I have trouble reading music without hearing it

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

  1. bumblebee

    bumblebee Fortissimo User

    Jan 21, 2010
    Great Southern Land
    Yes, the reading ahead bit is very important. Apart from reading ahead so that you have time to formulate the rhythm as you play it, it also prepares you for the amount of breath to take. Don't forget you may find a bunch of notes waiting to ambush you immediately over on the next page too.

    Last edited: Jun 5, 2014
  2. edfitzvb

    edfitzvb Forte User

    Jun 10, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    Reading is reading. It takes practice. Because much of my work the last 20 years or more was without charts I play by ear much more accurately and easily then when I learned to play. My reading has atrophied to some extent. Now that I am playing more ink, my reading is steadily improving. It is no different than reading a novel. Practice helps.
  3. tobylou8

    tobylou8 Utimate User

    Dec 22, 2008
    If being called "lazy" spurs you on to practice then the "insult" was worth it. No? Sightreading is no different than learning scales, rhythms, developing range and endurance and articulation. I've been called out for being lazy. It caused me to think about what I was doing and what did I need to do to improve. I'm thankful when constructive criticism comes my way. It's an opportunity to get better.
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    Sight reading, and reading music in general, seems to be a sticking point for a lot of musicians. At times my reading skills were better, and even now I wax and wane with my reading ability based on how much I'm practicing. I maintain a book of about 450 charts for the party band, so my ability to read is paramount to being successful in my role in this group. The more I work the charts, the better my reading is overall. I've come to the belief that reading music, like almost anything else we do in our lives, is something that if you want to be good at it, you need to work on it and do a lot of it.

    VB has a good suggestion about counting rhythms, but it has been my experience playing over the years that people who count everything, rather than developing the ability to simply recognize certain figures and play them, are often behind on certain kinds of figures, and are almost never in the pocket with the groove. (Then again, a person's ability to find and stay in the pocket is another subject unto itself.) I'm not saying that it's not important to know how to break apart a rhythm and divide and subdivide it - that definitely comes in handy. I'm also not saying that I never count, because I do - all the time - but usually my counting is for rest figures, and I play figures as I recognize them. It's kind of like whole language vs phonics for reading written text. If we relied 100% on phonics, we'd constantly be mispronouncing things, and our comprehension and flow of what we are reading would be severely reduced. Music is a very similar thing and a language unto itself, so learning to read it in a whole language type of approach is important - you have to recognize the figures and intervals for what they are because you simply don't have time to think about it all when it's blowing by you. The only way to develop that is to just do it - lots and lots of it.

    Buy a metronome if you need to because you also have to develop an innate sense of time as well, and believe me, not everyone is blessed with that. I know experienced, gigging musicians who are all over the place if they don't have a rhythm section of some kind to follow.
    bumblebee likes this.
  5. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Welcome to LIFE 101.

    How do babies learn to walk, go to the toilet instead of their diapers, chew, aggrevate their parents: through REPETITION. We are creatures of habits. Good reading skills simply mean that we have a big pile of patterns in the shoebox called our brain that are available for recall.

    Think about your childhood: first we read a select few single letters, then a couple more, then we pronounce words by single syllables, then we recognize whole words, THEN we get the word PATTERN in our brain and read geometry instead of words. That is why we can understand dyslexic texts - our brain doesn't need the letters, just the word shape.

    We can build a trumpet vocabulary too - with the same repetitive process. After a while, we don't read the notes, rather draw the prepared patterns from our brain.

    Clarke, Arban, St. Jacome, Schlossberg are all old school pattern builders - with guaranteed results for those with the commitment! There is NO SHORTCUT!

