In the words of Paul McCartney, “Baby, I’m Amazed…”
Music Reading for Guitar by David Oakes is the book truly changed my life and I am reading music once and for all. I started as a rock guitarist as a teenager and wanted to cut to the chase and start playing in bands, which I did successfully for years. However, I also picked up classical guitar in my teenage years and stated reading music with Aaron Shearer’s Classic Guitar Technique and learning Bach and then I stopped and committed to playing live music in bands.
Over the years, as I progressed as a musician and classical guitarist, I picked up the bad habit of only reading tabs and playing by ear to learn the pieces fast, but I knew I was missing out on a whole world of classical compositions that were available in music notation that required reading. Recently, I finally committed to learning music theory with David Oakes’ book and it paid off! By Chapter 3 in this book everything stated making sense and clicking and a whole new universe cracked open and I was sight reading Bach and Segovia’s classic Twenty Studies for Guitar… without tabs. I have also returned to other books like as Sight Reading for Classical Guitar (less comprehensive than Music Reading for Guitar).
Trust me, this book will change your life too if you stick with the commitment. Yes, you may get bored, frustrated and maybe disinterested, but press on and stick with this book… it works. Go through every exercise and song in the book and keep going over it regularly.
The author explains that at Musician’s Institute (MI) they spend four one-hour class periods on each chapter over a period of two weeks. He suggests that if you practice the material for one half hour per day – 4/5 times per week, you will have completed this course in one year — I think you can breeze through it in less than ½ a year, depending on your goals, and with the right passion, commitment and focus.
The author also advises that, “systematic review is essential to mastering the concepts presented in this book.” This is where I made my fundamental mistake years ago. Keep reading. Don’t stop.
Music Reading for the Guitar focuses on the Fifth Position since most standard melodies are in this range and can be played from this area of the neck, but you will also learn notes above and below the staff in subsequent chapters. Rhythm exercises (which include picking – up and down strokes, timing, meter, etc.) which are integral to the process. You will also learn early in this book about developing eye movement and reading up and down the page and chart reading (which I did use in bands). It is true that excellent sight readers read ahead and know what to look for when getting a new, or never-before-seen piece of music. You will learn how to identify these skills too with the help of this book.
In the Final Thoughts section, David Oaks relays why he and the legendary Tommy Tedesco (studio guitarist and sight reader) never learned the notes above the 9th fret and why these were not included. They both felt that these notes are impractical for reading melodies, so make sure to peruse this book’s table of contents and confirm that it meets your personal goals.
Thank you, David Oakes!
Buy this book! Keep reading, practice often and you will be amazed too at your progress.