Reading Exercises for Jazz Guitar

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 playing jazz.

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.

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



Feeling adventurous? Why not try your hand at some chord substitutions with our FREE guide?

Ever wonder how jazz guitarists get all these fresh and different sounds out of their comping and solo guitar playing? Well, a lot of that has to do with the use of chord substitutions. In our guide, we’ll go over the basics and even some more sophisticated techniques you can use to spice up your harmonic content!



Michael Berard - Jazz Guitarist
Michael Berard was a part-time music professor for over 25 years at Concordia University in Montreal Canada. He taught jazz guitar, jazz arranging, jazz composition as well as other jazz courses. He has worked over the years playing jazz clubs, concerts and studio sessions. Michael has played on numerous recordings including three of his own: It’s Autumn, Little Voices and Good News. He is also the author of Jazz Guitar Elements a comprehensive jazz guitar method and Jazz Reading Elements.

2 thoughts on “Reading Exercises for Jazz Guitar

Was this page helpful? Let us know!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.