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Long time player learning to read question(s)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bobyoung53, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. I read when I was a kid for trumpet, was never very good at reading though, I played mostly by ear and still do but I've been forcing my way through through Ron Velosky's Sight Reading for the bass. I've been at it now for a few months. I'm in the sixteenth note section pp 60-72. I can nowhere near sight read these until after I've really taken them apart which depending on the page can be anywhere from a few days to a week although I think I'm getting faster. I'm afraid I'm relying on my memory as well as reading the notes which was always my problem because after I figure out a difficult part I can usually remember it although I do think I am remembering it in conjunction with the music. I can go back in the book now and play the easier stuff by sight though (I think) and have found a few mistakes I was consistently playing before. I've been on page 72 this morning and really have to take it slow but am figuring it out, the tempo is moderato but I am doing it REALLY slowly right now. My question is: Although I am nowhere near being able to sight read difficult pieces, does it sound like I'm on the right track? The timing is more difficult for me than the notes although the higher registers still give me trouble.
    Garagiste, StatesideRambler and BOOG like this.
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Sounds like you're making forward progress!
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  3. Thank you, that's what I wanted to hear!:roflmao:
  4. fretlessbass

    fretlessbass Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    Hi Bob,
    The best way to be certain that you're actually sight reading is to constantly be looking at brand new music, specifically music you are not familiar with.
    Keep working on the reading exercises in that book, and any others you come across.
    In order to build your actual SIGHT reading chops, try going online to the many free bass transcription sites; fill a binder with the absolute easiest unfamiliar music you can find; set your metronome VERY slowly, and give each song a go, once, maybe twice; then go onto the next page.
    Keep refreshing your binder with brand new material so that, even if you repeat some charts, you will no longer be familiar with them.
    If you set aside time each day, you will inevitably improve...and as you do, begin downloading increasingly harder material, again playing at slow tempos.
    Eventually, find yourself a low pressure reading situation, maybe a community band, or theater group.
    I never thought that I'd have ANY confidence in my sight reading ability; it'd always nagged at me, since I'm self-taught, but played with a lot of schooled musicians.
    However, once I decided that I was in it for the long haul--and was no dumber than any of the other musicians I played with!-- I began to take the above steps and--lo and behold--a few years later, my reading is adequate for most gigs...and I'm having the time of my life!
  5. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    I'm confused. Is the goal to read music or sight read music? Granted, it can be both, but I don't know anyone would beat themselves up for not being able to sight read difficult pieces. Reading is a great skill and vital for many gigs, but not an end in itself. See:

    40Hz likes this.
  6. EarnestTBass


    Feb 3, 2015
    At first, you are reading the notes one at a time. Reading each note as an unconnected sequence of notes is tedious. I suspect a lot of people get discouraged and never get past this stage.

    As you read more and more, you will start to see a bigger picture -groups of notes and patterns. You are looking at the printed page and quickly remembering something you previously already learned.

    Sounds to me like you are getting better at reading music. Keep it up!
  7. I would like to become a good sight reader. Out here in Lima there are a lot of gigs for people who can read well although it may just charts they're reading (probably actually). I'm OK on those but am practicing on YouTube with a play along real book site, Mauro Guenza's YouTube site which is actually fun. I know I'll probably not use it a whole lot although you never know, just something I kick myself for blowing off when I was a kid.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    same for everyone! ;)
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  9. Thank you, I will try that, it says that in the book also, keep finding new material. I do use a metronome too and I've been practicing every day.
  10. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Grab anything in bass clef. Go to the library and get some classical trombone stuff. Awesome and challenging
    nightchef and bobyoung53 like this.
  11. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    Yeah, I always try to encourage people to learn to read as soon as possible. It was painful for Jaco because he could already play really well and then he had to start at square one to learn to read.

    Sight-reading can help with reading in that you will pick things up faster with each pass through. And that's just it--virtually all band leaders/musical directors will try to get as many runs through as they can before a performance because their goal is to put on a good musical performance, not stump the chump. :) In fact, the only time I can think where your audition/gig lives or dies on sight-reading is auditions for regional/state high-school orchestras and they only do that so they have another category to help whittle down the hundreds of auditions.

