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Thread: How to improve musical reading skills?

  1. #1
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    Default How to improve musical reading skills?

    I've gotten pretty good at reading tablature and playing dongs, but I've just now started to get into "real" music. I picked up Gibson's 12 disc learn to master the guitar and I'm stuck on learning how to read music.

    I've gotten the notes on the 2 highest strings down, but throw in the d and g strings and I have trouble quickly and I have trouble quickly and accurately finding the notes. Any advice on learning how to better sight read sheet music on guitar?

  2. #2
    Tone Member Paully's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    I've been working with the GL&MG course for about 3 years now.
    What helped me was a set of flash cards that show the note on the staff and on the back shows the note.
    For me I didn't think that I'd ever get it. Then it clicked. Just keep at it. Remember, it's all about putting in the practice time.
    Good luck.
    http://www.notesnstrings.com/cgi-bin...tar+Flashcards

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    Reining PunLowered LesStrat's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Practice.


    Prqctice.

    Oractice.

    I can read music, but I have no desire to do so for the guitar.
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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Reading music is a great skill to have for any musician. I learned slowly, and getting a good book and teacher helps. Reading music for another instrument helps, too, as there isn't tab for it.
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    Vintageologist crusty philtrum's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    Reading music is a great skill to have for any musician.
    Errr, this is the 21st century. A person might be a great player, but they are not a musician if they can't read and write the language of their chosen profession.

    Once you know where the notes are, fluency will come by simply continuing to read .... after all, when we are born, we can't walk, talk, read, write, ride a bicycle or anything else that we later take for granted. We get good at those things because we simply persisted day after day despite setbacks and occasional feelings of getting nowhere.
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    OH THE GLAZE! Clint 55's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Practice isolating the notes and rhythms so you get good at each skill. For example, tap the rhythms out. Then do the same by only reading the notes. Also, sight reading is going to be impossible unless you know all the notes on the guitar. You should make your first goal to learn the notes on the neck. Then learn to figure out a song from the music slowly. You can practice sight reading separately from these things.

    Funny story: I got into an argument with my last guitar teacher because I told him he needed to learn to read lol.
    Last edited by Clint 55; 10-29-2017 at 02:36 AM.

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    Darkness on the edge of Tone TwilightOdyssey's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Violin studies are a great way to get your reading chops, as well as your playing chops, up to a high proficiency. The method I was taught brought you through the following:

    Wolfhart's 60 etudes (two books)
    Dont's violin etudes (there are something like 30 of them)
    Bach's two part Inventions (written for Clavichord)
    Kruetzer's Preparatory Exercises for Paganini
    Paganini's 24 Caprici for violin

    The key is to look at a note and play it, move on. Don't worry about phrasing, that comes after you develop fluency in playing what you see.

    Have fun, it will take 2-10 years to get it down depending on what your fluency target is and how much time you put into it.
    Last edited by TwilightOdyssey; 10-29-2017 at 09:15 AM.
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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Quote Originally Posted by crusty philtrum View Post
    Errr, this is the 21st century. A person might be a great player, but they are not a musician if they can't read and write the language of their chosen profession.

    Once you know where the notes are, fluency will come by simply continuing to read .... after all, when we are born, we can't walk, talk, read, write, ride a bicycle or anything else that we later take for granted. We get good at those things because we simply persisted day after day despite setbacks and occasional feelings of getting nowhere.
    Absolutely. Especially if you want to arrange music for any other instrument. I can't imagine in this day and age, with all the tools we have to learn, that people just don't sit down and do it. It makes communicating to a non-guitarist musician so much easier.
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    High Voltologist Wattage's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    I would recommend finding a sight singing music book, great way to practice reading and work with very strong melodic lines. Get simple and work your way up, practice the living **** out of it. Syncopation for the Modern Drummer is an excellent book to learn rhythmic patterns with out being concerned for notes if you are looking to get game.
    Fake books are great for learning to read a lot of single line stuff and you can usually find them used pretty easily.

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    Super Toneologist Obsessive Compulsive's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Speaking from my own esperience: Learn classical guitar.

    My first guitar lesson was classical guitar in 1989. I and possibly my instructor as well, had no idea what the f**k a tablature was.

  11. #11
    High Voltologist Wattage's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Quote Originally Posted by Obsessive Compulsive View Post
    Speaking from my own esperience: Learn classical guitar.

    My first guitar lesson was classical guitar in 1989. I and possibly my instructor as well, had no idea what the f**k a tablature was.

    Yes for sure but there is a lot of room for other stuff too. Certainly taking on classical guitar music will be a lot more attainable if his basic reading skills are already solid.

    Learn piano for that matter

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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    So what I've got so far: learn drums, learn classical guitar, and learn piano.

    I've been doing as you said and getting better. Any more suggestions?

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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Get in situations where you have to read: gigs like a local theater pit orchestra, or a group of friends that read through pieces. You will motivate each other, and both will get better.
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    Super Toneologist Obsessive Compulsive's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    Get in situations where you have to read: gigs like a local theater pit orchestra, or a group of friends that read through pieces. You will motivate each other, and both will get better.
    That's why I told him to take classical guitar lesson cause there is no stinkin' tablature in classical guitar. He'll learn classical guitar and improve music reading skill simultaneously.

  15. #15
    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Learning classical guitar is great if you love classical guitar. But if you learn classical guitar to get your electric playing better, you might as well stick to electric. Everything outside of guitar magazines and the internet uses standard notation for every instrument.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker NecroPolo's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Keep on reading.

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  18. #18
    Alnico 6/8 Chickenwings's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to improve musical reading skills?

    Read the notes aloud. Read all of them aloud. It bypasses the muscle memory part of your brain and increases the speed that you recognise and process the information on the paper. It will slow you down and annoy the hell out of you in the short term, but this is about long term gains. Keep at it. Do it every day.
    Count aloud. Look at the time signature and count out loud all the way through. Count the eighth notes as one and two and etc, sixteenths as one-e-and-a two-e-and-a etc and triplets and one and a two and a etc. Again, you'll hate doing it initially but again, think about the long game.
    Dont do this stuff in your head. and think that your are getting the same benefit. You gotta say it out loud. Do not cut corners on this. Read every day. Read from guitar methods, read from the real book, read from any source you can. Don't worry that you are playing much slower, sloppily and worse than you normally play. It is not about learning how to play a piece. It is about developing your reading skills. Process is more important than outcome.
    The otrher massive benefit of reading both the notes and the timing aloud is that it forces you to keep your eyes on the music and not buried in the fretboard which has flow on benefits of learning to play more by feel and ear as well as being able to keep your head up to communicate with other musicians, or engage with your audience for those times when you are not reading. Reading is only a tool of course and watching most musos reading does not make for a good performance, but having excellent reading skills will free you up in so many ways that allow you to express your creativity.
    Over the long term your reading will become much faster and automatic, which in turn means that you can either sight read fluently of use your skills to learn and memorize tunes in much less time.
    Avoid tabs. It is a dead end.
    Doing all this reading and counting aloud will slow you down immensely and frustrate the hell out of you for a while. The reason is because you are isolating and working on your weak points. There is nothing more effective for your reading though, so if you are resilient and persistent, the results will follow the process.
    Best of luck.
    Last edited by Chickenwings; 11-12-2017 at 06:23 PM.
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