Who reads music?

Discussion in 'Fred's Barcalounge' started by NowEarThis, Sep 11, 2021.

My music reading is

  1. Very proficient

    11 vote(s)
  2. I'm ok with it

    33 vote(s)
  3. Not good

    21 vote(s)
  4. Never bothered to learn

    14 vote(s)
  1. slickfaster

    slickfaster Country Gent

    Dec 29, 2009
    Music is for listening not reading….
    Shock and Viking Power like this.
  2. Duo Slinger

    Duo Slinger Synchromatic

    Sep 11, 2020
    California, USA
    Well, I played the piano for a long time, so I solely read music for the piano. Can sight-read, etc. With the guitar and banjo, I didn't bother, instead I opted for a combo of ear and tabs.
  3. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    I don't read music.
    I only rely on my ears.
    I am the sole member of our band (25-30 players) that do not read music.
    If I knew that when young, I would have learnt it.
    Now it's too late ! I took bad habits for so long...

    NowEarThis and blueruins like this.
  4. DougWheeler74

    DougWheeler74 Synchromatic

    Jul 10, 2019
    NE Wisconsin, US
    I started with band and played coronet through high school and in Navy boot camp (that saved me from a lot of 'break you down' stuff). I always preferred the 1st part as it was the melody. Perhaps if I played more 2nd & 3rd parts I'd have a better ability with harmony. With guitar its all by ear. I've tried tab but I have to work at not reading it as music notation. Every now and again I can and do stumble through a piece of music reading to try to understand a new song I am assigned to learn.

    One time the church music director threw a music term at us and although I know some terminology such as forte and crescendo I didn't understand the one he used. I felt foolish and looked at the other guitar player in the group who looked at me and said 'do you know what he is talking about?' we both laughed and felt better. Then we asked.
  5. guitarfarm

    guitarfarm Country Gent

    In 4th grade we were all told we would have to pick an instrument for band. I picked trumpet. I then played trumpet through 12th grade where I was in every band the school had and was 1st trumpet, 1st chair for my junior and senor years. Went to college and never picked it up again. But at least I learned how to read music from the experience.

    One thing I wish I had learned more of was music theory. All I learned how to do was blow notes.
    mbkri, MrWookiee and thunder58 like this.
  6. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    Glen , sorry pal , I saw this and all I could read is ..." Smelly act ..smel-lee-cat :p
    GlenP and Viking Power like this.
  7. The Box

    The Box Gretschie

    Feb 9, 2020
    I used to work with tabs but after a while i realized that tablature has lots of limitations. So I started to learn how to read and write music in notation. I tell you that: riffs and simple melody lines are ok. Solos are hell fire in notation!
    All in all I am better in writing than reading.
  8. 19MGB76

    19MGB76 Gretschie

    Jul 31, 2018
    By learning to read music, I can hear it without any instruments making a sound. Just by reading it. It's like reading a book vs watching a movie.

    I can play tabs and by ear, but I generally prefer a written score to keep people honest.
  9. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    I started in an Alfred’s book, and read from day one. I voted that “I’m ok with it”, but I would consider myself a better than average reader. I prefer notation to Tab. About ten years into playing, I started playing from piano sheets, whenever possible. I find that both clefs, notated at actual pitch, is a lot easier to work with.

    That having been said, I learn most songs by ear. Unless the song is very unusual, it’s not that hard to figure out what is going on. Woodshedding scales helped me to be able to hear what was going on in songs.

    Back when I was young, and poor, I used to “shoplift” sheet music, which meant that I would go to a music store, look at the sheet music for a song which I wanted to learn, and memorize as much as I could. No laws were broken, to the best of my knowledge, and it really exercised my memory.
    NowEarThis and MrWookiee like this.
  10. JeffreyLeePierre

    JeffreyLeePierre Country Gent

    As all French kids, I've been taught to read G clef lines and play a basic recorder flute from it.


    @hcsterg I bet you did so too.

    I forgot almost everything.
    hcsterg likes this.
  11. chicago slim

    chicago slim Synchromatic

    Dec 27, 2008
    Bowling Green, KY
    As a guitar teacher, I taught my students to read music as I taught them the notes, on the first 5 frets of the guitar. I would have them read, as they played simple melodies. Next, I would show them what written cords looked like, and I would transition them to tablature. As they progressed, I would show them how to play and train their ear.

    As a Band Leader and Music Director, I would have to help/teach Pro's read Nashville System charts. Music is pretty encompassing, in that you need to train your hands, mind and ears.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
    MrWookiee likes this.
  12. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    I wouldn’t send a child to make their way in this world without the ability to read and write. Being able to read music is a real advantage, and I wouldn’t want to send a music student out into this world without at least some ability to read notation.

