to C, let us agree to disagree but in all honesty, I've never heard these ideas from formally trained musicians--ever. However, let me propose an example and a caveat: until this Covid madness, I played "part-time", usually weekends, doing a solo Classical gig(some Jazz/Bossa as it warranted) in upscale bistros, hotels, wine festivals/presentations, etc. I have a usual set schedule of music but also bring at least 50 other pieces in case I feel a different vibe in the audience. They are intermediate level, usually linear Classical pieces(Bach, Mozart, Carcassi, etc,) and I sight read them 100%. Some have cobwebs on the pages; others I play occasionally. The caveat is before I perform them, I quickly read through my personally annotated sheet music to see if I have any alternate fingerings/stretches/problem spots(less than 30 seconds) and then I play them. It wouldn't matter if they were old horn charts I wrote in the 60's/70's/early 80's or Classical music. But, I play them cleanly and not mechanically. This is why I spent such an inordinate part of my life sitting alone in a room with musical instruments. And, although I haven't touched my Tenor since the early 80's, I could ,with little effort, pick it up and start reading again with no problem. It is a skill that took years of my life to develop. Now, one last remark. There are some Jazz Big Band charts(Buddy Rich/Maynard Ferguson/Thad Jones/ Toshiko Akioshi) and advanced Classical Music compositions(Beethoven guitar transcriptions/Chopin, Mertz, Guliani, etc,) that would be almost impossible to sight-read on a first reading and play well. But, were not talking about those pieces and NO ONE would ever expect you to read those on a job unless, in the case of the big band charts from these specific orchestras, you got the "book" ahead of time. But, then there's tenor sax great, James Moody, who left the circuit for years and played in pit bands in Las Vegas . . . because he was a great musician and a great reader. . . and, he made 2-3x the money he could have made touring. So, in conclusion, I've only taken this time for explanation because I believe you and C are serious people and I want you to know that most working musicians I've known, always non-guitar players, would also heartily disagree with your ideas.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  22. #71

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    Hi M,

    Thank you, and allow me to return the compliment.

    Yes, it seems that your experience is different from mine. After what you wrote, it seems that you have purposefully trained sightreading both jazz and classical music, so small wonder that you are adept at both. Also I am not a professional musician. Although I have received 10 years or more of formal training, and played a variety of instruments in a variety of situations, I never really needed to earn a living playing music so my experience is certainly different from years and your skills much higher than mine.


    I'd just like to point out that sight reading proper, to me, means reading a chart on the first attempt, as you would do in a studio situation when sitting in for someone else. Since this is obviously only possible once for any given tune, the other aspect is how fast you can grasp any written music and how many attempts you actually need to nail it.


    When you say that you've been sightreading classical music on your gigs, I take it that you saw the music before, but never specially practised it. I am not a native speaker of English, but I' call this reading, not sightreading.


    But as we say, two excellent people, two excellent opinions. Take care, Stephan

  23. #72

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    Interesting thread. I don't know any particular reason why guitarists should not be as proficient at sight reading as any other instrumentalist. It's certainly affords more opportunities to play with more musicians in a variety of settings and genres. But a 'gun-slinger' type attitude can creep in where if you can't immediately and competently play a piece which you've just seen for the first time, then you ain't a 'real' sight-reader. I think such situations are relatively rare. Even actors reading a piece of text for the first time at a rehearsal aren't expected to include 'all the business'.

    I once had to sight read a guitar part for a sort of classical/jazz ensemble. The guitar part had been left in someone's car and was handed to me while I was in the pit, with the conductor standing waiting. He gave me time to put the part on the stand, open it and then gave the down beat. I surprised myself by getting through it without any mishaps - there were a number of instrumental lines in various flat keys which I discovered along the way- but I wouldn't want to and really don't expect to have to repeat that too often.

