How to become a monster reader

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by obeedge, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. JakeD

    JakeD New Friend

    Jun 25, 2011
    One of my private teachers had me sightread new material every lesson and this improved my abilities greatly. Start with something very manageable and work up towards harder rhythms and keys. I think the biggest obstacle is finding enough new material to sightread constantly without spending too much.
  2. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    How about giving us the ability to delete posts?
  3. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    Besides what everyone else has said; practicing transposition will help improve your sight reading.
  4. gchun

    gchun Piano User

    Dec 10, 2003
    These are ALL great suggestions. In addition, some other thoughts:

    -Sight Read duets, no matter how easy. Having that other player will force you to keep going, (or keep you from stopping, depending how you look at it)

    -Play music written for an instrument other than yours.

    -For big band music, learn the "language." A lot of the rhythm are standard and repeat themselves in different charts. When a figure doesn't fall into the standard patterns, it's usually the "hook" to the piece.

    -transpose something, just to get your mind thinking differently.

    -Just keep doing it. Try something new everyday.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    My first question is are you a monster book reader? If not, times will be tough.

    Before saying "just do it" or recommending books, it is useful to see how we read.

    When we start, individual letters are read and then in the mind slowly grouped together into words. If we look at children 2-4 years old, we can see the process unfold very easily. Once the letters are clear, reading is still slow as we still have a limited vocabulary. That develops with time based on our exposure to people USING those words around us as well as our exposure to books and an inner drive to really read them instead of just flying over them. In junior high, we alway can identify the bookworms as well as those that have the innate ability to read and retain.
    By the time we are in junior high, we are no longer "reading" words. We recognize the SHAPE of the letters/word and that speeds the process of identifying what is meant up considerably. Tht iz wy wee kan still reed mizpelled, dexlysic toxts wjth almost the saem eeze as the urinals. (that is why we can read misspelled, dyslexic texts with almost the same ease as the originals.)

    So, now back to music. When we start, we struggle at slow speeds with synchronizing the breathing, fingering and fine motor activity of the face. As we progress, the next step is having learned the fingerings, then we advance to exercizes that build PATTERNS. Things like lipslurs, intervals and scales are the basic building blocks. Those that are exposed to teachers with good practice habits, will get this "boring" stuff and depending on their overall ability to recognize "shapes" will start building a library of these blocks for future recall.

    Back to the word recognition issue: if we start to read a type of book like technical documentation using terms that we don't have in our personal libraries, the reading slows down immensely. We need time to interpret those words based on their letters and the context of the text.

    This is also the case when we are sightreading music. If there are patterns that we have not mastered, then our minds need time to create the context that sends the signal to face, tongue and body.

    To learn to sightread, we have to structure the approach the same as if we were learning double tonguing. Scales, intervals, lipslurs every day. We commit those patterns to memory by REPETITION. If we practice slowly, those patterns are memorized cleanly. If too fast, we memorize irregular patterns that curse our playing later. Once we have a basic library, then we continue the work on basic stuff but add memorizing tunes.

    Once we realize that advanced reading is no more than RECALL to a prepared body, we are well on our way to answering our own question.

    The stuff on our practice stand is secondary. I can teach a trumpet player to read equally well using just Arban, just Clarke, just Schlossberg. I can use 30 books and get no improved reading - if I ignore how the body works. The key is the thoroughness and ease in which the player commits the lessons to patterns.

    I do not believe that all players are created equal. Some have the natural ability to play, read, improvise. The rest of us can have a great time playing, but need considerably more effort and focus to build skills. The road to success for those two types of people (and there are many more types) is different.

    If you remove the word "monster" from your original question, I will say reading and memorization of the basic building blocks (scales, intervals, slurs) is the first step, then adding the memorization of tunes is the next step. After that, your playing situation often determines what you have time for. During this whole time, reading conventional books helps eye mind coordination without the handicap of having to move fingers or advance breathe. The final step is to have a command of the trumpet that is higher than the piece that you are trying to read.

    Monster reading means that next to getting the shapes right, that your library of patterns also includes dynamics and articulation. That is simply experience with advanced players!

    The basic strategy is to look over the piece to identify what is really "new", make basic style judgements and look then for the places to breathe. After that, you can go for it.

    Monster reading needs the right natural ability, standard practice material and a teacher with a fair sized library of tunes to practice. It requires a basic understanding of the process and then dedication to the cause. Scales, intervals and slurs memorized with no rhythmic or fingering errors. Then it requires OPPORTUNITIES to constantly read new stuff. It needs a player that constantly stretches the envelope.

    The problem I have with those that say "just do it" is that they are WRONG. If we commit something to our library with an error, that will show up EVERYWHERE. We need to build patterns WITHOUT mistakes. That means as Wilmer Wise has been proclaiming for years: turn brain on before inserting the mouthpiece.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  6. Trumpet Dreamer

    Trumpet Dreamer Mezzo Forte User

    Aug 14, 2010
    Jazz Town, USA
    Rowuk - This is great advice! Similar to what my teachers gave me, but much more thorough and in depth. Yes, it is not actually "sight" reading as it is more correctly phrased as memory recall. Nothing is really new to the advanced player as they have seen it somewhere before, and as such just recall it from their stored memory.
    Thanks for your input on this!
  7. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Now, that's what I call an answer.:play:

    Well done, thanks Rowuk. Sightreading is my toughest challenge right now ..... That's good food for thought and extremely helpful to get a better understanding of HOW we learn. I can work with that.

  8. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Good post!
  9. mtbevins

    mtbevins Pianissimo User

    Jan 18, 2011
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Thanks Rowuk! That helps me a great deal. Excellent response!
  10. ottoa57

    ottoa57 Pianissimo User

    Feb 15, 2010
    Macomb, Mi
    I agree with all the answers above... in addition as a teacher and a student of music and trumpet; I have 3 books in my collection that I can refer you to. First one is:

    RHYTHMIC TRAINING By Robert Stater MCA Music is the publisher copyright is 1969. This book is the bible of every music notation there is...its a very thorough book.

    RHYTHMS COMPLETE by Dr Charles Colin and Bugs Bower for big band and jazz reading this is a great book! Highly recommended

    BONA Rhythmical Articulation " A Complete Method" This a Schirmer Publication G.Schirmer is in New York

    To add...there is nothing like a practicing with a metronome..even starting slow with simple reading...all the teachers I have had,,,stressed the concept of " TIME " it was and is always at the top of the list... especially for Carmine Caruso.

    All the best...

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