Learning to read notation sucks

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Guss, Jun 29, 2004.

  1. I learning to read music again and am having trouble with that whole "motivation" thing. Does anybody know a good way to learn effectivley? I really don't know where to start. I used to be able to read that stuff like a book. that was like four or five years ago however, and i've since forgotten pretty much all of it. danka
  2. muthagoose


    Jan 18, 2004
  3. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    You probably don't want to hear this but, get an instructor. A few months with a good instructor will have you right on track.
  4. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks!

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    Where in NH are you?
    PM me if you don't want to post.
    I might be having some openings soon.

    Chris A. :rolleyes: :bassist:
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    It is key to find written music that you enjoy. Stuff that excites you.
  6. I live in illinois. I don't know why i put NH to be honest. maybe a paranoia thing. But i am learning with Gary Strater of StarCastle. The only problem is that you can have the best instructor in the universe and it still takes the effort of me to really progress anywhere at all. The problem is i cant get excited about it. It is like learning a new alphabet with more letters and rules. bummer. I looking for something that really breaks it down easy. Im sure once i get started that it'll start coming back to me again. It the whole "getting started" thing that sucks for me
  7. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Given your influences, you might really benefit from the "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" book and CDs. The book provides charts to many of Jamerson's greatest basslines, all in standard notation. Examples range from beginner to virtuoso. These are the books that taught me to read.

    The Cello Suites are also quite fun.
  8. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    They sometimes say that the hardest thing is just picking up the bass and beginning to play. So I think it's safe to translate this into reading music as well...If you can just take out that sheet music or notation book and begin from the beginning, you know?

  9. I got that book(based on your advice on a previous thread). good book. right now im trying out a little song called "Uptight" by stevie wonder. nice groove. But I get so discouraged when i look at the staff and realise i can't make sense out of anything on it. it is so frustrating
  10. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hi Guss, what is it exactly that you can't make sense of? Like, for example can you spot a C note on the staff? Do you know what an 8th note looks like? Or is it a more advanced problem like figuring out what key a song is in esp. if it has lots of sharps or flats in the key signature or maybe difficulty figuring out in which position to play?

    What has aided me (besides sheet music - I learned off Simandl books - which has done wonders) is having a book like "Note Reading Studies For Bass". This book has it all - from identifying open strings and the notes on the bass to tricky rhythms, accidentals, key signatures, articulation, and much more. It includes some etudes and advanced reading studies.

    I would tell your instructor you want to take it by he basics and have him help until you can understand it. That's what he's there for.

    I understand the frustration. Try not to let that get to you and take things slowly. Then one day you'll be sitting there and *BOOM* it'll all finally make sense. :)

    EDIT: Just so you don't feel alone in frustration...I just got this copy of a transcription of "Body And Soul" and I've been staring at it all night trying to figure out what the heck is going on it LOL - lots of double flats and rhythms I don't even know how to play, not to mention figuring out positioning. I'm trying to remain calm. :D
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Yeah, I have that with reading practice.

    I probably read something in standard notation about 3 days a week. I can read, but not complex stuff (i.e. loads of syncopated 16th note riddims) and I canT sight read anything that is much more difficult than 'easy'.

    I find I read most effectively when I have the record as well and I use the sheet to find the exact notes and the sheet to hear the details of the phrasing... even so, it's often a slow process.

    I'm getting better tho, notes, intervals and phrases are becoming easier to recognise.. which is the beginnig I guess.

    jazz BO! is right on, the shadows of motown book is very good, just dont get distracted by the songs with lots of nice little dots at first! :)
  12. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    one thing I found useful was to have periods where you concentrate on recognizing & playing rhythms, independently of pitch.. and then do the same with the pitches... then tie the two together...

    after a while what'll happen is, you'll probably recognize the rhythm at the beginning of the bar without having to give much thought to it, and concentrate on nailing the right pitches as your eye scans slightly ahead

    at first, you'll make things easier for yourself if you choose music that doesn't much go above C on the G string, and you should really sit down and nail everything under the 1st 5 frets... it's easy to get confused by having to decide whether you should be playing an E on the A string 7th fret rather than the D 2nd fret - put that aside at first & get the real meat & potatoes down first
  13. tkarter


    Jan 1, 2003
    http://www.carolkaye.com get the music and sight reading DVD. Will have you reading and counting correct time quicker than any other way I know to read.

