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Sorry if this is a duplicate from some other post.

So I've started my jazz band class and the first tune is Big Swing Face. I'm getting frustrated with it and there's a story behind it.

I am dyslexic. Always have always will be. When I was growing up playing, I used to have to memorize my music because it was extremely difficult to figure out which notes were which. While I was in college, I had a professor figure out that I was dyslexic, which explained a lot.

Reading music again, I've noticed that reading the tune is difficult. I get, what I call finger dyslexia. It's when I have a hard time reading certain parts, and I know what notes they are, but my fingers and brain aren't wanting to work together. I have tried to slow down the music, practice at a slower tempo. Even then, it happens and it makes me even more mad a frustrated.

I know it's gonna take some time and try to figure out all my work arounds again. I know once I learned it, I've mastered it. It's just getting there is a battle. I can play a majority of the song with no issues, it's the middle section that's driving me nuts.

I would appreciate any help outside of slowing down. What other things do you guys use to learn a difficult part? How do you get past the frustration point? I know I could try private lessons, but money is tight. I got 2 kids that are both in lessons now, they're the priority.

Any help would be highly appreciated.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

Awesome that you are playing in a jazz band class! I'm jealous.

I bet you have an incredible memory, once you knock off the cobwebs of learning a tune. How many measures are the tough spots?

I can't suggest any magic beyond what setting aside your frustration you already know: listen to a demo until you can sing the melody perfectly. Break down into small pieces, ideally whole phrases, or just a note sequence. Learn the note fingerings out of tempo. Then play the phrase with metronome at a reasonable slow tempo. (Some suggest 60 bpm is plenty fast enough!) Then link the phrases, practicing the transitions if they are tricky. Then play all the way through with metronome, noting your stumbles. Polish the stumbles. Repeat. When it is fluent at slow tempo, start speeding it up until you get to tempo. Finally, play with a backing track (which to me is more distracting and harder than metronome). For the cherry on top, record yourself with your phone, listen back and fix the stuff you hear only on playback.

All I can add is that if you don't already use a phrase-isolating and looping slow-down and transposing software to play along with, that is really helpful. Amazing Slow Downer might be the go-to, but I also like Capo a lot with its waveform tune display.

I bet if you celebrate each accomplishment instead of bemoaning the slow progress, you will do fine.

Enjoy, sounds like a blast to me!
 

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Formerly mdavej
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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

If it's impossible to connect what you see to your fingers, you have no choice but to learn by ear and memorize as you have been doing. Luckily there are lots of recordings of this chart on Youtube. You don't even need the Slow Downer because Youtube has a slow down function.

As for learning without slowing down, the only other way is to do very small bits at a time at full speed, like 2 or 4 notes. But if you can't read these notes, the only way to comprehend them is by slowing them down and hearing them. If you're playing one of the inner harmony parts, the lines aren't going to make a whole lot of sense anyway. I think there's no way to avoid slowing down.

If it's any consolation, Buddy Rich never could read music, yet he managed to become the greatest drummer who ever lived. So it's gonna continue to be hard, but not impossible.

Lastly, here's a technique that might work for you:
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

Sorry if this is a duplicate from some other post.

So I've started my jazz band class and the first tune is Big Swing Face. I'm getting frustrated with it and there's a story behind it.

I am dyslexic. Always have always will be. When I was growing up playing, I used to have to memorize my music because it was extremely difficult to figure out which notes were which. While I was in college, I had a professor figure out that I was dyslexic, which explained a lot.

Reading music again, I've noticed that reading the tune is difficult. I get, what I call finger dyslexia. It's when I have a hard time reading certain parts, and I know what notes they are, but my fingers and brain aren't wanting to work together. I have tried to slow down the music, practice at a slower tempo. Even then, it happens and it makes me even more mad a frustrated.

I know it's gonna take some time and try to figure out all my work arounds again. I know once I learned it, I've mastered it. It's just getting there is a battle. I can play a majority of the song with no issues, it's the middle section that's driving me nuts.

I would appreciate any help outside of slowing down. What other things do you guys use to learn a difficult part? How do you get past the frustration point? I know I could try private lessons, but money is tight. I got 2 kids that are both in lessons now, they're the priority.

Any help would be highly appreciated.
Robert,

One of my children has similar challenges, so I have the benefit of attending years of conferences and talking to educators in this specialty.

You clearly cannot rewrite every sheet of music you will encounter in a big band, nor memorize every chart. Recall that I have been playing in big bands over a span of 40+ years, so I have some experience there too.

