TO READ OR NOT TO READ?
As part of the general guitarist banter that flows freely between me and my six-string buddies – usually after a beverage or two it has to be said – is the dilemma of whether reading is a good or bad thing. Music reading that is. I’m on the fence about it – I can see the benefits, but I’m also a bit scared as to whether one becomes a musical automaton, without the feel that’s so important to we guitarists. A couple of my mates are adamant that reading marks the demise of feel, and that it’s the last thing I should concern myself with. I think I know the answer you’ll give, but I thought I’d throw the question GT’s way anyway. Simon Beardsley Let me ask you this: has Jon Bishop got feel? Has John Wheatcroft got feel? Has Shaun Baxter got feel? Has Andy Saphir got feel? Has Pete Callard got feel? Has Bridget Mermikides got feel? Has Steve Allsworth got feel? Phil, Martin, Charlie, Jacob, Stuart, Tristan, Paul, Terry...? The answer is yes, their playing drips with feel and you can hear it in every note they play. Of course, they can all read too, so there’s part of your answer. Another side to the story is that of employability. Our music editor Jason Sidwell (and many of our contributors too) regularly plays in theatre shows and needs to learn scores. Jason can learn an entire show, like Les Mis, in an evening or so (true, he then needs to routine the songs to hone specific techniques etc). This means he’s mother’s milk to any MD, as he’ll simply turn up, do the job, get paid and go home. Now I, on the other hand, can’t read and so could never get a gig like that. Immediately I am a lot less employable. Pete Callard is first call player for Lionel Ritchie when he comes here; plus he works for Elaine Paige, Dame Shirley Bassey and a host of others, first of all because he’s a great player with great feel, but almost as importantly because he’s an easy musician to employ. Reading is clearly no barrier to having feel, but not reading is a huge barrier to so much else. So ignore your ‘mates’ and get with the cool guys. I sure wish I had!