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Sight Reading

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Spearhead, Jan 11, 2003.

  1. I was wondering what would be the appropriate and most effective method to learn sight reading. I can read music effectiveley enough to learn a piece, but if im given a transcription I would not be able to play it on the spot very much at all, it would take some studying. What can I do every day to drastically improve my sight reading abilities apart from the obvious answer of practice. At the moment I am working on the bach cello suites and have nearly mastered the prelude, and although its helping my reading I still feel as if the sight reading aspect of my musicianship is still not being trained properly.
  2. Zon Bass

    Zon Bass

    Jan 20, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    There really is no alternative to practicing. Those cello suites should be really helpful. One thing you could do is open the book up to a random page, and just try and play a line. If you have trouble playing that line, don't try again, turn to a different page. This way you never remember anything, and so you are relying only on your reading capabilities, and not your memory.
  3. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
  4. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    The Cello Suites are excellent pieces to use to learn to sight read. Its the 1st piece of notation I was told to use, and did use. (thanks again for sending me those copies Pacman) it contains everything that you'll ever encounter with reading. The only drawback to the Cello Suites is that its not very rhymicly demanding.

    A good book that I recently bought that has helped me out imensly in a short time is "Mel Bays, Note Reading Studies for Bass" I and quite a few others here highly recomend it.

    It contains everything from whole/note basic reading skills and advances to much more complex rhythms and has various time signatures for you to play in.
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    The best sight reading excercise that I don't do 1/24th as much as I should.

    Take a piece of Manuscript paper and write out random notes...forget rhythm and just right note heads, fill the whole page with random notes then read it....once you've done that flip the page upside down and read it this way....when I used to do this excecise it helped me a lot...I haven't done it in a long time, and I haven't had the need to sight read anything in a long time so now my sight reading is not as good as I'd like....but I highly recommend this little excercise.
  6. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    A good idea is to get familar with your neck without looking on it much. That way your eyes on your music and not your fretboard.

    Start at a position, then see if you can reach any note in that position without looking down to find it. This will greatly improve your sight reading.

    The cello suites are great practice and make nice solo peices.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The best teacher I ever had taught me that, at its highest level, sightreading is nothing more that playing by ear through your eyes. In other words, learn to sing everything that you are trying to play before you take it to your instrument, and you'll be a much better and more musical reader as a result.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm not a very good sight reader, but I think the singing is the best advice I've had - so what really improves my sight reading is singing the bass parts in a choir.

    I only get to do it very infrequently, but very time after I have sung and rehearsed a piece for choir I can feel a definite improvement!!
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    i cant sight read for toffee... well i can see what notes are what and i can play along very, very slowly.

    the hardest thing i find is reading the rhythm. ok so straight quarter notes and simple 16th note patterns are easy enough,, but when it starts to get into dotted 16ths, rests and complex rhythms i cant cant read the phrases from the page at all.

    i've been thinking about taking a part-time class this year at london bass tech - one on just general bass stuff and an addon of sight reading.

    one thing i do now is every time i want to write down something i've written - i write it in standard notation with chord symbols... it's propbably way off most of the time, but it's still good practice for recognising notes & patterns of notes etc..

  10. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Hmmm, one thing that might also help is if you have a Midi Keyboard or Midi instrument or any midi capabilities, you can play a passage on your midi keyboard and it will automatically chart it out for you(using certain midi software) this way if yo udo what Howard mentioned you can check your self and it may improve your understanding of rhythmn and sight reading.
  11. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    For site-reading practice, my teacher picks an exercise out of one of his upright bass lesson books. I take maybe 30 seconds or so to look it over and then have to play it. It's usually a scale exercise, 8th and 16th notes, and runs all over the fretboard.

    Some hints I have learned for site-reading on the spot:

    1) What key is it in? Practice your scales starting in different positions and running up and down each string. Learn your modes.

    2) Scan for high and low notes. Sometimes you realize you don't have to start in 1st position, especially if it jumps quickly to, say, the 12th fret on the G string (G). But be aware of where you have to make jumps, so you will be able to make smooth transitions.

    I also work out of Mel Bay's "Note Reading Studies For Bass" book by Arnold Evans. :)
  12. Thanks a lot guys. I especially liked the idea of learning the music right side up and then to randomize it, turning it upside down. At least my knowledge of theory is pretty intact and I do know my modes for not just all the major scales, but for both melodic and harmonic minor. With any luck any quite a bit of practice I hope to get it down. Im in a rush because my audition for music school is in a month and Im required to walk over chord charts at a minimum. But, I work well under pressure.
  13. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    You could try something that I've been working on to the extreme lately, which is isolating problems and concentrating on one thing at a time (not just sight reading but everything)

    Forget pitch for a time and concentrate on rhythm.
    ALWAYS apparoach the sight reading with a pulse , or you're sold. Once you've established a reasonable PULSE (tempo) tap out the rhytm of the notes.

    Once you've got that down, work ONLY on pitch. Maybe on some other piece. Work on them seperatly then combine them on easier songs.

    Treating rhythm and pitch apart from each other is also useful when transcribing music. Usually I will take rhythm first and then work on pitch as that seems the most logical..

    good luck
  14. Thats a very good idea. I normally approach problems associated with playing bass bass by isolating different parts of the problem and combining them afterwards. I hadnt thought about this though, even though it would seem like the most logical solution.
  15. Where can I get a copy of the Cello Suites to start working on sight reading. Any ideas?

  16. I'd like to know also. Bumpity bumparoo.
  17. alanz


    Jan 3, 2003
  18. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA

    I did a search for 'Bach' and it brought up two books. One I have: Mel Bay's "J.S. Bach For Bass" by Josquin des Pres. Pretty good book (if you ignore the tabs underneath LOL). :)
  19. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    I am one of the freaks that read a lot better than I do anything else. I would rather have writtian out notes than any other kind of notation. Bach cello suites are great music, but most of them can be incredibly hard and frustrating. My suggestions is to buy a bass book that start very simply and explains what each note is, and explains rhythms very clearly. If you can't find a bass book WITHOUT tab, (no cheating) get a book writtian for beginning trombone, euphonium, baritone, Cello, DB, or bassoon. THat way you get the notes, and basci melodies, without feeling like you have to already be great to tackle them.
  20. Ryan K

    Ryan K

    Dec 11, 2002
    New Jersey
    against tabs under standard notation...

    Masking Tape!!!:D :D

    (do it fast before your mind starts porcessing them!)