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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    07.24.11 @ 04:36 PM
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    Default New band...new challenges and experiences

    So i just got home from my first set of gigs with the new band. I'm freaking exhausted. We did a show last night and one tonight. This is the first time I've ever been in a group where every member sight read, had a degree in music and was what I considered a true "musician." These guys know music, both the theory and the application. They know performance, production, arrangement, transcription, everything. They are true musicians.

    We recently decided that we wanted to go this route after realizing that even with constant practices, we weren't adding songs as quickly as we wanted and there were still issues with guys forgetting parts, keys etc. So, we fired everyone, hired a new musical director who arranged all the songs, wrote master rhythm lead sheets for every instrument and hired musicians who could pull it off. We had three rehearsals. These guys are absolute pros.

    I've never felt more out of place in my life. In the grand scheme of things, I'm a hack. I don't read music, I damn sure can't transcribe music from a CD, much less for violin, horns, bass, drums, two pianos, vocals AND guitar and I sight read music the way a four year old would read a Tale of Two Cities.

    All that said, I'm very proud of how I did. Having never been handed a stack of sheet music and expected to be able to play it, without ever having heard some of the songs and only two rehearsals (I missed one because I had to go to North Carolina to help my sister) I'm quite surprised and impressed at how I did. There were more than a couple times I got lost and had to fake it until I got caught up, but overall, I did much better than I expected.

    So, here's my question:

    what kind of bands are YOU guys in? How many true musicians do we have here on the boards? I'm fascinated by real players who can be given sheets and simply play them, even without ever having heard the song in their lives. Anyone have similar experiences?

    I think this is going to offer me a tremendous opportunity to improve as a player and although I spent these past several weeks getting really down on myself about not being good enough to do this, these two shows proved to me that i can pull it off, and pull it off well. I may have to work harder than these guys, but I can do it.
    Stay out of it, dude.


    I am Van Halen.

  2. #2
    Summer Nights in Cabo SNIC's Avatar
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    You are selling yourself short on the true musician comment. By definition, everyone who is a performer of music is a musician. These guys just have other skill sets to go along with their music playing; performance, production, arrangement, transcription, etc. So some musicians are just better than others when it comes to skills and talent.

    And you are right, you will probably grow as a musician by playing with these guys. Good luck to you. I expect some mad new skills, to go along with your already mad skills, at the next TLW.

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  3. #3
    Emperor of VHLinks.com Brett's Avatar
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    What kind of band is this that you're playing in? For church or something?
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  4. #4
    Sinner's Swing! Bullwinkle's Avatar
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    Ah...reading! Here's where we separate the men from the boys!

    broken, you probably wrote that you don't feel like a "true" musician because you can't read very well. Of course you're a true musician! You probably just don't feel that way.

    Learning to read, for me, really made me feel like a major-leaguer, which is silly because I've had quite a few friends and bandmates who are major-leaguers who can't read at all. If I hand them a lead sheet, they hand it back and say, "Just play it for me, I'll pick it up."

    Still, I would get good at reading if you want to have your guitar buy your dinner for the rest of your life. It's a good feeling to not feel powerless when confronted with a page of the little black dots.
    Plus, if you want to play for a living, the odds are that you will have to do some gigs that aren't exactly what you had in mind when you first picked up a guitar: Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, a radio spot for a car dealership...
    In those cases, it's better to just grab the music, count it off, play it, and go home. The less time you have to spend rehearsing, the better.

    When I asked my old guitar guru how I should go about learning to read, he told me: "Read everything you can get your hands on. If you have a t-shirt with music notes on it, read those. Read every day." It was good advice, and I still do that. Reading is part of my regular practice.

    What also helped me was A Modern Method For Guitar by William G. Leavitt. Try it if you want.







    Don't read this.

  5. #5
    Atomic Punk
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    07.24.11 @ 04:36 PM
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    Thanks for the words guys.

    I guess this is the deal:

    I come from the school of Paul McCartney and John Lennon; Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan. I have ideas of what I want to create and I start fiddling around until I find it. When I take a solo, it's like throwing sphagetti on the wall and seeing (in my case hoping) it sticks. I've always been pretty happy with that. I dont know theory and I only know one scale by heart. I have no idea what i'm doing 90% of the time.

