The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    I can't read music. I need help, I've been suffering through lead sheets for 2 years, memorizing one bar at a time and then comparing it to recordings. There has to be a better way. Full immersion is just leading me to burnout.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    What's giving you the biggest issue, rhythms or pitch--or both?

    I'm a terrible reader, but I can read a lead sheet. And that seems to be the thing I need to do to play the music I want...So I'd start there. Have a Real Book?

    One of the things that really helped me was sitting and reading rhythms and scatting them away from any instrument. Then when I sat down to learn a melody from a sheet, I already knew the melodic rhythm.

    Writing tunes out also helps. Write your own charts, even if you have one. Get a Bb lead sheet and transpose it to concert pitch. Do it with tunes you actually want to learn, so it's useful...nothing has to be learned in a vaccuum, not as a busy adult.

  4. #3

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    I don't even know the basic rules. For example, I had to ask someone if there's a b next to a note (Bb in C making it dominant), does it last until the end of the bar, the measure, do octaves count too?

    I can sit down with a lead sheet and "FACE is the space" my way through it over an hour or two. But it's so time consuming I'll run out of time before I'm done or quit or just the thought of it is too much to start and I'll work on something else.

    Honestly, it's not enjoyable to suffer through it and I feel like I'm trying to read a book before learning the alphabet. I'm sure if I stuck with this routine for a few more years it would get better.

  5. #4

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    Get a simple book of well known melodies (Beatles, Nursery Rhymes). Make sure it doesn't have TAB and play through the tunes. When reading jazz lead sheets in difficult keys perhaps take a pencil
    and give your self some help by notating courtesy accidentals.

    OnMusic Dictionary - Term

    Easy Beatles with note names

    https://www.amazon.com/Beatles-Super...a-493709157345

    I learned to read music later in life. It can be done!

  6. #5

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    I think practise is the only way to improve reading?

    I think it will probably help you more to practise reading something which you find relatively easy to read (so without needing to stop at every single bar).
    If you need to, get a book for children that starts with exercises with only two or three notes and then add one note at a time.


    There's a book called "syncopation for the modern drummer" which has nice exercises to read rythm.

    There's another book called A Modern Method for Guitar Volume 1 by William Leavitt which is often recommended.
    This book covers the basics like explaining what a 'b' and '#' infront of a note means (and that it lasts for the rest of the bar) .
    I recommend buying just volume 1 to start with. There is a cheaper option to buy volume 1, 2 and 3 in the same book but that book is too big, so it is difficult to maneuver on the music stand, theres some stiffness in the pages so if you turn a page, it automatically turns it self back. (there might though be differnt reprint versions or something like that).

  7. #6

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    Guitar Basics is fun and has backing tracks

  8. #7

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    One thing that helped me was separating pitch from rhythm.

    One of my teachers had me working through the Louis Bellson drum method, "Modern Rhythms In 4/4." I would play scales, one note, arpeggios, wankery -- it didn't matter, it was about reading rhythm.

    When I'm reading a chart now and I click into that headspace, I only have half as much to think about: What note comes next?

    + + +

    Keep going. It's worth it. Jazz musicians benefit from sometimes being in a situation where there is a right answer -- one right answer -- and you have to hit it. Besides that, there are galaxies of beautiful sounds in the form of written music.

  9. #8

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    Really helpful to learn to read music from scratch. Rythm, pitches, navigate a lead sheet (DC, DS, repeats...) In a couple of months (1/2 hour per day 4 times per week, you will be ready to read and play basic melodies from the Real Book.

    Music Reading for Guitar - Essential Concepts Series - Musicians Institute Press | Hal Leonard Online

  10. #9

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    I have an app that I wrote for myself (hence its a bit evil to use) just to learn the notes on upper positions without any other stumbling stones.
    Check my sig below. Worked for me. But it'd be just the first step to get good at reading.
    There was also a good reading app for rhythm only somewhere... but haven't used it for a long time.

    Btw. It's not too terrible to be a bad reader... if you're not in Quincy's band.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen View Post
    I can't read music. I need help
    Hey Allan, it's appropriate to say,

    THANK YOU for speaking out.
    Just by that you may be helping somebody today.
    Nicely done.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    Btw. It's not too terrible to be a bad reader... if you're not in Quincy's band.
    I just want to get better, I want to get into some omnibooks but I don't want it to be painful. Like I said above, I can suffer through a lead sheet to memorize it, but it takes forever and I still have to double check against recordings because I don't know the minutia.