  24. #73
    Quote Originally Posted by Irishmuso
    Interesting thread. I don't know any particular reason why guitarists should not be as proficient at sight reading as any other instrumentalist. It's certainly affords more opportunities to play with more musicians in a variety of settings and genres. But a 'gun-slinger' type attitude can creep in where if you can't immediately and competently play a piece which you've just seen for the first time, then you ain't a 'real' sight-reader. I think such situations are relatively rare. Even actors reading a piece of text for the first time at a rehearsal aren't expected to include 'all the business'.

    I once had to sight read a guitar part for a sort of classical/jazz ensemble. The guitar part had been left in someone's car and was handed to me while I was in the pit, with the conductor standing waiting. He gave me time to put the part on the stand, open it and then gave the down beat. I surprised myself by getting through it without any mishaps - there were a number of instrumental lines in various flat keys which I discovered along the way- but I wouldn't want to and really don't expect to have to repeat that too often.
    In elementary school, I played the mandolin and recorder. Playing the recorder always meant reading, but playing the mandolin never involved reading.

    I think most horn, piano, violin etc players learn their instruments by reading. Guitar players don't. It's a stylistic difference.

    In terms of higher education, some jazz programs were born out of classical conservatories. It makes sense that they would have more emphasis on reading. But I suspect contemporary music colleges like Musicians Institute College, Berklee College, Humber College etc are more relaxed about it. Especially in the admissions process. Students must have some ability to read of course but I bet being an excellent reader is not a graduation requirement, nevermind being an admission requirement. Especially for guitar majors. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

    I think most graduates who are particularly good readers were already particularly good readers before they went to university. Most guitar players who go on to study contemporary music do not come from the reading tradition unless they had a private teacher who was big on reading and hit them when they made mistakes.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 04-19-2021 at 01:51 PM.

  25. #74

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    "Students must have some ability to read of course but I bet being an excellent reader is not a graduation requirement, nevermind being an admission requirement. Especially for guitar majors. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

    Most guitar players who go on to study contemporary music do not come from the reading tradition unless they had a private teacher who was big on reading and hit them when they made mistakes." Tal75


    Hi, T,
    Thanks for the reply. Paragraph #1
    When I began College(1968), students who wanted to become part of a quality university music program had to audition before a panel of judges before final acceptance into the program. This may not have been the case in lesser universities/colleges. The theory was that they wanted students who have had a previous experience in musical training and they, in essence, would be the finishing school. You were required to perform in small ensembles and concert band throughout your tenure and have a juried performance before graduation. I would believe it is still the same at Julliard, Northwestern University, and Curtis, for example.
    Paragraph 2
    This, Tal, I believe, is the problem. The accessibility of the guitar to play poorly without instruction in pop music is the biggest problem. It has been a folk instrument for ages and many good/great players were "ear musicians" but that has changed in recent years with Jazz Programs across our country and more serious Jazz guitar music played that requires reading.
    Finally, I don't know why a guitarist would not want to read music proficiently since it opens more avenues for employment and cuts study time in half when learning solos, chord progressions, etc. That's why, before it was too late, I returned to my music studies for final finishing since reading was an essential tool to play in top musical groups with other trained musicians. But, if you're a three chord Rocker and are happy with your music . . . Rock on, Garth . . . Rock on!
    Play live . . . Marinero

  26. #75

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    To me reading, along with ear playing skills is a central plank of what I think of as core musicianship. When you have both of these down, the musical world’s your oyster, really.

    It’s frustrating that some seem to think you have to choose. This is not the case.

    I think the main reason why guitarists have been historically poor readers is there isn’t a culture of reading among non-classical players. The simple answer is - make it part of your culture in whatever way you can.

  27. #76

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    Around here, I've never met anybody who started on saxophone playing by ear.

    Piano lessons for kids means reading. I don't think I know any pianists who can't read pretty well.

    For guitar, learning to read from the start seems to be an exception.

    So, in 4th grade, the horn players were already in a section at school, reading. Not the guitarists.

