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Why You Should Read Music on Guitar

Clifford-D

Senior Member
Messages
17,045
I found out in the early '80s the importance and value of reading and being able to analyze when I started college. If I was going to survive those waters I had to learn to swim. I became lots better with the analysis side and the reading and playing in real time was slow. So reading served me at home in learning the music at my pace. The next day I would know the tune and the reading served as a guide, in other words I wasn't so deeply involved with reading any more and I could focus on the music.

As it went, over the years I've become a lot better reader but my eyes have become a lot less focused, so I'm back to reading slow and using it in practice.

The other type of reading is reading chord symbols and nailing the chord along with the rhythm and groove. That part of reading I have down and can usually read them in real time so I'm happy about that, for me it's easier than the notation reading.

And playing in school big bands was the catalyst. If we all could play in big bands at least a few times per year, that would get those reading chops tuned up.
 
Messages
788
How many minutes a day would you recommend for someone to spend reading? I've heard anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. And do you break it up between single note lines and chord charts w/ many different voicings?
Hard to say, once you get the basics down you can make reading a regular part of your routine and not do specific reading exercises, it just becomes a part of your daily guitar routine. So it'll probably be more up front, an hour a day at the beginning, then once you start to get the hang of it just make sure to read every day, but you can do it within the context of other areas of your routine, and that should keep those skills sharp.
 

Killed_by_Death

Senior Member
Messages
18,013
There's almost a stigma attached to reading music these days.

People actually think it's faster to learn 20 songs by downloading questionable tabs vs. getting some actual staff notes in front of them.
 

The Captain

Senior Member
Messages
12,790
I do my my library of tab books. I read my fretboard position by tab, but the timing by the staff. It's a convenient hybrid.
I have learned to read standard, but I'm so slow at it.
I have ambitions to get better, but my ROI over the years has been abysmal.
Chord charts, I can read in real time.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,528
Can't say other than the transcription reason I'm in agreement with your reasons...but yes it's beyond me why don't one wouldn't want to read.
I mean he'll if we can music a language teaching it is part of it.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,528
There's almost a stigma attached to reading music these days.

People actually think it's faster to learn 20 songs by downloading questionable tabs vs. getting some actual staff notes in front of them.
Learning songs should be done by listening imo
 

donfully

Member
Messages
29
I think it's important to note that reading engages multiple parts of your brain. I found it best for me personally was doing isolation practice, building up individual skills than put them together. For example, I'll go on my Finale and type out random but big intervals, all 8th notes or all 16th notes, so that my mind won't form pattern with the notes and force myself to consciously recognize what the notes actually are until I can internalize it down to an instinctive level (still a work in progress).

Then I vary up the rhythm, but make sure they follow a pattern so my mind can internalize it and recognize that rhythmic dictation instinctively.
 

The Captain

Senior Member
Messages
12,790
Learning songs should be done by listening imo
Easy to say for those who can, and easy for those for whom music is a vocation.
Music is one of many things that get fitted into my crowded brain and I'll never know what it's like to have "great ears", so my ability to work things out is pretty limited.
If I don't play something for awhile, I forget it, and sheet music helps the old memory out more than a bit.
However, using sheet music has allowed me to learn to recognise a bunch of things, so my ability to work things out has certainly improved over the years.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,528
Easy to say for those who can, and easy for those for whom music is a vocation.
Music is one of many things that get fitted into my crowded brain and I'll never know what it's like to have "great ears", so my ability to work things out is pretty limited.
If I don't play something for awhile, I forget it, and sheet music helps the old memory out more than a bit.
However, using sheet music has allowed me to learn to recognise a bunch of things, so my ability to work things out has certainly improved over the years.
Hence IMO...
That said nothing more important than ears. I remember how incredibly hard it was when I started learning stuff but ear...but also how incredibly rewarding when stuff he together.
 

guitarplayer1

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
401
Ah .. the old "reading" thread .... I'm a big proponent of learning how to read if you intend on doing this for a living. I've been teaching reading at one of the bigger music schools for about 15 years .... If you only play for fun I think it's not necessary as there are many other things to spend your time working on. IMHO ....

That said, there are many more things you get from reading music other than just "reading" ....

Just finished spending the last two hours going through the book for a musical I'm starting later this week .... about 42 cues, some of which are pretty busy acoustic guitar tunes ... I'm very happy I can read as it has served me well and kept me working in Los Angeles which is not exactly easy these days.
 

The Captain

Senior Member
Messages
12,790
Hence IMO...
That said nothing more important than ears. I remember how incredibly hard it was when I started learning stuff but ear...but also how incredibly rewarding when stuff he together.
Sure, but "IMO" has this connotation of condescension to it.
IN my opinion, sheet music is like a capo, just a tool. Mind you, a highly effective tool of communication. It really surprises me that a professional would have a negative attitude toward reading.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,528
Sure, but "IMO" has this connotation of condescension to it.
IN my opinion, sheet music is like a capo, just a tool. Mind you, a highly effective tool of communication. It really surprises me that a professional would have a negative attitude toward reading.
To me the writing part if reading us more important
 

Motterpaul

Tone is in the Ears
Messages
13,327
One of the first things most Sax players do is to learn sight reading.

