View Poll Results: Can you read music?

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  • Yes

    29 85.29%
  • No

    4 11.76%
  • I'm just starting to, so maybe a little bit.

    1 2.94%
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Thread: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

  1. #1

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    Default Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Hey gang, The other night I was at a drum clinic and I decided that I really want to re-learn how to read music. I learned it in high school which was longer ago than I'll admit too, so I'm sure some of it will come pretty quick.

    It got me thinking though... Where can I learn it? I cant afford lessons now, since my kids need their stuff, so I guess I'll go online or something.

    How many of you all can read music?
    Kevin
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  2. #2

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    I began reading music in high school when I took Sax lessons then I got interested in percussion and more precisely drum chart long before even playing drums (I bought Modern Drummer and Drums & Drummers each month) and when my dream came true which was owning my own drum kit, I could start right away with instructional books and lessons froms articles in my mags collection.

    Reading charts or partitions is all a matter of knowing notes value, dont forget this...
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  3. #3

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    CycleDude, I learned to read music in elementary school when I played the clarinet. Like you, though, that was many moons ago. For the most part I can still read, but sometimes it takes me a little time to think through what it should sound like.
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  4. #4

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Well, if by "reading" you mean "looking at the music and know which notes are written", then yes. If you mean "reading music and playing it" then no. Unless it's drum music, which I can sightread fairly well.
    - Zack

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Anybody know of a decent site on-line to learn how to read music? Preferably drum notation. Can we type a site address without it being a link? If not pm me please.
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  6. #6

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Quote Originally Posted by pastor_bob View Post
    CycleDude, I learned to read music in elementary school when I played the clarinet. Like you, though, that was many moons ago. For the most part I can still read, but sometimes it takes me a little time to think through what it should sound like.
    Pastor Bob,

    Since you used to play clarinet and are now a drummer, do you ever get the urge to beat yourself up?


    Or does that Pastor thing negate all that...?

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    started learning to read music at the age of 8

    drums are the easiest to read by far

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Quote Originally Posted by xsabers View Post
    Pastor Bob,

    Since you used to play clarinet and are now a drummer, do you ever get the urge to beat yourself up?
    All the time my friend, all the time!
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  9. #9

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Quote Originally Posted by wolvie56 View Post
    Anybody know of a decent site on-line to learn how to read music? Preferably drum notation. Can we type a site address without it being a link? If not pm me please.
    I would suggest you to first search google with these terms "Ricci Adams Music Theory" and learn the basic.

    Then you'll find something there http://www.drumsdatabase.com/reading.htm

    I think this link is OK right ???
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  10. #10

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Wow, this is VERY cool. It's an overwhelming majority of readers vs. non-readers. I'm quite happily surprised.

    Now, I have the basics, but let me ask you this...

    If a dotted quarter note represents 1 and 1/2 it's value, it would mean that a dotted quarter on the 'one' would result in the next quarter note played on the 'and' of 2.

    So, how would dotted eighth and dotted sixteenth notes be counted and played?
    Kevin
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  11. #11

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Quote Originally Posted by CycleDude View Post
    Wow, this is VERY

    So, how would dotted eighth and dotted sixteenth notes be counted and played?
    Kevin, assuming we're dealing with beat one, a dotted eighth would be "1, e, and" and the sixteenth would be on the "ah" of 1. It looks like this:



    So there is an eighth note (1, e ... 2 sixteenth notes to make one eighth note) and the dot is half of the proceeding notes value equaling one sixteenth, so that makes it counted "1, e, and"
    - Tom

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  12. #12

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    I can only read music for drums which is juristically easier to read than other instruments. It took me a week to figure it out I can still can't read while I play but I'm getting close to it.

