One of my weaker areas as a musician is reading the dots – recreating music by following standard notation. I can understand what the dots are saying if I have time to work it out but fluent reading at sight becomes harder as the the line pulls away from simplicity and starts adding detailed, syncopated rhythms, accidentals and other elaborations. Therefore I was a bit nervous on Saturday night when, getting a lift to a pick up jazz gig, I discovered there was some reading to do that wasn’t just following chord charts!
It turned out to be within my grasp, with just a few bars in total across the evening, but I’m glad that skill has been kept developing by working on a lot of String Project material. In particular, while I’ve been having an electric bass season with the band I’ve been doing a certain amount of reading as I relearn parts because the shifting required is different so I can’t rely on where my hands want to fall for a particular song but have to guide them.
Overall, the jazz gig, at The Bell in Moreton-in-Marsh (excellent place with superb food and drink even aside from the music) went very well. I am glad I took the opportunity. My lessons learned were to be careful of making assumptions (generally I can busk from chords or play by ear on jazz gigs), carry a music stand (fortunately I could sit but perching the music on my legs to read wasn’t ideal) and to keep on developing a broad range of skills rather than getting too specialised so that I can cope with unexpected circumstances.