Sight reading

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by musicman777, Feb 15, 2014.

  1. musicman777


    Feb 15, 2014
    I have a question for all you music readers out there..
    I have been playing bass guitar for 35 years now..started playing when i was 12...Self taught and have developed into a well rounded solid bass player.
    I play by ear, Chord charts, number system...
    I have no problem playing just about anything i hear.

    I want to expand into reading.. Actual reading of notes / sight reading..

    Where would be a great place to start?

    I have played live tons of times... too many to count or remember..
    and lots of studio work.. never really had the need arise to read notes as in actual sheet music ( not chord charts)..

    BUt I feel it will definitely broaden my prospects up IF I do learn to sight read..

  2. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Berklee press has some good books for learning sight reading on bass. Try (simple) trombone and cello etudes too. Also, learn to write out some licks you already can play. You will learn a LOT by doing that.

    In general, read as much as you can, at least a few minutes every day, no matter how easy or slow the material. If you are consistent, it will come more quickly than you may think.

    Oh yeah- pitches are easy, that will come fast. Rhythms are the harder part. A drum rudiments book can come in handy for REALLY learning to read tricky rhythmic figures.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are.

  4. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
  5. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    hey dawg, u seem to have played a lot- why don't u post some recordings so we can hear where ur at. -d
  6. musicman777


    Feb 15, 2014
    Thanks for all the info guys.its far as recording sone stuff..will have to see how you do that on here..never posted like studio work was always in a real studio on the other side of the glass..but i will get something on here for ya ... thanks
  7. I use the music trainer app (android) to stay brushed up on note reading.
  8. Some pretty good suggestions so far.

    There was a site a while back that isn't active anymore that had things like bass clef staff paper, key signature charts, etc. and they had bass clef note flashcards. Might be handy for you... Print them out, cut them out and they're a good way to do note drills.

    Anyone interested can feel free to download them here:
    Bass Clef Flashcards

  9. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    If you can play chord charts, you know the names of all the notes and where they are located on your instrument, so it's really just a matter of locating low E on a bass clef staff and using the alphabet to figure out where the rest of the notes are (just don't go past G!). I'd suggest getting some music paper (you can make it yourself if you have Word and a printer).

    It really is that simple; there's just a hump you need to get over.

    By the way, sight reading is a rather advanced skill. It involves being handed a piece of music and playing it on the spot. For now, you want to learn reading basics; start simple - Twinkle Twinkle Little Star simple - and then work your way on to more difficult pieces. As you do that, you'll want to introduce and master key signatures, but to start, use C Major and work your whole finger board and relate it to the staff. Sight reading comes once you are proficient at reading.
  10. Fretless makes a huge point right here. Gotta learn to walk before you can run. Don't get discouraged!

  11. musicman777


    Feb 15, 2014
    Thanks fretless it is appreciated....i know its gonna take time and work...i am ready to put in the work..twinkle twinkle it shall be ..gotta crawl before you walk..good words..
  12. musicman777


    Feb 15, 2014
    its rough starting somthing at entry level after 35 i feel it will really op e n a ton of other doors and opportunities for far as a bass player goes..
  13. It certainly will. I've been asked many times if I can read charts. I currently play in an 11-piece funk cover band and for the audition, they didn't even ask... they just sent me charts for 40 songs. lol

  14. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    There are a few bits of advice and things I give my students who are learning to read.

    1. Learn to read bass and treble clef. If you are starting from scratch then it is just as easy to learn to read both at the same time. The ability to read treble clef is an invaluable skill.

    2. Pick up anything and read it away from the instrument. I used to sit on the trains/buses etc with books of music for countless instruments and I would work out what the notes were, what the rhythms were etc. I'm sure I still have a book of piano music that has my annotations and notes all over it. I tend to avoid reading solely music written for the bass since it is a lot friendly than piano music etc which has larger leaps and really forces you to get your reading together. If you can read and play some of that stuff you'll be laughing when it comes to bass parts.

    3. Rhythm. Focus on the rhythm more than the notes. A wrong note played in the correct places more often than note goes unnoticed while a right note in the wrong place is noticeable. Everyone focuses on the notes and the notes are easy. They are laid out super logical and once you get to G the alphabet starts again. Rhythm is a a lot more variable. The simplest rhythm can be written a handful of ways and you will encounter them. The note C on the staff is always going to be where it is but a simple crotchet. There is plenty of stuff online of just pages of rhythms without any notes that are great to work on.