One "trick" that works for many dyslexic people is to use a colored transparent overlay for reading. The most effective color is not the same for everyone - I have seen both yellow and red work for various students. I suggest you find a dyslexia therapist in your area that may have some various aids for you to try.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

One "trick" that works for many dyslexic people is to use a colored transparent overlay for reading.
Great you should mention that, Dr. G!
Another feature of the dyslexic visual system is vulnerability to crowding causing confusion with background.
So if the chart was available as a .pdf, would expanding it on screen in sections to learn phrases reduce the crowding and make it easier to read?
Not for performance, obviously, but to learn and memorize.
I'm not dyslexic, but when brain fogged my reading performance improves a lot with better chart illumination and putting on cheaters to increase contrast, or blow up on screen if looking at a .pdf.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

Welcome to the club. I had a hard enough time just reading written language and often enough I read stuff that wasn't even there because I garbled up the letters so bad. And writing was a nightmare, I miserably failed every dictation. I made up for it, like you, with memory and eventually I started reading things aloud to myself, which paved the way to a better understanding of written language. I did the same with music, using a piano and just mechanically playing the notes to get a sense of what the music was and it might have worked but I was forced to learn cello (I love cello but for this kind of exercise it is probably one of the worst instruments) which rendered that exercise useless.

Now, many decades later, I can read faster than most, even patents, but I am just starting to condition myself to get back to sheet music - as of now it still looks like a Rohrschach test to me
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

Great you should mention that, Dr. G!
Another feature of the dyslexic visual system is vulnerability to crowding causing confusion with background.
So if the chart was available as a .pdf, would expanding it on screen in sections to learn phrases reduce the crowding and make it easier to read?
Not for performance, obviously, but to learn and memorize.
I'm not dyslexic, but when brain fogged my reading performance improves a lot with better chart illumination and putting on cheaters to increase contrast, or blow up on screen if looking at a .pdf.
Whew, yes, there are clever ways to manipulate text on a screen, but it would be a real push to do that in a big band situation.

The next thing that comes to mind would be a mask that covers the page so only one or two lines are visible at a time. The challenge would be how to move the mask down the page as you play. If you have to do it manually - or even with a foot pedal/switch of sorts - that is one more activity to add to the mix.

My heart goes out to people that have this challenge. I have played Big Swing Face. It can be hard enough without another layer of complexity.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

If visual perception and comprehension are possibly an issue, some simple measures to maximize chart symbol contrast and legibility might help the OP:
1. Improve chart illumination with brighter light.
2. Use best refractive correction for working distance, cheap dimestore cheaters if presbyopic.
3. Legible (typeset, white paper) and enlarged chart, if possible.

Low vision spectacles to magnify the central field are a little more out there, and expensive, with hazard of getting lost on the page, but a further option.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

Awesome that you are playing in a jazz band class! I'm jealous.

I bet you have an incredible memory, once you knock off the cobwebs of learning a tune. How many measures are the tough spots?

I can't suggest any magic beyond what setting aside your frustration you already know: listen to a demo until you can sing the melody perfectly. Break down into small pieces, ideally whole phrases, or just a note sequence. Learn the note fingerings out of tempo. Then play the phrase with metronome at a reasonable slow tempo. (Some suggest 60 bpm is plenty fast enough!) Then link the phrases, practicing the transitions if they are tricky. Then play all the way through with metronome, noting your stumbles. Polish the stumbles. Repeat. When it is fluent at slow tempo, start speeding it up until you get to tempo. Finally, play with a backing track (which to me is more distracting and harder than metronome). For the cherry on top, record yourself with your phone, listen back and fix the stuff you hear only on playback.

All I can add is that if you don't already use a phrase-isolating and looping slow-down and transposing software to play along with, that is really helpful. Amazing Slow Downer might be the go-to, but I also like Capo a lot with its waveform tune display.

I bet if you celebrate each accomplishment instead of bemoaning the slow progress, you will do fine.

Enjoy, sounds like a blast to me!
You’ve never played in a big band, have you? These are not heads and improv, but multiple pages of arrangements. My big band had over 200 charts - often 6-8 pages or more. No way to fake that.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

You’ve never played in a big band, have you? These are not heads and improv, but multiple pages of arrangements. My big band had over 200 charts - often 6-8 pages or more. No way to fake that.
And a lot of these arrangements are "local" or "home-brewed" arrangements by current or former members of the big band, I have seen quite a few at the local big bands (2 here in town), marveled and went back to my seat to listen and enjoy :)

Sure enough, there are invited guests who come in for one song, maybe a solo but that's not "playing in a big band" where either you know exactly what you are supposed to play when someone says "58" or you don't and if you don't, you have no reason to be there.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

Unfortunately, unless you are one of the rare geniuses like Buddy Rich, you have to be a strong reader to make it in a big band. The chart in question, "Big Swing Face", is pretty much in the middle of the difficulty scale. If there is no way to improve reading abilities, it's going to be a very tough road to hoe. My big band has close to 800 charts. We'd pretty much have a chart like BSF down by the 2nd or 3rd read, and we're just a bunch of amateurs with average reading ability.

