Next Up, Learn to Sight Read Guitar Music..

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

The next study I will take up is learning to read music, or sight reading. The reason is that I believe it will help me learn to play the music I want to play more quickly. You know Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. For those who take online guitar lessons, only the recommended courses offer anything like this. You can read about, and examine all approved guitar lessons reviewed sites here.

It’s certainly possible to play the guitar without being able to read music, just as it’s possible to be able to speak without being able to read or write. In both cases, the person who cannot read or write is missing out on an opportunity to comprehend and communicate better. Learning to read sheet music will improve my grasp of music theory, and enable me to play guitar music I have never heard before, which is my primary reason. The skill can take a while to master, but the basics will be laid out as I learn.

The main reason for me to learn to sight read or read music, not guitar tab or tablature is that I don’t have the magical gift of ‘playing from ear’. It may never come to me for that matter. Lots of people can’t ‘play from ear’ and are unable to improvise, or sight harmonize. This is a serious problem for many guitar players that is rarely addressed in guitar lessons. My learnings were centered around simple theory in terms of learning essential scales and modes. Which is limiting me to play several genre specific pieces that are taking an inordinate amount of time to master.

When I took classical guitar lessons from age 11 to about 14 years old, I was taught to sight read at an elementary level. I don’t remember a bit of it now. I’ve been avoiding sight reading for years, I may be a pretty good player or even a very good player, I know I need to learn this new discipline now to further my progress. I was not born with the built in skills that your guitar heroes and mine came with from the factory.

I understand that the music I choose to play is of the highest level. Probably comparable to learning Bach or Mozart from scratch and skipping the easier music on the way up in classical music structure. It applies to all music, even the blues.

My goal is to learn how to read music so I can make sense out of the timing of the bends, slurs, and rhythm of hi energy string bending blues. There are many more terms I need will to learn and understand also. At one time I could not imagine the prospect of even transposing music from Hendrix or SRV into sheet music. Now I know there are folks who can transpose my guitar heroes’ work into sheet music notation for the guitar. I will gladly pay for the most articulate trans-posers to make accurate covers of many of my favorite guitar players’ songs. I will also be able to play any song I want instinctively upon seeing the sheet music.

While I’m fortunate to have a teacher like Richard Mac, with all of his unusual wisdom and playing skills, he does not teach sight reading or even tab for that matter. In fact he does not believe in it. His approach was purely to learn your scales so you could play by ear. I’m grateful for what he taught me. Without his instruction I never would have been where I’m at now this quickly.

Reading music and theory are separate matters, one may be able to read music without knowing theory.

Sight reading is the familiarity with musical notation and basic musical structure. Although muscle memory and the agility of your fingers or little athletes are required to play the guitar, sight reading is entirely a mental activity. Having tremendous guitar skills like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan does not mean they had a drop of knowledge in music theory, sight reading or music reading.. Many guitarists can learn to play difficult pieces of music and and often cannot sight read music.

Sight reading is not accomplished by reading individual notes, but by instinctively recognizing intervals, chords, keys, shapes, formal and grammatical relationships, and scales. When you are young and learning to read your language, you may have to look at every letter of each word in order to recognize the word. Later with only a glance an accomplished reader recognizes the words he is reading instantly. The same thing happens as we learn to read music. We will develop the immediate recognition of outlines of chords, intervals, shapes, and other patterns lead to rapid reading.

A thorough familiarity with the instrument is also important. One needs to know where the chords are on the instrument and get to them quickly. But, sight reading does not need an instrument. If the ear is excellent, the music can be read and heard in one’s head.

I know this won’t come to me overnight. It will take the same patience I put into my practice sessions. I’ll devote an appropriate amount of time to learning to sight read every night. Don’t forget to look at our 100% unbiased guitar lessons online reviews right now.

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6 Responses to Next Up, Learn to Sight Read Guitar Music..

  1. Danny:

    Your choice of language always leaves me hanging on the edge of my seat wanting to read more. You by far are one of the most engaging writers I have had the pleasure of reading online.

    Much like storytelling, your posts are always informative, based on factual structures and give to much to anyone interested in the topic.

    I am on of those musicians blessed with perfect pitch. I can play Bach by ear as well as many other composers for extended pieces, but I have yet to grasp reading music as well.

    Similarly I started as a kid with an attempt, but had far more fun letting a midi capture the layers using tracks during composition.

    Now, I just look at the keys and when time permits, dust them off and have a good session.

    Your words have inspired my to maybe go back to basics and learn to read notes for that reason, to grasp the brilliance of others.

    Thanks again.


  2. I’m honored Jeffrey

  3. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  4. Thank you so much for sharing this topic/post to us! God Bless!

  5. I have found it very useful. Thanks for sharing.

  6. If you want to improve your note recognition skills quickly and have a bit of fun while you do, check out this game I’ve made. I’ve designed it to quickly improve note recognition on a music staff. You can play it at:
    Hope it helps.

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