On Reading Music
When I first did
lessons, reading music was the only way to access any material, songs,
exercises or method books. No CD,s, no DVD's, no YouTube or TAB.
You could learn from your mates; put your fingers here and play this.
Once you'd cracked some basics you could listen to records and busk
something similar. I didn't play "Born to Wild" correctly for
twenty years! If you went to a teacher you'd have to start
reading straight away. I still have my original 'McNeil's Modern
Guitar Method' book from 1958 - students nowadays think it looks
horrendously difficult, with it's tiny notation and chords from day
one written as music with tiny chord diagrams less than a 10mm square.
If you wanted to study
the guitar at a high level at a Music College, it would have had to be
classical guitar and totally based on music reading. Studying
the classical instrument is still like that.
Things have changed in
the last twenty years and it's now quite possible to get right through
to Grade 8 in Electric Guitar, Bass, and Acoustic Guitar without
reading a note of standard notation. Now that's fine if you're
playing with your mates in a local band (which, granted could become
big) when you can sort out between yourselves how to learn and store
your songs without writing or reading music. But if you plan to
play with players you don't know, to teach, or do sessions and
generally pursue playing to a higher level, not understanding how to
read and write music is a big blocking factor. If fact if your
not able to read music and you are trying to earn a living playing and
teaching, it can be as difficult as not reading or writing your
own language - not impossible to survive - but much more challenging.
Fortunately as young
or adult players there is a wealth of material published to help you
attain this skill and the process can be broken down to a few
fundamental elements to make the whole journey of learning and
practicing successful. Once you start you'll find it easy.
Reading can be broken
down into three main parts - understanding what pitch a note is to be
played - understanding how long a note should sound - and the rhythm
of the notes. Learning each of these separately at first make
the initial stages easy to handle and far less intimidating.
Below is a list of
books and material to help you learn. Against each book is my
explanation of the reason to studying them and what you should
understand by the time you finish.
appraisal work will be published here in the next week or two