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  1. #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.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #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.

  4. #78
    DaShigsta Guest
    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.

  5. #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.

  6. #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.

  7. #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.

  8. #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.

  9. #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.

  10. #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.

  11. #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

  12. #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.

  13. #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.

  14. #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

  15. #89

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    braille music?

  16. #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

  17. #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."

  18. #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.

  19. #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".

  20. #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?

  21. #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.

  22. #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

  23. #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.

  24. #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.

  25. #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.

  26. #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