Is learning to read traditional music important for guitar players? Can you play guitar at a reasonably high level without learning to read music?
Many guitar players and teachers argue that what is important for guitar players is to be spontaneous and creative: that playing from music holds them back and discourages them from thinking for themselves.
All of this is true, as far as it goes. It reflects the way most people – even very good guitar players – learn to play.
But it can also be pretty limiting. Especially for beginners. It can give them the impression that the guitar is nothing more than a chording machine.
Perhaps more important, they will have to rely completely on memory for anything other than bare bones chording.
So it seems to me that learning to read music just gives you an additional tool to help you play guitar. Of course it is true that many times the parts we are expected to play, especially in a band, require spontaneity. So it is more important to learn how to move around the guitar neck – to learn alternative chord shapes, riffs, creative chord sequences and so on.
But there are certainly times when knowing how to read traditional music can help you understand a song better. This is especially the case when it is a song you are unfamiliar with, or when you are asked to play a part you have never heard before.
For a fuller discussion of this issue, and to learn where you can get a FREE short course on “Reading Music for Guitar Players” just follow this link.