Any Sight Reading Practioners?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by yZe, Aug 13, 2006.

  1. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    Man, I have been bustin' chops on my sight reading again since June Day in and Day out

    It's amazing how this is NOT like riding a bike like when you can take weeks or months off from playing and jamming and come back fresh

    Any other readers?
     
  2. spencerbk

    spencerbk Member

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    I find it tricky to practice sight reading - it's hard to keep lots of music around that you haven't seen before.

    I can read - but I'm light years behind where most horn players with as much experience as me would have.
     
  3. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    Are there any guidelines or exercises that can help get oneself up-to-speed w/ ssightreading...?
     
  4. somecafone

    somecafone Member

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    It depends what type of material you are talking about.
    I played in a big band for about three years, and that did wonders for reading chord charts.
    I just did a gig playing in a pit orchestra. There was one song that had a section w/ 32nd notes, and no reference to BPM. When I first saw it, I freaked.
    Upon closer inspection, I realized whoever wrote it really did have an appreciation for guitar players. It was mostly penatonic riffing in F, and some standard blues licks, and I only had to play part of it at a tempo that was quite slow.
    That is a very rare thing, having a composer "write" for guitar.

    So for me, really, you're talking about two different things.
    Chord charts vs. single note lines.
    Tommy Tedesco used to write a studio log column in GP years ago, and he gave all kinds of tips along the way. I can't remember most of them. These are the kinds of things GP should put it on its website, IMO.

    Buy a Real Book, and work on both chords and single note lines.
     
  5. willhutch

    willhutch Supporting Member

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    As a side gig, I've joined a guitar bebop quintet. We've got charts written for 5 guitars complete with bass lines, chord accompaniment, melodies and counterpoints.

    I'm more of a decoder than I am a reader. But this project is giving me plenty of practice, which is, after all, the only way to learn.

    Reading is yet another pathway through which to experience the music. I percieve it in a unique way on paper - especially rythm. In particular, written music shows the way different part mesh together in time. I aldo find that I am am far more in tune with upbeats vs. downbeats when I'm reading. It 'tickles' when I sight read (successfully) something syncopated.

    Unfortunately, reading is very hard on the guitar. There are so many positions to negotiate. On piano, middle C exists in only one place!
     
  6. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    The best thing to do is get the Arban's trumpet Book for starters.

    First a knowledge of at least 5 fingerings up the neck of the diatonic scales in all 12 keys is a pre-req (for most effective sightreading). You should be able to play the scales up and down w/o looking at the neck and KNOW EXACTLY what note you are playing the whole time.

    This can be accomplished by facing a mirror so that you can see your fretting hand fingering each note. Say each note name to yourself out loud while playing simultaneously and while THINKING & COMPREHENDING that it is that note.

    Do this with each scale in 5 fingerings FORWARD & BACK

    This accelerated my ability to sight read. This helps you get past "JUmp"

    When reading a piece; pick a metronome tempo which is painfully slow enough for you to play through the piece w/o screwing it up. Make note of the fastest you can read a piece with consistent 8th notes

    Then log the top speed for triplets, for 16ths, etcc..

    remmeber do not set tempos so high that you have to kep going back and tripping all over yourself

    The MAIN THING is to read ahead.

    That is, while you are playing a note, you are already accounting for the next figure(s). While you are looking at the next figure(s), your short term memory has to account for what you are already playing and about to play while you keep reading ahead

    Find some cello music or music with bowed instruments where there are alot of whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes.

    These note values are long enough to where reading ahead and accounting for notes to come and notes you are playing are easily comprehended

    My short term memory has been fried from 15 years of pot use, so even after 6 years clean, I feel "short circuited" when sight reading :jo

    Yze says " Hey kids, instead of buying those bags, by some sheet music and a metronome !":AOK
     
  7. gtrchris

    gtrchris Member

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    Are there any guidelines or exercises that can help get oneself up-to-speed w/ ssightreading...?

    Sight reading is an invaluable skill to have, it takes years to develop, and YES, you loose it if you don't use it!
    how to study it:There are books you can use as study guides
    I'd recommend going through a series of books to learn position playing on the guitar
    A Modern Method For Guitar by William G Leavitt, published by Berklee press is a good one-3 or 4 vol. choked full of exercises etudes duets etc.
    There are others, but ultimately you need to know every position on the guitar like the back of your hand, so that when a piece of music is put in front of you for the first time, you know where to play it, and how to play it.
    other things that can help you get there:

    #1 on Tommy Tedesco's articles in GP-infact alot of articles from past issues '70-80's have loads of reading exercises and solos-Larry Coryell's articles Jerry Hahn's,Howard Roberts etc are all good study material aiming at developing fluency on the guitar- different approaches-single line, chord melody,accompaniment styles,etc.
    Check out Tedesco's 'For Guitar Players Only,'Dale Zdenek Publications. it's a great book for becoming familiar with everything associated with studio playing-odd time signatures,chord charts,etc,etc.,etc GREAT BOOK!!
    IMHO this would be a good foundation to start with to build fluency on the fingerboard, though, it's still only a preparation for being able to sight read.

