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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. Reading is usable if you want to use it. You don't need luck if you don't care. You only need luck if you care, but can't read. Actually from what I can see, you need a lot of luck even if you can...
    SteveCS likes this.
  2. Been working out of a Jazz Improvisation book this week (treble clef).
    Glad I read.

    Played about 20 Aretha Franklin tunes last night.
    Glad I read.

  3. Paid my mortgage off 18 years early. Glad I know calculus. And I still get to work out of jazz improvisation books and play Aretha songs...
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
    Barticus likes this.
  4. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    yeah. ;)
  5. When I was in high school, playing trumpet, we had to sight read everything. Everyone could do it and it wasn't a big deal in any way, since we were taught from day one to read. There were no musical genius's there. Just a bunch of high school kids. But if you wanted to be in the band, you had to read. No way around it. But it was no different than learning to read a book in the 1st grade. They taught you and you did it.

    So I can read treble clef, but I can't sight read on bass, mainly because I really don't care. I don't wanna gig everyday or every weekend or sometimes every month. I enjoy the aspect of study so I just get into that on my own. and playing jazz, once you get the harmony down, you do what you want. When I have to solo, I don't get to read it.

    So like I said, it simply comes down to whether you care or not. If I wanted to gig randomly all the time, I absolutely would have my reading tight.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
    IamGroot likes this.
  6. LeeNunn

    LeeNunn Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2012
    Charlottesville, VA
    I totally agree with Mark. Like Mambo4, rhythmic awareness and understanding was the more important of the two for me.

    Another minor benefit is a deeper understanding of enharmonic equivalents. When you read arpeggios in root position, they're usually all spaces or lines. It's usually pretty obvious how a chord note should be labeled. I know it's not a mind bending concept, and many musicians get by perfectly without an understanding of the difference between C# and Db for example. Even so, it makes communicating with other musicians so much easier. Especially when you combine reading with even a basic understanding of chord structure.
    IamGroot likes this.
  7. Drgonzonm


    Sep 4, 2017
    American SW
    I know a lot people who can't read music. It's lyrics and chord sheets for them. Most can't play song if they haven't heard the song.
    One of my gigs is church music. When a new song is introduced, we are asked to go to utube.
    I can read music but one of the singers can't. Makes rehearsals tough.
    To me, a good bass player can read both treble and bass. It doesn't hurt to know Nashville numbering. We don't want the singers off key .
    Leo Smith, Spin Doctor and IamGroot like this.
  8. This is a case where someone needs to have a skill and doesn't which affects everyone. So if you are in a situation where you need to read, then you should learn to do it. It's really not hard, if you're somewhat motivated.

    Also, there is the idea of what does it mean to "read"? I mean, I don't consider myself a music reader, but I can create basslines from lead sheets and sight sing melodies and most rhythms. I can play written melodies on bass with a little effort.

    To me, reading means I can blow through any song, sight unseen having been handed any random sheet of music. It's not (IMO) about the ability to struggle through notes and eventually get it. That's not reading. That's just an awareness of notes.

    I know a lot of singers who have regular gigs who I'd never even consider musicians. They have zero awareness of notes, music or anything else. They simply have the ability to mimic songs to a sometimes incredible degree. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, they are just parrots.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
  9. reddog

    reddog Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    What time is Talkingbass.com live stream tomorrow? (Youtube)
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  10. Drgonzonm


