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Sight Reading help

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by teenagebass69, Feb 26, 2005.

  1. Hey guys,
    I recently got a new piece of music in my orchestra class that extremely bothered me. Not because of the music itself, but because it proved I could not sight read as well as i thought i could. Don't get me wrong tho, it did have pretty complicated rythms with dotted 8ths and 16ths and ties but still....its really bothering me that I couldnt sight read it giving that I am the principle bassist..is there anything that can improve my sight reading to the point where i can be virtually confident that any intermediate/advanced piece thrown at me i can tackle with no problem?
  2. Do a crapload of sight reading. The more you do, the easier it gets.
  3. There is no short-cut. You just have to get down to it and practice reading - try reading everything you can get your hands on - not just in the F clef, but read in the G, and the C clefs also - not just music written for bass, but all music. It's the only way, it's hard work, but it does get easier, and it really is worth while!

    Good Luck!

    - Wil
  4. Bijoux


    Aug 13, 2001
    also try reading some latin music, and some fusion jazz stuff, even some funky pop music.
    those styles have a lot of syncopation, and that is usually what gets classical players.
    about 15 years ago when I had two teachers that only played classical, and they could read notes at any speed but when it came down to rhythms they had a lot of trouble.
    the way I paid those guys for my lessons, was transcribing my bass lines for various latin tunes so they could go over it.
    the New Real Book version, and the New Latin Real Book have some good stuff in bass clef, also look for a guy called Jim Sidinero (Snidero), he's got some play along trombone book, but is very good for sight reading, also because it deals with accidents that are not very common in Classical music, but that may appear in some more contemporary works.
  5. First off, I like Complete Rhythms by Charles Colin and Bugs Bower, although it's a little rudimentary--it takes them a godawful while to get to sixteenth note divisions, for instance. It sounds like you may be beyond the level that this book is aimed at (though it gets more challenging as you go, and hey, reading it cover to cover if it's that easy for you isn't going to hurt you any).

    I like Pasquale Bona's Rhythmical Articulations For Bass Clef Instruments. The examples cover a lot of ground rangewise and rhythmically. Amazon.com says it's out of print, though! Wow, that sucks.

    Ah, it's available for $11.95 about a third of the way down this page (look for item G65. G67 looks interesting as well).

    Of course, this is just the mountain of choice for me. My predecessors in this thread are dead-on as far as how to actually climb one: practice practice practice. One thing I might suggest is that there are several ways to attack reading from a practice standpoint, and they all have their pros and cons. Sometimes it's most useful to slowly comb through a piece, being careful to get every note correct, churning through it mastered measure by mastered measure. But it's worthwhile to try and blast through a piece now and again as well in order to get used to thinking fast, looking ahead, and staying with the pulse despite the odd missed note. I liken this to learning to ride a bike: all the theory and balance in the world won't help you until you've got a head of forward momentum on your side.

    Here's a point I can definitely make from experience: reading, like your ear, is a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger it gets...but maintaining its acuity requires constant vigilance. A problem I've always had is the tendency to vigorously attack a weakness such as reading or my ear--then, after elevating it to a satisfactory level, I decide it's satisfactory and set it aside. I have this great ear training shareware I downloaded that I wrangled with for weeks, until I felt like I "had it down". Some weeks later I fired it up again...and was surprised at how far my ear had slid.

    To wrap up: as Will said, read everything you can get your hands on, and stay at it. There are no gigs where reading can disqualify you, but loads of gigs--and usually the better paying ones too--where not reading most assuredly will.
  6. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2004

  7. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Mill Valley, CA
    I'm still not that great a reader, but I know that the key (for me) is to always be looking ahead. If you are flustered about that last rhythm or note you just missed, you aren't thinking about the one you should be playing NOW. I think for me, realizing this, combined with an ability to sense where I am even if I have flubbed some stuff, is helping me get a better grasp of things. Which is kinda Jeff's point about "blasting" through a piece - I used to have a piano teacher who would set the metronome and have me start a piece and if I stopped to regroup, she would tell me "never stop!". Obviously for a hard piece in the privacy of your own home, you will inevitably stop, but its still a good thing to mix into the practice routine.
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    For me it's all about hearing what you are about to play and playing what you hear rather than pushing buttons on your instrument. The best teacher I ever had called this method of reading "Playing by ear through your eyes", and this concept has been without a doubt the greatest musical revelation I've ever been exposed to. The best way to practice it that I know of is best done away from the instrument - just sing what you see. Later, you can try to get what you sang out of your axe.
  9. Tree


    Apr 14, 2005
    Hey everybody,
    I am a trumpet player but just recently started playing bass. I struggle with site reading heaps. So latley I have just been playing everything that i can get my hands on, i have not found much DB music, insted i have been transposing trumpet music, as that is all i have. Does anybody know any good DB books that a cheap?
    thanks heaps
    seeya Tay :)
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Erm, I do all my sight reading on DB reading Simandl exercises for bass clef. If that doesn't keep you busy, just get a standard jazz fake book (in C) and learn some heads in treble clef. I'd imagine that there's not a whole lot of bass clef on the band stand.
  11. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Simandl's exercises aren't terribly musical and the rhythms are very simple but it will quickly get you used to where the notes are in bass clef. There are some orchestral excerpts in the back of volume I. Volume II adds thumb position and tenor clef.

    Bach's cello suites and bass-clef opera arias are other options and much more musical than Simandl. You can also try trombone etudes or something of that sort.
  12. Tree


    Apr 14, 2005
    Awrsome thanks for your help, i will give that a go.
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