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Why are some people so reluctant to learn to read?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BassyBill, Apr 7, 2010.

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  1. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I see so many people on here get insecure and worked up about this for no reason I can figure when this topic comes up for conversation.

    From the non-readers, we get comments like "I can still be a great player without reading/I don't need to read to do what I want/xxxx couldn't read and he was fantastic", and so on and so on. All that is legitimate, in a way.

    I suppose you be a great conversationalist without reading English, and you'd still be missing out on a lot.

    I really don't get it. If anybody wants to play on their bass without bothering with reading, fine. But why get so burned up about it?

    EDIT - TBer standupright suggested I post these links in here as they capture what the discussion is all about. They're from post #458 in this epic thread. :D

    Happy reading! Live and learn.
  2. hinklegm


    Nov 8, 2009
    because it's hard
  3. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    People base their views about things and place their own validity as people upon these beliefs. In other words, if somebody believes in something that is subsequently called incorrect, it is an invalidation of these people's personal worth and they flip about this.

    Musicians are amongst the most hyper-sensitive people when it comes to wearing their feelings on their sleeves (religious fanatics are in this group as well). People who's personal validation as people goes hand in hand with their beliefs hate it when somebody goes against what they believe in. This is why many players get mad when the idea of learning how to read music comes up; the non-readers don't think this way and so they get really burned up when somebody else tells them that this is one of the best ways to learn how to play. And it is!
  4. BobaFret


    Jan 22, 2008
    I'm not reluctant it just takes time. I still work on it constantly and I'm not good at it. Come to think of it I've never gotten upset about it either so maybe this isn't the thread for me. ;)
  5. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    But it isn't, really, is it? As the saying goes, it certainly isn't "rocket science".

    I think anyone can learn the basics of reading in a fairly short time and what they would gain from it would repay their effort over and over again. Sure, it takes a lot of practice to get really proficient and read complex stuff on sight. But even the most basic knowledge would let many players develop in a way that is totally uanavailable to somebody with no reading whatsoever.
  6. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Now THAT sounds sensible and in perspective. Keep plugging away and you'll be glad you spent the time, in my opinion. :)
  7. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    Many people find it a daunting task. I know I did.

    I was shoved into the situation, and was forced to read. I learned to love it, and now I don't read tab at all. I can't read sheet music if there is tab on the page, even.

    Most musicians seem reluctant to learn the musicians universal language. Weird.
  8. hinklegm


    Nov 8, 2009
    I didn't mean I'm not learning to read, I meant people think it's too hard and so they don't bother. I've been learning slowly, in what little free time I have.
  9. There is nothing to get worked up about. It is your choice as a musician to learn or not to learn whatever you want. I don't look down on folks who don't read.

    My daughter is learning to play drums now. She is learning to read music from her teachers. Some of the kids in her class are struggling with reading (although my kid seems to be doing OK with it). The teachers give them extra help, but don't allow the reading to be an obstacle to learning and enjoying making music. I think that this is a great attitude to have. I would rather those kids grow up with the ability to make music over the ability to read it.
  10. who_sharted

    who_sharted Banned

    Mar 15, 2010
    The Battery
    For me, it's simple. I spent 17 years learning, reading and playing alto saxophone - treble clef. I can read it as fluently as I read English.

    About halfway through that time I got serious with the bass and going from treble to bass clef and having to transpose the note on the staff was starting to:

    A) increase my ability to read bass clef BUT....
    B) DECREASE my speed with sight reading a chart in treble clef. It was messing with my head too much.

    I stick mostly with re-writing a chart in treble clef if I'm going to learn an entire song on bass - either that or tab.
  11. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Thanks for the thoughtful responses to all - and let's keep it polite as it's been so far, it could be a really useful thread.

    I'd like to see this convince people who have been turned off reading that they could get a lot of fun, satisfaction and musical development out of just a little effort in this area. It really isn't about "looking down" on anybody.
  12. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Yeah, understood. :)
  13. I would add this: Set a realistic goal. If you play in weekend warrior coverbands, you probably don't have a real need to able to sight read a jazz or orchestral chart. However, being able to read with a basic level of proficiency will open a lot of closed doors.

    I enjoy reading. For what it is worth, I feel that it makes me a better writer too.
  14. Toastfuzz


    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Probably because people like you won't let it drop. Really thought it was necessary to make this a separate post? This just feeds the fire, separates people, gives elitists a place to hate on illiterates, and makes others feel the need to defend themselves. Why's it matter?
  15. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    i was tramatized as a child while learning to read music. my piano teacher would slap my hands every time i hit the wrong notes. so, i would memorize the lesson and she would yell if i looked at the keyboard.
    then, my evil step-father would make me practice while my five brothers and sisters were outside playing.
    how's that for an excuse?????

    (ironically,.. i now prefer to be beaten and yelled at over learning to read music!!!)
  16. Laziness and too much else to learn (= me)

    Also: most charts thrown in front of me don't have bass clef. Although, I know it's helpful to read and be able to play the melody.
  17. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Wow. I did all that? :D

    Lighten up a little and read through again, maybe?
  18. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Not being able to read music I think was a leading reason as to why I've had to pursue my livelihood in another field. And trust me folks that sucks canal water.
  19. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    It is time consuming. Some guys are into instant gratification. Learning how to read doesn't provide instant gratification. But, finally, most outlets of music education, that is, teachers, magazines (tab) DVD's etc. don't make reading music mandatory, rarely even discuss it or how to go about acquiring this skill. So most players don't pursue it.
  20. K'Ching


    Sep 25, 2006
    I guess I've just never understood how it would be benificial to me.

    I've never been in a situation where it was necessary "in the real world" so to speak. Only in school situations, and then it has only a few lines here and there, that I slowly worked through before playing, and then just remembered them. The only times I've ever had to read a full page of music were in tests.

    So since I don't have any tests in the near future, I don't bother practicing it.

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