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May 28, 2022 - 1:39:57 AM
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2127 posts since 12/11/2008

I've been developing my sight reading chops by randomly going to a page in my O'Neill's Irish Tune book, finding one that looks like it might be fun, and then just start sight reading/playing it. Then my eyes spot another nearby and I start playing that one. If I like them, I'll play them to the point where I just have to glance at them to be able to play them. Some I've even be able to completely memorize. And yes, I've found some quite wonderful tunes. Currently I'm just crazy about "Kitty Got a Klinking Coming from the Races," "Tim the Turncoat" and "The Handsome Plow Boy." Then, of course, there's "O Connors' Favorite."

May 31, 2022 - 3:59:04 PM

35 posts since 9/22/2021

I'm another who learned as a kid in band lessons but became illiterate after those 2 years were up. I was more of an ear learner from the beginning, especially having grown up with constant music in the house (live and recorded). I've been playing by ear for over 30 years. Now at 49, I want to learn again. There are tunes that I want to learn that nobody I know plays and there's a lack of recorded material. I'm finding it difficult for two reasons. At this stage it's hard not to just go to the stuff I easily pick up by ear because learning notation feels hard! And I am lazy. ??

May 31, 2022 - 3:59:51 PM

35 posts since 9/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mtnfidil

I'm another who learned as a kid in band lessons but became illiterate after those 2 years were up. I was more of an ear learner from the beginning, especially having grown up with constant music in the house (live and recorded) messing around with my parents' instruments. I've been playing by ear for over 30 years. Now at 49, I want to learn again. There are tunes that I want to learn that nobody I know plays and there's a lack of recorded material. I'm finding it difficult for two reasons. At this stage it's hard not to just go to the stuff I easily pick up by ear because learning notation feels hard! And I am lazy. ??


May 31, 2022 - 4:33:13 PM
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2287 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by mtnfidil
 At this stage it's hard not to just go to the stuff I easily pick up by ear because learning notation feels hard! And I am lazy. ??

 


Yes! Okay, probably you're not. If you can get over the fact that it does take some effort, mostly meaning investing your time, and just do it you'll probably do fine. My history of reading is similar to yours. I learned on different instruments when I was younger, sorta. I never had a deep understanding of it. When I picked it up again for fiddle tunes almost 20 years ago I just put reading near the top of my daily priority list, and accepted that it would take time every day for however long it took. For me I still work on it, but I now have access to so much material I wouldn't have before learning to read. One of my first steps in learning to read was getting O'Neill's and going through randomly, maybe picking tunes in just one key with funny or familiar titles. Later I started to return to tunes I liked. It just builds.

As I mention sometimes, I transcribe tunes now, and share them for free. My own site is a somewhat random collection of old time and other tunes that have appealed over time to me. It just got a new server and is working great: fiddletunes.net

Edited by - Brian Wood on 05/31/2022 16:35:15

May 31, 2022 - 4:56:54 PM
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DougD

USA

10865 posts since 12/2/2007

I think there are several of us here who enjoy poking around in "O'Neill's Music of Ireland," just for the fun of it. I like "Ryan's Mammoth Collectiin" too.

May 31, 2022 - 5:48:59 PM
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10516 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by mtnfidil

I'm another who learned as a kid in band lessons but became illiterate after those 2 years were up. I was more of an ear learner from the beginning, especially having grown up with constant music in the house (live and recorded). I've been playing by ear for over 30 years. Now at 49, I want to learn again. There are tunes that I want to learn that nobody I know plays and there's a lack of recorded material. I'm finding it difficult for two reasons. At this stage it's hard not to just go to the stuff I easily pick up by ear because learning notation feels hard! And I am lazy. ??


Lazy? no.. The more you try to sight read the easier it gets, but at least from my experience.. It can be time consuming (but well worth the time you spend).. Just stick with it. The award ceremony is when you find that most tunes, YOU can almost sight read are now within your grasp..and your joy at that moment is your gold medal..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 05/31/2022 17:51:37

May 31, 2022 - 6:15:34 PM
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2389 posts since 8/23/2008

O'Neill's was one of my first books also, and I just bought a stack of books of fiddle tunes. I bought these books because they all have spiral binding and are so easy to turn the page and just keep on playing with out messing around with those other types of binding.
As I consider my reading of notation to be quite good, I still stumble when I attempt to 'sight read', and one little slip and it's not 'sight reading' any more, now it's 'practice. And I've been reading for decades, I am just baffled how this can be learnt in an "hour or two"...

