Is it bad to not read music?

Jriddim

New member
Hey guys... Ive been meaning to bring this up... I played in school band from grades 4-8... I am 23 now. since 8th grade i have never looked at a written peice of music...I completely forgot how to read... (I couldnt even imagine having to read a marching piece).. So basically since 9th grade i have completley relied on playing by ear...Like when someone is asks me to learn a song...i couldnt image getting tabs for it... I just go by ear...l I barely even count.

My question is...Is this really a bad corner to get into?
 

Rob the Drummer

New member
I wouldn't say it's bad. It helps a lot when you know how and sometimes you need to count. But it comes down to whatever you are comfortable with doing. I read and count, but I learn tunes by ear as well, it's just easier for me. I know certain drummers that it's hard to learn by ear and would rather have sheet music. To each his own.
 

TrunJun

New member
Stevie Ray Vaughan (the reason i decided to become a musician) couldn't read music to save his life. I think that being able to read music helps a bit, but its nothing that cant be overlooked if youre just getting into generic drumming, or if you have an extremely high talent level.
 

Jamie

New member
Being able to sight read/able to read music possibly can let more doors be open in the music business, but its not bad if you can. Lenny White from Return To Forever didnt know how to read a lick of music, and if you know Return To Forever then you'd know that they consist of amazing musicians. So the point is, if you don't know how to read its not bad at all. If you know how to read, just think of it as a bonus.
 

break the prism

New member
a lot of the most legendary musicians couldn't read music. that's not saying that it's not a useful skill, because it definitely is. i still can't really understand drum notation too well because all of the books i read while i was growing up playing percussion were still using traditional notation.
but being able to read all kinds of music is extremely useful, especially when playing with a big band or when you're in the studio.
 

rebuskyle

New member
Bottom line with reading is that it DOES help you a great deal. Even if you just get basics down it can help you understand better how to teach yourself. That's probably the most important part (teaching yourself), because if no matter how good you are you WILL begin to work out of a very narrow bag of tricks sooner than later (especially if you don't read).

So NO it's not essential to read music (especially as a drummer), and YES having the ability to read can help avoid backing yourself into a corner technically and stylistically.

2cents
Kyle
 

drumsforlife

New member
I've been a musician going on 22 years. I was first classically trained on trumpet, so I know how to read music. As far as my approach to drums is concerned, I never count and I don't read. Yes, reading notation can be helpful. Knowing the theory and notation helps you communicate to other musicians better. Notation is the music world's language. But it doesn't stop there. There are so many things that make up OUR language. I'm under the impression that whether or not you read notation, it is the end result that is the ultimate message. I mean, you can't expect to talk to the average joe using terms found only in music notation. You're going to need to be able to communicate your message and talk about your music to non-musicians and musicians alike. So that being said, if you can read, great. If not, that's even better in my opinion. Anybody can be taught the theory and notation, and can read it to produce the desired effect. It takes a MUSICIAN to take the notes on the page and make them speak volumes. I beleive that if you get caught up in the actual notation, you may end up forgetting about making what you're playing musical. It's a great skill to have, yes. But it's what your audience hears that makes the difference. Do you want your audience to hear a robot spitting back notes on a page, or do you want your audience to hear a professional drummer and a musician playing muisc? Like someone said earlier, to each his own. There's drummers out there that can read AND add feeling, and then there's some who can't. In my approach, it seems like an unnecessary step, but I do have fundamentals and music theory training to fall back on. Not everybody has that. Again, if you read, great. If not, that's great also. Good topic!
 

break the prism

New member
i agree. when speaking to the other guys in my band i use normal musical language. when i write something down i use regular notation.
but when talking to another drummer it completely changes. there's a language that only drummers know, i think. like...i can say to my friend play 'boom chicka boom kah boom chick oom kah" while making hand gestures and he'd know what i was talking about right away.
 

galgano16

New member
b4 able to read music isnt gonna make u a good musician, it takes practice and patience along with determination and dedication and devotion among other things
 

BillRayDrums

New member
It's not bad.....


There's those who can sit down and spin off great inspired solos who can't read a note and there's those who can read flyshit and can't play anything thoughtful.

Reading music is merely a way to communicate ideas. Once you see that part of it, you kind of want to explore it deeper. I cannot imagine going through life without the ability to read & write in my chosen language. Reading music is kind of like that. It just gives you another way to conceptualize things.
 

