Reading Music for Guitarists

Arp C 1 OctAs guitarists we basically have two choices when it comes to reading music and both are important.

Music Notation – As displayed is a system of reading music that dates back hundreds of years and once understood will allow you to sight read (read & play) much like reading a book out aloud. Music notation is the language of music and like reading words in a book is a must for any musician. The first step to learning to read music notation is to memorise and say the lines (Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit) and spaces (FACE) as you move through the music. Do it very slowly and on every note say “Every Good Boy Deserves Fruit” or “FACE”. For example if the note was a B rather then guess it say “Every Good Boy”. Literally counting up the lines. If you do this daily for at least 6 weeks reading will be easy. Avoid trying to guess notes. This first step gets you familiar with the notes and with practice the notes will jump out at you like the letters of the alphabet. Its all just about familiarity which comes with practice.

Guitar Tab (Tablature) – I can be seen below the notation. In this case we use 6 lines which represent the 6 strings of the guitar. The numbers indicate the fret numbers (not necessarily finger numbers). Tab is more like a map directing you where each note is to be played. This can be very useful especially for electric guitarists. There are many signs and symbols used in tab to express the hundreds of different techniques used. Personally I can not imagine a world without guitar tab.

Many students who start with tab never learn to read music but this is a big mistake. Reading notation has numerous advantages but as mention it is the language of music. Tab is purely for guitarists whereas musical notation is used by all musicians.

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