  13. #13

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Quote Originally Posted by drummer View Post
    Kevin, assuming we're dealing with beat one, a dotted eighth would be "1, e, and" and the sixteenth would be on the "ah" of 1. It looks like this:



    So there is an eighth note (1, e ... 2 sixteenth notes to make one eighth note) and the dot is half of the proceeding notes value equaling one sixteenth, so that makes it counted "1, e, and"
    OK, see, that's where I get confused. Two regular eighth notes would be counted and played as "one and" so why would you even dot it? It seems like you are just over complicating the same value to me.

    I assume that on an instrument that can play whole and half notes, such as a woodwind or stringsthat this may make more sense then with drums, right?
    Kevin
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  14. #14

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    I was very, very fortunate as a young student,(13 years old),in that I had a great band director. He wasn't a percussionist, but did give private lessons to younger students. The best thing I learned from him was "sight reading".(Being able to read a piece of unfamiliar music quickly and accurately). The other thing that he required from his percussion students was that that take a piano lesson every 5th lesson! I rather enjoyed them too. It was several years after the fact that I really understood what had happened in that I was way ahead of the game as far as other drummers go. The "keyboard percussion", marimba, vibes, bell, ect, was so much easier to learn. And when I moved on to the music theory classes, I was able to keep up with the students that had played other instruments. It is something that I encourage my students to do too. Very much worth the time to be able to become an all around musician.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by xsabers View Post
    Pastor Bob,

    Since you used to play clarinet and are now a drummer, do you ever get the urge to beat yourself up?


    Or does that Pastor thing negate all that...?
    LOL, you crack me up man!!

    And yes, I can read music. Don't get discouraged Kev, it's a process to relearn anything but it will come back to you.
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  16. #16

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    I'm surprised that some have said that reading drum music is the easiest. By far, most musicians would disagree. I am assuming though that reading also means playing.

    Kit music aside where you are reading and playing 4 lines simultaniously consider some of these nuances to drum notation.

    1. Note duration for a tuned instrument is specific and non-negotiable. That's not true for a drum. It's that extra space that defines a drummers style and ability to groove. A drummer has the ability to make the music happen, but conversely, a drummer has the most opportunity to hang themself.

    2. Notation for a tuned instrument isn't open to much interpretation whereas a drummer can only interpret. A tied note, a dotted note-as mentioned and rests tell a tuned instrument exactly what to do when to do it. Not true for the non-tuned instrument drummer\percussionist. A drummer has to translate notation in a way that the tuned instrument players don't have to.

    3. A drummer doesn't have the luxury of melody with their playing. What this means to me anyway, is that I have to stay on top of what is going on with the music. This requires a level of concentration that tuned instrument players don't have to demand of themselves.

    4, Tuned instrument players have much more freedom with their playing then drummers have. For example, When playing something that has a quarter note pulse, tuned instruments can weave what they play around that pluse anyway they choose--within the confines of the music. The drummer needs to maintain that pulse or the music being played becomes something else. Another way to put this is that tuned instrument players have more freedom to recover when they screw up. Drummers need to obtain a level of discipline with their reading that doesn't allow for mistakes because our mistakes effect everyone playing. Not true for a tuned instrument player.

    5. Consider 4 measures of quarter notes in 4\4. How many different stickings can be used for those quarter notes that would effect the pulse or groove of the music? Singles, doubles, paradiddles? Seldom is it notated what it is to be played.

    6. Not many instruments demand the independence required to play polyrythms. Not often seen outside of kit music, but it does sometimes show up.

    7. When playing with other drummers, everyone has to nail what they're playing. Can't have multi-drum flams going on. This type of error with a tuned instrument seldom stands out like it does with drummers.

    Just some things to think about.

  17. #17

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    Understanding note values is only simple division , and there is plenty of information out there on the internet which can help you.

    The one thing I'd like to add - something for you to keep in mind for the future - is that the key to successful sight reading is being able to read ahead of what you're playing ; executing a piece is easier once your brain has had a chance to digest information , whereas trying to simultaneously play what you're reading is far , far tougher , especially when you're playing up-tempo tunes /pieces. Obviously , this isn't an easy skill to learn , but at some time down the road , once you've learnt basic note values and how to execute them correctly , start reading easy pieces again but this time try reading one bar ahead of what you're playing. Eventually sight reading should become much easier .
    Last edited by stanhandler; 03-28-2010 at 08:02 AM.

