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how long did it take you to learn how to read

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by funkmangriff, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. funkmangriff


    Dec 29, 2007
    the name of the thread says it all, ive been learning how to read for over a year and im still finding it frustrating. im finding pieces that should be easy take me half an hour of looking over and taking apart before i can play it at the right tempo.

    a piece with alot of dotted semi-quavers blended in with quavers takes me AGES to count and hit every note precisely.

    plus counting and getting it wrong all the time is seriously frustrating!

    so how long has it taken everyone else to read fluidly

    and has anyone gone through a patch like mine

    or do i just suck at reading! (honesty please!)
  2. Valerus


    Aug 4, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    I've been doing it for like 6 years and I still have trouble. It's not just you.
  3. deckard


    Apr 4, 2003
    +1 - it is most definitely not just you.

    I've played for years & have gotten by because I have a very good ear and can follow Real Book charts quite nicely - but about a year ago I decided to really work on learning to read.

    I'm better than I was a year ago, but I certainly see it as an on-going/long-term project.

    The book I've found most helpful with reading work is Ron Velosky's "Sight Reading for the Bass", definitely the best of several reading books I have purchased.

    Also, my experience is that I have to make sure I do at least 1/2 hour a day reading practice every day to really make progress.

  4. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    About a year to read pretty fluently.
    Used to sightread really well, not any more. Use it or lose it.

    Can't read treble at all. Got pretty good at it in college, but again......
  5. Almost two years and still learning.
  6. Funk-
    I understand your frustration. What really helps me is to break down the music bar by bar, the section by section until I can play it.
    After many years of playing, I started taking lessons last year. After a few sessions, it became apparent that reading at some level was going to be necessary to understand the 'code'. Even at my elementary level, reading has really been helpful.
    I don't know that I'll ever be able to read fluidly; whoever put me together just didn't give me that gift. But as long as I can take a piece of music, break it down and eventually get it right, that's enough for me.
  7. adamrobertt

    adamrobertt Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2007
    Kingston, New York
    start with some dr. seuss and then work your way up from there it's not hard god
  8. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    How hard is learning to write?
  9. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    So it's not just me! Good to know!
  10. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I only seem to learn things when I'm forced to. I have played for 28 years but have only read music passably for about the last 8 of them. The two gigs that forced me to learn to read music were 1) playing in the pit for community musical productions and 2) playing choir music in my church with a piano player that only went from sheet music. In both of these cases I would ask the director for a CD well in advance, along with the written music, and just listen to the CD over and over while following along with the music -- without my bass. Once I could correlate the intervals and rhythms on paper to what I was hearing (since I spent my first 20 years as an "ear" player), then things really started to unlock when I picked up the bass again.

    Also, don't be afraid to cheat in the early stages... on the first orchestra gig I did, I literally had just about every note written as a letter above the notation on every song (erasing the book at the end of the run was no fun!). But when I did the next year's production I found I could get by doing a lot less of that, and even less the next time around, etc.

    Good luck and keep at it. If I could only do one or the other (play by ear or sight read), I would always choose to have a good ear, but why not go for both?
  11. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    I do not like smart ass and ham. I do not like it sam I am.
  12. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    From what I've read in other threads, practice the rhythm content of the music first (tapping, clapping or whatever), then add the notes.

    You might want to check this website out: http://www.teoria.com/exercises/ritmo.htm
  13. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    Basics? No time at all.

