First Observations on Sight Reading music…

Posted by: Daniel R. Lehrman Posted in: Guitar Lessons

My first observations on sight reading music actually bring me back about 44 years. To refresh my readers, I took classical guitar lessons from the age of 11 years old to about 14 or 15 years old. I was taught to read music at a fairly introductory level. There was no theory involved (thank God) back then, just simply how to read basic notes.

The first thing I observed about what I learned 44 years ago and what my goal is today is that reading music composed by Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan is a lot more technical and complicated than reading the music I played as a kid. You start to stretch the boundaries of sight reading when you graduate to Hendrix. Perhaps it is more difficult than sight reading Mozart.

Well dig this: A traditional classical guitar only has19 frets, and the frets above the 12th fret (one octave) are rarely used in classical guitar playing and in classical music in general. Take an electric guitar for instance, with 22 or 24 frets, now you are talking a new ball game,

The diagram on the left shows a view of the first 3 open strings/notes for a guitar in standard musical notation. E, B, G.
The diagram on the right shows a view of the second set of 3 open strings/notes for a guitar in standard musical notation. E, A, D. Go ahead and click on the picture to enlarge it and copy.

Before I go any further, don’t worry about why one note is hollow and one note is solid in color. That comes soon. Just focus on the notes themselves.

Where it says “THE FIRST THREE OPEN STRINGS” (sheet #1) and “THE 4TH, 5TH AND 6th OPEN STRINGS” (sheet #2) is just showing the open notes, E, A, D, G, B, E without pushing on any frets.

The 5 lines and 4 spaces in between the lines is called a STAFF. Looking at sheet #2 we can see that the Low-E and Low-A open notes have short extended “ledger lines” for added notes. The “leger lines” are added spaces for the notes that don’t fit into the 5 line STAFF.

Sound pretty easy. It is pretty easy at this level of sight reading music. By and large my teacher and I never really went any further than the very basics.

Anyway, I’m starting with the basics out of the same book I used when I was 11 years old. It is by: Aaron Shearer, Volume 1, Classical Guitar Technique, and is still available at most music stores.

After saying all of that, I’m re-learning what I once knew, and that is how to sight-read and play guitar at this level. I expect to out grow this book in a reasonable amount of time. It will be fun playing classical music on the electric guitar, although I have no inspiration to become Yngwie Malmsteen!

It should not be to long before I have more viable information on sight reading music. GuitarPlayersCenter will buy the next recommended book/s as I need them. The main thing I have found out is that this is a long term process and it will take a lot of time and effort to reach my goals. Enjoy.

2 Responses to First Observations on Sight Reading music…

  1. Brings back old memories for me, too, to guitar lessons long ago. But, I never really knew there were such big differences between the necks of classical and electric guitars.

  2. Having NO knowledge of reading music or playing for that matter, it’s an amazing talent no matter how one comes by it.

    Vaughan and Hendrix stretched the strings, the imagination and their talents to the fullest degree they could, each and every time they picked up a guitar.

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