    I learned to read from the beginning, on guitar. It probably slowed the development of my ear (my fault), but being able to read has been my entry point into playing in some very good situations.

  28. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I’ve had MD’s get a bit snotty about banjo tuning in jazz bands but I can’t imagine most mainstream ones being at all interested.

    I have gigged on a Banjo-guitar. Maybe someone might object to that in account of it having the wrong number of strings
    Yeah, MDs and even musicians look down on 6 string banjos. I sent my #1 sub on Mame, and the guys in the band said everyone was making fun of him because he had a SIX string banjo. They don't give a schlitz that I'm using guitar tuning, but when they see that six string banjo, they go for the jugular.
    I've got to say that I really like playing the banjo on SHOWS (not on jazz). I have a lot of respect for the arrangers of Broadway shows, and they really know how to write for the banjo in an ensemble. It's very strange, but two of the best musical experiences I've had playing shows involved playing the banjo.
    "Me and My Girl" has a great banjo book, and it's voiced beautifully to blend with a full string section.
    The other experience just had to do with the sound man. He was a top city pro and he made the thing sound like a million dollar instrument.

  29. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    ......but being able to read has been my entry point into playing in some very good situations.
    same here...

    It's a crucial part of general musicianship just like a writer has to be able to read and write in his chosen language.

  30. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Around here, I've never met anybody who started on saxophone playing by ear.

    Piano lessons for kids means reading. I don't think I know any pianists who can't read pretty well.

    For guitar, learning to read from the start seems to be an exception.

    So, in 4th grade, the horn players were already in a section at school, reading. Not the guitarists.

    I learned to read from the beginning, on guitar. It probably slowed the development of my ear (my fault), but being able to read has been my entry point into playing in some very good situations.
    I learned to read on the guitar from the start (and before guitar, I learned to read on recorder), but my ears were always better than my eyes. Even in my (brief) period of classical lessons, I learned music much faster and more easily by copying what my teacher played than by reading, and that has always stood in the way of my being able to sight read. In college, I took a little theory and ear training and as well as some jazz guitar lessons as electives (I was not a music student), and for a while I was almost kinda sight reading. But I was never in regular playing situations that required me to sight read, so what skills I had kind of atrophied. I don't quite know why, but this seems to be a common experience among guitarists. Some people theorize that it's inherently more difficult to read on guitar because you have to figure out which instance of a note to play (and/or shift octaves to avoid position shifts) on the fly, but that never really seemed like the problem to me.

  31. #80

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    ..... electives (I was not a music student), and for a while I was almost kinda sight reading. But I was never in regular playing situations that required me to sight read, so what skills I had kind of atrophied. I don't quite know why, but this seems to be a common experience among guitarists. .
    I think there are few things going on that affect how most guitar players learn to play, use their ear, and if and how they learn to read music.

    As you say, not too many folks learn sax or other band instruments purely by ear, and even if they do play by ear in bands that don't use charts, they likely have had some school band training in their past.

    But unlike the trumpet, sax, clarinet, and trombone players, even drummers, who learn to read music in band class and practice a lot over the years, there are almost no guitars used in orchestra, band and symphonic groups.

    Add that to the fact that most guitar players begin by learning rock, pop or folk music, which are largley aural traditions, they don't get used to reading music. Many will use TAB to learn some new tunes but on gigs.

    I was lucky - I played string bass in the school bands AND guitar in the jazz band and combo, so I got reading practice in school.

    One interesting thing, my senior year in 1975, our assistant band director organized a guitar ensemble playing the then-new Leavitt arrangements, so 5 of us got to practice guitar reading.

  32. #81

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    When I was okay at sight reading I was doing it everyday, really that's all there is to it.

    And, you learn to look ahead and read more than one note at a time, reading phrases. Just like reading words, you don't sound out the letters, rather you read the word in one gulp, or several words in one gulp.

