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How do you practice reading?

Discussion in 'Ask Lynn Seaton' started by ABlueJazzBassist, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. ABlueJazzBassist

    ABlueJazzBassist "Always play beautifully."

    Dec 26, 2012
    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.
  2. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    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.
    moles, Jbassrockboy and Fabio_MIJ like this.
  3. enricogaletta


    May 21, 2011
    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.
  4. Anne B1

    Anne B1

    Mar 16, 2013
    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.
    staccatogrowl likes this.
  5. ABlueJazzBassist

    ABlueJazzBassist "Always play beautifully."

    Dec 26, 2012
    Thank you Mr. Seaton and everyone else for your helpful responses!
  6. jmacdbass

    jmacdbass jmacdbass.com, openmusiccollective.org Supporting Member

    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
  7. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    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
    Fabio_MIJ likes this.
  8. koricancowboy

    koricancowboy Ausberto Acevedo

    Jun 10, 2003
    The odd time Bellson Book is also great.
  9. koricancowboy

    koricancowboy Ausberto Acevedo

    Jun 10, 2003
    In addition to the suggestions above, I've found sight-singing using solfége to do wonders for sight reading.
    Jbassrockboy likes this.
  10. Fabio_MIJ


    Feb 3, 2016
    back home
    +1 on "easy jazz conception", very effective since it makes you work on both reading and phrasing.
    I found also useful "Reading in bass clef" by Jim Stinnett, to study reading from zero.
  11. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Fabio, I am a big fan of Jim Stinnett! He has a whole series of book about reading. Here is a link to his store's page of reading books: reading books
    Fabio_MIJ likes this.
  12. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    There are two phases in sight reading well. And, although I'm still learning in my 6th decade, I found separating the two, rhythm & tonality, beneficial.

    I still have 40 yrs later Rufus Reid's The Evolving Bassist. The first 6 or so pages are a series of exceedingly tongue twisting rhythmic exercises for open strings only. Once you have mastered those pages at a reasonable tempo you will rarely be stimied by rhythmic notation. I know most of these by heart.

    If your goal is jazz then Ray Browns and Ron Carters books are great for jazz vocabulary.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  13. Lynn Seaton

    Lynn Seaton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2006
    Denton, TX
    Thank you pnchad. Rufus Reid's book was an important part of my training. Every jazz bassist should have his book and the ones by Ray Brown and Ron Carter too!
    pnchad likes this.
  14. Fabio_MIJ


    Feb 3, 2016
    back home
    One of the most pleasant instructors I have ever seen (on video). If I only lived in the U.S....
  15. I'm a big fan of using graded trombone etude books. These are available at your local school band music store. Start at your level and progress. Once you get to the high school UIL all-state audition books, you're doing pretty well.
    Lynn Seaton and pnchad like this.
  16. pnchad


    Nov 3, 2005
    Yes this. Somewhere I have a box of Bone books too.
  17. I know this thread's a lil old but the Knowledge Rocks player is a pretty cool way to work on reading. It works best with the iPad app but you can access it in your browser too. They've got a bunch of super fun songs by Stefan Redtenbacher's funkestra for free
  18. Er, are you aware we're on the DB side here?
  19. I'm not really sure what that means haha I'm super new to talkbass, what does DB stand for?
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  20. Maple

    Maple Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2016
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Lol. DB is the quiet corner of TalkBass. Shhh.
    jsf729, SLO Surfer and Bisounourse like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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