  13. #12

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    Right now I'm looking at getting Modern Method for Guitar Vol 1. it seems to come up as often as the Mickey Baker book on the forum.

  14. #13

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    If it's already proven to be difficult for you, I'd suggest starting with a traditional guitar method like Mel Bay.

    Starts from zero, builds up and it's easy enough for kids.

    Do the first two books then get Rhythms Complete by Colin and Bower and read everything as written and up an octave.

    The commitment required is probably around an hour a day for a few months.

    At that point, you'll know enough to read most standards pretty well and you'll have the tools you need to figure out more advanced material.

  15. #14

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    I could read bass in high school, then in college I learned the treble clef for some music theory classes but then I didn’t do anything on paper for the next 15 or so years.

    I thought it would come right back, but I think I’ve lost it.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen View Post
    I can't read music. I need help, I've been suffering through lead sheets for 2 years, memorizing one bar at a time and then comparing it to recordings. There has to be a better way. Full immersion is just leading me to burnout.
    Jimmy Bruno in one of his YouTube rants against tab recommended Mel Bay Grade 1 ("the one with the blue cover").
    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...el+1&_osacat=0

    I've worked through Leavitt's Volume 1 and don't recommend it as a starting point. FWIW.

    Good luck!

  17. #16

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    Leavitt's book was designed for college students who need remedial help; it movs other quickly. The various Mel Bay and Alfred beginning methods are probably more user-friendly for those who really can't read. For one thing, they have very easy song-like exercises, unlike Leavitt's examples, which tend to be more difficult and complex. The Leavitt book is perfect for learning advanced guitar technique and theory.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen View Post
    Right now I'm looking at getting Modern Method for Guitar Vol 1. it seems to come up as often as the Mickey Baker book on the forum.
    MM vol. 1 definitely is the book - very thorough, archives of study group here are a source of encouragement, also it is easy to find youtube videos of Larry's lessons for the whole book should you get stuck in doubt.
    Be prepared to be frustrated with slow progress in the beginning though - it will take time to pass through the initial stages when it seems almost hopeless. An attitude I found works best is being stubborn, keeping at it and not thinking much about how you are.
    After a while it starts to build momentum and it gets easier and easier.

    It does seem to me that it takes more time for an adult (it took me 1,5 year to get through the book compared to several months of an hour per day people keep saying) but still it is doable and very much worth it.
    Even a basic reading ability broadens learning possibility immensely.

  19. #18

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    Are you trying to sight read or just figure out the tunes?

    My suggestions are:

    1. Forget sight reading. That's an advanced skill that really only pro musicians in certain disciplines need. Just go for figuring out how the line sounds in ur head. Then take it to ur guitar.
    2. Focus on tunes that you're going to use.
    3. Work rhythms and notes separately.


  20. #19

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    I'm going to try and handle a few replies at once here.

    losaltojoe, ronjazz, Danil: First, thanks for the advice it looks like Mel Bay is the better starter.

    Jimmy Smith: I'm trying to get stuff off the page faster, it takes me an hour to get 12 bars off the page and it's a bottle neck. I'm not getting any faster with my current system so I want to change how I'm doing it.

  21. #20

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    I learned to read when I was 14 and I don't remember it as being difficult.

    However, I've known a number of adults who were good players and, for some reason, could not, or would not, learn to read even when they expressed desire to learn.

  22. #21

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    +1 on Mel Bay books.

  23. #22

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    Wow, less than $4 for the Mel bay book. Ordered. Thanks everyone

  24. #23

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    Do you need to read? It is difficult learning to do something you do not need to do. A lot of people drop out of music lessons, seemingly because of the difficulty of learning tasks they find unnecessary.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick View Post
    Do you need to read? It is difficult learning to do something you do not need to do. A lot of people drop out of music lessons, seemingly because of the difficulty of learning tasks they find unnecessary.
    I do read, poorly, and it makes the things I’m trying to learn harder than they need to be.

    So this is quite the opposite where I’m trying to make something difficult easier by learning the basics instead of faking it.

  26. #25

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    back when..working with another guitarist in a duo situation..we went through many pages of a "fake/real" book four days a week for about a year..
    after..we both came up with fairly harmonic/melodic tunes of our own..

    I then went in the deep end..Howard Roberts Sighting reading book..(out of print now)

    yeah it was a bitch..but gave me some good ideas that I still use today in reading charts...the goal of reading two bars ahead feels increadable
    but you have to stay on top of it..reading almost anything..and DAILY practice..

    these days I am glad I did all that--its like reading a book.. instead of just looking at pictures (TAB)