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Sightreading guidelines

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by shatner, Oct 16, 2004.


  1. shatner

    shatner

    Sep 22, 2004
    Isle Of Wight, UK
    Hi guys. I noticed a thread concerning sight reading and thought I'd share something.
    About 10 years ago in the break before I started university I decided it was high time I learned how to sight read. At that point I was into all the Billy Sheehan/Stu Hamm flashy playing and could play all kinds of ridiculous tapping pieces but couldn't really read at all. I had bluffed my way through my previous course by being able to play well by ear and memorise tunes real quick. Funnily enough I passed the uni audition by impressing enough with a two handed classical piece and donna lee after COMPLETELY screwing up the sight reading test. Then someone scared me with tales of being given horrific charts in all the big bands I would be playing in. So I decided to knuckle down. The break was 6 weeks and in that time I managed to go from crap to OK and got through the horrible pieces when they came along. I teach the method I used to students who were like me that can play up to a reasonable standard but can't read.
    All I did was get a load of manuscript paper and write random semibreves (whole notes) on the page and then play them to a metronome. However, I did it a string at a time. I started with what I now call my first position: frets 1 to 5 (or 6 for sharps). Ignore open strings, you can put them in later for convenience.
    The first exercise would be E, F, G and A on the E string. Do random notes for as many pages as it takes you to think "that's easy".
    2nd exercise: B, C, D on the A string.
    3rd exercise: Both E and A strings combined.
    4th exercise: E, F, G on D string.
    5th exercise: All E, A and D strings combined.
    6th exercise: A, B, C on G string.
    7th exercise: All strings in 1st position.
    Of course you can keep doing this for whichever area you feel bad at. Then you include flats, then sharps then different keys.
    Trust me, it doesn't take long to master it. There is this whole drag thing that comes into play when people try to learn sight reading because it seems like such a long winded process but it isn't.
    By the way, before you say it, I know this method is not some fancy new way of doing it. I've seen reading taught this way loads of times. The thing that helps is doing it yourself. Reading coherent melodies can sometimes put you off learning properly because your ear can come into play.
    Also, try to say the note name as you play it and start at a REALLY slow tempo and work up speed for each string. That is how to know you are improving.
    Mark