May 31, 2022 - 8:27:37 PM

2127 posts since 12/11/2008

Yeah, when it comes to reading manuscript I have to admit that I got my start sixty+ years ago when mom & dad forced me to take piano lessons. So it's not as if I started at square one. It doesn't hurt that, ever since I retired and no longer have to exert any intellectual energy for work, I've been able to devote that energy to play piano from manuscript. And I got to tell you that playing the fiddle from manuscript is just a teeny tiny bit easiercrying

May 31, 2022 - 10:47:02 PM
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3161 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by mtnfidil

I'm another who learned as a kid in band lessons but became illiterate after those 2 years were up. I was more of an ear learner from the beginning, especially having grown up with constant music in the house (live and recorded). I've been playing by ear for over 30 years. Now at 49, I want to learn again. There are tunes that I want to learn that nobody I know plays and there's a lack of recorded material. I'm finding it difficult for two reasons. At this stage it's hard not to just go to the stuff I easily pick up by ear because learning notation feels hard! And I am lazy. ??


I am lazy. Not quite that I can't read, and don;t seek out notation sometimes. But I originally learned by ear, acquired skills, ability to pick up most tunes pretty quickly by ear. 

Some of this is perhaps about motivation of learning tunes, and where to look? 

What often inspires me to a learn a tune is because I heard it; and I want to play is based on how that sounded.

Sifting through tune books, trolling...  never much appealed to me personally, took a lot of time with not impressive results; as they can tend to lack some details, nuances and articulation have to try and figure interpretation.... so lot of time play through a lot tunes before get to one that grabs me or shows potential. Although I can play what's written, lot of time to spend only to find the tune so-so, okayish, to eh/blah...to, is this even a tune?

Esp with ease of technology, and access to so much recordings... much more immediate, can quickly listen and make determination of interest. Mostly I don't even really go seek new tunes... just so many great tunes I've heard that I want to get around to playing. 

---------

I did the other aspect... that even if motivated by hearing, but then looking to notation. Problem many of us often encountered was time to search and find a transcription, that matched notes fairly well (and of course often lacked detail), play it and it just doesn't seem to be quiet what you've heard. (including frustration with O'Neil's and FFB). Often I just find it faster just to work those out by ear, plus the recording has all the nuances/articulations. 

May 31, 2022 - 11:43:59 PM
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2389 posts since 8/23/2008

Most of my tunes I found in books, but I did pick up a few tunes by ear back in the old cassette days because they were not to be found in any tune book. Some tunes I got from the books I didn't like a particular section so I replaced it with my version. Recently I heard a tune called 'Virginia Darling' but could not find a transcription, so I went down the youtube rabbit hole and found several interesting versions. I've got the basic version down, but M. Cleveland plays an interesting part here, and there's a good variation by so-n-so. This may take some time to get it all down on paper, which will definitely give me some ideas for my own variations.

Jun 1, 2022 - 1:03:38 AM
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1997 posts since 4/6/2014

In my limited experience all (4 or 5), of the musicians i have met and played with, and who can play a previously unseen score straight off the page, and up to tempo convincingly, have been classically or formally trained from a very young age. I have also met others who have that awesome skill to varying degrees....

I think that most, or all of the jazzers i have met could also read a lead sheet and take a break after a couple of times through. But i think they may have memorized most of the "head" and are using the music to remind them of the changes and essential riffs? i think that is sort of the way i read music, but to a lesser degree. i think i rely on memory and chord changes more than the dots. And my aim,  (for good or bad), is to get rid of them as soon as possible.

One of the musicians i met (now long gone), used to play in pit orchestra's with his father, for silent films with his back to the screen. They only received the scores just before the performance. He told me that sometimes the musicians would have to stifle their laughter imagining what was going on in the film behind them while they where playing.

Jun 1, 2022 - 9:56:08 AM
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596 posts since 7/30/2021

I can sightread almost at fullspeed, depending on how technical the music. But this skill doesn't always help with fiddle...

I've gone through many versions of tune notation posted on thesession.org and been like, "nope not that one..." "nope not that one..." "nope don't like that one..." "What was he thinking? Really weird notes in this one!" ...
Then I am left learning from a favorite audio recording anyway!

Jun 1, 2022 - 11:25:46 AM
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1997 posts since 4/6/2014

quote:
Originally posted by NCnotes

I can sightread almost at fullspeed, depending on how technical the music. But this skill doesn't always help with fiddle...

I've gone through many versions of tune notation posted on thesession.org and been like, "nope not that one..." "nope not that one..." "nope don't like that one..." "What was he thinking? Really weird notes in this one!" ...
Then I am left learning from a favorite audio recording anyway!


Yep been there. I end up transcribing my favourite version. Then making it feel natural for my own playing (make it easier for me to play) and mess around with it Sometimes even changing key the centre/sub divisions etc. And learning a lot of theoretical/technical stuff on the journey. Whether folk like it or not is beyond my control.

Jun 1, 2022 - 2:10:40 PM

3161 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by NCnotes

I can sightread almost at fullspeed, depending on how technical the music. But this skill doesn't always help with fiddle...

