I had spent the previous four years playing bass guitar with a classic rock band, but had grown tired of rock. It no longer satisfied my musician's soul. I had been listening to Rod Stewart's five CD collection of "the Great American Songbook" jazz standards, and I yearned to play bass to such music. But how does one break in? I hadn't a clue. Still, I joined the local jazz society and bought a lot of Jamey Aebersold books about jazz, and collected an array of walking bass how-to books. They weren't much help at that point, since these books presumed a pre-existing level of knowledge that I did not yet possess.
One day, however, my attorney and good friend Don invited me to come to a jazz band recital that he was in, playing alto saxophone. Don was in a band? What was that all about? He told me it was an adult education project where a lot of older musicians (and a few young ones) practiced jazz and swing tunes, under the direction of a band leader. I signed up, and began playing bass with this band. Suddenly I had found a possible path to my goal!
The band read music. I didn't read music. Uh oh. With each new sheet of music the band leader gave out, I penciled in the name of each note, c, d, e, etc. I could easily figure out the notes because I new the lines of the staff were, from bottom to top, GBDFA (good boys do fine always) and the spaces were ACEG (all cows eat grass). Slowly, after a few weeks, I could recognize the notes on sight and actually began reading music. Not expertly, to be sure, but slowly and clumsily. After three years with this band, my note reading has steadily improved. It gets easier over time.