I have trouble reading music without hearing it

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Dviglis, May 29, 2014.

  1. Dviglis

    Dviglis Mezzo Piano User

    Mar 29, 2014
    Now, I know what some (not all) of you are probably thinking, "You mean you cant read music? Thats crazy!" But, allow me to explain myself!

    I can read music, and I can recognize rhythms as well. But, I have a hard time actually playing it without hearing what it actually sounds like when played correctly. When I first see a very complex note pattern, all I really see is a bunch of gibberish but, after hearing the music, I can read it without any problems at all. Is this normal or am I just weird?! I would love to improve on this because this has been the downfall on many auditions when they ask me to sight read. Has anyone else experienced this and if so, how did you improve it?

    Thank you,

  2. Vulgano Brother

    Vulgano Brother Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 23, 2006
    Parts Unknown
    You aren't abnormal, just lazy. Stop guessing. Count the rhythms you play. If too complicated, subdivide--instead of tapping quarter notes go to eighth notes or even sixteenth notes. Identify intervals and memorize what they sound like. Mouthpiece buzzing can be excellent ear training.
  3. Maui_Jimmy

    Maui_Jimmy Piano User

    Jun 28, 2011
    Deer Park, TX
    I experience the same thing and apparently it's because I'm lazy. Now I know!
  4. musicalmason

    musicalmason Forte User

    Dec 14, 2003
    If you can only read something after hearing it, then you can't read it. That isn't reading. Go back and work on basics. Practice counting and clapping rhythms. Sight read at least one new thing everyday. The only way to get better at sight reading is to do it, a lot. When you sight read something new in practice, play through it once as if it were an audition. No stops, no going back. After you do that, then go through the piece slowly without playing and figure out any technical passages, practice them in your head and finger the valves. Then play the piece again, and again until you are sure you are getting everything. Rinse and repeat a thousand times.
  5. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    I had trouble years ago reading rhythms if the notes weren't all similar length. I got a metronome and practised the music at 1/4 speed, then 1/2 speed, a few chunks at a time. After a few weeks I found I didn't need the metronome so much. The trick for me was keeping the steady beat in my head while overlaying that with the finer durations/splits of the printed notes, paying attention to where the notes fall on beat and bar boundaries.
    After getting the hang of reading quavers, semiquavers, demisemiquavers and other divide-by-two notes you can then work on triplets of various flavours.

  6. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    Which are you going to conceptualize better, a map or a personal visit to a place?
    And then later, the map makes more sense.

    But if you can't visit a place first, you gotta do - what? Learn how to read maps better. ;-)
  7. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    That sounds like a recommendation for orienteering! Typically competition sites are embargoed for some weeks or months prior to the event so that participants are tested more on their map reading than their memories.

  8. cfkid

    cfkid Pianissimo User

    Jul 24, 2013
    I must be lazy too, but I'm getting better...I think.
  9. Sethoflagos

    Sethoflagos Utimate User

    Aug 7, 2013
    Lagos, Nigeria
    Sight-reading is one of the few things I really excelled at. For what it's worth, this was my approach.

    i) You should always be given the opportunity to have a good look at the piece before you start to play. Make full use of this opportunity.
    ii) Check the tempo of the piece, the key, the overall length, the general pattern of melodic phrasing and the 'density' of the rhythms used.
    iii) Judge whether you can actually manage the piece at the written tempo. Better to play a little slower and accurately than blunder through a series of train wrecks.
    iv) Sing the first line or so in your head so you have a clear idea of how it starts. You probably won't have the time to take it any further than this, but the following phrases should be similar in overall pattern to the first with relatively minor variation.
    v) If you stumble, don't go back. Concentrate on hitting the next strong beat cleanly and in tempo.
    vi) Teach yourself to read ahead. This is probably the most important bit. Use any long notes and rests to glance ahead and see what's coming. With practice, you can be reading 3 or 4 bars ahead of what you're actually playing.

    If you are as good at recognising rhythms as you say, then you must have mastered the first 50 odd pages of Arban. But you also need your intervals so skip to page 123 and master that section too. Already done it? Okay start playing all those exercises backwards. And your general studies and performance pieces.....
  10. mrsemman

    mrsemman Piano User

    Apr 8, 2010
    I too had a similar problem and still do to some extent. When you see a note on a chart, attempt to hear the sound of that note mentally. You know how that note sounds when you play it. You mentally prepare your chops to play the correct note, do you not? Then, what I did was to mentally play that note. I then worked on phrases, and then bars and then several bars. I began working on looking a bit ahead to see what the notes and rhythm patterns that were coming. It takes practice and it works better if you incorporate sight reading into your practice routine.

    There is no easy solution, it takes work, but think of it as making you a better player overall.


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