April 11

Why Reading Music Is The WORST Way To Learn The Guitar (Part 1)

Guitar lessons for beginners, Guitar Practicing Secrets


When most people think of learning how to play the guitar (or music in general) they often think of the traditional learning format of sitting down and reading sheet music.

While this skill definitely has its place in this article we are going to discover why this is one of the absolute WORST ways to begin your guitar playing journey and WHY it's so bad. 

Disclaimer: I am not saying that reading music is bad, not necessary, or useless. Here at SLC Guitar we teach our students to read ALL types of music. We just go about it in a totally different that your "traditional" music teacher would. 

When someone thinks "reading music" they are generally thinking of learning what is called Standard Notation.  Which is a type of music notation.

There are various types but the 3 main types are:

Standard Notation
(sheet music) 


Tablature (TABS)

And interestingly enough what is commonly used to start with,  (Standard Notation)
is the HARDEST to learn!

Here's why:
To be able to read the music you will have to:

1. Understand the chromatic scale (the notes in music)
2. How the chromatic scale translates to each string on your guitar
3. Know where the notes on the staff translates to your guitar
4. Know what the rhythm symbols mean for each note type you are playing
5. Remember the where the note translates on your guitar AND the rhythmic value as you read
6. Know and remember all the music reading ROADMAPS (repeats, alternate endings etc)

And you have to keep track of all this when you don’t have any coordination (or very little) built up! Your fingers barely move, you can't hold the guitar pick right, your technique is sloppy, strings don’t ring out. Your picking and fret hand don't sync up.

You're supposed to read the music, but you have to keep looking down at your fingers because you keep hitting the wrong notes... 

Sounds like a train wreck right?         It is.... 

And these method books that are used also uses SUPER boring melodies and and songs that may seem logical to use as they are simple but motivation is a critical factor in learning music and who wants to learn, "misty morn or "Sally's Garden?"

Like no one?

It's much better to use SIMPLER ways of reading music so that you can develop your coordination and technique. BEFORE you start adding in all the theory. 

This way, you wont be so distracted by EVERYTHING and can then focus on developing the new skill. (reading standard notation)

Let me ask you this, you wouldn’t try to teach a child to read a text book or understand grammar before he/she could even speak a word would you? 

No of course not!

Maybe you'd show a picture book but who honestly would give the 13mo old a text book and try to teach them grammar?  

Sounds ridiculous but that's what happens when a "teacher" tries to teach a total beginner to play by using STANDARD NOTATION....

If you are a beginner it's WAY better to use Tablature or CHORD CHARTS to begin learning on.

It's MUCH easier to understand and you can get up playing fun things, get some coordination and skills under your belt. THEN if you want try learning a more difficult notation it won't be that big of deal and you will be totally ready for it!

Hope this helps!

About the author 

Preston Howard

Preston Howard is the owner & founder of SLC Guitar and creator of the Multi-Dimensional Guitar Training Method. A unique and ground breaking method that builds aspiring guitar players SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, and CREATIVITY in many areas ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Besides guitar, he enjoys, snowboarding, fitness, and riding his motorcycle. vroom vroom!

You may also like

Guitar Fluency

Guitar Fluency
  • I agree some the beginner guitar books that start of focusing on reading standard notation are the worst. To add to the train wreck, also try playing in time .

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}