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Is it possible for me to make it in the music industry with just a great ear and without a great skill in sight reading?

I'm a great musician. I can play piano, drums and bass guitar really well. But I play only by ear. I can't sight read very well so I substitute that hindrance with my good ear. I've played with many bands without a problem, but I'm not sure if that will change if I make that my career. I know how to read the music, but reading the music on the spot without time to figure it out is my problem. #music #musician #playing-piano


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Claudia’s Answer

Dear Avery,
I am sure you could develop a career as a musician with your great instinct and natural aural talents. However, it is always to be safe than sorry, and cover your basics. I would suggest you spend some time practicing your music reading skills. If you choose to go to college for any musical degree, focused on your piano or on other musical trades (engineering, sound design, etc), you will need those reading skills.
If you choose to play in bands, which is a very exciting alternative, you will find a group that fits your talents the best.
Now that you have your eye on the possibility of a musical career, think of learning to read music well the same as learning to read English well. It is a skill that will always help you move forward, it will never hold you back. Any knowledge you acquire at any stage of your life, will be with you forever.
Good luck!


This is great advice.. Like learning English it will take time but it will "never hold you back". I will start practicing sight reading more now for sure. Thanks for the encouragement! Avery J.

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Jenny’s Answer

Yeah, definitely possible, but I will say that people with stronger sight reading skill get more work, because they're quicker to pick the music up off the page. If you're looking to record in the future, being able to quickly and accurately put down a track after you're handed a piece of music would serve you well. It's something you can practice and learn- and if you major in music in college, you'll likely take an entire course or two on ear training and sight reading/sight singing that will help you build that skill.


I'm not a great sight reader and it has definitely held me back at various times, so I'd recommend working on that! If you're not taking music lessons now, look for an instructor who will not only work with you on your playing skill but also your sight reading.


Thank you so much. It will be a struggle, but I will work on my reading skill. I definitely want to get more jobs in the future. Again, thanks for the encouragement! Avery J.

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Joe’s Answer

You might also consider going to University of Miami for a degree Sound Engineering. It is a great school for music. A friend of mine did that and he now owns his own music studio in L.A. I will warn you that it is a very hard degree. It requires a minor in Electrical Engineering, which is a great backup career.


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Joe’s Answer

Hi Avery. You sound like me. The discipline of sight reading is handy, so try to do at least some, but here's my scenario. I do wireless/communication engineering as a day job and play in a church band on the weekends. I love having the balance of both the well-playing career not in music and still having plenty of good opportunity to use my natural gift for music. I definitely don't like sight-reading, but I find it useful every once in a while.

Having a good knack for music without the technical detail skill may be a setback if you want music to be your primary career, but if you have skills in other better-paying areas don't avoid them. You might find your balance best by letting your passion be your minor rather than your career driver.

Joe recommends the following next steps:

Join a community jazz band to stretch your sight reading and teamwork skills.
Saved!
Continue exploring your non-music giftings to build a parallel or primary career to facilitate using your music passion in ways that won't wear out your love of music.
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Wa'Dell’s Answer

If reading music on the fly is your then you should always rehearse. The songs from a burnt CD, and memorize each song, the best ready for performance.


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