Reading notes quickly and fluently

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Reading notes quickly and fluently

Post by chrispol » Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:10 pm


My name is Chris and am currently 1,5 years hooked to playing the guitar. Now, I am mostly using tabs but the quality and accuracy of it is (to say the least) not optimal.

So the descision was made to "properly learn" to read notes to open the world of music to me. However, as easy as the system is, it is very hard to get up to speed with this. My reading speed (finding the correct fret/string position) is comparable to a toddler reading a book.

Does anyone have tips / methods or any sound advice on this matter?



Chris Davis

Post by Chris Davis » Sun Sep 03, 2006 4:00 pm

The key to developing some sort of fluency at it, is doing it. And doing it a lot. Use this site, other free music sites, pick up books full of gutiar music. Then READ MUSIC! that's all. Developing your sight reading ability can only be done by doing it. Try setting aside a half hour a day devoted specifically to sight reading. After a few months, you will notice a difference.


Post by chrispol » Sun Sep 03, 2006 4:13 pm

I was afraid that would be the only way :-)

Thanks for your insight, though!



Post by JonL » Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:14 pm

I think it is useful to realise how the memory works when trying to learn the notes on the guitar (as with trying to memorise all things). You should realise that you should break things down into small chunks, have a go at learning this chunk, then have periods of rest and review.

So, for example, take a chunk of 6 notes in a certain position on the guitar. Write out a random sequence of these notes on a page or two of manuscript (forget the rythmn) and go through the sheet for about 20 minutes finding each note on the guitar. Have a rest for 10 minutes then do it again but this time only for 5 minutes. Then rest (from this memorising exercise i mean - you can still play the guitar!) for 1 hour and have another 5 minute go. Do this again the next day but maybe pick a different set of notes or try to play them in a different position on the guitar.

The important thing about this is recognising that you cannot learn all the fretboard in one go and there are points when your brain has had enough for the day so it is more efficient to rest and let what you have learned go from your short term memory to your long term memory.

I also think it useful to learn a chunk of notes in one position on the guitar and then the same chunk on one string.

It may be useful to get a book on memory techniques.

Rhymns can be separated out and a similar exercise done with a sheet filled with different patterns (forgeting the actual notes).

I think these sort of exercises will give you a good start. Then you will develop as you keep reading music generally.


Post by chrispol » Tue Sep 05, 2006 6:55 am

Thanks for the tip!

I might be able to use a tool like powertab to create the random notes for it (ofcourse not looking at the tabs beneath the notes :-))



Post by culifer » Tue Sep 05, 2006 10:12 am

chrispol wrote:Thanks for the tip!

I might be able to use a tool like powertab to create the random notes for it (ofcourse not looking at the tabs beneath the notes :-))

my sightreading isn't that great either, but if i may, try to write the notes out by hand instead of using powertab. it'll sink in faster if you have to write them out yourself. its all about the repetition. i know its easier to use powertab or some program like that, but it'll take you longer to learn the notes that way because you have nothing really to associate it with in your mind.



Post by threehappypenguins » Tue Sep 05, 2006 3:52 pm


Haha I like the analogy of the toddler. Sounds a lot like me!

I've had trouble for years with sight reading. I'd say, the first step to really get good at is is to MEMORIZE THE FRETBOARD. Guitarists often lag in this department, because there's so many ways to play the same darn note!

So, I found a website that kinda makes a game out of it. Perhaps you should check it out!


Post by chrispol » Mon Sep 11, 2006 9:11 am

Thanks! I will checkout this link.

I already thought of creating an application (I am a software developer) to let the computer display a note and lets you play it. Using a microphone it should be possible to check the note pitch...


Post by gre107 » Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:30 pm

What I find helpful is this: When reading I visualize the neck of the guitar in my mind and the notes on the neck. This is probably the best technique I have found for advancing through site reading.

I should mention that I do this without guitar in hand. I read the music, say the note name and visualize the note on the neck. Now what I do is work on one string at a time and in one position and then add another string etc... until the position is complete. Using a method bood that has a lot of practice pieces in this manner is helpful but you can just right out a couple of pages of notes and do this too.

I find by doing this I get a full grasp of the neck in my mind and go back constantly to areas where I have problems. When you are doing this without the guitar you can concentrate or see more easily where your "rough" spots are when reading and not be concerned about tone, fingering etc...

I hope this helps?

All the best,



Post by BringerOfRuin » Tue Sep 19, 2006 5:53 pm

There aren't any real hidden secrets or short cuts to it. Basically, start off easy even if in tab you can shred right through it re-teach yourself from scratch on notes. Sounds silly but it's an easy way and can be frustrating. Another way could be to think where all the notes would go on the neck write them above any notes that confuse you then gradually erase them so there are none. Probably tons of other ways but these are what I did. 8)


Post by alan_1 » Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:41 pm

the descision was made to "properly learn" to read notes ... Does anyone have tips / methods or any sound advice on this matter?
I so often see many people claim:

The only way to get good at sight reading music is to read it.

I believe that is really far from the complete truth - it is only one side of the coin.

How did you learn to read the words of books in school ? By only reading ?
Of course not. We learned by both, reading and writing.

If you want to dramatically speed up the process, and develop great skills in reading sheet music, then get a blank sheet of music with the staff only, and grab a pencil, and start ‘writing’ your own notes - your own rests - your own strings - your own positions - your own fingerings. Develop your own sight reading studies. Write out different combinations of notes (eighth, sixteenth, triplets). Write a note and be sure that you understand where it is at on the neck of the guitar - then write another note and ask yourself, where is this note in relation to the note that I wrote before ? When writing notes - say what the note is with your mouth - think where it can be on the fret board.

Lots of composers are great music sight readers - one of the main reasons for that is because they write alot. I see so many people claim that they devote some practice time to sight reading. I suggest that it is much much more productive in a lesser amount of time to greatly improve music reading skills by music writing. A few minutes a day will take you very far in a short time. The small amount of effort and time that you invest in writing music will pay back great rewards in reading music.


Post by TedtheBear » Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:43 am

Hey Chris, check here to see if it might be useful to you.

The trainers should bring you up to speed!


Post by ez » Wed Sep 20, 2006 1:43 am

TedtheBear wrote:Hey Chris, check here to see if it might be useful to you.

The trainers should bring you up to speed!
This is a great site. I've found the key signature trainer to be really usefull. You can download the entire site and use it offline.


Post by Dominikk » Thu Sep 21, 2006 6:36 am

wow, you´re right, it´s really a helpful site! I would recommend the ear-trainers too, especially the interval-trainers. Knowing how the intervalls sound makes you able to hear the music in your mind before you play it.
By the way - by following one of the links recommended in this thread I found this site
There´s an annoying lot of commercial there, so I don´t think it can be taken serious... anyway, I´m curious. Does anyone know this site or "program"?

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Re: Reading notes quickly and fluently

Post by gregwillow » Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:27 am

For reading notes
Evan Peltier Youtube

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