Necessity of Reading

SOURCE: GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE

2. Write down on music paper as many random notes as you can think of. Use
natural notes, sharps, flats, and notes way above and below the staff. Make sure
you assign no rhythmic value to the notes. Read these notes on the guitar as fast
as you can. Then put down the guitar and merely recite them, including all flats,
naturals, and sharps (for example, A, Fk B q, D, etc). If you were able to recite the
notes quickly, then your basic knowledge of the staff, ledger lines, etc. is probably
adequate. If you slowed down when you played the same notes on the instrument,
your knowledge of the fingerboard is possibly weak. If you did well playing the
notes on your guitar but slowed down considerably when you recited them, then
your basic understanding of the notes on the staff is probably weak. By the way,
this test should include both treble and bass clefs; I believe it helps greatly for a
guitarist to be able to read in both clefs.
3. This part of the test involves writing out a rhythmic pattern with no pitch content.
Copy the rhythmic values from a piece of music, or make up your own. Next, either
sing or tap out the rhythm and see how your performance compares to parts 1 and
2 of the test. If you have an easy time with them, but you’re having trouble tapping
out the correct rhythm of part 3, then you’ll know the weakest part of your reading
ability and you can concentrate on improving it.

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Be honest with yourself, and if you really can’t accurately pinpoint what part you’re
weak in, try the tests with a friend or a teacher. If you’re weak in all three areas, really get
10 work!
Currently in the United States (and probably abroad) there are more guitarists
earning a living professionally than ever before. The competitiveness is incredible, and if
don’t know how to read music your chances of making it will become less and less
The 1960s witnessed an incredible boom in rock music and many people took up
guitar. The children of the ’60s are coming out in droves and a whole lot of them are
er guitar players!
If I could give any advice to young guitar players, it would be simply two things: Learn
read music, and study ear training. If you can hear a piece of music and play it
lately, and also read music well, then you’re going to cut down your competition
sely and have a good chance of making it in the music business.
Here’s a list of some books that may help you practice your reading:

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For Clarinet, by H. Close (from Carl Fischer, 62 Cooper Square. New York, NY 10003). This book is only for single-note
the clarinet and guitar have basically the same range it is an excellent study.
ight Reading, Vols. 1 and 2, by Gaston Dufresne (from Chas. Colin Music. 315 W. 53rd St., New York, NY 10019). This is
reading, but if you can get through the complete book you’ve got it made.
omplete, Vols. 1, 2, 3, and 4. by Bugs Bower (from Chas. Colin).
e Steps To Syncopation For The Modern Drummer, by Ted Reed (from Ted Reed, Box 327, Clearwater, FL 33515). ThiS
rt 3 of the test that we just covered.
Conception For Saxophone, Vols. 1 and 2, by Lennie Niehaus (from Try Publishing, 845 Vine, Hollywood, CA 900
uets, Vols, 1, 2, and 3, by Bob Nelson (from Chas. Colin).
aughlin And The Mahayishnu Orchestra (frbm Warner Bros. Publ., 9200 Sunset Blvd., Suite 530, Los Angeles, CA
d Roberts Guitar Book, by Howard Roberts and Jimmy Stewart (from Playback, Box 4278. North Hollywood, CA 91
uitar Style (from Warner Bros.).
ing Styles For Guitar, by Happy Tram (from Oak Publ., 33 W. 60th St., New York, NY 10023).
Ives Guitarists, by Woody Mann (from Oak Pub!.).
ss lines, by Carol Kaye (from Warner Bros.). This book is great for bass clef reading.
The Folk Blues Guitar, by Jerry Silverman (from Oak Publ.).
ethod For The Guitar, by G.C. Santisteban (from Oliver Ditson Co., dist. by Theodore Presser, Lancaster and Presser
10).
via—Studies For The Guitar By Fernando Sor (from Edward B. Marks Corp, dist. by Beiwin-Mills, Melville, NY 117
enour Book, by Lee Ritenour (from Flat Five Publ., dist. by Professional Music Products, 1114 N. Gilbert St., Anah

Deluxe (from Warner Bros.).
ty (from Warner Bros.).
es Of Maynard Ferguson (from Warner Bros.).

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This list goes to show you that reading everything and anything available will help
Go to it, and believe me it will pay big dividends.
Lee Ritenour

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