  18. #18

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    actually, if you check out vicfirth.com, they have a bunch of drum music pdfs along with a matching drumless track to play with once you have become efficient (havent got there yet!)
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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riverr1 View Post

    3. A drummer doesn't have the luxury of melody with their playing. What this means to me anyway, is that I have to stay on top of what is going on with the music. This requires a level of concentration that tuned instrument players don't have to demand of themselves.
    I have to disagree with that statement in regards of melody. If you take Max Roach for example, he took the drumset elsewhere than just a time keeper instrument. he was the living proof that drumset players could elevate a song while staying on top of what's going on, simply by the sole melody played on the drumset.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleDude View Post
    OK, see, that's where I get confused. Two regular eighth notes would be counted and played as "one and" so why would you even dot it? It seems like you are just over complicating the same value to me.

    I assume that on an instrument that can play whole and half notes, such as a woodwind or stringsthat this may make more sense then with drums, right?
    This is all great, but can we step back a minute to this question here?
    Kevin
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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleDude View Post
    This is all great, but can we step back a minute to this question here?
    When dots have been written in certain situations , say in snare drum pieces or in drum instruction books , it could be that the writer has chosen to do this because it easier than putting in rests , but in playing situations ( playing a chart ) the written drum figures usually mirror what the rest of the band is playing , which tells the drummer a whole lot more - maybe the drummer will want to nail the notes of longer value with a longer drum sound , say with the bass drum and/ or crash cymbal , and match the notes of shorter value with staccato sounding snare drum notes.
    Last edited by stanhandler; 03-28-2010 at 02:34 PM.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by drummer View Post
    Kevin, assuming we're dealing with beat one, a dotted eighth would be "1, e, and" and the sixteenth would be on the "ah" of 1. It looks like this:



    So there is an eighth note (1, e ... 2 sixteenth notes to make one eighth note) and the dot is half of the proceeding notes value equalling one sixteenth, so that makes it counted "1, e, and"
    Actually, It might be easier to think of it from the starting point of a bar of 16th notes, counted, 1,e,an,er,2,e,an,er,3,e,an,er,4,e,an,er.

    Quarter notes would be counted 1,2,3,4.
    8th notes:- 1,an,2,an,3,an,4,an and I would suggest in straight pop type stuff, played all with the right hand.

    The example above would be, 1, er,2, er,3, er,4, er. and I would suggest playing those, Right then left. Count it REALLY slowly.
    That is actually one of the more difficult phrases when first starting to work out notations. Try first, 8th note followed by 2 16th notes, Counted 1,an,er,2,an,er etc, and played Right Right Left.

    This is REALLY hard to explain in type without pictures of the music. When I've got some time I'll try to put a video up explaining it all.

    Re Sight Reading:- Think of it more as recognition rather than reading. When you look at the title of this website, hopefully you don't think, D-R-U-M C-H-A-T, you just see, "drum chat." You recognise the words from the shape. The same applies to reading music, After you've seen enough you will just recognise phrases etc.

    Cheers

    Andy
    Last edited by AndyC; 03-28-2010 at 02:42 PM.

  23. #23

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    Default Re: Learning to read music... Do you know how?

    Andy's last point is a great one. I can sight read while playing, but not super complex stuff. Most drum kit parts, you are just recognizing the written pattern and connecting it to the pattern you play. So before getting the charts to "Grease" I was worried I couldn't sight read it because I don't read that often. Once I saw them, I noticed the same old patterns of rock and blues beats and it was easy.

    Frequently with something a little more complex (I don't play anything super complex to be fair), once you work through it you start to make that same connection.

    One thing is for sure, the more you read the better you are at it. My 15 year old (who also plays sax and guitar) is better at sight reading than I am since he does it all the time for his drum lessons.
    Jesse

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