I have had a lot of students that have studied with me since I started teaching guitar about ten years ago. Often times when I begin lessons with a new student I am asked the question: “will I need to be able to read music to play guitar”? My answer is always a resounding “yes”!
For some strange reason a lot of people think they can learn the guitar by circumventing understanding how to be a literate musician. I’m not exactly sure where this idea comes from. My thought is that maybe because the guitar was originally a folk instrument it was not considered to be a “serious” instrument.
Nowadays, however, the guitar is probably one of the most (if not the most) popular instruments in the world. As a result it is not considered just a “folk” instrument anymore. While there will always be guitar players (and other instrumentalists) who aren’t music literate, I feel that it is important on my part as a guitar instructor to teach my students how to sightread.
Why is learning how to read music so important? Well for one thing, it makes being able to communicate your musical ideas to others either on paper or by sharing the common language of music a whole lot easier. Being literate at music helps one visualize what they are hearing. Also, (and possibly most importantly) being able to read music will help you to be able to memorize songs and understand what you are playing a whole lot quicker. This means that you will understand the bigger picture about a song by understanding how it’s harmony is moving and how it’s melody works against the harmony.
While developing the ability to be a literate musician is only one part of the learning process, it is one of the most important. Music is truly one of the only universal languages.
Are you an aspiring guitar player in the Boston area who has always wanted to learn how to read music? Why not give me a call, I can help you!