I made a statement to my favorite person the other day: "Statement. By mid-January, I will be a sight reading champion."

My sight reading at Friday's jury was pretty poor. I made great progress on it earlier this year, lost track of it for the first half of this semester, and got back to daily practice for the last month. Progress is so slow, but I think I'm better than I was at the beginning of the semester. However, my performance at the jury did not indicate so. Written comments from the three professors were: "Work on it!", "Needs regular practice!!", and "WEAK!! NEEDS WORK!!"

I realize guitarists are notoriously pitiful sight readers, and that I might be on par with my peers, or not much worse. But it's a pain in the ass to have such a gaping hole in my abilities. I'm sick of it, and if I can learn to do it well, I'll have a big professional advantage over other guitarists.

I have a couple papers to finish this week, so practicing won't hit full steam until they're done. Once they're out of the way, my plan is to take a handful of music books home for the holidays and ignore my family for 10 hours a day. Kidding. I just bought The Real Christmas Book, so I'll have a bunch of material to play for family while I get all my sight reading practice in. I'll work on instant chord/melody arrangements, sight reading the melody on the top two strings and chords underneath.

Other sight reading books I'll bring home include 1001 Jazz Licks, Jazz Guitar Sight-Reading, and Music Reading for Guitar.

Sight reading all day every day for a month could induce homicide, so I've made other goals. I want to get a lick database started. I like transcribing licks or picking them up from books and getting them into my own playing, but I don't do enough of it, and I have no way of keeping track of all the ideas I like. If I could get them in my computer, perhaps via LilyPond, I could bring up a random selection to work on every day. I have grand plans for a website like this someday, similar to BopLand.

I'll continue expanding my repertoire, and I want to work on really inside playing, following chord tones through every part of a progression. This has always been tough for me; I usually play in a key rather than over specific chords. I think it's getting easier now that I've worked on some advanced tunes like Nefertiti, Giant Steps, Moment's Notice, Dolphin Dance, E.S.P., and Tones for Joan's Bones, all of which employ either rapidly changing key centers or rarely remain in the same key for consecutive chords. I was forced to change my soloing strategy every few notes when studying these tunes, so that's helping me focus on each chord in simpler progressions.

Last on my list, as usual, is speed. I'm frequently caught in a tempo faster than I can handle at jam sessions. Once I get my lick database started, I can just push my speed limits on each of those. Or I'll run scales and arpeggios as fast as I can every day. Boooriiing!