Learning to read music for the guitar is usually the last thing any guitarist wants to do.
And I get it... most guitar players take one look at a piece of sheet music and that little voice in their head chimes in and says "yikes! we don't need this... let's just go back to our good ol' reliable guitar tabs."
I used to have many arguments with that little voice... especially when it came to learning to read music.
At one point in time I was convinced that I could attend a college-level music program without learning to read music (just reading tabs). I know... don't ask me what in the world I was thinking.
The truth is...
You don't have to read music to be a great guitarist, but it sure doesn't hurt either.
In fact, it's one of the best ways to get familiar with your fretboard.
Whenever a guitarist asks me if they should learn to read music, my answer is always, without hesitation... YES. You absolutely should learn to read music.
But before you get all whiny on me and start hurling your excuses at me...
"It's too hard."
"It's just soooo boring."
"My mom said I didn't have to."
...you need to realize one key fact.
As guitarists, we have the luxury of multiple options when it comes to reading music.
When you mention reading music to most people, the first thing that comes to mind is standard musical notation. You know... the little black dots with all the fancy stems and beams and whatnot. And this is the most universal (and arguably the most efficient) form of notation for most musicians.
But as guitarists, we have the option of lead sheets, chord charts and tablature.
I know what you're thinking...
"But, Adam... I thought you were just saying that tablature isn't a worthy form of reading music." Wrong, I merely implied it and in most cases, yes... tablature is inferior (especially most of what you find on the internet).
Now for all of you out there, looking up tabs to your favorite songs, you won't have as many issues. Tabs work just fine (assuming they are correct) when you already know what the song is suppose to sound like.
But even then, you can run into certain spots where all the numbers seem to be jumbled up... and just make no sense at all.
The problem with tablature is that a lot of it (mainly of the homemade variety) doesn't account for rhythm. And when there's no rhythm to bring order to the endless stream of numbers, things can get a bit frustrating.
But when you can find accurate, high quality tablature (like the kind you usually have to pay for), it includes the standard notation written above the tablature, which provides a nice rhythmic structure to follow.
So... now... for the point I've been slowly getting to this entire time...
Guitarists do not need to learn to read standard sheet music.
(although you should... even if your mom says you don't have to)
But it's in your best interest to at least learn to read rhythms.
You'll be amazed at how much it helps you learn, write and perform music better and with greater ease.
Which is the name of the game, my friends.
Until next time...
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