    Now that I'm a "working" musician I find myself in a completely different world. I went from being an evidently very competant and well thought of songwriter, singer and guitar player in the original music world to being a complete novice amateur in the working musician world. I'm finding that very hard to deal with.

    I must say though, the guys are great, very supportive and encouraging and aren't doing anything to make me feel less than. They're treating me like one of the guys so that really really makes a big difference.

    I've realized that in order for me to catch up I'm going to have to buy a chord encyclopedia and go old school. I'm going to have to do what I did when I was just beginning to play and draw the chord diagrams over the chord on the lead sheet and I'm going to have to, gasp!, PRACTICE!

    But I'm up for the challenge!!!
    Stay out of it, dude.


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  6. #6
    Baluchitherium
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    Hm. Interesting thread. You will defintely grow it appears in this band Broken.
    All the best with it.

    There is a difference between a guitar player and a true musician I suppose. Well learned on theory, applying it effortlessly to your instrument regardless of the style of music you are playing and able to sight read would likely get you the label musician more than guitar player. George Harrison has said he's had no formal training and he created some great music. So was he simply a guitar play and not a musician? Like Ace Frehely who is self taught and has admitted he doesn't know "Shit from Shinola" is likely more a guitar player where Steve Vai "who transcribed music for Zappa as a young man" deserves the label "musician" but I'm not sure where that line is drawn.

    I think it's cool your band approaches things this way. What type of music are you all playing? That seems a tad much for just rock and roll.

    I'm in a cover band with 6 people. Bass, drums, rhythm guitar, lead guitar(me), and two singers..a male and female. We may lose our rhythm player as he's not always available so I often figure out the tunes both as I'm the only guitar or just lead. Our female singer can play rhythm and slide as well.

    Anyways..

    Most of us can read and know theory. Some more than others. An occasional piece of music is brought to practice by our female singer. Our bass player loves to use tabs. I'm not a fan of tabs.

    We play a diverse set list of tunes but mostly all rock. From 50's rock to modern stuff + pop, metal, blues, funk,and reggae. Almost everything is figured out at home and then we rehearse once a week. On average it's 4-5 new tunes a week. This is a forming band we hope to be out gigging in the winter or spring. It's interesting what you said about learning tunes and not making progress. What we have done for the guys who consistently come unprepared is replace them. Sadly our keyboardist who was a talented mofo had to bail simply becuase his life is too busy to be in a serious band who wants to play out on a part time basis. Even part time there is a commitment to learning your parts and coming every monday night totally prepared + gigs. For some people like us, older with a real job/career and family free time is at a premium. Hard to find the right people.

    I took piano as a kid and classical lessons in the past for about a year. I'm rusty on sight reading. I could do it but would have to work on it to get quicker if in a band where every tune was unlearned and only on paper. I was never in a band that has done that. The only bands I have ever known personally to do this are bands that have horns and stuff. Jazz oriented bands that play Chicago and stuff like that. I've been at this a long time and know a ton of local bands/musicians and few if any learn the tunes from notation and site read at practice. I and most of the band figure out everything by ear. I actually retain things better when I do it by ear. Something about the process of deciphering it in my head that etches it in there. Especially solos. I like to get down the solo exact and then once I know what parts are the most recognizable and needed I'll often change and noodle other aspects. some things need to be exact. Other things can be improvised some as long as you know the main melody and theme for the solo.

    Our goal is to play local bars, clubs, festivals, corporate gigs. Basically kick some ass with our band and be musical whores for who hires us. lol It's mostly for the love of music and performing that all of us are doing this. Money is nice but I gave up in my mid 20's thinking music alone could support the lifestyle I wanted.

    Anyway...I personally have grown some in this band already by learning such a diverse list of tunes. I think that helps you grow too.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  7. #7
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    Broken, you are in my opinion putting too much weight on being able to read and play from sheet music.

    I can read and write music just fine, my problem is getting it from the paper and then sounding good out of my amp.

