When I was first getting into jazz guitar, I practiced sight-reading by playing through all the Real Book volumes. At first it was slow going, but my sight-reading gradually improved. At this point, I can sight-read just about anything at tempo unless it's a really fast bebop tune.
My piano playing skills are gradually improving, and I'm finding that I'm able to learn new music more quickly. I still can't play anything up to performance tempo, but I'm getting close. Just as it is with guitar, I feel it's crucial for me to sight-read well on piano. One of my main goals is to be able to play hymns for church services, and I also want to be able to cover the piano accompaniment for choir if there is an emergency with our paid accompanist. In both cases, I need to be a good sight-reader.
Singing the Living Tradition, just as I used the Real Book for jazz guitar. I'm killing two birds with one stone by simultaneously developing my sight-reading skills while learning the hymnal in depth.
At this point, it takes a while to slog my way through a few hymns. This can be frustrating, but I keep reminding myself that this is the way it was when I started reading through the Real Book on guitar. I'll get there. My guess is that I'll feel comfortable making my piano debut in early 2013.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.