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I’m one of the late bloomers with the sax.
I only play for my own amusement, playing along to backing tracks of standards I record on my digital piano.
I’ve a couple of hundred tracks. I can pretty much play any uncomplicated ballad I've not played before, by ear, from memory in a couple of keys with just a few run-throughs, so I’d never bothered to learn to read music, there seemed little point.
I can play most chords I need on the piano from memory. In fact I found I quickly got fed up with trying to learn as I’d rather play than read. I found a whole page of music rather out-facing

But a few weeks ago, I decided to make a determined effort to learn to read music.
Thinking back to the days when our kids were learning to read, we had great success with “flash cards.” For those who don’t know, you write different words each on a number of postcard size or larger cards and play a game with the kids, you hold each one up in turn and if they can read the word, they “win” the card. Their reading came on in leaps and bounds and all three learned to read before they started infant school.

So I decided to make myself some “musical flash cards.”
I printed the musical notation for each note in the normal range of the sax at the top half of a card including all the sharps and flats and the name of the note and the fingering positions on the bottom.
The cards are quite small, only 8cms by 3cms, the pack secured with an elastic band.
With my pack of cards I could obscure the fingering positions and the name of the note on a card with the previous card, whilst looking at the top of the next card and training myself to recognise the notation and what the fingering positions were needed to produce it, before revealing the answer to myself.
I used to shuffle the cards regularly so the sequence wouldn’t become predictable. I kept one set of them at home and one in my car. Any spare moments during the day. I’d have a go at this sort of “guessing game.”

It only took me about three weeks of odd moments to become familiar enough to read sheet music slowly and I’m progressing from there.
I just thought this might be of some use to others like me who have a similar problem.
 

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There was a program I used similar to flash cards to learn to read the individual notes, I think it was called "Note Attack" or something. Worked really well, I dont have any problems reading the notes, but I have a hell of a time with the time signatures! If youve got any tips on learning that too id be grateful.
 

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Essential Elements

If you get the first 2 books of the Essential Elements series by Hal Leonard publishing you will learn to sight read.

I already knew how to sight read piano, but that skill does not translate to another instrument, like the saxophone. So I used the Essential Elements series to learn the tenor sax.

After you get thru the first two books you will know the fingerings for all the 'normal' notes.
 

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Learning notes is one thing- learning rhythms is another. There is no short-cut, as far as I know, to becoming a good reader. The more you read, the better you get. 5th graders that learn to play and read at the same time have a HUGE advantage. Good luck, and keep at it!
 

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Join a local big band is the best way to learn.

You will come across every style of writing, repeats, pencil in and out
revisions, dog ears etc.
 

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I have to agree with Kavala. My reading has improved dramatically since I joined a community band last September. Even moreso this summer when the band has concentrated on sight reading new tunes each week.
 

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fballatore said:
I have to agree with Kavala. My reading has improved dramatically since I joined a community band last September. Even moreso this summer when the band has concentrated on sight reading new tunes each week.
Is your community band a big band?
 

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is all about da riddims

My advice as a late starter myself (I started at 18) is to concentrate on learning rhythms, the notes are not as important early on. You can develop your sound and learn scales and solos later on, but having a good grasp of the fundamental rhythms will make reading charts and solos much easier when you get to them.
 

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Al Tissimo said:
My advice as a late starter myself (I started at 18)
You consider yourself a late bloomer? I know of people who started at the tender age of nearly eighty...

Rhythm certainly is very important, but when you play in a band, you'd better get the right or at least a harmonic note. Nothing worse than a few mixed Cs and C#s...
 

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Doghouse
I don't mean to be a downer, but reading the notes and where they are on the sax is the easy part. Rhythms are where the hard work lies. Flashcards will get you so far. Learning to count rhythms in time with a metronome is the next step after you memorize the notes. This is the part where reading music starts to sound like music.
 

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i just wish there were people where i am that wanted to help people out... they all want you to pay them for lessons... i know four different sign languages and i would teach anyone that asked, but it's not like that here... i just wish i had someone to play with, without having to rent-a-friend.
 
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