Is being able to read sheet music that important?

C

Cheese

Guest
Hi,

When I was in high school to now I have always struggled with sheet music, reading and writing but I'm not sure if I should, ' happy playing how I do now but I don't know if I might want to in the future.

The way I normally play is by improvisation, I can work stuff out by ear but generally don't much, this usually works just fine and puts my perspective on the song , musically which is probably the most important thing in music (to have and show your own ideas, etc)

I Used to be OK with sheet music but not I don't like it much simply because its part of a drummers job to know what to play and to be able to play accordingly, he should know how to create something that mixed with the other rhythm, tempo and even pitch of the song playing on.

I know there is places and might be times when people will want sheet music but I don't see that as being better or worse in itself it depends on whats played - But something is still bugging me whether I should/Should not learn sheet music.

Any thoughts on this?
 

SkaaDee

Member
For me it was important because, as I create a part for a song or recreate a part for a song, my ability to see figures and rythmns in my head (as they would appear on a page) allows me to learn the song quicker.
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
There's situations and times where sheet music is the norm, including studio sessions and theater work. In those circumstances, not reading will equal you not getting the job. However, it's completely possible for you to play for the rest of your life and not encounter one of those situations.

Personally, I came to the drums through woodwind and string instruments in a school band, so not learning to read was not an option for me. But I've found it opens doors and creates a much fuller understanding of what music is and how it works. It would be very easy, as a drummer, to simply learn the instrument as a series of movements and techniques, and master songs by ear; that's just not how I approach it. Individual experiences may vary.

Is it necessary? No, unless you want one of the aforementioned gigs. Is it a useful skill to have? Heck yes. Are you missing out by not learning to read? In my opinion, yes.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I Used to be OK with sheet music but not I don't like it much simply because its part of a drummers job to know what to play and to be able to play accordingly, he should know how to create something that mixed with the other rhythm, tempo and even pitch of the song playing on.
It's also a drummer's job to be able to play the parts that the composer/arranger created, and committed to notation with the expectation that the drummer will play them correctly.

Reading and writing is an important skill. Even if you don't get music put in front of you very often, it can be extremely helpful for personal development (think of the amount of books you can learn from!) I learned to read from the start, and while I don't read or write for most gigs, it is essential for my most important gigs.

Bermuda
 
The answer is yes.. You will benefit greatly from learning to read..

You may not use the ability in what you are currently doing. However it will increase your musical options down the road and give you the ability to play and learn music without having to hear it first.

I find it interesting that so many people look at reading music as a handcuff on being spontaneous and being able to use your ears while playing. It's not one or the other they both add to each other as far as being a well rounded capable musician.

If you are an actor.. You can memorize lines,.. from listening to a recording... You can improvise on the spot with other actors.. But if you can't read you are severally limited to opportunities that fit within those situations..

No one would say that you are just as well of not learning to read and write English. Why would you say it's the same for music?... Can you get a job if you are illiterate? totally.. Are you as useful in the work place?.. Yes to a certain point.. If you are doing things that don't require reading or writing.. But if you want to expand your knowledge, and be more integrated within anything you do, reading and writing give you tools that help immensely.
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
it blows my mind every time I see this question asked

......seriously unbelievable

it's like saying

is eating vegetables important?

sure I can survive without ........but I won't be all that healthy or vibrant....and will have little to no immune system .....and my organs may slowly start to shut down and deteriorate do to lack of Phytonutrients , fiber , and antioxidants

but I don't really like how broccoli tastes

can't I just live on Flintstone vitamins ?
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
In answer to the original question.

It will never hurt your playing and can only ever improve things.

My reading is very limited and it's a real bugbear of my own playing that I struggle to read. I have a good reason as to why I can't read but for everyone else out there I have to say my lack of ability can really hamstring my own playing.

As a result, I implore everyone to learn. They should. It will never do any damage, will improve access to text and means that you can do 'serious' gigs when reading will be required. That's not to say that everyone can and that everyone needs to read for their musical situation but it opens up a lot of fine material and access to gigs.
 

MisterZero

Senior Member
I learned reading right out of the gate and I think everyone should know how to. Not only is it fun, it's another tool to add to your drumming toolbox, as Peart says. I enjoy sight reading,playing a piece without any clue how it goes, and try to see how close I matched the actual, intended song.

Having said that, I think as a drummer, you can easliy get by without this knowledge. supposedly, John Bonham coulnd't read sheet music.....nuff said.
 
Kinda funny. I'm doing a gig today that I haven't done in a year..

A corporate christmas gig.. with a band that I haven't played in in a year.

My charts have cut my prep time to next to nothing. If I didn't read and have these charts.. my prep for the gig would have been like almost starting from scratch as I don't play most of these songs in any other bands..
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
it blows my mind every time I see this question asked

......seriously unbelievable

it's like saying

is eating vegetables important?
What about vegetarians? ...surely, they must miss a lot of good things, they're healthy people nevertheless, no?

Reading IS important, but it's not crucial, you can play drums really well without reading, IMO.

