Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 11:27:57 EDT
From: RWSzabo <>
Subject: Re: better sight reader skills

In a message dated 98-04-29 11:05:01 EDT, you write:

<< Until sight singing was mentioned I haven't seen much discussion about the
 very important skill of sight reading.  The challenge of showing up on a
 gig and reading a lead book (flawlessly, of course) that you have never
 seen before is something that most serious trumpet players face from time
 to time.  Any of you pros out there like to give us some tips on  what it
 takes to become a great sight reader?  Thanks for your comments. >>

This is a great thread!  Sight reading skills are developed over time.

True Story: I went in to sub on a Broadway Show several years ago for a very well known trumpet player.  When I sat down and opened his book, what hit me was every downbeat was marked, every fingering was written in, and every articulation was marked.  I couldn't believe it!  I called him the next day and asked why all the markings in his book.  His response was "You didn't make any mistakes did you?"

One of the exercises I used to do with Jimmy Maxwell was thus:

1) Find a piece you are having difficulty with
2) Set the metronome to a ridiculously slow speed.
3) Sing the phrase out loud and finger the notes on the horn as you sing
4) Play the phrase with the metronome (make sure you are with the clicks, if you're not on the beat you'll hear the clicks.)
5) Once you get it, increase the speed one click at a time until you reach the correct speed.

On a new piece of music, look it over for any potential trouble spots. Mark in the downbeats. Sing the phrase and finger the notes.  Look for patterns (scales, arpeggios, 3rds, 5ths, etc.) Look for repeating phrases and patterns. Usually, you wil find the same lick repeated throughout the piece (or a variation of it)

And when you practice, practice SLOWLY!!!!!  We all have a habit of practicing too fast, practicing mistakes instead of nailing it.

Rich Szabo