    There is a lot of music written for guitar by composers-mostly for classical guitar, study pieces to learn all the possible ways of playing the guitar,if you don't play classical style proper, then learn how to fake it with a pick-Tedesco did it! Learn how to play odd stringed instruments-bouzouki,banjo etc-(you can tune them like a guitar) check out Tedesco!

    Truthfully IMHO the only guys who are good sight readers are the one's who have lived and breathed guitar day in and day out for years putting themselves in new situations, sometimes very uncomfortable, to learn, and who try constantly to hone their craft, practising with intention,etc. etc.
    In essence being a REAL musician.;)
     
  8. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    I sight-read pretty OK for a guitar player. I also teach intermediate & advanced reading at GIT.
     
  9. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Not on guitar. My first instrument was flute, and I was pretty good at sight reading for that, also a little sax, which went along, but I've flushed the sax fingerings from my mind. On piano, I was a mediocre sight reader and I've worked at reducing that skill.

    On guitar, I want to develop some fluency, but not with reading. With the flute, I can hear notes in my head and they can come out. If I wanted to, I could notate them in real time. It's like it all goes together with no effort. The trouble with piano is that although I know all the notes I am playing instantly, it gets in the way to have that much notation trying to squeeze into my head. So I basically leave out reading or notation for piano and I have more or less the fluency my dexterity affords. So I want to avoid that sort of information bottleneck on guitar. The skill I want on guitar is the one where I hear sounds in my head and that comes out when I hear it. I think I will get there sooner without getting notation into the picture.

    So I can sight read - at least last time I tried with flute I still could, but that was a while back. But I'm trying to avoid that for guitar.
     
  10. gtrchris

    gtrchris Member

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    I have a feeling that you're a better than OKAY reader!!;)
     
  11. MichaelX

    MichaelX Member

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    I am using "A Modern Method For Guitar". It is a good study. I am also using a fake book for jazz standards. I am making progress...but very slowly :)
     
  12. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    I'm half-assedly working through the Berklee method books. A great thing about that series of books is that there are tons of duets. I use my Jamman looping pedal while I read through the first part of the duet, then I read through the 2nd part over the loop. It makes it a lot more fun --and also much more closely simulates real life sight reading.

    My reading skills are pretty sub par overall though. I know it's just a matter of consistent application (even 15 minutes a day), but for some reason I keep putting off the work. Funny because it's one of the easiest things to notice improvement with. I usually get much quicker results from reading exercises than from things like vibrato or technical excercises.
     
  13. beePee

    beePee Member

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    I remeber when I was at GIT Tommy did a seminar on reading once.He brought some music in from a session he recently played and projected it on a screen.He asked for the best sightreader "Terry" (who was very good) to come up and play it.

    Terry played it pretty tight for a while then he started making stuff up missed a few things but it all sounded good.Tommy said .I played it like you did except... not as tight.Tommy was all for just playing what works(just like the real world).

    Now obviously there are places you have to play tight.The most important part is the rythm though.The pitch's are much more flexiable .Tommy said he would play on a few strings if that's what worked.

    Having the neck down is good but not necassary when reading IMO.Sometimes having less choices is better...you know exactly where to play.

    I never got great at reading but that Tommy T seminar made me think I'd be okay even if I wasn't.


    hey Ken do they still use Charlie Fechter method?Is Dan"Drill Sargent" still there??

    BP
     
  14. yZe

    yZe Senior Member

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    The Musicians institute book on sightreading has specific developmental drills which are more systematic than the Berklee Books.

    However, the Berklee Books have some pretty well composed etudes which are very musical

    If you really want to take a beating get Tpm Scymsacks (spelling?) Reading Contemporary Rhythms. It's all 16th notes.

    I have a funny guitar story if you'd allow me to so indulge regarding me and Tom

    Back when i was 20 in 1990, I had attained an AA in music from Five Towns College and was attending Berklee. You get teachers assigned to you at random, so you don't get to pick. So i get assigned to the TIP TOP sight reading disciplinarian, Tom Scymsack. Anyway, my very first lesson, he busts out this wicked Bebop etude with mad syncopation and chromatics - real fly **** (so many notes on the page it looks like flies crapped all over the page). Okay, now bear with me, the following i am not bragging - but it will seem that I am until you get to the end:

    Anyway, I tore it up and nailed every note. He was so impressed, he got up out of his chair and shook my hand !!! Tom Scymsack shaking my hand on a sight reading job?? Doesn't happen to often from what I had heard.
    He put me up in the more advanced reading classes in Berklee

    Well the deep dark truth, which I never divulged to him was that that Bebop etude he busted out was one i practiced extensively the semester before at Five Towns College. This etude I had picked at random out of a book which I checked out at their Music Library, so it is not even a famous one. It's called like "Bebop Etude No. ___" out of a duet book by Bugs Bower, so Tom's selecting of that tune was equally as random.
    I could have played the second part of the duet if he had liked, but I didn't want to push my luck
     
  15. Dana

    Dana Guest

  16. gtrchris

    gtrchris Member

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    Excellent article! thanks Dana
    C
     
  17. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    No, the curriculum I use now was written by David Oakes, who is a superb reader and guitar player. There's things in it I would have done differently, and so I take those things on my own in class. But overall I think it's pretty good.

    I also like the Bill Leavitt music reading books, "Reading Studies for Guitar" and "Advanced Reading Studies for guitar". It's just lots of short melodies in all 12 major and minor keys in each position (the first volume goes up to the 7th position, the "advanced" volume is positions 7 and up). What I like about it is its thoroughness with regards to keys and positions. What's a little lacking is some rhythmic challenges, so for that I recommend the Louie Bellson books - "Modern Reading Text in 4/4" and "Odd Time Reading Text", which is basically just reading rhythms. I mix it up with those by applying the rhythms to scales, arpeggios, chord sequences, etc.

    If you're really interested in improving sight reading, those four books are pretty essential, for me, and they're relatively cheap and still in print, and with a little application of personal creativity, they can cover a lot of ground.

    But honestly, the best sight readers are, not surprisingly, the ones who have to do it all the time. The orchestral string & wind players I work with have a level of sight-reading ability as part of their standard chops that would be frighteningly advanced for an electric guitar player. Pianists who work often as accompanists, also, are some of the best readers I've ever seen. But that's part of their daily grind - you show up, sit down and read all day.

    And ultimately, that's what I recommend. Just cold read something every day, and then have a few things you work up. The whole idea is to increase the speed and accuracy with which you can translate a written page into music, which will ultimately help your sight reading as well. Progress is definitely made in small steps, so don't be discouraged if that's all you're seeing.

    There's a whole 'nuther set of lectures I could give you but then you'd have to take my class, so....

    (Do you mean Dan Gilbert? He's still there. I see him all the time)
     
  18. bbarnard

    bbarnard Member

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    Wow this thread was helpful for me. I'm just starting to read. Single note stuff not chords and I'm only working in one position right now. I had done a little of it about a year ago and I found that I lost much of it when I went back to refresh. Still I find it helps my knowledge of the fretboard (notes on it) and also moving fingering to get the right notes under my fingers. I AM finding that I am "memorizing" the reading studies to a certain extent in trying to get them right. I'm hoping that really what is happening is that I'm starting to just know that a particular note is where my finger is rather than just having memorized the melody line. Hard to say at this point and I guess I should start challenging myself to sight read a little to see whether it is rote memory or really reading.
     
  19. Sub-D

    Sub-D Guest

    I Look at and read notated music most every day...the key is to be
    consistent, if you are new to reading it will take a while to get
    your reading level to that of your playing level, but once you get
    there the fun begins......stick with it...........
     
  20. gennation

    gennation Member

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    I used to read very proficient for percussions. I could read full drum kit parts...but, this was when I was about 13 in 1976!

    So, I've "understood" reading music but never really had to do it much when playing guitar, even when I did it for my living.

    I grabbed a handful of new books (Everything Reading Music, and Teach Yourself Music Theory) to give me a some crash course background on theory as it applies to reading, and to get me going.

    And, I've pulled out some old books I have (Modern Method for Guitar, Aaron Shearers Classical Guitar, Jazz Theory, Harmony, etc...).

    I also read a lot of the realbook charts too.

    I'm getting some where with it finally. I think just the knowledge of what the notes, symbols, rhythms, etc...mean will take you a long way.

    There's no way I could close my eye, have you put a sheet of music in front of me, and then start playing it the second I open my eyes.

    That would be an extreme sight-reading test. And, situations like that usually don't happen. There's usually a review, then practice, then performance...usually., unless you're reading on a hired gig and they aren't releasing the charts until the show/recording.

    But with something like a lead sheet, I can review and get it pretty close the first/first couple of times.

    It was definitely worth going back to and taking the time to get better at it.

    Chord charts have never been a problem though.
     

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