Essential Secrets 46: Sightread Every Day
Sightread Every Day
Mastering Printed Music
Many bass players are worried that their sightreading skills are not strong enough. They feel ill at ease whenever they have to read music. Yet, sightreading is seldom made a regular part of their practicing.
Reading music is a touchy subject for bassists. Many bass players feel that tablature is adequate for all their needs. And, tab (which shows you which frets to play on which string) is undoubtedly the best method for playing notes immediately and figuring out very advanced bass lines.
But, what will you do if you need to learn a song you’ve never heard before or if you get asked to play a gig that uses sheet music? To be ready for these situations, spend a little time at each practice session reading music.
Start your journey to reading mastery with a lead sheet, the type of chart you see in fake books. These charts have measures of music with a chord symbol above each bar. At first, focus on playing just the root of each chord, keeping your eyes on the page, counting constantly, and knowing where you are in the chart at all times.
If you’re already comfortable following a chord chart, work on reading standard notation by following the melody on the lead sheet. (Be sure to buy a fake book with the melodies in bass clef!) Play very slowly, identify the name of each note, and find the notes on your fingerboard. Before you can do this successfully, you may need to review note names and their locations on both the fretboard and in the music staff.
Much like speaking a foreign language, sightreading is a “use it or lose it” skill. So, keep some sightreading materials in your practice area and take a look at them at every practice session. Just a couple minutes a day is all it takes.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET