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I did an audition for a cruise ship agent the other day and I flunked it.

One of the things that miffed me was that he said my improvisation was "stiff". I mean,yeah, my improv should be great but given, this was a song I hadn't prepared (A Train) or played in a while, and the improv was by memory and without backing tracks. I thought it was okay. But that's not the point:

The part I really screwed up was the sightreading. I had to audition on tenor, flute and clarinet. He said my flute was pretty good. My clarinet wasn't the greatest, because I have troubles with the notes just below the break and reading. I also had to sight read a tune on sax (attached). So all in all, I had to learn four pages of difficult music in ten minutes, and I wasn't good enough. I want to know, what are some good, advanced sight-reading books so I can buff up my skills.
 

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If that's a funk tune, it's not so bad. If it's jazz it's a bit over-written, IMO.
 

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Anything you play for the "first" time is sight reading.
Play everything you can get your hands on. It doesn't have to be 'advanced'. It just has to be music you've never seen before.
Klose, DeVille, Hal Leonard Jazz Play-Alongs, Real/Fake books....
Bust your butt on scales. Know the key signatures, thirds, arpeggios.
Practice rythym patterns so you don't have to think about how to count.
You gotta know whatever instrument is hanging off your face INSIDE AND OUT. NO EXCUSES.

The only way to get good at sight reading is to just DO IT!
 

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For that example, I'd have to HOPE it's funk. In any case, run double time in your head. The sixteenth note placements don't feel so weird if you're counting 8 to the bar.

Sight-reading is fair game for a cruise ship audition. After all they're going to drop a book in front of you with anywhere from 80 to 200 tunes in it, and they expect you to nail everything they call, the first time. They'll tolerate some bobbles (they know when they're calling a tough tune) but honestly, if you weren't prepared to sight read that example, you deserved to fail the audition. The show books are going to be MUCH harder than that. I knew a couple of the guys that arranged the shows and they were deliberately sadistic in the way they wrote them.

The improvisation was likely just a tie-breaker if they got multiple candidates that could read adequately (and "adequate" in this context means "pretty d*** well"). If you can read anything dropped in front of you but are just a mediocre improviser, you'll get the job most of the time. The reverse is most definitely NOT true.
 

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The best thing for sight reading is being able to recognize rhythms. If you recognize the rhythms in that funk chart, it makes it a lot easier. When I was in school, my lessons teacher had be work out of the Joe Viola's "Technique of the Saxophone, Volume 3: Rhythm Studies" which is all about rhythm. A lot of the exercises are written in both normal time and double time rhythms. They sound the same but are written differently. A lot of the exercises are written in an odd way so that it forces you to really concentrate on counting the rhythm.
 

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i think the example is a latin tune that switches back and forth from D major to D minor, and the part reminds me of a production show i played on Norwegian many time ago. The production shows are notorious for being written in the most inconvenient manner possible. Don't let this set back discourage you too much. Keep working and following all the good advice you have been given here and you will get better. i think it is better to the fail the audition than to get the gig and then be "fired" after one week on the ship.
 

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i think the example is a latin tune that switches back and forth from D major to D minor, and the part reminds me of a production show i played on Norwegian many time ago. The production shows are notorious for being written in the most inconvenient manner possible. Don't let this set back discourage you too much. Keep working and following all the good advice you have been given here and you will get better. i think it is better to the fail the audition than to get the gig and then be "fired" after one week on the ship.
This is true. Failing an audition means THAT cruise line may not want to have you audition again for a while -- maybe six months tops. Failing on the job means the music directors at ALL the cruise lines get your name and you're doomed until at least some of them move on to other jobs. They do talk to each other and play golf together even though they are supposed to be in competition. This could easily take a year or two.
 

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I agree with Hak (?!) -- that thing has funk "written all over it." I found the easiest path to competent sight reading is knowing the style. For this chart, for example, jump over to youtube and play some Earth, Wind, & Fire, Average White Band, etc. Once you get the feel of the types of licks expected in a style, the notes and syncopation (in this case), begin to jump under your fingers. Then the game becomes looking for the out of the ordinary. Identify those with a quick glance and run through those sections a couple of times quickly before you start. And most importantly, have fun. On this piece, eg, you're Maceo!
 

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pick up a pair of drum sticks and work your way through some method books. that'll work your rhythm recognition. being an ex-percussionist, i can read rhythms like no ones business.

in addition do what everyone else here is saying, pound the scales and read anything you see. if you have a coffee mug or a tie or sticker or even a pencil that has music as a decoration on it, read it.

also, sight read music for other instruments. horns in C, Bb, F, Db, G, W, 43, anything and everything. the odd key signatures will help.

im getting ready for a college audition (2 years away but but ive only been playing sax for 6 months) and thats how im preparing. its coming along this way.
 

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I have been working with Hindemith's Elementary Training for Musicians. It is kicking my *** in rhythms and much more, but by drilling the book, I feel much more confident with weird sixteenth and thirty second note combinations, including what you posted. It is a ball buster, but I recommend it.
 
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