Rhythm Reading (and sight reading)

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  1. g_2_the_izzo

    I have an extreme problem with sight reading. In particular, my problem is with the rhythmic part of the music (as I know the notes up and down the neck, no problem). My issue has reached epic proportions and now its rapidly becoming a psychological problem (so I think).

    Right now, I'm spending time everyday reading down random charts from the real books. My problem with this is just that I have to read them at such slow tempos that it seems completely impractical. Also, I starting to run out of unused material.

    Are there any good books, websites or other resources that you guys have turned up that guide you (in manageable steps) through rhythm reading? I am looking for something that will take me from the basics and hopefully open the door to really advanced stuff. If it helps with hearing subdivisions and feeling the groove... that's great too! Any magic pill will do.



  2. Alvin

    Hey, Geoff!

    You're totally not alone with this one! The problems with sight reading is especially wide-spread among guitarists.
    In my oppinion, the biggest issue is that people who are trying to learn to read or improve their reading expect this to be a relatively fast process. Well it's not. Unfortunately.
    It takes years and years (depending on how good you wanna get, maybe even tens of years?)
    I think it has also something to do with age. Children at a certain time of their lives are especially acceptable to certain learning processes. I.e. learning to speak around the age of two or learning to read at the ages from six to eight or so. So when a person learns to read music also during that period, it will be considerably simpler.
    As for the rest of us, consistent work over a long period of time is in order.
    So don't let it grow in to a psychological-fatalistic-existentialistic problem. It's a fact that when you practice reading some time every day, you eventually will get better and better. Just relax and give it some time! A lot of time :)
    As for the rhythm-part, maybe somebody else has some good ideas on this?


    Ps. oh yeah, as for the material, I have worked with the Charlie Parker Omnibook for some time. The rhythmic stuff there was good for the reading. But the problem was, there were almost no key signatures. So took up Bachs violin sonatas (for solo violin and for violin and cembalo (the violin part)). Now I took up classical guitar and some polyphonic material for that. So there's a bunch of interesting stuff to use ;)

    I'm taking the lessons from this book (by William Leavitt) as pills every day. It focus absolutely in the rhythmic part of sight reading melodies. It's very easy to start but as chalenging as you want when playing with the metronome.

  4. Quintricacy

    Clapping Clapping Clapping. Try and clap the whole chart before you even pick up the guitar. Also try and become comfortable with what certain rhythms "feel" like. Put the metronome on and clap beat 1 for a while then the and of 1, then 2 then the and of 2 and so on. This can really help with feeling confident in any division of the beat. Maybe check out some Konnekol, the indian syllabic system of counting, this is especially useful when dealing with odd groupings and time signatures.


  6. JorgeRubiales

    If you run out of new material, read your old material backwards. i.e: bar 32, bar 31, bar 30....etc. Then you can read, for example,, bar 1 of staff 1, bar 2 of staff 2, bar 3 from 1, etc. making "diagonal lines".

  7. Sandemose

    RyanP: where have you, I mean this site, been all my life? Its absolutly great. So generous of who ever made the site to share it.

    Best, and thank you!


  8. No problem Sandemose. It's a pretty amazing site. It's the best tool I've found to truly practice sight reading. I've been at it an hour a day.

  9. Rhythm reading in 4/4 by Louis Bellson is the best book on the planet for this, plus it only costs $10.


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