Guitarists And Reading Music

Reading Music For Guitar

Let’s be honest. Sight Reading Music Notation isn’t always the most enjoyable aspect to practice. I’ve found that this is largely due to the songs you have to play when sight reading. Sure a long winded Guns N Roses guitar solo is fun to play, but it’s super tough to sight read for guitar, especially if there’s nothing indicating what part of the neck you’re using. Most Sight Reading exercises and songs are you’re classic “little kid” melodies like Ode To Joy, Michael Row The Boat Ashore and Greensleeves. Even Fur Elise is common but quite challenging for those learning it.

So as guitarists, Sight Reading is usually just put on hold and eventually forgotten about. But learning to read music teaches you so much.

Students who regularly practice reading music tend to have excellent timing skills because they learn how to count beats while playing and understand that every note needs to fit within the “musical grid” of possible notes. This means that notes don’t just occur randomly, they have to sit on a beat, on the off-beat, or perhaps a semiquaver beat (if you’re confused by this, just ask your UGA Tutor).

This increase in timing skills results with students being better at playing to a metronome or in a band. They also usually perform solo pieces better because they can stick to a tempo, rather than just playing to how they feel. On a side note – if you’ve never played to a metronome, then give it a go and you’ll probably be surprised at how difficult it is to stay in time with it.

Studies conducted by universities also indicate that learning how to read music improves academic performance, for a whole range of reasons. It’s basically “brain training exercises” for musical instruments.

Students who learn to read music also end up learning faster. In fact, the end result for Sight Reading is that you can simply look at something and then play it. Now that’s powerful. No more “ok, let me memorise this and then I’ll shred it for you”. Instead, it’s simply “hold the paper in front of me and I’ll play it immediately”. Powerful stuff.

So learning how to read music isn’t just for piano students. It’s for every instrument and it’ll only make you better by learning it.

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