If there was ever one question that plagued musicians of all talent levels, it was the question of whether or not reading music is a required feat. While some traditionalists will say that yes, reading music is the heart of the very music itself, others will always have different views of the subject.
In this article, we are going to take a step back and observe the view from both sides, letting you make the final decision for yourself.
The ability to read music has many benefits. The first, and most obvious of those benefits, is the ability to recognize patterns within a piece of music. By seeing the rawest form of the music, you are able to better analyze the structure of the piece. It can help you to see different things within the music that others may not, such as leading notes and ties, among many other things.
Learning to read music will help you to learn any guitar song you want, as long as there is sheet music for it. Most classical pieces of music are made into sheet music and can be transcribed for any instrument. This is because sheet music shows the actual notes and pitches of the pieces.
These are things that will allow you to take the given music and transfer it to your preferred medium. Your ability to then play the piece relies entirely upon your level of skill and practice regimen.
Not learning to read music will help your rhythm. It is true that learning to read music can wreak havoc on your sense of rhythm in the beginning. This is because you are learning to do two tasks at once while focusing on only one of the two.
Double tasking is a myth, no matter what you believe; your brain can only lock onto one function at a time. This means all of your attention will most likely be on the music in front of your eyes, not the music you are making with your hands.
Tabs and guitar chord charts are an easy substitute for learning to read sheet music. In fact, tabs and chord charts have become so popular that they are actually more common than sheet music. That being said, unless you play strictly classical music, you may find it difficult to find the songs that you want to learn in sheet music form.
This means you will have to transcribe them yourself, a tiresome effort that may take a lot of the fun out of playing your instrument in the first place.
So there you have it; some reasons from both sides. Your decision relies solely on your goals as a musician. Don’t fall into thinking that learning how to read music will make you any better of a player; it won’t. Only practice will do that, and you don’t need sheet music to practice. Take a good long look at yourself before jumping into either category and good luck with your choice!
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