    But sight-reading is still good to do. Just don't think you are some kind of failure because you can't sight-read a Paganini caprice at tempo. :)
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  12. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Many pluses to the 'get lots of material' comments. Remember you can take any tempo you want. So.... if you grab the Bach Cellos Suites for instance and say, "well, great, but I can't read all those 16th notes", just slow it down. Give the 18 note the beat, or 16th note. You're not making a recording, just finding your way around the neck.
    And use a metronome. Once you've learned a piece well enough to get through it OK, get a metronome to keep you moving. I've found that if I don't do that, I'm inclined to pause if I can't think of where the next note is, or repeat something I've messed up, or speed up on things I know well.
    Mugre, BOOG and bobyoung53 like this.
  13. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    This basically happened to me while trying to (sight) read big band sheet music. It was very tedious at first - but then you'll see patterns emerge, and you'll notice how often they're used. Like the good old 1-2-3-5 or 1-2-b3-3.

    It's like you're starting to read phrases instead of single words, or maybe words instead of individual letters. It only gets easier the more you do it.
    BOOG, bobyoung53 and hintz like this.
  14. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    My dad was a high school band director and the best sight reader I've ever seen. Here is how he taught me. He would sit next to me with a blank sheet of paper. He would cover the part I was playing. All I could see was 2 bars ahead of what I was playing. I had to read what was coming, not what I was playing.
    BossOnBass, Russell L, ak56 and 5 others like this.
  15. BOOG

    BOOG Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2016
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Good on you for making the jump! It ain’t easy huh? But, it gets easier even though it’s hard to realize at the time when we are in the thick of learning stuff. My biggest obstacle is getting started. Doesn’t matter if it’s music, working out or a home project. Getting started is a beech.
    The mindset I have to remind myself to maintain is patience. I know what I want to do or what I want the instrument to do and get frustrated with not getting there as soon as I’d like. Maybe you can relate?
    Sounds like you are already starting to see the fruits of your labor though as, you said earlier pages are easier and clearer.
    It’s good to see your thread because it’s motivating me to keep at it.
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  16. Back on the rhythm thing; yep, I kinda skip over this and cheat by following the drummer or the lead vocalist. Normally there is a beat per lyric syllable. I sing along under my breath, with the vocalist, this seems to help me with the lyric syllable flow. Which helps me with the rhythm.

    Just saying.......
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think you are doing well, especially because you're being honest with yourself and identifying your weak spots. Not much to add except don't be afraid to backtrack a little, don't be afraid to spend a lot of time on sections that are hard for you, and just keep at it. The more you do it, the more you will recognize phrases you've run across previously, and the easier it gets. Also, transcribing stuff using your ears helps a lot to embed the patterns into your brain. I salute your dedication to improvement and I think you will be just fine.
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  18. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    As long as you are improving. Another thing you can do is get parts you know, and start transcribing them on paper.
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  19. I'd like to thank everyone for the encouragement, I am at a section in the book where it seems like every page is a lot more difficult than the previous page, 5 sharps or flats, double sharps etc and I'm really going slow with this and am really having to take sections of it apart so I'm nowhere near being able to sight read this stuff (for ex p 72 Ron Velosky's book). So I guess half the battle is getting through these pieces and learning how to play them while using the music as a guide and memory jog? And if I keep going (I will!:laugh:) my ability will continue to improve? Back at home I know a sax teacher who has a big band of beginners and intermediates who all read and he's asked me to play before but I felt it was beneath me:roflmao:, guess I should rethink that little bit of conceit if I ever move back.
    MalcolmAmos and JimmyM like this.
  20. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Depends on the context and what you want/need to read for.

    People that are first call studio cats all have tales of certain artists and producers who would can you in a heartbeat if you couldn’t immediately and flawlessly handle any score they put in front of you.

    Most of us will never be in a situation like that. But if you have ambitious goals for a career in music, it’s probably a good idea to develop extreme competency when it comes to sight reading. I understand one of the major factors in Carol Kaye’s success as a studio musician was her incredible sight reading skills. Her sight reading ability was so good that it even impressed the other studio heavyweights she worked with.

    I myself can sight read well enough. As in “well enough” for what I do and need to read for. I’m far from a beginner. But I’m also no master at it either. So in my context, I’m good too.

    Sight reading is a useful skill to have. How far you need to develop it largely depends on what level of skill you envision yourself ultimately needing.
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