How's reading music going for you?


Reading sheet music is one of the “classic” obstacles for music students, some people get it right away, some people avoid it for decades.

As most of you know I included some music reading in the Beginner to Badass course, since I think it’s a huge benefit to any musician to be able to read (and it’s super fun - I still stay up past my bedtime sometimes just to read some Bach for pleasure).

So I’m curious how it’s going, whether you just started reading in the B2B course, or if you learned it elesewhere before. Does reading feel easy? Are there any conceptual roadblocks keeping you from using sheet music?


Certainly not easy for me, but really haven’t work too hard at it. What works for me is flash cards, so when I move past the B2B course and before I take it again (which I will do), I will make and study some flash cards. Staff on one side, note on the other and so on.


Sounds good! You can also use a tool like this, which is like digital flashcards that’ll track your progress, has custom settings, etc. -


I try to go up and down each string, using what I learned here, and just say each note as I play it. But, I’m not sure I’m doing it correctly. Is there a way to get the notes for each string? Did I miss something during the videos? Repetition, is the only way I’m going to learn it.

I can read some basic drum music, but I’m still fairly new and it’s just snare and bass drum notes.

I also signed up for a free music theory class here:


You can just search online for “bass fingerboard chart” or something for reference materials, I’m sure they’re almost all the same so pick whichever one you think is prettiest. :slight_smile:

Let me know how it goes!


I found a Bass fingerboard chart I like. What happens after the 12th fret? Dragons? :crazy_face:


Definitely dragons. Right @Gio?

But really, the neck just starts repeating as per the musical alphabet. The note on the 1st fret of the E string is F, so the note on the 13th fret will also be F because it’s a fret above E in both cases. Make sense?


I thought it might just repeat, but I wanted to make sure about the dragons. :rofl:


I’ve read music for years since I sang in a church choir (bass/baritone of course), but I never chose to apply my reading skills to the notes of a guitar or bass until your course. Now, I am becoming a little more diligent about it. I try and spend about 15 minutes to an hour on just reading notes I wrote out on a stave and applying them to the notes on the strings. I started just playing notes on the E string- EFG and A while focusing on the sheet music, counting with my foot (or metronome) and not looking at my fretting hand. I started there and worked my way up to the G. So far, I can play the scale by just looking at my sheet. My fingers are doing pretty good at hitting the correct fret each time without looking. A good exercise is playing the scale with the eyes closed. The only issue I am having now is the lack of “stretch” in my fingers. Despite some finger exercises I try and do, I still have to move my hand down to hit that elusive A on the E string or the D on the A, or G on the D. I guess I will just keep at it. :wink:


That all sounds like good stuff to do! The stretching thing does take time, but sounds like you’re doing pretty well already. I’m not sure I understand the exact issue you’re having - if it’s just that you have to move your hand to get from say the 1st fret to the 5th fret or something, that’s no big deal. Even I have to do a sorta freaky stretch to reach that distance index-to-pinky.


I’m not doing very well. I just can’t make it connect.


I don’t seem to be able to stretch out my fingers like I have seen you do. I “had” arthritis in my hands. Playing bass has seemed to have fixed that. :slight_smile:


Can’t make the way-too-big-stretch-for-anyone-but-giant-handed-bass-monsters work (1st to 5th fret)…
Or can’t get the notation practice / sight reading thing to work?


Even with my little stubby fingers, I can make the stretch, sometimes, I just slide. It’s the notation and reading that I’m not connecting with. I can play Tabs, just fine.


Reading music is definitely hard for me, even though I learned it 30-plus years ago when I took piano lessons as a kid. Reading AND playing at the same time is something I’m nowhere near being able to do. However, I totally see the benefit in learning it, and I’m glad it’s covered in the course. I think your balanced approach and making it “optional” are just right. I’ll keep on trying.


Does the part where you’re looking at the staff and identifying note names make sense? That’s sort of the first step in the reading process. The next step, where I’m guessing you’re having trouble, is putting those notes on the bass in the right place.

Glad your hands are feeling better! Well, keep in mind that my hands are ginormous, so there’ll always be a little bit of a gap there based on body size/shape. Also, stretching takes time. As long as you can eventually comfortably do one-finger-per-fret (when needed) on most of the neck, I’d say you’re doing fine.


You hit it right on the head. None of it makes sense. I have that scale chart for the neck. I go up and down the neck, saying the note, but I can’t get it to stick. It’ll happen I guess, just need to put in more time.


Best advice here is to start with just one note.
The books I’ve seen start at either the E or G. I like the E, since it’s the low extreme.
Just focus on E until it is imprinted. Just that one note. Ignore everything else. Then add one more. etc.


This is the chart I’m using. Once I get the hang of it, and the BL says this song is in C. What the heck does that mean? I’ve always heard that music is math. Unfortunately, I’m no math wiz. :frowning_face:



This is information with out application! Avoid! Abort!

For learning to sight read the bass, start with a very basic little method. There’s all kinds of them out there. Hal Leonard has a great book 1, so does Mel Bay.
It allows this information to connect to the musical staff and your fretboard in small, application-based, focused pieces.

For learning how to follow along to songs with chords (and know what note is where on your bass) it is best to work on it song by song, and just focus on remembering 1 thing at a time.
C is third fret A string.
That’s enough for a week.

Helpful? Any more questions come from that? Keep 'em coming!