How do you practice reading?
Hello Mr. Seaton. Thanks again for all the help you've given me along m path to becoming a true bass player. My question is maybe simple, but how do you practice sight reading? I've been reading out of whatever I can find for about 30 minutes a day most days of the week for a while now, but I don't feel like I'm really improving. Is there a method, or some material that should be focused upon? Thanks for your time.
You are welcome. For me, one the main point when sight reading is the ability to recognize what we see. There are many classic jazz rhythms that we have all heard before, but don't know what they look like on paper. One way to help you learn to sight read is transcribe some "licks" you play and write them down. To do that, record yourself with a metronome. Start with short phrases of a bar or two. Learn to recognize visually things that you hear. In a sense, it is learning to read backwards, but is a very effective way of doing so. Make sure the rhythms you have written out match what you play.
A few tips for sight reading:
Always note the key signature
Realize that if it is alternating note of all lines or all spaces, it is an arpeggio fragment.
Realize if it is line, space, line etc or space, line, space etc. it is a scale fragment.
If one knows all of the modes and related arpeggios very thoroughly in all keys, that will mean the shapes within the lines you read are already under your fingers.
When there are accidentals, obviously those notes are not in the parent key signature.
There are many books of pre-transcribed solos. Listen to the recording and follow along the written music without playing your bass a few times. Make mental notes about the various shapes that you hear. Think about what is scalar, chromatic, and arpeggiated.
There are also some good books on sight reading. One available from Aebersold called "Creative Sight Reading" is here:
As always, I invite readers to suggest their favorite reading books.
There are two book I highly suggest to learn and improve sight reading:
- Reading Modern text In 4/4 by Louis Bellson
- Sight Reading for the Bass by Ron Velosky
The first one is to improve your rhythm reading and the second to improve your quick sight reading. If you do both page after page, without rush and giving yourself the time to learn accurately you won't have any problem to read good and than you can move to the next step, working on real music charts, even in this second part you need to study first simple charts and than moving to complex ones, it doesn't matter if them come from different music styles, pop, rock, jazz, ballad etc etc, probably the diversity will help to improve your sight reading.
Never forget that sight reading is a true fitness, when you practice it every day you get it sharpen, vice versa you'll lose a little bit the speed in reading.
Anyway if you need any help feel free to PV. I have a reading class program and I will be happy to help you.
P.s. another good challenge is apply the sight reading to slap exercises.
This is a skill that can be acquired. You have to practice it every day.
There are various methods but the market leader is "SightRead4" for iPad which is using a unique method to learn sight reading. The benefit is quickly shown: stumbles are eliminated and continuity is quickly achieved.
Their website is www.sightread4.com or http://www.facebook.com/sightreadingsimplified?ref=hl
Try it. These people are moving very quickly and are very interested how you get on. Talk to them if you have an issue or if you would like to see new features.
Thank you Mr. Seaton and everyone else for your helpful responses!
It is a bit old fashioned but I'm also a fan of the "reading contemporary electric bass" by Appleman on Berklee press, it was written in the 70's but pretty useful stuff
These are good suggestions. The Appleman book is a classic. Please keep the suggestions coming. I should also mention Jim Snidero's "Jazz Conception" series for all instruments. The series is wonderful for seeing and hearing how to phrase. He has added two different levels to the series: "Easy Jazz Conception" and "Intermediate Jazz Conception". It also has a book of the transcribed bass lines. Here is a link to Jim's Website: http://www.jimsnidero.com/books/conception.htm
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