Whatever instrument you play, the best why to learn a song or a piece of music it is usually to obtain the original music sheets and then start practicing. In order to put in into practice this simple process, the musician must be able to properly read the music, if not it will be impossible to him to learn in this way. The only alternative will be learning by ear, but this process can take a huge amount of time, in particular if the musician is not used to. In case of a guitarist however we can take advantage of guitar tabs, a sort of short cut for people who can’t read music. If on one side this can be considered a very useful tool because allows everyone to understand clearly enough what to do on a guitar in order to play a song, it is even true that from a quality point of view it is a very poor tool because it lacks of many of the information you can get from a proper music sheet.
This is the reason why being able to read properly a music sheet is so important, simply it gives you many more possibilities to learn new material and to improve your general skills.
You could even be an amazing guitarist but if can’t read music you will be always missing an essential part of the process involved in becoming an accomplished musician. Being able to play an instrument without reading music it is more or less as being able to speak a language without being able to read or to write. You could surely survive but the overall quality of your living will deeply affected in so many common aspects of everyday life. Moreover you will always need someone to help you out in situations where reading or writing is essential. This is exactly the same situation you can experience in music if you can play an instrument but you can’t read music. You could even be a great musician but you will never experience completely the freedom and the indipendence which only good music theory foundations can give.
How to read sheet music for guitar is probably one of the most underestimated skills amongst modern music guitarist, whereas it is absolutely essential for classical guitarist. The funny aspect of this situation is that very often classical guitarists are so deeply bound to music sheet that they can’t even attempt to learn a song by ear or to improvise a solo. But at the same time many acoustic or electric guitarists don’t know what to do in front of the music sheets of a song they don’t know. The ideal would be being able to improvise when it’s needed, and being able to read and follow the written music when it’s needed. This is the kind of phylosophy we try to follow here at Fingertsyle & Classical Guitar Studio in Perth, trying to get the best from all different music enviroments.
When we talk about how to read music we have to consider that there are two levels of reading, One is intrinsecly related to the music on the sheet, and it is the one which allows us to know the notes, the key, the timing and all the theoretical information about the song. The other level is the one which allows us to identify the given note on a precise position on the correct string and on the correct fret. It is evident that the first level is common to any musician independently from the instrument he plays, whereas the second is specificly related to the instrument, in our case to the guitar. Here at the Fingerstyle & Classical Guitar Studio we are perfectly aware of the importance of being able to read music, but at the same time we know how hard and frustrating the learning process could be for a student not familiar with music theory. This is the reason why we teach how to read music and how to play the instrument at the same time and in a “parallel” way, in order to give the student real examples to put into practice theoretical rules.