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    I've got to say that I really like playing the banjo on SHOWS (not on jazz). I have a lot of respect for the arrangers of Broadway shows, and they really know how to write for the banjo in an ensemble. It's very strange, but two of the best musical experiences I've had playing shows involved playing the banjo.
    Like you I had some great experiences playing banjo in shows.

    The best one was meeting my wife in 1979 in a production of "Mack and Mabel" which also has a fine banjo book.

    She was a dancer, I was in the pit orchestra.

    Mission & History | Le Petit Theatre

    Mack And Mabel

    9/7/1979 - 9/22/1979

    "
    Barbara Solomon .... Chorus"



    The choreographer was the great singer/dancer/banjo player Banu Gibson, too.

  34. #83

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    I learned how to read from guitar lessons -- Mel Bay 2, Colin and Bower's Rhythms (great book to learn to read), a clarinet book, a Paganini book and a book called Advanced Dance Rhythms.

    I spent a year reading simple classical guitar out of a couple of beginner's classical books.

    And, I read through fakebooks -- the cardex book and, later, the Real Book.

    But, I didn't really learn to sight read until I played in an octet where the guitar was often voiced as a fifth horn. When you hear a good big band, the horns sort of melt together to form one big note, or chord. When the guitar doesn't stick out from that, you're getting there.

  35. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaShigsta
    same here...

    It's a crucial part of general musicianship just like a writer has to be able to read and write in his chosen language.
    Yet so many great jazz musicians did not read. The analogy is wrong. To be a writer, it is essential to be able to read and write. To be a musician, one must be able to play.

  36. #85

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    ...answering the OP question about sight reading Donna Lee...

    My childhood friend's father who was professional musician, (jazz organ) often said, he knew a fellow musician, who could even sight read a plate of poppy seed pasta.

    Being visual type I always visualize this, which makes me laugh :-)


    What is sight reading?-05886e0a-0b67-4b48-8d24-830102ec4dd4-jpeg

  37. #86

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    Some thoughts on reading from the amateur end of the spectrum:

    I played folkish guitar before I was ten, rock in my teens and jazz / funk in my twenties. I never learnt to read music notation or took real lessons; I played everything by ear and could read chord charts reasonably well. I jammed with the local conservatory jazz students during their first few years of study and could hold my own.

    In my 30s I sold my elec guitar and kept my acoustic, which gathered dust under my bed. I focused on my career and my family. I hardly touched my guitar for a decade.

    My interest in music was re-kindled when my kids started learning music at a young age (my 6 year old son came home from school one day and announced to me that he’d like to learn the violin). My musical tastes had changed over the past decade and real world commitments prevented me from playing in a group, so I started taking classical guitar lessons. I’ve always loved solo guitar playing of nearly any genre.

    So I learnt to read notation in my 40s. I now can sight read beginner CG pieces up to about grade 3, I can do a reasonable rendition of grade 4 / 5 pieces within 10 to 20 minutes, but grade 6 and above requires much more time because of my physical / technical limitations.

    Learning to read music, even at my relatively basic level, has opened up a universe to me. Its greatest impact is my ability to cycle through many pieces quickly.

    There are thousands of CG pieces available on the net. Many are bland, but there are hidden gems. Because of my newly acquired albeit modest reading skills, I can spend an afternoon assessing 20 or 30 new pieces. I choose 3 or 4 that I like and add them to my repertoire. I do this once per month and it has helped me to become a better musician and get greater enjoyment from my music.

    I wish I’d learnt to read earlier, when I was a kid. Learning takes time, but not as long as I thought it would. I recognise that this is a CG perspective, not a jazz perspective, but I recommend any musician to learn to read to some degree, even hobbyists like me.

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    Yet so many great jazz musicians did not read. The analogy is wrong. To be a writer, it is essential to be able to read and write. To be a musician, one must be able to play.
    My teachers said that a "complete" musician could read music AND play by ear.