I've gone through many versions of tune notation posted on thesession.org and been like, "nope not that one..." "nope not that one..." "nope don't like that one..." "What was he thinking? Really weird notes in this one!" ...
Then I am left learning from a favorite audio recording anyway!


Yep, and at sessionorg, some those tune transcriptions are a bit suspect. Of course they are, or originally were, abc files; kind of meant to just hit play to hear the midi file; which many find easier. (though some folks can read abc a bit like notaion).

I have rejected tunes from quick reading, (even listening to abc/midi)... only later to hear someone actually play it, and think "oh, that's a great tune". laugh

-------------

This brings up another difference in sight reading... the ability to look at notation and audiate, imagine hearing how it sounds... without actually playing or singing it. Not all sight readers can do this, Maybe has to do with how learned to read, what notation tells you...  

Notation tells you what to play, vs Notation tells you how it sounds. 

For some, reading is bit like tab... it first represents and translates the physical... where to put what fingers. For example they see the note on middle line of staff, and mentally is first finger on second string; or on piano that white key to right of 3 black. (expanded to chunking). Secondary is the sound. There are some that can play by sight, play the notes, yet cannot much imagine/audiate. (they have to play it on instrument to hear it)

Others, first think the sound; then the physical how to make sound on instrument.  Perhaps why singers, who learned to read, seem naturally much better at audiating/imagining the sound from reading. So maybe a good way to learn/improve sight reading is via singing? Of course transcribing is maybe similar approach, starts with sound first.

Similar, and common/simpler example, is even looking at chord charts... folks can easily sight read and follow chord charts; but how many can look and imagine the sound of chord progression, before playing it?   

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 06/01/2022 14:11:50

Jun 1, 2022 - 4:48:32 PM
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2389 posts since 8/23/2008

the ability to look at notation and audiate, imagine hearing how it sounds... without actually playing or singing it.

I Believe this may happen as a natural occurrence after much, much reading, and a laziness to pick up the instrument. 

I certainly didn't dedicate any specific practice to it.

I can sightread almost at fullspeed, depending on how technical the music. But this skill doesn't always help with fiddle...

But the OP is saying... "there have been occasions where sight reading would have been a welcome skill to have in my pocket". 

Jun 1, 2022 - 5:37:14 PM
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2127 posts since 12/11/2008

Yeah, I've gotten to the point where I see the music on the page and am able to conjure up a pretty good approximation of what it's gonna sound like when played. Because the fiddle only intones one or two notes at a time, it makes the journey from eyeball to music that much easier.

Jul 7, 2022 - 9:09:41 PM
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Kye

Canada

126 posts since 3/16/2017

This is the Kylie method: print out a simple piece as large as you can. Go bar by bar. At the top of the note, write the letter. Aka B. At the bottom of the note, write the string, and finger , aka a1. Also, go through the music, and use a different highlighter colour to first highlight all the G, then D, then a, then E, then other notes. Get really familiar at picking out gd ae , and so much else falls into place. After all that, focus on the open spaces since they are easiest to see. So.. D, A, C, e. And again, once you have those. Its easier to get the bars by association. Aka.. I know that open space is a and this is one up so it must be b. Commit to doing two lines every day for two weeks. Then report back. Not all of the above in a sitting, but choose one, and stick with it, then move onto another. Maybe start with highlighter gd a e and then to above and below.

Jul 7, 2022 - 10:44:29 PM
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3161 posts since 9/13/2009

Another aspect in looking at the spaces/lines that some find helpful on a fiddle, (standard tuning in first position}; 
notes on the lines are all going to be odd digit, alternating first finger or third finger;
notes on spaces are even, alternating open string, second finger (or fourth finger).

Works with #/b in keys sig; and for low notes below staff and high notes above; and even when shifting up to third position.

Not sure how useful, I don't really use that myself; but others found it useful.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 07/07/2022 22:48:17

Jul 19, 2022 - 5:22:34 PM
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37 posts since 5/18/2009

As others have noted and I guessed before even reading through this thread, there is a general misunderstanding what the term "sight reading" means. Many years ago I was staying at an arts retreat and at Sunday morning breakfast there were some classical musicians playing through a Mozart string quartet. When I spoke to one of them afterwards and expressed how lovely it was he said that they were just sight reading through it and some of them had never seen the music.

As a folks musician these people seemed like aliens from another planet who had a super power. I have always been able to read music since I was a kid with my earliest piano teachers. But to be able to play with nuance and feeling up to speed is a high-level skill.

In any case, I will repeat what some others here have said: learning to read music and at least learning tunes from notation is a valuable skill since it also opens the world to music not written for your instrument. Then again the ability to learn music by ear is also extremely valuable. I find having a decent level at both skills very worthwhile.

Aug 23, 2022 - 6:44:44 AM

2 posts since 8/22/2022

I can teach you to read music (the dots) in 10 minutes.  Message me privately

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