    A few years ago, in a band situation, we were working on a Beatles tune, and there was a question regarding a certain chord. I went over to the bookshelf and opened my Beatles Anthology, located the chord and read it, verbatim, from the score. What surprised me, was the reaction of one of the other musicians, who looked at me like I was a sideshow freak because I could read notation. I don’t demand that other musicians be capable of reading music, but I will never apologize for having put in the work to learn to read.

    Sight reading is a step beyond simply being able to read notation. In order to be a good sight reader, you have to have solid reading skills, but also you have to have a mastery of technique for the specific instrument. For me, the toughest part of sight reading on guitar is choosing fingerings, because fingering choice comes down to context, and it’s hard to know where you are going, when you hare sight reading through a piece for the first time. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see guitarists that add position information above certain passages of songs.

    I have nothing but admiration for great sight readers, like Tommy Tedesco, who sight read the guitar part for Hawaii 5-0, with the guitar behind his head, just to make a point to Joe Saraceno. Saraceno had encouraged Tedesco to woodshed them song ahead of time and Tommy took it as an insult, so he not only sight-read it in real time, but he had the guitar behind his head when he did so. Not that is confidence. :)
    blueruins, NowEarThis and MrWookiee like this.
  13. mbkri

    mbkri Country Gent

    Sep 22, 2012
    Like so many here, i learned to read as i was taught another instrument. 8 years of Trumpet in junior and then senior school (high school) means i got pretty proficient in reading treble clef. Guitar notation is another language. Im decent with tab but just a bit slower.
    Theory? Dang it, ive tried.
  14. Henry

    Henry I Bleed Orange

    Apr 9, 2014
    Music Can be heard without sound through reading. Someone who goes deaf can still enjoy music. Beethoven wrote music after he went mostly deaf. Storytelling also used to be a purely oral tradition.

    And just to remove any doubt, knowing how to read does not conflict with or prevent learning by ear - just as learning to read does not make it harder to hold an oral conversation (in fact, quite the opposite it increases your ability to understand and anticipate and improves your vocabulary - with linguistics and music).
  15. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Admin Post
    You touched upon something I find puzzling. Some people act as if reading is detrimental to musicianship. That is absolute rubbish. I read, read pretty well, and have been reading since the days of Beatlemania, but I also play by ear, and while I’ll admit that playing by ear is an added skill area, being able to read music only makes it easier to learn by ear.

    Just a week or two ago, an old friend and I were dissecting Chet Atkins’ arrangement of April in Portugal, while being separated by 1,300 miles. Having the language to describe what we were hearing in meaningful terms helped greatly. Both of us read, and both of us have a degree of classical guitar training, which only helps. Probably the best way to convey the arrangement would be in standard notation, but an amazing amount of information was exchanged verbally.
  16. bhatta

    bhatta Gretschie

    Jun 29, 2020
    Well, I am literate .
    I can read and write too, had to practise that, writting stuff down from books.

    But yes, I don't take the trouble. Good to see many are like me. Reading treble is easy and bass is a pain. Both together, I don't wanna go there please...
    But yes, I am literate:D
  17. toddfan

    toddfan Country Gent

    Mar 12, 2012
    First instrument was the clarinet, so I learned to read music early on. Discovered guitar around age 11 and learned to read simple stuff (one note melody type things, mostly), did also take some lessons from a jazz guy who taught me some more complex reading. So, yes, I can read music...but when it comes to guitar, I mostly use my ears and tabs.
  18. NowEarThis

    NowEarThis Gretschie

    Jun 23, 2021
    Northern Rivers NSW Australia
    Actually no!
    Music was not part of any curriculum in my days :(
  19. NowEarThis

    NowEarThis Gretschie

    Jun 23, 2021
    Northern Rivers NSW Australia
    I take a page out of both of these 2 responses.

    It was a guitarist by the name of Kevin Peek who I saw playing with a 3 piece band called James Taylor Move back in the late 60’s. The bass player and Kevin were using Marshall stacks, 2x 4x12 cabs each. I was standing in the front row watching in awe. I’ll have you know, my ears were ringing all of the next day, and I went out and bought a Marshall :cool:

    So I searched Kevin out to take guitar lessons. He was using the Mickey Baker Jazz guitar book. It just confused me. One night I saw him playing classical guitar and said I wanted to lear that, so I did. Long story short, he moved interstate, things happened and changed, and I stopped playing.

    Some years passed and I went to a workshop with Frank Gambale on modal playing and that made everything click for me. Arpeggios, inversions etc suddenly made sense, and so I got back into my studies.

    On marriage and divorce later, I moved interstate and joined a big band/rock band. Having a decent ear, I could bluff my way through anything they played and could improvise over anything, but had no idea where on the page I was, or what I was reading. :rolleyes:

    And yeah, at my age I think my life is now stable enough for me to attempt to get a hang of reading. :mad:
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.