Is there a definitive book on sight reading?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by rickr, Jan 8, 2008.

  1. rickr

    rickr Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    My nephew has asked me to teach him how to read music and I am not a very good teacher...........or a very good reader for that matter........

    Any suggestions on the best book (or other form of instruction) for sight reading?
  2. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Leo Smith likes this.
  3. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    Try "Sight Reading for Bass":Ron Velosky (
    It's pretty good, and does what it says on the tin.

    The two keys to reading are
    a) build up slowly
    b) practise

    It's easy to learn that the line below the bass clef is bottom E, think you KNOW it and move on to more stuff too quickly, but it needs to be totally ingrained. Spend a week just reading and playing just low E/F and G. Practise it until the symbols on the page ARE the sounds - not just symbols which you interpret to mean a note name, which you then turn into a fret postition, putting your fingers somewhere, and finally making a sound. That entire process needs to be invisible.

    static0verdrive likes this.
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    One thing that really helps in learning sight reading is playing with other musicians. A metronome can be a help but you need to put yourself in a position where you can't slow down if things get difficult and you can't go back and correct mistakes.

    Of course I'm thinking of the term 'sight reading' as the ability to play a part correctly at tempo the first time you see it.
    Nashrakh likes this.
  5. DrayMiles


    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    Get the Mel Bay books. Great to start with... Walk before you run..
    salcott and MrLenny1 like this.
  6. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
  7. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    It would be cool if there was a definitive book for the e bass, like the Arban for brass, but it just hasn't happened yet.

    I could recommend a ton of books, so shoot me an PM if you want some a big list of many good books. I've noticed that most of us bass players have a TON of books lying around, most of which don't even have the spine cracked. So, here is my EVERYTHING you already have or any music you encounter. I would bet you have some solid practice material lying around the house!
  8. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    +1 Work with another helps a lot. One of things it does is keep you used to keep going when you make a mistake like real life.

    Check out a book called Simplified Sight-Reading for Bass by Josquin des Pres. The beginning of the book focuses on reading rhythms and the first example of each page is on a play-a-long CD. I would say no matter what book you get that you and your nephew sit and and clap all the rhythms to a metronome first till you can nail it. Then play on your bass. That separates learn to see/recognize/know a rhythm and recognizing pitches if scale fragments/intervals/chord and getting them on your bass.

    I've outlines a method for practicing reading a few times that details what I was saying above. Remember key to sightreading is DAILY practice even if only for a few minutes have to do it daily to train the eyes to "see" music.
  9. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    One book that's good for getting your reading chops in gear as far as knowing your fretboard is reading through the Simandl bass method book for double bass. If you want a challenge, try reading through book two as well. Crazy stuff.
    salcott likes this.
  10. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz

    The Hal Leonard bass book (Friedland) is quickly becoming the standard for the instrument. You get play along tracks, and start using them practically from day 1. Very rewarding for kids.
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  11. 98dvl


    Jan 31, 2002
    The Vitti book while good (I just picked it up, and I love it!) is WAY too much for a beginner.

    I too would go with the Friedland bass method, it starts at a much more elementary type level, which would be most helpful for a beginner.

    Look for the version that has all three books bound as 1:

    (Can't beat the $15 price! That's money well spent!)

    The Friedland book also goes into reading tablature as well... Some may disagree, but I feel it's good to know both (mainly because there's so much "free" music out there in tablature form)
    MrLenny1 likes this.
  12. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    Are you familiar with the old Chuck Rainey book? I haven't checked out the Friedland book but it looks similar. I've been thinking of trying to teach lessons a bit and if the Friedland is better than Rainey's (good book but kinda boring) maybe I'll use that.
  13. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Don't know the Rainey, but I use the Leonard books exclusively for beginning bass and guitar students, and it seems to excite kids more than any series I've ever used.

    +10 on buying the all in one plus cd version!
  14. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    I'll have to check it out. I'm kind of hesitant to use a book with tab, but I remember how much of a rebel I was with reading standard notation so maybe it is best to have both..
  15. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Rick, the best book on site reading is every book. In order to learn to read, you must understand the note values, but beyond that, reading any music is the practice that is required to become a good reader.

    For advanced reading practice, trombone transcriptions are very good, Charlie Parker solos are terrific, anything and everything.

    If your nephew is complete beginner, get a teacher! IMO
  16. 98dvl


    Jan 31, 2002
    Like I said, the tab is just there for an introduction... It's brought up, used a little, and then goes back to standard notation (as far as I remember anyway).
  17. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    Trombone stuff is good - to a point. The problem with trombone sheet music is that you'll be reading ledger lines that are, in a contemporary setting, utterly unnecesary for bass. Music is rarely written that high for the bass in the first place, and when it is, its in treble clef. If you want to go that high I'd just get some treble clef stuff to go through in that high octave. Bass trombone transcriptions, the few that exist, I've found better suit reading on bass, although you often need a 5 string. Cello music and classical double bass literature is good to a point, and then they start throwing tenor clef at you, which is no good (unless you want to spend a long time learning to sight read proficiently in a clef that's never used anymore, which is cool too.)

    Definitely, man. That book is amazing. It starts from the very basics and builds technique, reading and theory in a really comprehensive, yet accessible manner.
  18. mvw356


    Mar 2, 2006
    instead of reading a book on how to sight read just do it directly; the best book cannot teach you how to sight read, that only comes after some serious practicing. find yourself a book that explains notation and you are ready to go. my2c
  19. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Sorry for digging up this topic. Didn't want to start a new topic. I have been teaching electric bass for many years and have used many books like Simandl and other methods for teaching sight reading. But I am looking right now for a bit more simple and modern method for teaching students how to read. Doesn't have to be a complete method with lots of text but just a book to learn to sight read in different positions in an easy and comprehensive way. Any recommendations for that? Just printed books, not online courses, no tabs.
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