Sight reading is a skill that few guitar players possess, but that can be very useful for anyone. In this article you’ll learn useful tips to sight reading for guitar.
The reason many guitar players are afraid of sigh reading is that they have been told by everyone that it is very difficult.
And while it is difficult to sight read using the guitar compared to other instruments, such as the sax for example, it is not so difficult that you cannot do. It just requires some effort and training.
Myths About Sight Reading
First of all, it is important to put to rest some myths about sight reading for guitar.
First of all, sight reading is not a super power to read any written song immediately. Written music for guitar is very complex, as it includes more than one voice. Thus, you cannot expect to read complex sheet music perfectly in the first time.
What you can do, however, is to play music voices in regular tempo from sheet music in the first try, without problems. Sight reading gives you the ability to understand sheet music easily and execute it on the guitar without stuttering.
How to Learn to Sight Read
It is similar to the way you learned to read English: you need to practice with simple syllables, then simple words, and finally you’ll be able to read sentences. And with some practice, you can start to read entire books.
The same applies to reading music. You need to start with very simple material: reading one or two different notes at a time.
For example, you can start reading music exercises containing only two notes: C and D. Make sure that these notes are in different durations, so you can also train your rhythm.
The nice thing about this method is that you can write your own exercises. Just take two notes, and write several bars with these notes, at different durations. Because these exercises are so easy, you should train until you can read several bars easily and with confidence. You can also increase the tempo, so you’ll learn to play fast as well.
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Using The Metronome
One important advice: when reading music, always use a metronome.
It is much better to play along with a metronome, and this will teach you how to play with others, since you need to keep the beat when playing in group.
If you prefer, you can also use a drum machine. This makes it easier to play popular music, which often has a strong rhythmic pattern.
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Getting More Advanced Material
The next step is to increase the range of notes that you’re practicing.
For example, you can write your own exercises where you practice 3 notes like C, D, and E. Vary these exercises to other sequences of notes, like G, A, and B.
When you do this several times, you’ll have a better grasp of sight reading.
Don’t forget to practice at different locations of the guitar fretboard. For example, when practicing C, D, and E, you should play these notes on strings 1 and 2, but also on strings 2 and 3, or 3 and 4. Make sure you’re able to practice each of these possibilities.
Finally, you can start practicing exercises where more notes are included: 4, 5, up to 7 notes.
Playing Easy Songs
At this point, you can start playing real songs, which include all notes in the scale.
You can do this using easy songs. For example, children songs are ideal for this, as they are also freely available.
You can also use religious songs and hymns (many of them freely available), since they tend to be easy to play.
Also Read: How to Read Guitar Chords
Playing Complex Material
Once you have dominated the previous levels, you can start practicing complex material. Buy sheet music for songs that you like, and use them to practice sight reading.
You will not only learn a lot, but also have fun in the process.
Get Sight Reading Material for Guitar
I have prepared a Sight Reading Mastering Guide for the Guitar that you can use to improve your skills, following the method that I give above. You can use this material to train your reading skills and improve your technique. The guitar sight reading mastering guide include exercises, sample songs, and everything you need to improve your guitar sight reading.
BONUS: Buy this sight reading guide today, and receive a free introductory course to the guitar, including simple chords, harmony, solo, and music notation.
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