    4. Don't worry about sight reading. Sight reading is just reading quickly. People have a lot of ways to practice sight reading but the more familiar you are with rhythms and how they sound/feel then you will be able to sight read them. People sight read music until they make a mistake and then pick up a new tune and repeat. That isn't all that great since when you encounter similar parts that tripped you the first time they up they are bound to do it again. Work on the mistakes. What is the thing that almost everyone makes with when it comes to sight reading? Rhythm!

    I also don't think you can really replicate what it is like to sight read in a gig/recording situation at home. Just work on learning to read and the speed you read it at builds up naturally. Join a local big band or something where you have to read but the players play for fun and it is a community type thing. That is a great way to work on reading. At one point I played in 6 big bands just to get my reading chops together.
  15. HosMan

    HosMan Los! Zum dritten Mal denn!

    Aug 24, 2009
    Northern CA,USA
    You rock! The fact that you`re already an experienced and skillful bass player and don`t "need" to learn notation virtually guarentees your success,Musicman777.

    I took trombone from about the 5th - 8th grade in public schools and actually read quite well during the final 2 yrs(before quitting :( ). The moral? Don`t quit! or you`ll grow up into a ****** tab playing guy like me! lol Learning to read music is always a good thing.

    Go for it!
  16. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    While I can read, my level is fairly low and like you, I am trying to learn more and do it better as well.

    I have picked up some trombone books of etudes. I find I am not bad in finding the pitches in the lower registers, but once I get into ledger lines (above 12 fret G on the G-string), I am quite weak. I am a little hit and miss on the rhythms. I understand them, but have to work through the more complex stuff slowly.

    My suggestion would be to separate the rhythms and pitches to start. Practice reading rhythms separately and start playing quarter note pitches to start. Once you get a bit of a handle on that, then start combining them with simple rhythms. I would also start learning the pitches lower down on the neck first and then start moving up to different positions as you go along.

    Learning to read standard notation is a great skill to have. I chart out my own parts when I learn tunes and it really helps me understand what is happening (form and structure) as well as it helps you from having to memorize everything. You write it out once and then you have it available for yourself if you ever decide to play the tune again in the distant future. Plus, it really helps move things along more quickly when you are playing with other literate musicians.

    Good luck!
  17. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I think part of the frustration of reading is that it is not easy and takes time and consistent practice. Think about it; when you first start to read and write (words) as a child, you have to do it really slowly and over many years before you become fluent. Well, the same is true with music. If you had to practice it every day for years and years and used it in every day life, you'd be fluent too.
  18. I suggest finding a transcription of a bass part that you already know, that is simple. Play the part while looking at the music, and break it down into small pieces. Yes, you must start from the basics with reading, but the "barrier" for experienced players who are learning to read, is the connection between what you see and what you hear.

    Or play a simple part, and write it down, even if it is just quarter notes. There is something about that that seems to make the visual part stick in your head...
  19. buddyro57

    buddyro57 me and PJ (living with the angels now)

    Apr 14, 2006
    Cedar Falls Iowa
    was a bit like yours; I knew a good bit about harmony and the number system. When I was in m late 20's I got into college and really struggled at first. One thing I can offer; the key is synchronizing the eye, hand and brain. When we learn to read books, we learn at a very gradual rate, and the goal is synchronizing eye, and brain, maybe while reading aloud. We start with Run Jip Run, not James Joyce. Think of music the very same way. Go slowly, its best to have a teacher, use a metronome on a very slow tempo. Try for daily practice, even if it is for s short duration, its like learning a computer program, the exposure HAS to be very frequent without long absences. Don't give up- its worth the effort!
  20. musicman777


    Feb 15, 2014
    Awesome Stuff guys !! Thanks for being so supportive and helpful.. Man.. I never thought I would get this much help.. This is awesome !!
    again thank you !!
    I have been checking out all these links and one I found has video and everything,, seems very helpful.. I do like the Idea of finding sheet music to some tunes I already know and see how it translates into sheet music..
    My biggest issue is going to be my ear.. it is very well trained.. and I often have people I play with looking at me like a freak as I am playing along with a tune I never heard before, but I can feel the changes ( for the most part) as they are its almost like I already know the song.. I know that I will instinctively want to play the correct note without relying on reading the note and playing it. its like I almost want to NOT play by ear..while I am practicing reading.. I know it sounds crazy.. but I have been playing this way for 35 years...hard habit to calm down.
    One band I was in they nick named me Digital .. as in Digital recorder.. I could hear a bass line and play it pretty much instantly.. I hope that give you an idea of how my ear operates.. Not to sound as if I am bragging.. thats the last thing I want to do.... what I mean is.. I think playing along to a sheet of music to a song I already know.. I will have to really concentrate on JUST playing the notes i see. because my ear will want me to just play what I hear, not what I am seeing..