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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,
I was wondering if you knew any rigorous books to build sight reading technique. It's not that I'm having any trouble - my teacher tells me I'm quite good at sight reading, but I feel this is the only department in which I can improve for on auditions (my scales are perfect, and my solos are always pretty good).

With that said, do you know any sight-reading books (preferably for flute, but I want on for sax too) that will make me an excellent sight-reader?

thanks,
opt
 

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A bit off topic

One thing that makes you a good sight reader IMHO is the ability to able to sing off the score.

Usually i have a few minutes to scan the score before i play and this is very important when you sight read. What i do is to look out for 2 things

1) The form of the music and how to navigate it (ie the codas and repeats)
2) Do a mental sight read by singing off the score to yourself. You will easily isolate the more difficult passage and have a mental picture of how it should sound. I find this very important as if i can hear in my brain, my fingers and mouth will find a way to accomodate it.

Another stuff to do is be as proficient in all 12 keys as possible. Sometimes for certain songs, you know it will be in a certain key and will modulate at certian passages and what not. So instead of looking at individual notes, you know the key and you just follow the shape of the notes and move up and down accordingly.

That is the way i sight read (But dont do it very much nowadays)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, I've actually gotten most of the points to sight-reading already. I don't do the singing very much though, so thanks for the tip.

What I'm really looking for is a book to practice all these techniques that go into sight-reading.
 

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I don't know ONE book that covers all elements but I find this very useful.

Reading Key Jazz Rhythms - Fred Lipsius

This book covers RHYTHMS - it presents them in a melodic form as well as a form that concentrates on the rhythm element only. It may seem simplistic but it contains many/most (never say all!) of what you'll see in modern jazz charts. Get these in your head and you'll never again have to stop and think when you encounter them.

So much of being a solid sight reader is building vocabulary. That's what this book is about.
 

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Dr G said:
So much of being a solid sight reader is building vocabulary. That's what this book is about.
Completely agreed! My suggestion is to just play EVERYTHING you can get your hands on. Some stuff will cover rhythms, some will cover fingering patterns...

It's sort of like speaking: Your rhythms are akin to the pace you keep and how well you follow punctuation. Your words, similar to the vocabulary of technical proficiency on your instrument. And well the inflection that you put on certain words, that only comes with practice and time of playing things in context. I'm sure someone on here can say this better than me, so I'll stop with that now.

Bottom line, read everything, and build up your vocabulary in context. Sorry to be off base!
 

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Start buying solo transcription books.. the Charlier Parker Omni Book is a great start. But don't limit yourself to just sax players. I enjoy reading good trumpet solos such as Clifford Brown or Tom Harrell. I also check out Joe Pass transcriptions. Doing this often gets your fingers moving in 'non-sax' patterns.

Lennie Neihaus has a series of Jazz Etudes ranging from easy to difficult. I used these years ago and they are very very helpful. They have a swirly zebra stripe pattern on the cover.

You can also practice reading classical etudes. Get the Ferling Etudes book for some awesome butt kicking. ;-)
 

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cann0nba11 said:
Start buying solo transcription books.. the Charlier Parker Omni Book is a great start. But don't limit yourself to just sax players. I enjoy reading good trumpet solos such as Clifford Brown or Tom Harrell. I also check out Joe Pass transcriptions. Doing this often gets your fingers moving in 'non-sax' patterns.

Lennie Neihaus has a series of Jazz Etudes ranging from easy to difficult. I used these years ago and they are very very helpful. They have a swirly zebra stripe pattern on the cover.

You can also practice reading classical etudes. Get the Ferling Etudes book for some awesome butt kicking. ;-)
Yay Neihaus Books, I have three of them, and they are some really good material! Reading down jazz guitar transcriptions I feel is a good thing as well. This takes you into a different way of running the changes. Different instruments seem to have "cliches" which are very cool if you can pick them up on sax.
 

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dburlone said:
It's sort of like speaking: Your rhythms are akin to the pace you keep and how well you follow punctuation. Your words, similar to the vocabulary of technical proficiency on your instrument.
Mmmm, no. Rhythm PATTERNS are also words. If you slow down when you hit an unfamiliar rhythm, it's not about pacing and punctuation, it's about vocabulary. If one studies jazz compositions, one will notice that there are some short rhythmic phrases - regardless of pitches - that recur. Learn those and you won't have to think about how they fit in time. Similarly, learn scales - not just in all keys but in all forms (major, minor, diminished, whole notes, etc., ad nauseum) - and arpeggiate chords in their various inversions. Then when you hit those patterns and phrases in the context of written music, you don't have to read it note by note. Instead, you read the WORDs. Vocabulary. It's the key to sight reading.

You can read all the transcriptions you like but it won't prepare you to actually sight read well because you are only learning the vocabulary as someone else has written it for you. Unless you break it down to individual phrases and practice those phrases in all keys, it's just like a young child reading the same book over and over. You'll know THOSE phrases when you see them again but you won't be DEVELOPING the sight reading skills you crave and need.
 

