Reading Music

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music

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Reading Music

Post by e_student » Sat Dec 02, 2017 12:29 pm

Hi All

I am newbie who started learning guitar this September. I had learnt it briefly in 2002, but quit because I lost interest at the time.
When I returned to the learning guitar, it feels new and starting out all over again.

But my question today is, to learn and play classical guitar, do I need to learn and know how to read music from the sheets?
Or would it be possible to play classical guitar without being able to read music? Is essential or advantage?

If it is essential, what is best way and resource to learn how to read music?


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Re: Reading Music

Post by Rasputin » Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:42 pm

I would say that it's such a big advantage that it may as well be essential. It's not as hard as you think either - it comes easily enough with time. You have to be able to find the notes on the fingerboard, but you would really want to be able to do that anyway, even if you were not going to read notation. You also have to be able to read rhythms.

There is lots of easy music available in beginner books - you can just work your way through that counting out the rhythms and using a metronome at least some of the time as a check. You can also isolate the different components and work on them separately. There is an iOS app called Read Rhythm (or something like that) that will give you rhythms of a specified difficulty that you then can tap out on your device. It tells you how accurate you are and where you are going wrong. There is also an app that tests your knowledge of where the notes are on the fingerboard, called something like Guitar at Sight. You can set it e.g. to test you on frets 0 - 4, then once you've got that, move to frets 1 - 5 etc. People differ in how they learn but I think that using these kinds of app in conjunction with practice is likely to be faster / more effective than just practising.

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Re: Reading Music

Post by Rognvald » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:08 pm

Or would it be possible to play classical guitar without being able to read music?

No . . . unless you are a savant. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Bernhard Heimann
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Re: Reading Music

Post by Bernhard Heimann » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:32 pm

For a beginner I would recommend a teacher and one of the classical guitar methods (like Parkening).
Learning the fretboard and music notation happen together.

Not knowing how to read music (standard notation preferably) will limit your possibilities dramatically.


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Re: Reading Music

Post by PeteJ » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:39 pm

I'd say that you can play the CG without reading music but that it would be rather like learning to cook without being able to read a recipe. For a year or two you might be happy learning pieces and techniques by ear but in the end you'll champing at the bit to be able to read the dots so might as well start learning to do this asap. It isn't rocket-science and a beginner needs no fluency, just the skills to work out the notes.

I find there are huge variations in how theory is taught so you have to take pot-luck, but once you get past the basics you'll find that you just get better all the time in the natural way of things. Writing simple pieces for the gtr, even just little melodies, is a great way to learn why notation works the way it does and to become comfortable with it.

As for the best way of learning this will depend on the learner. A slightly tedious but effective way to grasp the basics would be to work the the first few
Associated Board theory-grades. At the start there's no avoiding the job of learning the notes and mapping then to the strings, and after that the problem is just the rhythms. From there things become more creative and interesting you get into harmony and counterpoint. Just reading music is not difficult. It's becoming a good sight-reader that takes years of work.

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Re: Reading Music

Post by dtoh » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:47 pm

It's essential and there's not any quick way. On the other hand it's not very hard, just takes a lot of practice and it comes pretty gradually. There's a ton of simple music out there. You just need to keep at it at a steady pace and don't get impatient.

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Re: Reading Music

Post by celestemcc » Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:31 pm

... not to mention that very little (comparatively speaking) of the standard repertoire is available in tablature. But if you can read tablature, you can read music. It's just not that difficult, especially if you learn to play while learning to read. You at first begin to associate notes with finger positions, and then as you move up the neck, learn new positions for the same notes (that's one of the fun-and-maddening parts of guitar playing!). Can't hurt to learn to read, can only help, in the long run. Think of it like driving a stick shift. You may not *need* to, but knowing it opens up a lot more opportunities!
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Re: Reading Music

Post by e_student » Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:54 pm

Thank you all for great info and advice. Yes, I will get some books and also get onto the internet sites to try to learn the fretboard and also how to read music. It may take sometime, but it will come gradually and be worth it.


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Re: Reading Music

Post by astro64 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:06 pm

You have the advantage of starting in both aspects: learning to play the guitar and learning to play music from a score. The first aspect is much harder than the second aspect, but once people play without having learned to read from scores they have a much harder time to pick it up later, since it slows them down initially. So do both at the same time.

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Re: Reading Music

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:37 pm

While I agree with all of the above posts, let me be the first to suggest that learning to read is not necessarily an "easy" task--it takes many students time and persistence to read a competent level. You may find your notes quickly enough, but that's really the easy part. When you start encountering complex rhythm patterns reading can become a real challenge. There's also the aspects of understanding meter, voicing, expressive markings, etc. Don't get me wrong, I feel that learning to read is essential for CG players, just don't get discouraged if some aspects don't come easy for you.

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Re: Reading Music

Post by CathyCate » Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:43 pm

Not to complicate matters, but if you have access to a keyboard I suggest adding it to the mix. A beginners piano or keyboard book will have you picking out simple melodies in no time at all. No worries about which left and right hand finger combinations or fret buzz to get in the way. I have watched my nephew progress on guitar more rapidly after his parents acquired a piano. My guess is that some concepts are easier to grasp and/or visualize in black and white.
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George Crocket
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Re: Reading Music

Post by George Crocket » Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:58 am

I agree with much that has been stated above. It is best to learn to play and to read together - it just makes it easier. I also agree with those who have said it is not as difficult as it might seem. I liken it to learning a language with a vocabulary of only 100 words and a simple syntax. On top of all that, there are masses of helpful resources these days.
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Re: Reading Music

Post by pogmoor » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:37 am

CathyCate wrote:
Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:43 pm
Not to complicate matters, but if you have access to a keyboard I suggest adding it to the mix....
I fully agree with this point. Apart from anything else the piano keyboard provides an excellent 'mental model' for the meaning of notation; the guitar fretboard, where you find some notes in several places, is more confusing. Among my modest skills as a classical guitarist is a facility with sight reading and I'm sure this is because I had piano lessons before starting the guitar (and also sung from music in a choir).
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Yamaha (SLG 130NW silent classical guitar 2014).

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Re: Reading Music

Post by burtong » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:43 pm

Learning to read music is like learning a language. It is not something that we are born able to do. We learn it over time by starting small and by making mistakes. I agree with the recommendations to work with a teacher and choose graded repertoire. Start with the lowest level (RCM series preparatory, for example) with a good instruction book and work through this. By choosing graded repertoire you will start with pieces that are in first position, learning these and then as you advance work towards learning other positions on the fret board.

Give yourself time. Allow yourself to make mistakes.

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Re: Reading Music

Post by e_student » Mon Dec 04, 2017 12:29 am

Great info. Thanks. Yes, I am going to start Music Score Reading practice with guitar playing.
What are the some good internet resources and recommended books for the subject?

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