Reading Music Helps?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by DumbChild, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. Well hey again people. As u may or may not know im a new player to the bass and i am totally in love with it. Im 16.
    Anyway its been bothering me for awhile now cause half the people i know cant read music and half can, though i dont know if being able to bead music is a massive advantage or helpful only if you wish to be big(Id love to be big:p so if music helps then im there). So do you suggest i learn to read music or is it a waste of valuable practice time and i should stick to tabs ect.

    Ive done music in school for years (though i never really thought id find love for another instrument) so i never listened. My mother is a piano player and she could easily teach me but she has been telling me that it will take many years to learn music. So i dunno, should i learn to play and read music. Or will i be better off without it practicing and tabs.

    Please help me out. Cheers
  2. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    It can usually help, and it *never* hurts. Nothing that has the potential to improve your knowledge, your ability to function effectively in different musical situations, and your ability to communicate with other musicians can possibly be a bad thing to learn.

    If you're "totally in love" with the bass, it will probably fulfill you more to learn as much as you can about it. Don't look for reasons *not* to learn, is my advice. Just my $0.02.
  3. Fathand


    Sep 24, 2005
    I started bass lessons last January, as I wanted to learn about theory and eventually learn to read music (I can read rhythm already, yay :) ).

    Why? Most of my playing technique & knowledge I've figured out myself and what I play now doesn't require even one note written down (Yep, metal).

    Answer: Learning theory and reading music eventually expands my knowledge and ability as a musician. And it doesn't do me any harm if I have the knowledge.

    On the contrary, it might do me well somewhere in the future when I might land a playing gig just because the other guy didn't read music, but I did.

    Go for it! :hyper:
  4. DC - Even if you don't learn to sight read music, you will need to be able to read well enough to learn theory. If you are serious about understanding the instrument, you have to be serious about understanding music theory (the instrument is only the tool for expression) and I could not imagine how one could learn theory without learning how to read music.
  5. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC
    If you learn to read, then all that cool sheet music in the music store won't scare you away. You won't be cursing the store for not having any tab books. :bassist:
  6. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    And to be redundant.... if you want to be a complete musician/bass player. You need to learn to read. It's not hard at all. You will be reading stuff right away. Learn to read the basic notes and you can play a lot of the cool jazz lines ;)
  7. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    It can only help you. Really.

    Actually, as a bass player you'll have it fairly easy; you'll deal almost entirely with one clef and one note at a time. ;)
  8. I'll offer two things to this discussion.

    First, some of the greatest musicians of all time could/can not read music. That's not saying that as an excuse to not learning to read. Reading music is a great asset, but it's not essential.

    Second, I was asked to play a song in my daughter's winter concert show last December. The band consisted of 3 adults; piano, drums and me on bass guitar, along with ~80 4th/5th grade chorus singers. I was given the sheet music and it only had the bass notes for the piano, not what should be played on the bass guitar. So, I found a recording of the song on the sheet music company's website. I figured out the bass and put my own flare to it. Then I attended a practice with the pianist and drummer. The pianist handed me the sheet music and when I said, "That's okay, I don't need it", she looked at me in amazement and asked, "you can play without reading music?" After the practice we talked about it and she's someone who has played piano since she was a kid. She can only play with sheet music to read and cannot pick up a song just from hearing it. It was then that I realized that I should not get so anxious over the fact that I can only read music a little bit. I much rather be able to listen to something, feel it and figure out how to play it. With that said, I certainly haven't abandoned learning to read music. I just don't get all caught up about it.

    Paul Mac
  9. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    Learn everything you can about how to read music and music theory. The knowlege of music that comes with it will stick with you for as long as you play bass.

    I havent read music in 8 years or longer and probably wont look at a score again in my life, but I draw on my theory knowledge every minute that I am playing. Learning to read music is how you start.
  10. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    You may see some situations right now where it seems like it would be cool to be illiterate.

    But, if you survive another 7 or 8 years, you'll find it isn't.

    Plus, the earlier you start, the less painful it is to learn.

    Learn to read (my 2c).
  11. Wow you guys sure know ur stuff:p thanks to all, ive already learnt music for 5 years during school, though its all just basic stuff. But my mother is prepared to teach me further if i wish and although its still difficult, i suppose i have a few years to get into it, im still young apparently:p. Anyway i love to learn stuff so i cant see it being a massive amount of tourture and i cant wait to see results. Thanks again, the people in this forum are champion
  12. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Both your reading chops and your ear are crucial. It kinda depends on the path you want to take. As a sort-of-professional musician, I need to read. But I'm in two bands where it's all ear. You need to find the right balance, I think.
  13. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Agreed. There's no reason you can't do both well. Most of the best musicians i've encountered can.

    Despite the all-too-common perception, the two skills are not opposed; they're complementary.