    Sep 4, 2017
    American SW
    You are correct there are a lot of parrots and macaws out there. Music reading is a communication skill. Speaking a second language can be a useful skill.
    Imo, As a band member, the lack of music reading skills by others hurts the band.
    Music reading, I am a mediocre music reader, as I use face and all cows eat grass, when transposing music. The scale of music reading scale (there's a pun in there) is no idea, beginner mediocre average, professient, fluent.
    Heck I won't play tictactoe with a chicken, I don't want to lose. But the fact a chicken can beat me in tic-tac-toe, does not mean the chicken is smarter than me (ok, that's debatable.)
    Having skills like be nns are also useful.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sorry but I can't buy into the reasons of people who never learned to read music and don't see the need. They're entitled to that opinion but it comes from a basis of not knowing what reading can do for you, and it almost always includes bogus reasons like "People who read can't play by ear." On the other hand, I get some pretty decent paying gigs solely because I can read, and I don't need the competition, so please, by all means, if you wish to continue thinking that way, continue and clear a path for me :D
  12. I get what you are saying, but honestly this only applies if you are trying to feed yourself through playing music, attempting to snag every random gig that comes along. In that case, well, yeah you should probably know how to read. If you have an occupation that already takes care of those needs, then it doesn't matter because not reading music doesn't impact your life. But I still get to play music as much as I care to. Having every gig isn't important to me.

    It's just a relative thing and I (and many others) have different stuff to do with my life. I have much respect for the full-time musicians but, it just doesn't matter that much to everybody... It's no more complicated than that. It's not about competition or laziness, etc. I just don't care. It's not like it's rocket science or something...
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  13. reddog

    reddog Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Philly burbs
    I find reading music cheaper than going to comedy clubs.
    My first step is to try using my ear to pick out bass lines.
    Then I find the notation online to see what it really is.
    Always good for a laugh.
    2BitHack likes this.
  14. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    What they never say is that there are tons of people that can't read and can't play by ear. They have to be taught tunes, or go to Youtube where someone says, "Put your finger on the 5th string on the 5th fret, then move to the ..."

    I especially like the ones that say, "I've never lost a gig over not being able to read music." Of course you have, you were just never offered the gig, so you never knew you lost it. It's true that being able to read doesn't make you a great player, but without exception, the bad players I've met over the years can't read and don't know any music theory. Being musically ignorant doesn't imbibe you with magical musical ability.
    Leo Smith, Bob_Ross, SteveCS and 3 others like this.
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I don't see what's wrong with learning it just to understand music on a higher level for your own edification. Not everyone who learns it does it to snag every random gig that comes along. Some people just enjoy learning.
  16. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You can't make me learn.
    JimmyM likes this.
  17. 2BitHack


    Nov 11, 2014
    Wilful ignorance or natural stupidity....a distinction without a difference
  18. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I used to think that reading won't make me a better musician.
    Then I began learning to read, and it made me a better musician.
    I'm certain it would do the same for others, but they will never know if they don't try.
    JimmyM and Nashrakh like this.
  19. Sure I see your point. But you guys are missing/ignoring mine, which is fine.

    But don't try to assume that not sight reading basslines on a staff everyday means you don't know anything. I can pretty much play anything that I decide to and I already know that have as good a handle on theory as anyone here since I studied with some pretty heavy guys. But sight reading bass isn't a priority for me.

    I can read sight read lead sheets and my gigs are all exclusively jazz so I suppose I have a fairly high level understanding of harmony, rhythm, etc. I turn down gigs all the time because I don't have time for them. So you don't have to try to convince me of anything. This is a strictly personal choice for me to not worry too much about whatever it is you guys are going on about. I'm not interested in playing someone else's interpretations of a bass line note for note. Concerning melody lines, it's a forgone conclusion that you need to be able to read a melody, but that's not reading to me. Just a musical necessity.

    Also, be aware that it doesn't mean, by any stretch of your imagination, that I'm not learning and studying. I'm just not studying sight reading for bass. I might someday, but not today.

    I'm pretty sure there's a fair amount of learning going on in here. Don't presume to know me... Or anyone else for that matter. I think what you guys call reading, I just call simple awareness of notes. To me, it's not the same thing. Reading to me, means accurately playing any rhythm, any note pattern and any time signature instantly. Reading a 1st grade primer isn't the same as reading "War and Peace". So I'm not trying to make it the same for music.

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018

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