Jriddim

New member
Wow Im so happy this thread is really popping off... I agree with everything you guys are saying...I like to think of music as communication with sounds... like take jamming... it is like a conversation between musicians.. and when someone plays a particular "topic of conversation" everyone will follow... I like to look at drumming with a completle "right brained" approach... Reading music is just too mathmatical for me... Language isnt math
 

drumsforlife

New member
Jriddim":1yhceid0 said:
Wow Im so happy this thread is really popping off... I agree with everything you guys are saying...I like to think of music as communication with sounds... like take jamming... it is like a conversation between musicians.. and when someone plays a particular "topic of conversation" everyone will follow... I like to look at drumming with a completle "right brained" approach... Reading music is just too mathmatical for me... Language isnt math
That's exactly it. You've hit the nail on the head. Music is like a conversation. You have to put the notes on that page into context in order to communicate the right message. I mean, just spitting out eighth note triplets leading into a change in the music isn't going to affect anybody. That will not stick out in the minds of listeners. But if you add some dynamics to that passage, say for instance you use a crescendo, that passage all of a sudden is put into context. You've built up to the change instead of spitting out stagnant, generic eighth note triplets. Some people instinctively know to do this without being taught, and they have their own understanding. So it really IS the end result that matters. Like I said before, if you read, great. But I think that some people can instinctively "get it right" without reading. And if you can do so, like me, then right on. It's not really a matter of "learning to read because you'll need it down the road." Learn to read if you think you need it. If what you're doing now isn't exactly working I can see trying going back to fundamentals, but let's not fix what isn't broken.

I've been told from a lot of local musicians here, who mostly play in the orchestra and know how to read, that you never really need to know most of the stuff you learn anyway, because if you're a musician, you have INSTINCT, and you add that into your approach. All the music theory and reading and writing out notation is not going to replace having good musical instinct and taste. If you can "communicate" your message effectively to keep the conversation going, then you're doing a fine job. Drum on man!
 

Jriddim

New member
So it really IS the end result that matters. Like I said before, if you read, great. But I think that some people can instinctively "get it right" without reading. And if you can do so, like me, then right on. It's not really a matter of "learning to read because you'll need it down the road." Learn to read if you think you need it. If what you're doing now isn't exactly working I can see trying going back to fundamentals, but let's not fix what isn't broken.

Exactly...So very well said!
 

drummerfreek55

New member
i don't think it really matters. i mean, i was in school band, granted i'm barely 18 so i still know somewhat how to read it. but as far as trying to play along with music, i don't even bother finding tabs for it. i don't go for exact accuracy to what the original band is playing but i can usually pick up the majority of it by ear and go from there. not really a big deal not reading music, just personal preference.
 

m00sie

New member
Having played several musical instruments before starting the drums, i actually find that i rely too much on music to play. Im fantastic at sight reading, but i compromise on "feeling" the music. When i play im technically correct, but its almost mechanical....so my drum teacher takes the music away nowadays and makes me play by feel.

I think its helpful to know how to read, but it can be learnt at a later stage :) feeling the music is what makes a great drummer (imo anyway :p).
 

MetalHead

New member
Jriddim":1io0tt5g said:
Hey guys... Ive been meaning to bring this up... I played in school band from grades 4-8... I am 23 now. since 8th grade i have never looked at a written peice of music...I completely forgot how to read... (I couldnt even imagine having to read a marching piece).. So basically since 9th grade i have completley relied on playing by ear...Like when someone is asks me to learn a song...i couldnt image getting tabs for it... I just go by ear...l I barely even count.

My question is...Is this really a bad corner to get into?
I'm pretty much the same, except i'm only 16 but i dont ever read music or count and i was also wondering the same thing. I used to be able to but i just never did other than wen i used to go for lessons. But if you need to read music fair enough but if there really is no need to read it i guess it doesnt matter and like another person said it is alot to do with the feel of the music
 

Rob the Drummer

New member
You know, it's one of those things that will help if you choose to read...but it really won't hurt to not read. As long as you can read and understand the rudiments and know what to work on, you're fine. I think every drummer should read, but ultimately it's up to you to decide what is best for your playing.
 

Rob Crisp

New member
I'd say if you have aspirations to work in areas of music where reading will or may be required, such as big shows, recording etc, then yes, learn to read.

If your aspirations are purely to play your own creative music, with your band then maybe you don't need to.

As most have said, it won't hurt, but it won't kill you either.

For me personally, I can read and I'm working on it al the time. I love it! I actually enjoy being able to look at music and knowing what it should sound like, regardless of weather I need to read or not.
 
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