TO READ OR NOT TO READ?

Guitar Techniques - - Talk Back -

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!

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