    And yes, there were certain jazz greats like Wes and Bechet that were not readers...but way more of them were able to read music.

    I'm curious of the list of jazz greats that you KNOW did not read music.

  39. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS
    My teachers said that a "complete" musician could read music AND play by ear.

    And yes, there were certain jazz greats like Wes and Bechet that were not readers...but way more of them were able to read music.

    I'm curious of the list of jazz greats that you KNOW did not read music.
    lennie tristano, eric kloss, george shearing, tete montoliu, roland kirk, art tatum

  40. #89

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    braille music?

  41. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by djg
    lennie tristano, eric kloss, george shearing, tete montoliu, roland kirk, art tatum
    OK, many if not all on that list were also visually impaired..and may have been able to read Braille music notation. Ray CHarles and Stevie Wonder were able to read Braille music. Granted they would not be sight-reading scores in a band situation.

    Braille music - Wikipedia

    https://www.tsbvi.edu/handouts/feb10...lleHandout.pdf

  42. #91

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    It seems to me that point about "[famous jazz player] couldn't read" is irrelevant to the question of whether you or I should learn to read. If any of us were at the level of Wes or Art Tatum, we wouldn't be here talking about whether reading is important. We'd be friggin' playing like Wes or Art Tatum. For the rest of us, reading to at least some degree is useful, even though it's possible to get by OK without being able to. I've never heard anyone say "I wish I couldn't read music."

  43. #92
    OK it seems like we should distinguish between different levels of reading b/c I'm not sure if everybody means the same thing by "reading" music.

    Maybe this will help:

    0 - Can't name the notes on his/her instrument.

    1 - Can read music well enough to learn written music and play musical examples in books etc. But not well enough to play them at tempo without some prior work.

    2 - Can read previously never seen music music well enough to play not so complex repertoire at "musical tempos" without too many errors for personal study/pleasure.

    3 - Can perform in front of an audience by reading previously never seen but not overly complex music in a familiar style.

    4 - Anything beyond the level 3.


    This thread is mostly about the levels 3 and 4 as the minimum level for true "sight reading" ability is I think 3. I would classify my reading as level 1.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 04-21-2021 at 12:32 PM.

  44. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    OK it seems like we should distinguish between different levels of reading b/c I'm not sure if everybody means the same thing by "reading" music.

    Maybe this will help:

    0 - Can't name the notes on his/her instrument.

    1 - Can read music well enough to learn written music and play musical examples in books etc. But not well enough to play them at tempo without some prior work.

    2 - Can read previously never seen music music well enough to play not so complex repertoire at "musical tempos" without too many errors for personal study/pleasure.

    3 - Can perform in front of an audience by reading previously never seen but not overly complex music in a familiar style.

    4 - Anything beyond the level 3.


    This thread is mostly about the levels 3 and 4 as the minimum level for true "sight reading" ability is I think 3. I would classify my reading as level 1.
    I find this list of levels very useful for this discussion. I learned classical violin as a child and was at level 2, and could get to level 3 (if I had heard the song or the section I was required to play was very simple, which it often was), but was stuck at somewhere between level 2 and 3. Once I switched to guitar and jazz I dropped down to a level between 1 and 2; E.g. I can sight read a slow, fairly uncomplex ballot, but if it is a complex melody (or one that has major interval differences e.g. Easy Living), I need to take it very slow and work on that until I can play it at a "musical tempo".

  45. #94

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    As you are reading this post does it matter to you whether I used touch typing?
    Does it matter if I actually know how to touch type but decided not to use that?
    If you knew for sure I did or didn't would that alter how you liked what I wrote?
    Does it provide a clue for you to notice that these lines came out right-justified?

  46. #95

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    Now and then people end up arguing about the meaning of a term which has no standard definition. It's a hard argument to win, or lose.