I can read, and for the practice room and going through my exercise books, it's an essential asset, if you can't read, you can't use these exercise books, it's very simple.

But I'm a poor sight-reader, it takes me too long to sight-read on the spot, I'll have to learn the pattern beforehand, even if I read a transcription to do it, I cannot and don't have the skill to read something and play it straight away like some amazing players can do.

And to these days, I never had to do it either, so I guess, you can be a drummer and you don't necessary need to be able to read, it all depends on which level you are playing too, it could be essential for a pro, not so much for an hobbyist.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
I can read, and for the practice room and going through my exercise books
Ditto. I've always played by ear but there are a few patterns I picked up from books where I doubt I'd have ever worked out the sticking myself. With some patterns, I can only make sense of them when I write it down.

Just like if you were lost in India and a helpful person on the street told you to go to Venkatanarasimha Rajuvaripet railway station. Umm, excuse me, but could you write that down please?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Hi,

When I was in high school to now I have always struggled with sheet music, reading and writing but I'm not sure if I should, ' happy playing how I do now but I don't know if I might want to in the future.

The way I normally play is by improvisation, I can work stuff out by ear but generally don't much, this usually works just fine and puts my perspective on the song , musically which is probably the most important thing in music (to have and show your own ideas, etc)

I Used to be OK with sheet music but not I don't like it much simply because its part of a drummers job to know what to play and to be able to play accordingly, he should know how to create something that mixed with the other rhythm, tempo and even pitch of the song playing on.

I know there is places and might be times when people will want sheet music but I don't see that as being better or worse in itself it depends on whats played - But something is still bugging me whether I should/Should not learn sheet music.

Any thoughts on this?
You are happy with your present amount of skill and knowledge, and that is fine. The skills you have developed apart from reading music are helping you to successfully perform at a level that satisfies you.

But what if that changed? What if the level that satisfies you today doesn't satisfy your future self? What if your future self wishes to play music with people who are not interested in memorizing recordings, and require charts and scores to perform it? What if someone else wants to make music with you, but won't because you can't understand their language? What if you have a chance to take a great gig, but it requires that you play every song note-for-note, and the first gig is tomorrow?

It's a classic mistake to assume that your tastes, dreams, and goals will never change.
 

lsits

Gold Member
For me it's a form of communication, nothing more, nothing less. I can learn a pattern or fill from George Lawrence Stone, or Ted Reed, or Roy Burns, or Carmine Appice just by opening a book. Granted, I'm not a very good sight reader and it mike take me 15 minutes to learn something, but the more I do it the better I get at it.
 

The Black Page Dude

Senior Member
Like any other skill if it comes down to you and another drummer and they can read ... well ... you know the answer.

Having done alot of teaching at one point, reading was a great way to help comprehension if the student could read. Also helped them grasp concepts that seemed unplayable.

I feel like reading brings music to a logical level for me and I am able to work through tricky patterns more easily.

Every skill you can acquire makes you a better player ... I can't imagine intentionally not learning a skill that would help you grow.

That's my 2 cents.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Reading IS important, but it's not crucial, you can play drums really well without reading, IMO.
Certainly one can play the drums to whatever level they're capable and dedicated. But reading skills can open up new musical avenues (who doesn't want to expand their abilities?) And reading and writing makes playing certain gigs a lot easier; does anyone really want to rely on repetition just to get their parts down? Is that fair to the other players? Indeed, will those players who read and write even tolerate a drummer who doesn't? Further, some gigs are simply not available to musicians who can't read.

Not reading is more of a limitation that being able to read. I'm unclear as to why anyone would choose to be at a disadvantage.

Bermuda
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
You could learn to talk without learning to read or write. This is in fact the case with many third world nations, and even more developed nations.

The problem with it is that you won't be able to communicate your ideas in any way except verbally (aurally). You can't write something down, or read what someone else is trying to convey, you won't even be able to keep track of your own ideas in any manner other than memory, and you'll lose a lot this way. In the same way that reading books develops speech and verbal cognition, it would also do the same for music.

I think if you're serious about learning to play something, you need to be able to understand it in the deeper way that learning to read and write will allow.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
You could learn to talk without learning to read or write. This is in fact the case with many third world nations, and even more developed nations.

The problem with it is that you won't be able to communicate your ideas in any way except verbally (aurally). You can't write something down, or read what someone else is trying to convey, you won't even be able to keep track of your own ideas in any manner other than memory, and you'll lose a lot this way. In the same way that reading books develops speech and verbal cognition, it would also do the same for music.

I think if you're serious about learning to play something, you need to be able to understand it in the deeper way that learning to read and write will allow.
Yes yes yes yes yes yes.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Yes it's goddam important.

If you want to be a mechanic, don't you think that knowing the inner workings of the internal combustion engine would be important?

If your answer is no, then do us all a favor and find something other than music to do. Maybe you would find dress making to be more interesting.

I, for one, am sick of people who think that doing something not even halfway is some sort of virtue.
 
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