Sig’s Strings Sight Reading Tip.

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I play double bass in an amateur string group led by Sig Martin from Orchestra London.   I have little in the way of experience in the classical music world and through Sig I’m learning to appreciate the music more as well as working on my arco chops.  I’ve also cracked open my ancient copy of the Simandl double bass method to further improve my skills with the bow.  My goal is to add an hour or so of double bass practice to my day.

When I teach electric bassists to read I use several approaches.  The first is learning the notes on the page and where they are on the bass and then adding in rhythmic elements.  You can do this on or off the bass as well.   There will be stops and starts as students stumble over new ‘letters’ but in the beginning that’s all part of the process.   Practice might include saying note names out loud or clapping rhythms.   Ed Friedland’s book is ideal for learning to read music.  Eventually I urge the student to keep moving through the piece of music even if they make mistake.  If there is a mistake we’ll go back and work on that bar or section and then start the piece or section again.   It’s a bit like learning to read words.  We started with the cat sat on the mat and eventually we get to War and Peace.

During one of the rehearsals Sig talked about sight-reading.  “Read past the mistake” is a simple phrase of his for practicing to sight-read which I will use from now on.  Sig’s theory is that if you stop every time you make a mistake you are learning that as a habit.   It’s really simple isn’t it?  Read past the mistake.  After all the band is not going to stop and wait for you to fix it.

If you are a string player and want to join Sig Strings you can visit the Facebook page for more information.

Categories: Steve Clark On Bass

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