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How to learn sight reading?

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Kopfschmerzen
(@kopfschmerzen)
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Hi there!

I learn to play guitar for about 1.5 years, and I want to learn both tab and sight reading. I'm a bit familiar with tabs, but my sight reading abilities are virtually zero. How do I get started with that? What strategy should I use? At the end, I want to learn tabs and standard notation in parallel and be fluent in both.

Thanks!


   
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Musenfreund
(@musenfreund)
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You might start here: Rosetta Stone. This should be helpful too: Standard Notation. There's a link to the second part at the end of that lesson. And each of these lessons has links to others that relate to standard notation and sight reading.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


   
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David Hodge
(@davidhodge)
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Also, be patient and don't try to learn it all at once. Like anything, reading notes is just a matter of practice and there's a good reason so many methods try to teach you one strings at a time. If you can learn one note a day, then you'll be able to learn just about all the notes you'll need on the guitar in less than a month.

Reading rhythms is a little more tricky but again it's a matter of practice and patience. Start out with easy ones and work your way up. Any method book (String Letter (Acoustic Guitar Magazine's Books), Mel Bay, Hal Leonard, Berkelee) will be able to help you get started and each one has its good points. I'm sure we've discussed this relatively recently around here someplace!

The important thing is to make it a part of your practice schedule and to stick with it. If you do, you'll manage just fine.

Hope this helps.

Peace


   
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notes_norton
(@notes_norton)
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Reading comes first, then sight reading.

Don't be discouraged if you can't read a song without practice. It's like reading English. Remember when you had to sound out the words by the letters "C-A-T" and then on to more difficult ones. Reading music is like that. At first it seems terribly difficult, but with time it just gets easier and easier.

In time it will be as easy as reading a magazine article or book.

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


   
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Scrybe
(@scrybe)
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Reading comes first, then sight reading.

+1. I started practicing sight reading this year. From studying music in school, I already understood how the stave is organised, how key signatures are constructed, and the different note values (to build rhythms with). You do need to have a grasp of these to get started. But here's what I did....

I practice sight reading on both acoustic and electric. For electric, I use the Berklee Sight Reading Text by Bill Leavitt (although Noteboat on here prefers the Mel Bay books - the key is to have one method book or series and stick with it). This covers mainly single note lines and some chords. For acoustic, I use a book of Classical Guitar Studies given to my by David Hodge - this covers playing fingerstyle. I play jazz at jam nights too, so I also practice sight reading some jazz chord charts. I also sometimes use Syncopation, which is a reading text for drummers and focusses solely on rhythms.

The Bill Leavitt book recommends that you start at a comfortable tempo, however slowly it is, but make sure you have a metronome on to keep you honest. He then says to play and read - if you make mistakes, keep playing (this is because, if you're sight reading at a gig, s key reason for learning the skill, and you make a mistake, you can't ask the band to stop or start from the top again). He asks you to play until it falls apart completely. Then you stop, mark where it fell apart, and repeat the process again the next day, this time trying to get a bit further along in the book.

I apply the same principles to all my sight reading practice. Once I get comfortable at a certain tempo, I increase the tempo and repeat. I change the material if I feel I'm beginning to memorise the material (because then I'm not reading, I'm reciting, which is different).

With the Classical book, I started by looking for pieces in comfortable time signatures (4/4, 2/4, 3/4, etc., not something in 9/8) and easy keys (C major, G major, etc., not Db major). As I progressed, I tried time and key signatures I was less familiar with. With all the books, if there was a rhythm or symbol I really just didn't understand, I'd mark it in pencil and then look up what it meant after I'd finished my reading. I do the same on jazz charts with chords I'm unfamiliar with.

I use Syncopation because the Bill Leavitt book has very simple rhythms; it focusses on getting you to read the pitches.

This might sound like a lot of work, but I only do 10 minutes on each book per day, so it's half an hour in total most days (10mins on Leavitt, 10 mins on jazz charts, 10 mins on Classical studies). Some days I do 10 minutes on Syncopation, too, so those days it's 40 minutes. If I was pressed for time, I could just do 5 minutes on each. Also, becaue I can read tab easily, I made a commitment to stop using tab altogether - an immersion technique, to force me to work on sight reading and paying attention to standard notation (because if there's tab available, I find it a lot easier to use that, and ignore the standard notation's pitch information).

The key is really to do a little each day, rather than an hour today and then nothing for 3 weeks. But, before you can start sight reading, you do have to understand the stave and be able to name the notes on it. And you need to start with really simple tunes to read - if you try to begin reading with something difficult you will only frustrate yourself. There's a reason we don't give 5 year olds a copy of James Joyce's Ullysses to read, and the same goes for beginning to read music.

Hope this helps. :D

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

http://www.blipfoto.com/Scrybe


   
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Kopfschmerzen
(@kopfschmerzen)
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Topic starter  

Thank you all for the good tips! I have some basic knowledge of standard notation like notes, keys, and timing. But in order to find a note on the guitar, I have to count notes on a sheet first, and count frets on the guitar second :) I will check the links and books (if available here) you mentioned, but the most valuable tip is one I know and always forget - to incorporate time for it into my schedule on daily basis! Thank you again for it! As most of us, I'm limited in time I can dedicate to playing and practice, so, probably, I'll begin to learn sight reading away from an instrument, say, at lunch time. Later I'll find time slots within the practice time if I need.


   
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Nuno
 Nuno
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Also, there was a recent thread on this topic with man interesting advices and also some book recommendations: https://www.guitarnoise.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=48539


   
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Kopfschmerzen
(@kopfschmerzen)
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Topic starter  

Also, there was a recent thread on this topic with man interesting advices and also some book recommendations: https://www.guitarnoise.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=48539

Thanks for that one! I missed it somehow.

By the way, what about sight writing? Do you practice it (especially if you write songs)?


   
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Alan Green
(@alangreen)
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By the way, what about sight writing? Do you practice it (especially if you write songs)?

You have to be able to hear it in your head with some degree of confidence about its acurracy first. Not only have you got to know the starting notes for phrases without hearing them played but there's the up/ down interval to the next note and the timing to think about.

Alan

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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notes_norton
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I buy fake books and practice reading songs that I know AND (very important) songs that I don't know.

If you learn to properly count the rhythms first, especially on difficult songs you don't know, you fill find them easier to play. My old band director used to say, "If you can say it, you can play it."

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


   
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