    I think it helps, and that my piano training definitely helped once I started playing bass, but in consideration of all the other skills in being a musician, I don't think it is anywhere near the most important.
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

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  8. #8
    Forum Frontman
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    Quote Originally Posted by broken9500 View Post
    Thanks for the words guys.

    I guess this is the deal:

    I come from the school of Paul McCartney and John Lennon; Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan. I have ideas of what I want to create and I start fiddling around until I find it. When I take a solo, it's like throwing sphagetti on the wall and seeing (in my case hoping) it sticks. I've always been pretty happy with that. I dont know theory and I only know one scale by heart. I have no idea what i'm doing 90% of the time.

    Now that I'm a "working" musician I find myself in a completely different world. I went from being an evidently very competant and well thought of songwriter, singer and guitar player in the original music world to being a complete novice amateur in the working musician world. I'm finding that very hard to deal with.

    I must say though, the guys are great, very supportive and encouraging and aren't doing anything to make me feel less than. They're treating me like one of the guys so that really really makes a big difference.

    I've realized that in order for me to catch up I'm going to have to buy a chord encyclopedia and go old school. I'm going to have to do what I did when I was just beginning to play and draw the chord diagrams over the chord on the lead sheet and I'm going to have to, gasp!, PRACTICE!

    But I'm up for the challenge!!!
    I really don't think you need to completely swing the other way and become academic with everything music overnight. Yes, if you are to continually succeed in playing with these cats you should probably push yourself to learn more. Hell, this is one of the reasons playing with other people (especially people better than you) is the best thing you can do to grow as a musician and player. But small steps is the thing here. A basic music reading book is the place to start. I often use the Hal Leonard Grade 1 book with my students, but--WARNING--don't read any of the theory talk they give you. It's damn confusing the way they word it, and some of it isn't even right! The Leavitt books previously mentioned are excellent but a LOT to chew on when just starting out. You can accomplish learning to read music through a simpler process. I'd also highly recommend going back and taking lessons. Find someone who focuses on reading, playing chord shapes and naming them, rhythm studies, and playing by ear. Make it a 12 or 18 month plan to get through a music reading introductory book and start to learn the basics of theory--the major scale and key signatures, specifically. Again, if you have the right teacher, being guided through this process one small step at a time will feel like leaps and bounds over the course of a year or two.

    broken--PM me your email address, and I'll send you the Circle of Fifths sheet I made up for my students. It's got the basics of all things music theory stated briefly on one sheet. I call it the "Holy Grail of sheets" when I first give it to my students.

  9. #9
    Atomic Punk
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    Great points about playing with people better than me. That's been my means of learning since day one. Whether it was the kids in my school who had been playing much longer than I or my father dropping me in the deep end with seasoned adult musicians I've always been surrounded by players who had much more experience, knowledge, ability and skill than me and it has always paid off. When I taught lessons, this was something I always hammered away on as well.

    What makes this group different is that they are all sight readers. Before, though they may know the circle of fifths or understood what a flatted ninth was or had resumes out the whazoo, they weren't "readers." It's a much different approach to rehearsing and performing. We only had about 4 rehearsals, and no joke, it sounded performance ready the first time they showed up. That's the beauty of having guys like this so I'm focused on getting better. I won't ever need to sight read with these guys, though in spots it would help. My biggest challenge is expanding my chord vocabulary and attaching those names to physical chord shapes. I know a ton of chords but I don't know many of what I call the "jazz chords." I also don't know the middle of the neck very well at all. I know the open chords, the bar chords, the 13th chords, major 7ths, and a few others here and there. What I need to learn are the 6ths, all the diminishes, the flatted 9ths and stuff like Fm7flatted 5 add 11...shit like that.

    So, I'm going to pick up a good chord encyclopedia and that book you guys mentioned and just, like I said, go old school and start setting aside practice time.

    Victor, our director, has told me time and again, he's here for me and that i can call him at any time for help so I think I'm going to take him up on it, since he's the one writing the arrangments and directing the band, seems like a natural choice as a teacher/coach.
    Stay out of it, dude.


