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Bass Clef Proficiency

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Visirale, Aug 9, 2004.

  1. Visirale


    Mar 23, 2003
    I've been playing the bass for around two years now, and the one thing I see holding me back from reaching my full potential is music reading. My sitatuation is a little unique. Before bass I played clarinet and bass clarinet for 5 years (now 7), and both parts for those are written in treble clef. I can read bass clef, but I'm not actually reading. I'm translating it into treble clef. What scares me is that I'm good at it. I can do it pretty fast, but not as fast as I could read treble clef.

    So this year, I decided bass was going to be my primary instrument, and quit the bass clarinet and clarinet. This is helping my brain escape from the monopoly that the treble clef had on it. I'm also taking AP theory this year, which should just really help me as a musician in general. In the first week of it, I'm reading bass clef more than I had ever really done so before.

    But I'm also finding that I'm reading alto and tenor clef in the same method I used to read bass; as in not naturally reading them either, carrying bad habits over to even more clefs.

    So here's my question. How do I teach myself to read bass clef NATURALLY. I was thinking getting a book with lots and lots of walking quarter notes. If this is a good way, could you suggest a book?

    Thanks for your time. It's appreciated.

  2. Kavorka


    Mar 28, 2002
    Austin, Texas
    I've got the same problem - 10 years of trumpet has me very proficient with treble and complete squirrelly with bass clef. However, I'm using a book that works very well for me:

    "Music Reading for Bass: The Complete Guide" by Wendi Hrehovcsik (published by Hal Leonard). I got it from www.bassbooks.com (great site, by the way).

    Maybe it will work for you, too!
  3. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    I came from the violin, and I'm still better on the treble clef and I still have some trouble "seeing" notes on the bass clef as if they were on the treble clef, but the ONLY reason is because I don't read bass clef enough. I think that's the only way to really get better, by doing it. A lot.

    What helps me too is to say the notes out loud as I read them (and try to look at the note I'm saying/playing instead of letting my eyes read ahead, but it's hard) and play the notes at the same time. Usually I do this with stuff at the beginning of the Simandl book, I guess.
  4. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    I can read bass and treble equally. I learned Bass clef first but after years of reading Treble for various reasons I can read both while playing the bass...

    What works for me is to write out music in the clefs. I am writting tunes out for horn players so I am changing clefs as well as transposing for the instrument. This seems to help me. Plus just practice sight reading...I find it fun to work on melodies and such in treble clef.

    Try and think of the grand staff much like a piano player.

    It is kinda like learning a second language...you don't want to be thinking english and what is the word in spanish...you want to be thinkin in spanish. I would say to read the clefs 'naturally' just practice..practice...practice.

    Hope this helps.
  5. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I read out of trombone books. I found some at a local music store that started out with quarter notes, and moved up gradually to sixteenths. Probably 8th to 12th grade level stuff.

    I have the same problem. I started out playing tenor & baritone saxophone. I studied basoon my senior year in H.S., wow! That's when I realized it was more work than I thought it would be. I'd transcribe like you do, but not real fast. I still have to adjust mentally be reading slowly. I then can work my speed up. I still think treble clef is easier, I can't figure out why!?

    I'm going to check out the book Kavorka recommended!
  6. McHack


    Jul 29, 2003
    Central Ohio!
    Hey Poon,

    Bassoon's bass clef, isn't it?
  7. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    Yeah, that's when I realized it was tough for me to read! :D

    I ended up playing it(or rather, trying to!) for about half of my senior year. It was really hard for me to even get a decent sound out of it. Damned double-reed instruments........I happily went back to(or begged to go back to)tenor sax.
    :crying: :crying:
  8. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Lot's of reading and playing will make it auto-magic. It's the only way. I played treble clef instruments for years before I started playing bass. It took me a long time to get good at reading bass clef. Now it just happens. You'll get there, mang. Practice practice practice.
  9. joejet


    May 1, 2003
    Learn to play simple four-part choral harmonizations on the piano. This way you'll play both bass and treble clefs at once, forcing yourself to distinguish between them... it'll take some time, but be beneficial, I think.