My limited understanding of dyslexia is that groups of symbols get jumbled by the time your brain has to make sense of them. This makes reading words, and possibly music, impossible, no matter how clear or legible the symbols are. So somehow the symbols have to be modified such that a different part of the brain can do the deciphering, bypassing the part that jumbles things up. This is why some sort of color coding might work after you re-learn how to read music by color codes. That's a huge challenge, not to mention all the time and effort required to rewrite every chart in this manner.

I don't want to say give up entirely, but just be prepared for the challenges. You may find more musical fulfillment in a setting that doesn't require reading. Rather than a big band, join a group that plays simpler tunes by ear as is the case with most pop/rock groups. You could even make a jazz combo work if you can memorize the heads and changes.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

Great you should mention that, Dr. G!
Another feature of the dyslexic visual system is vulnerability to crowding causing confusion with background.
So if the chart was available as a .pdf, would expanding it on screen in sections to learn phrases reduce the crowding and make it easier to read?
Not for performance, obviously, but to learn and memorize.
I'm not dyslexic, but when brain fogged my reading performance improves a lot with better chart illumination and putting on cheaters to increase contrast, or blow up on screen if looking at a .pdf.
Another mechanism whereby you can enlarge the chart whereby only a desired phrase would be visible would be to transcribe the tune or just the problematic section into the musescore application. You can then blow up the transcription to allow only what you want to see and assimilate at a given time. In addition, musescore has built-in midi so that you can hear what the problematic section or measures sound like. Given this methodology, you can limit the visual perception to the extent desired or necessary and introduce an aural aspect to facilitate the visual/aural learning mechanisms. musescore is free so it might be worth a try!

I have used it for aural recognition of what a given musical phrase "sounds" like when I"m not familiar with the piece and I need a boost to coordinate what the notes say on paper and how they sound when voiced through the horn.

Good luck with this and hope something strikes a chord with you and get you over this speed bump!
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

I'm not dyslexic, but a trick I use is to chunk the information in different ways.

If I'm trying to play/read 16ths or 8ths where they are going D F# A C D A G D B G ( or something like that) I would mark on the page "up in D, down in G" so I could "think" my way through the arpeggios, or whatever. Then I wasn't trying to decode each pitch at tempo, I was just thinking finger changes for those parts.

Same thing if it's a bunch of chromatic notes, I would just write something like "chrom. E to G# and back" letting my fingers instead of my eyes and brain do the decoding work.

If the rhythms are problematic, I would figure out a phrase that would "fit" the notes - eighth, quarter, eighth, quarter, quarter became "clean out the bird cage" and I'd mark it in the part.

Even by doing some of these goofy "small" things you can get a lot of "problems" started to be handled.

Just ideas aside from dyslexic suggestions.

Good luck, keep playin'
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

a trick I use is to chunk the information in different ways.
Intriguing, and most important, creative and effective for you.

I think music cognition and astute teachers will say the fastest and best learners are those that have best learned how they learn. And great teachers can offer different approaches to learning, tailored to the student.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

I'm not dyslexic, but a trick I use is to chunk the information in different ways.

If I'm trying to play/read 16ths or 8ths where they are going D F# A C D A G D B G ( or something like that) I would mark on the page "up in D, down in G" so I could "think" my way through the arpeggios, or whatever. Then I wasn't trying to decode each pitch at tempo, I was just thinking finger changes for those parts.

Same thing if it's a bunch of chromatic notes, I would just write something like "chrom. E to G# and back" letting my fingers instead of my eyes and brain do the decoding work.

If the rhythms are problematic, I would figure out a phrase that would "fit" the notes - eighth, quarter, eighth, quarter, quarter became "clean out the bird cage" and I'd mark it in the part.

Even by doing some of these goofy "small" things you can get a lot of "problems" started to be handled.

Just ideas aside from dyslexic suggestions.

Good luck, keep playin'
I would dearly love to know, that of all the suggestions being given, how many of you have played in a big band?

