Reading Music and Playing the Guitar

Most people who are new to playing the guitar will get introduced to reading music by a tutor or a teacher. Experienced players who have been playing for a while may wonder why they should learn to read music since they know how to play the gutiar. For this blog a few ideas related to the topic of reading music for the guitar.

Let me start of with the answer to the question: “Why should I learn to read music?”  Reading music or not being able to read may be a typical thing for guitar players, since a lot of people will learn to play the guitar by using and handful of chords and just play with them.  Then there is the culture: The guitar, in the past, was typically an instrument which was learned by watching other people play, just pick up ideas from the ones who were around you. A lot of the older blues guys who grew up in the 1930s learned to play that way. It is a natural way of learning and works very well, as long as you are surrounded by other guitar players.

Today things are different: We all have acess to a lot of information around us, whatever you want to learn will be available in some form. All you need to do is apply yourself and find a method how to absorb the information you want to learn. When it comes to playing the guitar, taking up lessons with a teacher is similar compared to being around an experienced player. A good teacher will expose you to a variety of learning materials and learning to read is one of those ways.

What can you pick up from reading music? Once you get used to how the notes relate to the guitar you can go through various books which will explain you a variety of playing styles. Being able to read will give you access to music you may not have been able to play before. Reading music will also help you to understand music theory better and your overal musical knowledge will expand through reading as well.

Once you get used to reading music try to play from very early on with a feel for whatever it is your are reading. Music played from written notation without feel is like playing dead music. Putting feel into the music is important, and you need to learn how to put feel into the piece you are playing. At first you may struggle to get the right notes under your fingertips, once you know where to find the notes you can start to look at the feel for the piece. All in all it is a process: First get the notes so you can play the music smoothly, then play the piece with more feel. It is important to be aware that you will need to put feel into the music since you are working from a book or any sheet, you will not have an audio source around you to guide you to whatever feel the music needs. Experienced readers will be aware of this process but any player new to reading will not, and your teacher will be able to guide you through this process.

Enjoy your reading studies and hope to see you soon again,