chart reading

straightupgroove

Junior Member
Does anyone here nail the first time they read most charts? If so how did you get to that level and in general, anyone have any tips on improving chart reading?
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
In some cases, such as mine, you need to sightread on the bandstand. When I did cruise ships, there were little to no rehearsals. You got to the ship and read the shows down. The bit of rehearsals that I had were so that I could know what ques the performer was giving from center stage. Sometimes we would start tunes to get a tempo reference or play the last few measures to solidify the ending of a piece of music.

Now, I often sightread on the bandstand with my jazz big band. We have a great arranger who will bring in charts. His arranging ability is phenomenal, so the charts often play themselves.

To get to that point, you need to have a firm understanding of rhythm and musical roadmaps. I would suggest material from Podemski, Whaley, and Peters.

After a rhythmic foundation is attained, you need to be able to interpret the charts. This is often the most difficult part. I would suggest working with a teacher who has experience in this area (not all teachers do). You may also want to check out Steve Fidyk's book At First Sight. It is actually him sightreading charts on CD. He then talks about how he approached each chart. He even talks about what he would do differently if he could do a second take. There is a data CD with mp3s with and without drums as well as drum charts and the score for each tune. After working on that book, I would try to progress toward's Hougton's Ultimate Drumset Reading Anthology. It is the closest thing to what you would see on a sightreading gig such as a theater show, cruise ship, or big band.

You will also want to work on styles. I practiced playing different section and ensemble figures in a variety of styles.

Jeff
 
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dmacc_2

Well-known member
In some cases, such as mine, you need to sightread on the bandstand. When I did cruise ships, there were little to no rehearsals. You got to the ship and read the shows down. The bit of rehearsals that I had were so that I could know what ques the performer was giving from center stage. Sometimes we would start tunes to get a tempo reference or play the last few measures to solidify the ending of a piece of music.

Now, I often sightread on the bandstand with my jazz big band. We have a great arranger who will bring in charts. His arranging ability is phenomenal, so the charts often play themselves.

To get to that point, you need to have a firm understanding of rhythm and musical roadmaps. I would suggest material from Podemski, Whaley, and Peters.

After a rhythmic foundation is attained, you need to be able to interpret the charts. This is often the most difficult part. I would suggest working with a teacher who has experience in this area (not all teachers do). You may also want to check out Steve Fidyk's book At First Sight. It is actually him sightreading charts on CD. He then talks about how he approached each chart. He even talks about what he would do differently if he could do a second take. There is a data CD with mp3s with and without drums as well as drum charts and the score for each tune. After working on that book, I would try to progress toward's Hougton's Ultimate Drumset Reading Anthology. It is the closest thing to what you would see on a sightreading gig such as a theater show, cruise ship, or big band.

You will also want to work on styles. I practiced playing different section and ensemble figures in a variety of styles.

Jeff
Terrific post....................
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
It depends on the chart, obviously, but a lot of them are not that hard, and your job is not necessarily to play a ton of drums all over them-- I don't think it's real difficult to get to a point where you can do a professional-sounding first read-through on most things. Aside from the obvious thing-- doing a lot of reading-- and Jeff's suggestions, the practice methods based on the book Syncopation are helpful. My reading has actually improved quite a bit recently-- I've never considered myself to be great at it-- as I've been doing a lot of sessions playing difficult stuff, and also, strangely, as I've been practicing drum stuff requiring a lot of concentration-- Dahlgren & Fine and odd meters, primarily.

You will also want to work on styles. I practiced playing different section and ensemble figures in a variety of styles.
That!
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
It depends on the chart, obviously, but a lot of them are not that hard, and your job is not necessarily to play a ton of drums all over them-- I don't think it's real difficult to get to a point where you can do a professional-sounding first read-through on most things. Aside from the obvious thing-- doing a lot of reading-- and Jeff's suggestions, the practice methods based on the book Syncopation are helpful. My reading has actually improved quite a bit recently-- I've never considered myself to be great at it-- as I've been doing a lot of sessions playing difficult stuff, and also, strangely, as I've been practicing drum stuff requiring a lot of concentration-- Dahlgren & Fine and odd meters, primarily.
I echo everything said here

...also I have done a bunch of sessions where they either handed me a piano chart ....or some sort of chart with quite ridiculous percussive suggestions......
I ended up just playing what I felt was appropriate and respectful for the tune and no one ever had anything bad to say about it .

al lot of times there is no reading involved in chart reading .......just a suggested tempo and style ....then a bunch of slashed measures and indications of repeats, DS al Coda and whatnot.....and maybe the occasional hit that the whole band will hit.

if you have good musical instincts and are respectful to the music ...a lot of times a chart is just a road map with some suggestions

unless of course the producer or arranger has something absolutely specific in mind for you

so just practice reading....it will never hold you back :)
 

Royston

Junior Member
Ok first let me apologise if I offend anyone by seemingly hijacking this thread but a quick question from a beginner....having a VERY basis understanding of what the notes are called and not much more are there any suggested books from which I can learn how to read music?

Cheers and once again apologies
roy
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Ok first let me apologise if I offend anyone by seemingly hijacking this thread but a quick question from a beginner....having a VERY basis understanding of what the notes are called and not much more are there any suggested books from which I can learn how to read music?