  14. sedgdog


    Jan 26, 2002
    Pasco, WA
    I think the problem us bass players have is we assume we need to be reading music for electric bass of which most of what you will find is crap. Another problem with learning how to read is picking up something like "Standing in the Shadows of Mowtown" which has excellent bass lines, but the rhythms are way to complex for a begining reader. You will just get frustrated. An excellent source of music for bass is trombone music. A couple of great books I use with my student is "Introductory Melodious Etudes for Trombone" and "Melodious Etudes for Trombone" by Carl Fisher. The etudes are short (8-bar) and very melodic. You are actually playing little "songs" instead of a bass line.

    Bach music is great for learning how to read. Most everything in Bach is 8th note and 16th note so the rhythms are not complicated and once again the music is very melodic so it keeps your ear interested.

    I think it's important to separate the rhythms and notes also so your don't get frustrated. Learn the rhythm first before you pick up your bass then add the notes. Once again, Bach or the many of the trombone etudes do not have alot of syncopation.

    Also don't play in time until you learn the piece. Learn the piece you are working on freely then put everything in time, then add a drum machine or metronome if you want something to play along with. The bottom line is you can't play something in time if you don't first know it. So learn it first then add time.

    Be patient and persistant. Repetition is the mother of skill so just keep reading and reading and pretty soon it will click and you will have it for life.

    All the best,
  15. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    It depends. Let's say you get interested in jazz, which can definitely be played well on electric. Then you need to know how to read to learn the melodies. Sure, you can learn them all by ear, but reading is so much easier. Also, there are so many great instructional books out there, Jaco has a great one, obviously Jamerson, and I'm sure many of the other bass greats have books with standard notation.

    Sure, I know it's not a deal breaker, and for certain styles or genres would probably rarely, if ever, be used, but then again, why wouldn't you want to speak the language of music? You know? You'd be cutting yourself off from so much.

    Like I mentioned in my post, there are basslines in the book that are easy, and basslines that are hard. Sometimes the ones that look easy, are quite difficult, because of the rhythms.

    I couldn't agree more. Arban's Conservatory for Trombone is AWESOME! The only thing that I might mention is that I wonder if Guss would have a problem with interest. Sometimes etudes get a little boring, but still, great advice!

    Again, great advice. The cello suites are amazing. Rhythmically, they're not that difficult, making it ideal to build a foundation in sight reading. They're melodic and itneresting just as you say, and it really is easy to get into.

    True dat.

    Excellent advice!

    Great post my man!

    All the best,
  16. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Guss, choose a Jamerson bass line, and I'll post it online and break it down for you. Something ostinato, not something like WHAT'S GOING ON or HOME COOKIN'.
  17. sedgdog


    Jan 26, 2002
    Pasco, WA
    Excellent points Jazzbo. You are correct in what you are saying. I just remember being dogged out by many of Jamerson's lines years ago. Heck - the man still dogs me out!

    All the best,
  18. sedgdog


    Jan 26, 2002
    Pasco, WA
    Originally Posted by sedgdog
    I think the problem us bass players have is we assume we need to be reading music for electric bass of which most of what you will find is crap.

    Oh - one more thing. I can see my this quote came off a little funny. What I was trying to say is that I've found that many of us think "I play electric bass so I need to read music for electric bass". Looking only for electric bass lines to sight read got real old for me in that many transcribed electric bass lines are very repetative - even if they are a great bass line. I personally found that trombone music took me to harmonies we normally don't get into on electric bass. So for me the trombone tunes worked my ear much more than most transcribed electric bass lines so sight reading became very melodic and kept my interest much better. Sorry for any confusion.

  19. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    So you wana buy some books:


    Bach Cello Suites

    Arban's Famous Method for Trombone

    Melodious Etudes for Trombone Book 1

    Melodious Etudes for Trombone Book 2

    http://www.bassbooks.com Search for "reading", the search link is in the upper right.




    While we are at it:


    THE FINGER FUNK WORKBOOK VOL. 1 This book has standard notation and no TAB.

    THE FINGER FUNK WORKBOOK VOL. 2 This book has standard notation and TAB. There is no order to the Fingerstyle Funk books. If you are unsure of funk bass fingering, get this book first.

    So...what are YOU going to do this summer?