Reading Exercises for Jazz Guitar

Reading Exercises for Jazz Guitar

jazz fundamentals jazz guitar improvisation miscellaneous Apr 08, 2021

Reading Exercise #28

A Guest Post by Michael Berard

When it comes to sight-reading, it’s important to treat the music you are reading like any other piece of music. In fact, I will also add that it is important to try and read real music and not just from books that are “designed for reading.” Jazz Reading Elements is a collection of songs for reading and as you will see in this post, it is also a collection of songs for playing, soloing over, and plain old jazz playing.

So when I say read and treat it like any other piece of music, I mean

  • play the melody with expression, feeling, and dynamics,
  • solo over the changes and
  • comp the chords.

The best way to do all of this would be to gather a bunch of musician friends together, like in the olden days, and everyone sight reads and solos over the music together.

To give you an idea, I’ve taken one of the reading exercises from my book, it's called Reading Exercise 28, and put together a recording which illustrates just this. Now unfortunately I didn’t hire all my favorite jazz session players but rather just played everything myself. In today's world this has become an easy enough thing to do. (And I’m a bit of a recording gear nut)

So here we have the lead sheet for Reading Exercise 28 from my book Jazz Reading Elements along with a transcription of the solo I recorded. The solo is in fact improvised so as with all improvisations, there will be playing that’s behind the beat and 8th notes that seem to have a tempo of their own.

The transcription should be seen as a rounding out of all of the imperfections (or musical jewels) and not an exact transcription. To listen to the track, just scroll to the bottom of the page. I’ve also added an 8 bar intro to get you into the piece. Also please note that the classical guitar and piano are not playing the comping rhythm in part 2.

Of course, I should also mention that a basic understanding of jazz theory will help your sight reading a great deal.

Enjoy and feel free to add your comments or questions in the form below this post.


Melody: Page 1

Melody: Page 2


Improvised Solo with Audio

Listen to Jazz Guitar Reading Exercise 28 in mp3 (audio): see the audio player at the top of this post.


**Notes from the editor**This post was updated 08/04/2021. New feature image, updated links, and fixed grammar.



For intermediate guitarists ready to "crack the code" in jazz


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