Cheers and once again apologies
roy
there is a great DVD by Pat Petrillo called...Learn To Read Rhythms Better

walks you through the whole process and everything involved with reading

highly recommended
 
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MJD

Silver Member
Ok first let me apologise if I offend anyone by seemingly hijacking this thread but a quick question from a beginner....having a VERY basis understanding of what the notes are called and not much more are there any suggested books from which I can learn how to read music?

Cheers and once again apologies
roy
Modern Reading Texts by Louis Belson. And Norton has a notation manual and a learn to read music book that they used to sell as a set.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Ok first let me apologise if I offend anyone by seemingly hijacking this thread but a quick question from a beginner....having a VERY basis understanding of what the notes are called and not much more are there any suggested books from which I can learn how to read music?
Get Syncopation by Ted Reed, a beginning snare drum book (Roy Burns's Elementary Drum Method is a good one), and a qualified teacher. You can learn much of what you need to know to practice on your own in a couple of lessons.
 

Jookbox

Pioneer Member
In some cases, such as mine, you need to sightread on the bandstand. When I did cruise ships, there were little to no rehearsals. You got to the ship and read the shows down. The bit of rehearsals that I had were so that I could know what ques the performer was giving from center stage. Sometimes we would start tunes to get a tempo reference or play the last few measures to solidify the ending of a piece of music.

Now, I often sightread on the bandstand with my jazz big band. We have a great arranger who will bring in charts. His arranging ability is phenomenal, so the charts often play themselves.

To get to that point, you need to have a firm understanding of rhythm and musical roadmaps. I would suggest material from Podemski, Whaley, and Peters.

After a rhythmic foundation is attained, you need to be able to interpret the charts. This is often the most difficult part. I would suggest working with a teacher who has experience in this area (not all teachers do). You may also want to check out Steve Fidyk's book At First Sight. It is actually him sightreading charts on CD. He then talks about how he approached each chart. He even talks about what he would do differently if he could do a second take. There is a data CD with mp3s with and without drums as well as drum charts and the score for each tune. After working on that book, I would try to progress toward's Hougton's Ultimate Drumset Reading Anthology. It is the closest thing to what you would see on a sightreading gig such as a theater show, cruise ship, or big band.

You will also want to work on styles. I practiced playing different section and ensemble figures in a variety of styles.

Jeff
Wow you must be really talented. Sounds like the hardest thing in the world to me.
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
Wow you must be really talented. Sounds like the hardest thing in the world to me.
Thank you for the kind words. Yes, many times sight reading ability is a necessity even to be considered for the gig. When I was on tour with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, we would play the standard tunes that Miller was known for. But we also had a stack of music that was about a foot tall. The leader would choose different tunes each night to mix in with the standard rep. The tunes had titles, but we would pull them out by the number on the top of the page - 873, 579, etc... It would take years to memorize that amount of music, so reading is a must for that type of gig.

We also played the San Francisco Jazz Festival. It was a battle of the bands with Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey Bands. There were a few charts that we sightread so that both bands could play at the same time. So yes, it seems difficult - but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Jeff
 

Nizza594

Senior Member
Excellent thread!! And some great posts, especially from Jeffwj! I have just finished my first cruise ship contract, and heading out to do another in October. I play in the 5 piece "party" band so in my particular case, reading was not a complete necessity, however I was still the only musician in the band who wasn't reading at some point or another. It was, without doubt, the most enormous repertoire of songs that I have ever had to learn in 8 years of playing professionally and I can't express enough, how reading would have made my life SO much easier.

After watching the Orchestra on the ship, I got a real bug for wanting to be able to do that gig so since I came home I have been working hard on learning to read, the playing ability is not a problem and I have always had a basic understanding of note rhythms etc, but would be completely lost if a chart was placed in front of me and I had to play through it.

So now I am gathering all the resources that I can to help me learn to do this, it appears that so many doors would be opened if I could sight read charts. I would highly recommend this to anybody who wants to work as a drummer because it would make your life so much easier, and probably keep you in work a lot more!

The biggest problem is, and I am not sure whether the other guys will agree with this, but I think it is one of those things that, at some point is going to involve a leap of faith and will inevitable be fucked up the first couple of times, and you will have some MD/Band Leader screaming at you, but that is probably what it will take to get it together properly!
 

Longfuse

Senior Member
I second Louis Bellson's Modern Reading Text. 20 minutes a day, clapping out rhythms, and before you know it you don't even have to think about breaking down rhythms. This frees you up to concentrate on where your hands go (fingers in my case: I used the book to improve sight-reading on instruments other than drums).
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
Excellent thread!! And some great posts, especially from Jeffwj! I have just finished my first cruise ship contract, and heading out to do another in October. I play in the 5 piece "party" band so in my particular case, reading was not a complete necessity, however I was still the only musician in the band who wasn't reading at some point or another. It was, without doubt, the most enormous repertoire of songs that I have ever had to learn in 8 years of playing professionally and I can't express enough, how reading would have made my life SO much easier.

After watching the Orchestra on the ship, I got a real bug for wanting to be able to do that gig so since I came home I have been working hard on learning to read, the playing ability is not a problem and I have always had a basic understanding of note rhythms etc, but would be completely lost if a chart was placed in front of me and I had to play through it.

So now I am gathering all the resources that I can to help me learn to do this, it appears that so many doors would be opened if I could sight read charts. I would highly recommend this to anybody who wants to work as a drummer because it would make your life so much easier, and probably keep you in work a lot more!
Inspiring words, my friend.

Kids read this forum too. That's when I learned this stuff, when I was a kid, but haven't developed it since then.
 
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