So, do you need to know how to read music to have a career playing bass or guitar? Well, the short answer is yes! Although there are some extremely talented players who are successful in having a professional career without being able to read music, they are few and far between. Extremely talented players such a Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton, Elvis Presley, Robert Johnson, Mike Mondesir, Dave Grohl, Slash, and Jimi Hendrix could not read music. The difference between them, and you and I, are if we wanted to work professionally, we would likely be working for different artists, on different projects and in a range of different musical scenarios. This is where the ability to read music seriously enhances your chances of working.
This week I have played in four West End shows, Hamilton, Book of Mormon, Everyone Is Talking About Jamie, and Kinky Boots. I have also been preparing charts (written music sheets) for a gig next week with Toyah Wilcox, alongside working on particular elements of my double bass playing. This would not have been possible without being able to read music. I simply would not be able to remember all of the four shows, and learn new material fast enough to keep up with the work. As a bass teacher in Berkhamsted, and creator of Greg's Bass Shed, I obviously need to read music to teach my lessons and support my pupils.
It is also important to be able to ‘play by ear’. This is the skill of being able to listen to music and play it on your bass or guitar; another skill that is necessary to reach an accomplished level on your instrument. Each of these two skillsets are equally important parts of the bigger picture of being an accomplished musician.
If you would like help learning music or need help improving then click here for more information about Zoom lessons.
The following resources are also great for learning to read music and starting to sight-read:
See you in my next blog.