    My thought is that you can "sight read" when you read well enough to succeed at the reading task in front of you. If you do that, nobody is going to say you can't sight read because, hypothetically, you'd have failed if the chart was harder. If you can't do it, it won't matter if you can read something easier. That makes the definition situation specific.

    If you think that most written music requires about the same level of reading skill, well, then you could advance a standard definition of what it means to sight read. That hasn't been my experience though. Some band books are harder than others.

  47. #96

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    So, this morning, I printed out some free sheet music for my expanding repertoire-- post pandemic. The downside of the pandemic is that most of us have not played in a year. But, the upside is that it has given the "working" musician a chance to learn new performance pieces that would have taken much longer given the status quo. And, when I look at what I've added to my repertoire, I ask myself: "How long would it take to learn this new material if I couldn't read music?--most of which is well beyond the average player. This is another reason for the importance of reading music--learning new materials quickly.
    I think most musicians who did not get formal musical training look at a sheet of black dots and scribbles and become easily intimidated but once into the river, you would be surprised how quickly you swim and the freedom and confidence it gives you day in every aspect of your musical education. And, there's a hidden secret that provides a real quality learning experience not far from home. Every Junior/Community College has a music program that provides music lessons from quality, university-trained musicians. You can start from ground zero and go as far as you'd like to go musically. I once studied with a CG artist who got his BA at Peabody Conservatory, Masters in Music at Yale and toured nationally and internationally ,in the past and present, with many national/international prize-winning competitions under his belt. And, there are many retired people who take these classes for college credit. It's never too late. Highly recommended. Play live . . . Marinero

  48. #97
    When I'm learning a new jazz standard, I actually make a point of not learning it by reading from the real book. I listen to many recordings, usually of vocalists. Often the tune is sung in different keys. I pay attention to parts of the tune they all sing the same way and parts that they sing differently. I pick a key and sing it. Then I play it.

    My sight reading isn't great but I can read most Tin Pan Alley standards very easily. However, I feel like I'm taking a shortcut when I read them. I also learn solos and pieces of vocabulary by transcribing them. I learn them by ear first even if I have the published version of the solo in an anthology.

    Lately I started transcribing the harmonies as well. I'm not in the business of trying to get gigs that involve sight reading. I like playing in small combo settings or solo arrangements. I find that having a faster and more accurate ear is a more useful skill for me than being a good sight reader. I also find it preferable if I and other people in the band already know the tunes.

    Even if I got my sight reading to a high level, I'd lose it quickly unless I maintain it daily. Now do I want to spend my practice time by reading etudes or work on contrapuntal arrangements, expanding solo and comping vocabulary etc. It's a trade-off.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 04-22-2021 at 01:26 PM.

  49. #98

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    As you are reading this post does it matter to you whether I used touch typing?
    Does it matter if I actually know how to touch type but decided not to use that?
    If you knew for sure I did or didn't would that alter how you liked what I wrote?
    Does it provide a clue for you to notice that these lines came out right-justified?
    Are you the pauln that I really liked on Strat Talk, who left that board some years ago. I appreciated your posts.

  50. #99

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS
    Are you the pauln that I really liked on Strat Talk, who left that board some years ago. I appreciated your posts.
    Thanks, very kind of you to say. Yes; the folks here haven't figured out how to run me off.

  51. #100

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    Context matters. Getting a chart 'right' can mean playing exactly what's on the page, more than what's on the page, or less than what's on the page.

    In a Broadway type show, or some more modern big band arrangements, you play what's written Dynamics, articulation, phrasing are all specified

    For a jazz lead sheet on a small combo gig, reading well might mean interpreting a straight melody, not exactly as written, but adding your own personal syncopation and phrasing, and knowing when to play E7#9#5 when the chart says Cmaj7.

    For old timey big band charts, reading well can mean knowing when to ignore an overwritten chart from an arranger with little concept of how to write for guitar, and crafting a simplified part that blends with the band in period-correct style

    PK