I have found that many guitarists find it difficult to read sheet music. Maybe there are a bit more to take into consideration before you can play a note on a guitar compared to some other instruments. Nevertheless you can improve your sight reading skills using these tips!
- Learn to find a note on all strings
I guess that you already know that you can find a note on more than one place on a guitar. You can see this as a problem or an asset. And, there are ways to learn the notes! Here is one example:
Decide to learn the note E on all strings. Start with the first string with the highest pitch. E is on the open first string. On the second string you will find the note on the fifth fret and on the third string you have to go to the ninth fret. On string four you can find the note on the second fret one octave lower. You can spot the other E notes by listening your way through the remaining strings.
Try to play one stroke on each string playing the E notes going from string one to string six and back until you can play the notes without thinking. Then it is time to choose another note. G for example.
- Make a conscious effort to learn the notes
If you have a good ear you might have developed strategies to find the note to play by listening your way around among the guitar frets. But, in order to really improve your sight reading skills you have to make a conscious effort to learn the exact position of the notes on the fretboard.
- Avoid looking at the fretboard
Maybe you are used to looking at the fretboard as you play sheet music. You can deprogram yourself from this habit by trying to sight read easy music keeping your eyes on the sheet music. By using correct fingerings for your left hand it will be easier to find the notes on the fretboard without looking.
- Practice fresh notes when you sightread
When you have practices sightreading through a piece of sheet music you cannot use it anymore for this purpose. You will need new fresh material. You can find free sheet music on the Internet and at a local library.
- Take time to read the sheet music
Instead of just starting to practice a new piece of sheet music with your guitar it will help your sight reading skills tremendously to just sit down with only the score and studying what’s going on musically among the notes and symbols.
This conscious effort to learn what can be learned without a guitar will help you see things that are easily overlooked in the sheet music. Here you also have an opportunity to practice hearing the written music in your head (or heart). You can also mentally work through the rhythms in your head or by tapping your fingers. You can also practice the note names and see if you mentally can find where to play the note on your guitar (string and fret).
Being able to sight read sheet music is a very enjoyable facet of your guitar skills. You can experience other composers works, play music together with other musicians and you might also be a more popular musician among employers in the musical field!