In order to successfully navigate through a song written in standard music notation, there are a number of variables you should quickly identify before attempting to play the music. You can compare the process of sight reading music notation to that of following directions as you travel from location A to location B. When you read a map or drive on a road, you are presented with various signs that specify details such as the distance you need to travel as well as where you need to turn in order to arrive at your destination. The same concept can be applied to sight reading music notation because your primary goal is to navigate through the piece of music, from start to finish, without making a mistake or getting lost during the process. Not only should you be able to easily recognize all of the notes and rhythms in notation, but at the same time, you should be able to produce a performance which reflects that of prepared music. To accomplish this task, you need to follow all of the directions outlined in the notation.
This sight reading checklist contains a series of questions to ask yourself along with some additional variables to consider when sight reading a song written in standard music notation for the first time.
In the early stages of learning how to read music notation, it will be practically impossible to play through an entire piece of music without stopping because you won't be completely familiar with the syntax of the musical language. However, as you become more proficient at reading, your playing will sound more like a prepared performance. The best sight readers can read a piece of music perfectly on the first take and make their performance sound as if they had been playing the music for years.
Always remember that practicing sight reading is different from practicing for performance. When you are practicing reading, your main objective is to keep pace with the music because it isn't going to stop even if you make an error. While practicing for performance, you must stop if an error occurs, analyze why the mistake was made, and then isolate it until it can be performed perfectly without stopping. As you practice reading, choose a tempo that is slow enough to minimize mistakes but at the same time fast enough to push your sight reading ability and create a challenge. If an error does occur, keep your eyes on the notation, and jump back in when you can. To help maintain consistent counting, base your counting on the smallest rhythmic subdivision in the measure. For example, if the measure contains quarter, eighth, and sixteenth-note rhythms, count the entire measure as sixteenth notes.
When you read music, position yourself so that the neck of your bass is in a close visual line with what you are reading. This will allow you to use peripheral vision to help prepare for any necessary position shifts with your fretting hand without taking your eyes directly off the music. Read at least one measure ahead of where you are playing, and don't forget to listen to everything going on around you. As a member of the rhythm section, it is especially important that bassists pay particular attention to the drummer or percussionists because they will often signal the start of a new section or the end of the song form with rhythmic accents. ... Subscribe Today & Read More!
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