    Proficiency? A lifetime, and still going!
  14. dulouz


    Dec 7, 2006
    +1. I have been reading music on various instruments for 20 years, the last ten on bass, and I still have a lot of work to do. I really have trouble once I get up the neck and out of first position. It is something you have to practice just like everything else.
  15. afromoose

    afromoose Guest

    I have real trouble with reading too. The staff is difficult to see - I don't understand how people can read something so fiddly! Must just be practice though. I always think about touch typing. The amount of stupid jobs I've had, and now I can touch type. I don't want to touch type, but I can! I want to read, but I can't. I guess, though, that if I spent 35 hours per week reading music, I'd pick it up pretty quick. If anyone finds out about such a job, please let me know because I'd like to apply.
  16. Timbo


    Jun 14, 2004
    I've been reading for about two years and I don't really have any trouble with reading, even playing stuff given to without prior notice and playing it in the band. The best thing ever for my reading was Bach. He loved using 16th notes which really helped me get a feel for the underlying pulse of rhythm. At the same time it sounds flippin awesome so its fun to play and practice. I then moved on to trying to read funk, which in my opinion is probably the hardest stuff to read.

    Take a piece you think is impossible and try to play a bar. If you takes you three hours to learn that bar it doesn't matter. The next bar will take you thirty minutes. You eventually get to the point where you don't really have to count the dotted quarters and all that jazz, you just feel it because you've played them a billion times.

    Good luck on the journey. It's a b*tch, but well worth it. It might be the best thing I ever did for my playing. I played electric for 2 1/2 years before starting Upright which is when I learned to read. It helped me get into the heads of the bassists I look up to a lot.
  17. ZonGuy


    Sep 2, 2007
    Like the earlier poster said, you can get the basics quickly but to really become proficient takes much longer because you are learning more than just converting symbols into music.

    You are learning:

    Fretboard note knowledge, when you sight read high up on the neck;

    Rhythmic knowledge especially when you can easily play heavily syncopated parts (btw - I think the strongest groove is with people that can internalize 16th notes and rests).

    Melodic knowledge - when you can scan a part and immediately see the underlying form and rational behind the note choice.

    Economy of technique - when you hand automatically seeks the best position to catch a group of notes

    ...and on and on.

    Is it important to have sight reading skills?
    - I think it will improve your playing skills contrary to wiseass who said he can read, but not enuff to hurt his playing.
    - It will get you jobs if you free-lance. About 75% of my 2008 music income was from sight reading gigs. I noticed that doing my taxes today. YMMV.
  18. anon65884001

    anon65884001 Guest

    Feb 1, 2009
    I started off with cello
    And no lie,
    It took me a day
    I was 5 back then, and i don't know why
    But i just found reading music really really easy
    Like you know how there are 5 lines
    The top one is A
    Middle is D
    Bottom is G
    And two lines below bottom is C
    And you just add notes on to it
    In terms of length,
    That came easy as well
    Like a circle worth 4
    Circle with line worth 2
    Black circle with line worth 1
    Add a tail on that line, 1 gets divided by 2 per each tail
    But the shortcoming of starting at 5 was theory
    I did not know the difference between 3/4 and 6/8
    Not only that, i played the notes that are on the music without knowing what key i am
    But yeah, reading music came to me really fast
    I don't know, really
    My grandpa and mom has done some music
    And my dad plays music with his stereo every day
    But i don't think that it was that
    Maybe it was the teacher, like she explained everything well
    Or maybe its just me,
    Like all my music teachers told me that i am really good at sight reading
    But yeah, it's always good to be lucky, eh?
  19. brake


    Jun 23, 2003
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    It gets easier when you start recognizing intervals and patterns instead of reading every note. Repetition is the key.
  20. Jactap


    Aug 4, 2006
    Bremerton, Wa
    I learned how to read music when I was in fourth grade, in music class we played recorders. I'm now a senior in high school.

    Bass isn't my first instrument. I started playing clarinet in fifth grade, took up alto sax so I could join the jazz band, and took up bass in 9th grade. My junior year I took ap music theory and got a 4 on the test. This year I decided to join choir too. I'm first chair in my school's wind ensemble and symphonic band, play bass in the vocal and instrumental jazz ensembles, and sing tenor/baritone in choir.

    Reading music has always been easy for me. I thinks it's because I started at a young age and I've had to read music in almost every playing environment I've been.

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