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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Surf Musician »

Permalink Sight reading for guitarists

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With an attitude to invest in my myself and improve my musical ability, I've started a sight reading course for guitarists on TrueFire. The course is described as Level 1, and seems to be based solely in the key of C. It's a good start, I guess.

Has anyone else done this course (Chris Buono), or learned to sight read proficiently for guitar? Just wondering what expectations to have - does it take years?

I don't want to make this an advertisement for the course, I just wondered what experiences others have had in learning to sight read music for guitar, especially when you can kind of play it anyway. Sight reading doesn't seem to be so common as something like a brass instrument.

I've been playing guitar for many years, but mostly without formal lessons. I've felt this is kind of holding me back a bit, it would be nice to progress a bit.

When you say, "sight reading" do you mean acquiring the ability to be able to play any piece of music the moment it is placed in front of you? (as in a skill a veteran studio/session player would possess)...that skill is acquire after months/years of immersive practice (I know, as I experienced this as a student at The Guitar Institute of Technology (now called Musician's Institute) back in 79/80 when the school was still had a Jazz/Session player-focused curriculum...this is a skill that needs constant practice. Excellent guitar sight-readers are not in much demand now but back-in-the-day, I got TONS of pit-band work as the only "good sight-reading guitarist" in my area who wasn't a flake and was reliable.

Can I have everything louder than everything else!

Thanks for your response, I was hoping someone who could sight read would reply!

I'd like to be able to read a melody line, probably not necessarily in a live context, but certainly be able to pick out the melody.

Do you think it's feasible to reach a reasonable standard as an adult, working full time?

In my first year of Jazz studies I was not a great sight reader. The following summer I started my day with 20-30 minutes of reading through a couple of fake books. I would play through each page only once with a metronome, not worrying about fixing mistakes. By the end of the summer my sight reading was really good, and has remained solid throughout the years, even though I don't read that much anymore.

I did most of my sight reading in 5th position, as I find it the most useful range. Consistent practice is the key. It certainly is feasible to do.


Home of Surf & Twang

Well, the course is nicely progressive. Learnt dots and ties last night.

Learnt one thing harder than playing the notes, which is not playing the notes.

I'm so used to learning stuff by ear that I start memorising it after a couple of plays rather than following the notes on the page.

Also when I follow the notes on the page I'm much less aware of the accompaniment. I can hear how my notes fit in, but I'm much less focussed on it.

Memorizing the notes on the fret board helps a little like video below.

Don't forget there are many different ways to play the same note on guitar (different parts on the neck and strings being the way its tuned to play chords essentially.

it really comes down to what tone you like for the same note in different positions

I think I tried every possible way to do this and still can't do it properly, so its very hard to do. Some people just have the matural ability after a lot of practice - I don't though Mad

I even have a fret-light guitar and that didn't help much either.

I just pick notes out from records, that's the only way I can do it, and even then it takes a while to learn a song that way, and it takes a while to get the right notes in the scale or mode used in what ever part of the song your in …

Last edited: Aug 13, 2019 04:05:05

I spent some time doing online studies with jazz guitarist Jimmy Bruno. He teaches what he calls the five fingerings, which has really helped my knowledge of the fretboard. I can look at a lot of passages now and visualize what position on the fretboard would work well.

It is, sadly, nearly a lost art at this point. I read fairly well, but have rarely played in bands with other reading musicians. It definitely is an asset.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

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