Some Sax players can read and have no clue about ear playing and soloing believe it or not, and I thought it was a bit weird but then I found out that their teachers are readers and a lot of them come through the school system.

I play some Sax as well as guitar, so I thought I should get into some sight reading on Sax seeing that most Sax players can sight read and it was pretty boring to me (like painting by numbers) and I got to the point where I could do it at a moderate level on Sax but still not be able to sight read much on guitar which doesn't bother me.
Sax players are monophonic and play in ensembles where they have to know what part to take. It takes three sax players just to play a basic triad. They need to read to remain organized as part of a section, just like vocalists need to be able to learn parts. GUitar is a little different in that understanding chords & symbols goes a long way. Sax players don't read all the time, sometimes they use theory and divide up parts, but score reading is essential to working as a sax player in most cases, not so much with guitar where chords symbols are more prevalent.
 

s2y

Member
Messages
19,642
I do my my library of tab books. I read my fretboard position by tab, but the timing by the staff. It's a convenient hybrid.
I have learned to read standard, but I'm so slow at it.
I have ambitions to get better, but my ROI over the years has been abysmal.
Chord charts, I can read in real time.
Same here. Somewhat convenient for guitar since there are so many ways to play a note and so many places the same note could be located.

I tried to get better at my sight reading a few years ago. Wasn't horribly useful playing originals because I was expected to write my own parts. I also offended more than a few indie folks by mentioning I could read music if needed. They wanted someone who played with feel, man.
 

great-case.com

a.k.a. "Mitch"
Messages
5,733
Learning to read was the single best step in my 45 years of musical aspiration. I can find staff for almost anything and convert it to tab if I need to docuemnt my decisions on fret position.

Do Not Be Intimidated: Reading is easy. Reading at speed takes a lot of practice, and I am not quite there yet but I can transcribe staff to tab quickly.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
24,528
Learning to read was the single best step in my 45 years of musical aspiration. I can find staff for almost anything and convert it to tab if I need to docuemnt my decisions on fret position.

Do Not Be Intimidated: Reading is easy. Reading at speed takes a lot of practice, and I am not quite there yet but I can transcribe staff to tab quickly.
Why do you need tab for fret position? Traditionally guitar notation has position/strings/fingering without tab. The notion that you can notate stuff in tabe you can't do in regular notation never made sense.
 

windmill

Member
Messages
530
We can all read the english language, we recognise words without thinking about it.

Reading music is the same, it is actually much less difficult.
Think about how much time was spent as a child learning to read english.
If you put a concentrated effort into reading music you would have it down pat in less than month,

Just think of chord notations as the long words in english, you can "sound" them out but after a while you will recognise them just by looking.

HTH :)
 
Messages
1,679
I know I should get better at sight reading. I can read music, but rarely utilize it. In the situations that I am constantly in reading music is not necessary mainly because others cant read it. I prefer learning by ear and feel like it is the best way to learn. However, after reading this thread I may start working on sight reading a little more. Im still not feeling super motivated though.
 
Messages
15,738
When I read notated music on the guitar, I prefer not to convert to tab, because if I want to try playing the music on different parts of the neck, I'd have to rewrite the tab every time. It takes a lot less effort to pencil in the roman numeral for the fret position number and arabic numeral for the finger number, and erase those the penciled in numbers as needed.

The reasons I want to try on different parts of the neck include phrasing the music w/ hammer-ons/pull-offs vs. picking, deciding when and where to change positions, etc. With Bach Cello Suite #2 for example, I'd often play into a position where the next note requires an awkward movement to get to. Part of the fun playing music like that is figuring out where to play it on the neck, in such a way that transitions from passage to passage are smooth, so that a note you're playing with your pinky on fret X is not followed by a note played on your index finger further up the fretboard from fret X. As I go through a process like that, I don't want to create extra work by endlessly rewriting tab.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,251
It doesn't take much material to start reading either.

When I started studying reading seriously, I had a teacher give me a couple of beginning sheets with notes on them....no measures...just notes with no stems on them.

The idea was to play them with a metronome starting out as quarter notes, then 8ths and 16ths and triplets while increasing the tempo and naming the notes as I played them and play them in all possible positions.

The next stage was to add sharps and flats until all of the keys had been covered.

When I told him I was playing the pages more from memory, he didn't hand me more pages. He just said, "Turn them upside down and start again".

By then we got into Real Book songs, rests and different note groupings.

Same here. Somewhat convenient for guitar since there are so many ways to play a note and so many places the same note could be located.
This has sort of always been the default excuse for not reading. But people playing all of the instruments in the violin family have the same issue and overcome it. I can't say for sure, but I don't think that there's any tab for violin.
 
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