    Good luck
  6. Dr.Mark

    Dr.Mark Mezzo Forte User

    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi Dviglis,
    You're having a problem sight-reading, right?
    Welcome to a club that has millions of members. There's another discipline that has a lot of members that seems to have quite a bit of commonality. Math!!
    Here's a large part of the problem and the biggest thing that keeps members in this club. Confidence!!
    Think about it. How many times have you and many others been shot down and left to feel humiliated because they couldn't sight read something? It's the same way with math.
    Wouldn't you like to have a nickle for every time a student has been humiliated because they couldn't figure out how to do a process?
    Sethoflagos, rowuk, and others have given great advice on this topic.
    My recipe for sight reading follows a lot of the same time tested rules that sethoflagos reported. As should be apparent, there's a psychology at work too. It's important to not take yourself too seriously. Learning can be fun if a person's ego strength isn't threatened and it's up to you to not let that happen. If you can't figure it out, that's okay. Keep working at it.
    I've taught advanced math before and what I've learned is to not denegrate, humiliate or come across as disgusted when a student could not figure something out. I also had a rule that if I catch some student making fun or making a person feel dumb, I'll take personal interest in helping that rude person to get their mind right.
    No one knows everything and if someone wishes to make fun of you, here's some handy things that can possibly work for you!:
    1. Pepper spray them
    2. Step on their foot
    3. Cough straight in their face and then say "Gosh!! I hope my drug resistant TB isn't flairing up again".
    4. Tell them to go **** themselves.
    5. Go sit by them and stare at them like they're prey.
    6. Go sit by them, pull out a small hammer and with a crazy smile on your face, tell the person "This hammer is designed for banging metal!!!"
    I have to agree with VB in that a certain amount of lazy could be a part of the equation. However, you must not let your inability and fear of possible embarrassment keep you from learning how to sight read. Keep your ego strength in check!!
    You will learn to read by:
    1.Doing it.
    2 Drilling in your head "the fact" that there will be people that will do better and some will do worse and that's okay as long as you are working to be your best and not held back by your own insecurities.
    3. Most people have some sort of magazine in the bathroom that's read while...well, you know. Put an unfamiliar music book (or download a bunch of pieces from Free-Scores.com and read from your Ipad while in the bathroom doing your business.
    Now, get that music book (Ipad) to the bathroom and read it when your doing your business. To find an interval just whistle or sing using la la la la la to figure it out. Whistle (sing)a partial scale up to or down to the interval you can't figure out. Some people choose to sit and stink but smart people choose to sit and think!!
    Hope this helps,
  7. Peter McNeill

    Peter McNeill Utimate User

    Jan 30, 2009
    Melbourne Australia
    Now that is a great question. And as you can see you are not alone, and much/all of what you need is said by many ahead.

    IMO I also think that what you describes is the essential difference between Brass and other instruments. To get a note, you do need to hear it in your head first, so if you have played by ear you may not be trusting your eyes as much as your ear. Repetitions of exercises and rhythm exercises will help enormously. Also if you wear glasses, get your eyes checked. You need to be able to read clearly to be able to play accurately - sounds basic, but that was my problem for a long time.

    Good luck
  8. Maui_Jimmy

    Maui_Jimmy Piano User

    Jun 28, 2011
    Deer Park, TX
    I may have been a little over sensitive to this, but I have always had a hard time with the same thing. I was even paying a teacher for private lessons a few years ago and still having a hard time with it. Once I get the tune in my head it all makes sense. Maybe I’m “dyslexic” when it comes to reading music. There were some very good suggestions made that my teacher didn't even suggest, such as using a metronome. I have problem with 6/8 also. Maybe it’s my 48 year old brain. Thanks for the constructive suggestions!
  9. Harky

    Harky Pianissimo User

    Feb 22, 2013
    Lancaster, PA
    Kudos to musicalmason and Seth; I thought I could read music 'after I heard it'. To my dismay, no - I could NOT read music. Like so many others in lower grades and what we call high school here in the states we played the same few pieces over and over and honestly regardless how 'good' any school player was he/she never had to actually READ music. It's only the private teachers who make learners learn to read, honestly read music.

    Excellent advice here in this forum: It's back to basics - 1) 1 e&a 2 e&a etc. 2) finding the down beats in every measure is essential (even mark them if you can) 3) learn to look ahead at least half if not a whole measure - eventually you will find yourself playing the current measure from memory while you are reading the next one. This can be developed but it won't happen with prayer or magic. It takes a lot of practice and faith that some time in the future you will "get it". One parting note... consider that every quarter note (crotchet) for non U.S players has "1e&a" in it even though its one tone. Having stated the obvious... In the privacy of my room, lest people become confirmed that I'm truly nuts, I learned to sing out loud "1e&a" in simple songs whispering the syllables held (same note, no articulation) and saying out loud the syllables of notes that are moving or are different from the previous note in tone or articulation. That also is a bit more difficult than one thinks. However now I am now positive about my notations when others up and down the line are guessing. Nobody taught me this technique, I just got tired of guessing myself and trying to remember 'how does that figure go'? This is really helpful if you are playing an arrangement of a popular tune whereby the rhythms are different than the traditional figures. This often happens in simplified arrangements for school level jazz bands and community bands. Again.... just a thought from someone who has been down the same road as many others.
  10. kehaulani

    kehaulani Fortissimo User

    May 14, 2011
    Hawaian homey
    Jimmy, regarding the 6/8 it's the same as with 2/4 and 4/4. Always try to remember principles of why things are done, then one doesn't have to re-invent the wheel every time.

    As you learned "duple time" by subdividing the "1-tuh-tay-tuh" etc in making your rhythms fit, do the same with the 6/8, except it's "1-and-uh" or whatever works for you. And, as one should always be aware of the double subdivisions when playing long notes in 2/4 & 4/4, so does one have that metronome in the mind going for the 6/8 the compound, or triple subdivision. Same thing goes for 9/8 and 12/8.

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