Annotating an etude is one thing, but you simply cannot do that for a part in a band. By the time you’ve read the helpful hint, you are five measures behind!
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

Hi There,

First my true appreciation for your efforts. I think I can understand what you are saying. I speak several languages and in some I rarely make writing mistakes but in others I simply can’t see them. Then to the music:

In my youth I used to play in a big band and I frequently suffered from my poor reading of the music. Now, in retirement, I decided to return to playing (I have a bari, alto and a soprano). I found on the YouTube arrangements for Eb or Bb saxes with notes running on the screen. It even shows you the present note in red! After playing with that for a while, I have noticed that my playing has sort of become automatic. I can now play pieces “prima vista” fairly effortlessly. I think this could be a good way for you to get into the music reading. On top of it, you can easily use the backgrounds for learning to play just by ear (for future). For now, for the big band needs, take a look at this “method”.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

It would be helpful, especially in the future, if the title for this thread were changed to something meaningful.

Not sure if titles can be changed.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

I have not played in a big band.

However, I have had trouble with dyslexia and with various cognitive processes that make some tasks more difficult than it seems to be for other people. I suspect other people have issues with their processes that makes it look like I am having an easy time of it or a particular task.

It is my working hypothesis that we are all savants to some degree or another. Strongly inclined in some ways, and develop responses and skills that compensate the for deficiencies in others. Cause and effect? Perhaps an individual is so strong in an area that he/she lets the development of another mental skill remain undeveloped. Dyslexia is a condition with an X, Y and Z axis, not just a jumbling of visual cues.

My recently deceased piano teacher friend once told me that the kids that had the best ears were the hardest to reach to read music. ‘’Why bother with looking at it when you can just hear it?”

Linear sequences give me fits, so I use visual patterns. Reading piano music is especially challenging when I am tired; my left hand starts playing the top staff and vice versa. My guess is that you will find areas in music that you excel in precisely because of deficiencies in other areas. You that you have and will continue to find ways to deal with your strengths and “weaknesses”. As my piano teacher said “life is too hard not to know a few tricks.”

I try to look for and appreciate the strengths I have developed to compensate without knowing I was doing so. On my best days I feel I have something to bring to the table (or the music stand) regardless of other’s abilities.
 

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Re: Didn't know where else to post this

appreciate the strengths I have developed to compensate
YES, this is truly remarkable and inspiring. My son's childhood OCD support group would invite "graduates" back to talk about their astonishing accomplishments in school and life. The facilitators told the young kids to never give up, once they beat (realistically, learned to manage) OCD the rest of life would be a cake walk. Humans with strong will and a purpose are unstoppable.
 

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Musical Dyslexia

Interesting.

I am not, normally, dyslectic, but all my attempts to be a decent readed always stranded and all teachers came to the conclusion: “ Well, you can play, don’t bother to create an extra frustration and play without reading”

So I have been, for the most parrt, memorizing tunes and play melodic variations of the tune as solos.

I am often a better improviser than most but this has always prevented me to play in a big band (which is not something that I particularly desire anyway).

Some people , for a joke, did comment that I may be “ musically dyslectic” but I always shrugged off that as a joke since I have a pretty fast and precise reading and writing skills.

But not the video above has made me think that somewhere, somehow, I may really be Dyslectic, albeit only when it comes to music reading.

Is there a test to assess musical dyslexia?

It would be helpful, especially in the future, if the title for this thread were changed to something meaningful.

Not sure if titles can be changed.
YES, OP can change this withing the ediatability paramenters or an Administrator can do this.

Sorry if this is a duplicate from some other post..

Robert, you can edit the first post and “ go avanced “ there you can change the title to something of your choice which explains the thread’s goal better. My sympathies for your problem. As I said I have always had some difficulties in reading music. However lear to play by memorization is not all that difficult (and people with some so called “ disabilities " normally tend to compensate with some super-abilities some place else). Keep on doing what you do !

It is my working hypothesis that we are all savants to some degree or another. Strongly inclined in some ways, and develop responses and skills that compensate the for deficiencies in others. Cause and effect? Perhaps an individual is so strong in an area that he/she lets the development of another mental skill remain undeveloped. Dyslexia is a condition with an X, Y and Z axis, not just a jumbling of visual cues.

My recently deceased piano teacher friend once told me that the kids that had the best ears were the hardest to reach to read music. ‘’Why bother with looking at it when you can just hear it?”
I can absolutely relate to this and it is very much my own experience too. All of my teachers first experienced some frustration (you can imagine mine) then concluded that it was a pointless thing because I knew my way around music anyway
 
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