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  10. #10
    Atomic Punk ziggysmalls's Avatar
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    Unfortunately for me, my passion for an instrument isn't the one I should have stuck with. I played trumpet and was good enough to have quit it for a year and be able to be accepted to the music program at Ohio State. However guitar kept on distracting me so I had to give it up. I play in a cover band and do anything from classic rock, metal to country.

    My problem is that my hands are unable to do what I hear in my head. I can read music profieciently with trumpet and piano but really can't sight read with guitar. Just play by tabs. However I can follow along with people who know theory. It just takes a bit of time.

    Here is the biggest tip for learning how to sight read. This will get you going regardless of your skill. They did this for me with my trumpet teachings and it works. You will need a partner to help. Whether its a chordal chart or a single rendition of Mary Had a Little Lamb, put the music in front of you and have your friend get a credit card out. Count to four and your friend will cover the measure you are playing. They will move the card as you continue playing. This forces you to look a measure or two ahead which is required when sight reading. It helps with photographic memory and will give you a bit more time to prepare.

    Go down to your local university book store and buy a used book on theory. This will remove guitar from the equation and you can properly learn it most likely from a piano perspective. You will understand bass clef and possibly the other clefs as well depending on the book. After awhile you find out that theory is nothing more than math. Transcribing becomes fairly easy after awhile.

    Of course I don't apply any of this for guitar because it's hard enough for me just to play the instrument but with trumpet it was pretty easy.

  11. #11
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ziggysmalls View Post

    My problem is that my hands are unable to do what I hear in my head. I can read music proficiently with trumpet and piano but really can't sight read with guitar. Just play by tabs. However I can follow along with people who know theory. It just takes a bit of time.
    I actually use Powertabs and GuitarPro tabs, which has both the tab and the sheet music component combined. Here is the link to Guitar Pro, I love it and I find it handy to write with as well. Not trying to hawk product, I just think it is cool. You can convert Powertab to GuitarPro but not the other way around. Powertab is a free version, but GuitarPro is not.

    http://www.guitar-pro.com/en/index.php

    It really helps me figure out a song, as most tabs don't have the timing of the song, just the notes.

    Every song we play I have a GuitarPro tab for.

    A few bands are actually putting their sheet music up for free download on their official sites.

    I know Judas Priest does.

    Yeah, what a concept, actually encourage small time bands to play their songs and promote them for free instead of trying to charge $5 a song for the sheet music. But I digress, carry on.
    Last edited by Dave's Dreidel; 09.08.09 at 10:30 AM.
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

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  12. #12
    Atomic Punk ziggysmalls's Avatar
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    I have a hacked version of Guitar Pro and love it. I love it as well for a learning tool. It does help unlike the tabs that I think Guitar World puts out which really is just that, tabs. The old tabs were like GP where it had standardized music which helps.

    My problem with reading and guitar is that there are several ways of playing 440 A. There is one way of playing it on piano and playing it on a trumpet (even though it's really a B) I find it far quicker just to look at the tabs to figure out chord positions.

  13. #13
    Good Enough SLEEPER5150's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullwinkle View Post
    Ah...reading! Here's where we separate the men from the boys!

    broken, you probably wrote that you don't feel like a "true" musician because you can't read very well. Of course you're a true musician! You probably just don't feel that way.

    Learning to read, for me, really made me feel like a major-leaguer, which is silly because I've had quite a few friends and bandmates who are major-leaguers who can't read at all. If I hand them a lead sheet, they hand it back and say, "Just play it for me, I'll pick it up."

    Still, I would get good at reading if you want to have your guitar buy your dinner for the rest of your life. It's a good feeling to not feel powerless when confronted with a page of the little black dots.
    Plus, if you want to play for a living, the odds are that you will have to do some gigs that aren't exactly what you had in mind when you first picked up a guitar: Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, a radio spot for a car dealership...
    In those cases, it's better to just grab the music, count it off, play it, and go home. The less time you have to spend rehearsing, the better.

    When I asked my old guitar guru how I should go about learning to read, he told me: "Read everything you can get your hands on. If you have a t-shirt with music notes on it, read those. Read every day." It was good advice, and I still do that. Reading is part of my regular practice.

