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Two great reasons for learning to read...you might have overlooked

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by markjsmithbass, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. Hi everyone. Just put up a new YT lesson I thought might fit well on here.

    I know a lot of players try to sit in those reader vs non-reader camps (I try to avoid that kind of bass identity politics) and it can sometimes be a case of "I don't take gigs that need a reader" or (much worse) "I don't want to get chained to charts and ruin my ear".

    So I've outlined a couple of great reasons for learning to read that are often overlooked. One of the most useful reasons I mention in the vid is that of fretboard familiarity. I was a non-reader for quite a few years before teaching myself to read and I have to say that it completely transformed the way I see the fretboard. I cannot imagine going back to my younger self that would sit there having to work out notes on various frets. It doesn't take much reading experience to gain a completely instinctive recall of every note on the instrument.

    Anyway, I thought it might be a good topic for debate. The lesson obviously ties in to the Talkingbass sight reading course many of you already know about (and use), so excuse the links.

    I've got a feeling most players on here are fairly big advocates of learning to read. Have you seen any compelling arguments for NOT learning to read?

    Oddly, nolezmaj, dralionux and 9 others like this.
  2. zenpeace69


    Jun 22, 2018
    It looks awesome, but I'm a bit skint right now. I will bookmark it for later. Thanks!
    rufus.K likes this.
  3. reddog

    reddog Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    Got your email. Very tempting! Appreciate the focus of your lessons.... Love your presentation skills.
  4. jchrisk1

    jchrisk1 Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    Edit...I found what I'm looking for.
  5. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Your reason #2 - improved rhythmic awareness - is my main reason for encouraging reading.
    keep up the good work, Mark!
    swooch, jallenbass and LeeNunn like this.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    There's no good reason to not learn to read music, but there are a lot of people who are very limited as musicians because they can only read.

    That's a failure of how music is taught in academic settings, though, it has nothing to do with reading in and of its self.

    By way of metaphor, it would be unfortunate for an adult to be illiterate. But it would be worse, in many ways, for them to only be able to read from a prepared script and not have a face to face conversation with another person. Obviously it would be best for everyone to know how to do both equally well.
    joebar, Bassngtr, Lobster11 and 5 others like this.
  7. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Good vid, you youngsters are a different breed with the media.

    Yup, reading is good. IMHO as music gets more complicated having written parts becomes essential if not for anything else to remember the intricacies of the arrangement.

    Good point about reading and fingerboard awareness.

    Having BOTH reading and ear skills is the goal, right?
  8. Drgonzonm


    Sep 4, 2017
    American SW
    If you want train your e:angel:ars, go fretless.
  9. Thank you for a great video. A big 5 gold stars (*****) by your name for this. Not being able to read music is very limiting IMO. It doesn't automatically make you musical, but it opens up a universe of opportunity the same way that being able to read a book does.

    I am personally aware of two pros that cant read. One has dyslexia and can't read either - but he has an extremely good ear, but he is mostly stuck in one genre of music. The other may be able to read now, but didn't back when. There is a video of him performing at Carnegie Hall with sheet music prominently in front of him, which I think is a prop.

    And then there was my church piano player who couldn't play anything unless it was in a hymnal......
  10. Karlson541

    Karlson541 Banned

    Jun 9, 2018
    I counter with my personal 4 reasons not to learn how to read:
    - I mainly do self composed originals
    - When I compose I use a midi grit, if I need to hand the score to anyone who reads standard notation I press a button that translate my midi grit to standard notation and print it out. Also standard notation doesn't come with a value for velocity of the individual notes as using the midi grit allows.
    - Nothing wrong with my hearing
    - I am lazy like that
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
    Atshen likes this.
  11. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    That's practically a Zen koan, like "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" I.e., 1) any answer to your question says more about the answerer than it does about the issue being inquired about; and 2) any attempt to answer requires very specific, unnecessarily narrow definitions of certain key words ("compelling" in the first case, "sound" in the second.)

    I'll brazenly-but-confidently suggest that there is no such thing as a truly "compelling" argument for not learning to read music. There are however some very popular excuses for not learning to read music.
    BMGecko, LarryBama and IamGroot like this.
  12. Kriegs

    Kriegs Peace

    Feb 14, 2018
    MA/ RI area
    Playing devil's advocate here:
    By using the word excuse, you infer that there is some sort of requirement for everyone to learn to read music and that people who don't have to make excuses for it. I think you would be better off using the word reason.
    I can't read music. I've been playing instruments for more than 35 years and I've never been left out of anything because of the inability to read. I've never suffered any ill-effects whatsoever in any situation because I couldn't read music. Why would I need an excuse to not learn to read music when I've never had a reason to learn to.
    This all comes down to the old adage:
  13. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    If you knew a little more about standard notation you would know that it absolutely does include hundreds of symbols and words that can be combined in all sorts of ways to express pretty much any dynamic/performance requirements you want. Players don't think velocity, unless it's how quickly they can get to the bar after the show.
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Nashrakh and IamGroot like this.
  15. Ray Charles read music in braille. Whats your excuse.

    Do you have a fantastic ear and can play anything you hear after one playing and remember everything you ever played?
  16. Kriegs

    Kriegs Peace

    Feb 14, 2018
    MA/ RI area
    OK... over the top super intense guy calling everyone a liar still doesn't explain why I must learn to read music. Are all people that can't read music liars?
    His/ your argument hold no water and doesn't actually make any point in this discussion.

    I'm just going to go ahead and let folks :banghead: on this matter while I go and :bassist:

    Peace! :thumbsup:
  17. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    I agree that reason is better than excuse, and there are plenty of situations where reading is not a requirement. If one wants to play in such situations then absence of need is reason enough. I suppose the only argument might be that it's not possible to prove a negative, so it is not possible to state as fact that one has never been left out because one can't read - how would one ever know?
    Anyway, we are all where we find ourselves, and I've no skin in anyone's game but my own...
    These days I have no pressing requirement to read, but the fact that I can enables me to quickly and accurately write, which means less demands on my time getting stuff into my head - I just read back my scores, which I can do any time - in the bath, on the train, over lunch...
  18. Previous discussions on this had a similar trajectory.

    If nothing you heard so far convinced you, get on with your life.

    I learned to read and the took it to a high level as I need it for what I do/ want. No regrets
    Barticus likes this.
  19. It really just comes down to, whether you care or not. The ones who care tend to be the people who want to gig all the time and every chance they get. The ones who don't, don't...
    IamGroot and JRA like this.
  20. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    players who read are not superior, but we have a skill which is usable. sometimes it's valued. very rarely is it not valid. it's a link to another/different experience. cool if you do, good luck if you don't! :thumbsup:

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