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Dr G said:
Mmmm, no. Rhythm PATTERNS are also words. If you slow down when you hit an unfamiliar rhythm, it's not about pacing and punctuation, it's about vocabulary. If one studies jazz compositions, one will notice that there are some short rhythmic phrases - regardless of pitches - that recur. Learn those and you won't have to think about how they fit in time. Similarly, learn scales - not just in all keys but in all forms (major, minor, diminished, whole notes, etc., ad nauseum) - and arpeggiate chords in their various inversions. Then when you hit those patterns and phrases in the context of written music, you don't have to read it note by note. Instead, you read the WORDs. Vocabulary. It's the key to sight reading.

You can read all the transcriptions you like but it won't prepare you to actually sight read well because you are only learning the vocabulary as someone else has written it for you. Unless you break it down to individual phrases and practice those phrases in all keys, it's just like a young child reading the same book over and over. You'll know THOSE phrases when you see them again but you won't be DEVELOPING the sight reading skills you crave and need.
Yes yes yes. When it comes to complex rhythms, it's usuallly (in my case) recognition of a pattern rather than lightning fast maths going on in my brain.

I think one of the best ways to good sight reading is to put yourself in situations where are going to have to read a deal of unfamiliar material and there is a bit of pressure - i.e. get it right now (or almost now) thank you.

Join an ensemble (or three) that reads lots of differing new material regularly!
 

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stefank said:
I think one of the best ways to good sight reading is to put yourself in situations where are going to have to read a deal of unfamiliar material and there is a bit of pressure - i.e. get it right now (or almost now) thank you.
Amen.

And when you get in a reading situation, TIME rules over NOTES. You've got to keep up with the pace else it doesn't matter that you're playing the right notes - 'cause now you're in the wrong place! :shock:

I love playing in rehearsal bands where we read down a huge repertoire of material for the sake of experiencing the music. Yes, we still rehearse it until it is correct, but the pressure to perform in a large ensemble when everyone is reading their best is a wonderful thing.
 

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Dr G said:
Mmmm, no.
I knew someone around here could do this better and learn me a good bit more in the process!

Dr G said:
And when you get in a reading situation, TIME rules over NOTES. You've got to keep up with the pace else it doesn't matter that you're playing the right notes - 'cause now you're in the wrong place!
Think I smell ya loud and clear on this! :)

Thanks!
 

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Happy to be of service. I'm glad that you didn't take my comments unkindly.

Cheers!
 

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And as time is of the essence (as has just been pointed out) there's all the more reason to practice this skill playing with others. This, after all, is what you really need the skill for, and it makes sense to practice that skill in context. You also usually get some fairly immediate feedback if you're getting it wrong!

I'll go for the ensemble playing over the book anytime.
 

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Janis said:
Does better sight reading helps to be a better in improvising ?
Not that I've noticed. I've got this (completely unproven) theory that you use a different part of your brain when reading music to when you are improvising/playing by ear, and it's not unusual that people who are adept at one are quite uncomfortable with the other.

I find it harder to improvise with a sheet of music in front of me - I tend to go on to autopilot and just do what it says.
 

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I've never been a strong sight reader but one good exercise, for me at least, is to sit down with the music and a metronome and just sound out the values in my head. If I don't end up beginning at beat one in each measure I know that I've screwed up. My metronome can be programmed to sound a distinct downbeat, which is a help, and of course you can always slow things down until you've got a difficult rhythm figured out.
 

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Janis said:
Does better sight reading helps to be a better in improvising ?
Totally different concept. Sight reading is translating the written language and playing what you are told to play. Improvising is spontaneous creation based upon a defined set of rules (chord changes, tempo, style, etc.)

I know many classical players that can read anything, but they don't/can't improvise (jazz or classical).
 

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I third the comment on getting into an ensemble where there's some pressure to "keep up." In my case that was the community band when I was in high school. I was sitting there trying to sight read those difficult orchestral transcriptions that a lot of the old-timers could probably play in their sleep - or if not "play," at least keep from getting lost. ;) Believe me, I felt the heat and went home very discouraged very many times, but I also built up some very good sight-reading chops after a while.
 

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cann0nba11 said:
Totally different concept. Sight reading is translating the written language and playing what you are told to play. Improvising is spontaneous creation based upon a defined set of rules (chord changes, tempo, style, etc.)

I know many classical players that can read anything, but they don't/can't improvise (jazz or classical).
That was my opinion too. And it`s true - you can`t learn anything for improvising by sight reading ( but only if you dont`t try it.) Now, when I read, I try to sing (with inner voice) - it helps me train my ear, also visualization.
 

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2 things have improved my sight reading over the years... (which at one time was terrible, now is at least passable)
For me it was always rhythms more than notes that were the issue.
1. Transcribing. If you have to figure out the rhythms and write them down, this improves your reading and retention of those rhythms dramatically!!! As others have said, it really become a "recognition" of the shape, and allows you to know how to play it, or write it.

2. Band in a Box. A regular part of my limited practice routine, is just blowin using band in box. Throw in some changes, let BIAB auto generate a solo, based on any style you want, and read it. You build as many choruses as you want and read virtually all day long, and never read the same solo. It is truely and ENDLESS supply of sight reading.
 
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