    What also helped me was A Modern Method For Guitar by William G. Leavitt. Try it if you want.
    That's a great take on it. It's funny though. There's people that are very literate sheet music wise....then there's people that are just natural with improvisation. When I was a kid, I took piano. I could sight read quite well, but my real love was the guitar. It just offered an expressiveness that I felt the piano lacked at the time, for the music I liked.
    Well, I put down the piano and picked up the guitar, and as I anticipated, I took to it very well, but what I found was that I could listen to a tune on the radio, or on record, and even after just a couple listens, I could pick out the chord structure quite well first, and the melodies and solos came fairly easily as well. As time went on I just gave up on reading, because I felt I did'nt need to do it any more. Now on the other side, I know, or have known musicians that sight read incredibly well. My ex-wife played flute, and one of my best buds is a sax player.
    Now here's the funny thing. When they are sight reading, they play incredibly well, but take the sheet music away, and they can't play a lick! How does this happen? It's funny to me. I'm not sure why this is the case. The only thing I can think of is that so much emphasis was placed on the reading side of things, that the natural instinct to explore the instrument is neglected. I know when I was learning the guitar, I did what most on here did, which was learn some rudimentary scales, but there was alot of couch jamming to the radio in there too. There are times still where I regret not really learning to sight read on guitar, but then I think to myself, how much further would site reading have taken me given the format of bands I've chosen to work with? I play mainly 70/80's rock, and jam band stuff. That's what I love. If I was a total studio rat, then damn right, I'd learn to read better. It's a matter of perspective.
    As far as being a true musician, well of course you are. You're playing gigs. The way I see it, if you play music, then yes ...you are a musician. If you write music, weather it be on paper, tape, harddrive, or via transcriptive software, then yes you are a musician. Do I think it's important to read? Well yes and no. I think it helps on pieces that are complex, and you all need to be on the same page so to speak. It can be a time saver.....but I don't think it defines you as a musician by today's definition.
    Last edited by SLEEPER5150; 09.08.09 at 12:52 PM.
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  14. #14
    Atomic Punk
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    when I was first starting out, I wanted to become a chameleon...like Eric Johnson, who could play anything, in any style and you'd never know it was me.

    As I got into things I realized a couple things:

    1. I wasn't interested in jazz at all.

    2. I wanted to find MY voice and develop it. I didn't like the idea of being a chameleon any more. I didn't want to be a professional studio rat and I didn't want to work on a cruise ship or in a cover band. I wanted to express myself with my instrument and write songs.

    So that led me away from studying in a more formal way. I'd find guitarists that I'd like and I'd steal what I liked and tried to apply it to what I did and make it my own.

    Fast forward all these years and now I really want to know all those jazz chords. I'll never be a jazz player and don't want to be but guys like Ian Moore and Elvis Costello are so incredible at bringing jazz extensions and chordal voicings into their blues and rock and THAT is what is turning me on more than anything these days.

    What's more, now I'm in this band and we're doing standards and lots of jazz and big band type stuff and, well, like I've said, time to get down to business. It's time to learn some more scales and how to apply them. It's time to build the same muscle memory I have with the chords I currently feel comfortable playing with the chords I need to start playing more often.

    To me, John Lennon is every bit as much a musician as YoYo Ma, just a different kind of musician.

    For me personally, as much as I respect and admire YoYo, I'd rather listen to John.
    Stay out of it, dude.


    I am Van Halen.

  15. #15
    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    For me, I actually enjoying writing a song better than playing.

    The sense of accomplishment and pride that I feel (I know, a deadly sin!) when I finish writing and arranging a song, and then recording it is beyond cool. Even though someone else might hear it and go "wow, that song sucks".
    Taylor Swift is nice to look at. Adele can sing.

    Emperor Brett - "I can't believe you guys are analyzing song-by-song Van Halen III? What next, analyzing the script of Stroker Ace looking for some shred of Citizen Kane?"

    David Lee Roth did the impossible. He made Van Halen better. Deal with it!

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