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Musical notes make my brain hurt


(@fruitbat)
New Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 3
Topic starter  

I remember my music classes at school. I sat next to the window with the hot sun burning straight into my face - I spent the entire hour squinting as my retinas burned, which, of coourse gave me headaches. Add this with being in a music class which for 3 years years and we never even saw a musical instrument led me to the quick conclusion that music was, in fact, rubbish.

3 years of music class and all I remember is FACE and EGBDF. Quite sad really as now I wished that I knew more.

So I have started learning the guitar and I have to admit even after 2 weeks I feel like its getting me down. I'm following a course which goes through string by string and apparently teaching you all the notes and all the chords to go with it. The only problem is that no matter how hard I try I cannot read the damn music without the tab. I'm up to the fifth string and can do them fine with tab but as soon as I hide the tab there is silence in the room as I just dont know where they start and end. The problem is that after the 6th string it doesn't give me any tabs so I feel thats a bit of a worry for me.

It doesn't help that I don't have great eyesight either (probably all those year squinting as a child lol) which makes picking out what notes are on what line and what line does that note suppose to represent on a guitar and to add to it...it's really dull. Though I looks across the net at guitar sites and the majoirty of people seem to be talking in riddles and stuff about scales and I don't understand any of this stuff.

I just wish to vent, I'm just findnig it a struggle and having very little reward...apart from the wife giving me peace because she can't stand 'the noise' haha. arrgghhhhh


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(@rahul)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 2764
 

For playing well, its not necessary that you should learn how to read music.

So don't be too upset. I still find sheet music a puzzle; a beautiful puzzle indeed. Still I am able to have fun (check out my vids)...

Sheet music helps, but its not going to teach you how to play guitar well.

Good Luck! :)


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

At this point, I think it's worth a quick look at what you want to achieve from playing guitar and when you think you're going to be able to get there. After two weeks of learning guitar, I think you're expecting a bit too much.

Most people in your situation who come to me for lessons want to be able to "pick up a guitar and play some songs." To do that, you don't need to be able to read music; you need to be able to look at some chord boxes, put your fingers in the right place and strum. And that's where I'd start you. In fact, I'd start you where I start my other students - the song is Horse With No Name and it uses two chords; simple as that.

Put your guitar course book aside for a moment (you can pick it up again later) and go to your local guitar shop. Among the books out the back you'll find things like "The Great Acoustic Guitar Songbook" - part of a series by Wise Publications. I have this one, and the Acoustic Gold volume, and the Eighties, Nineties and Classic Rock volumes. I call them "Buskers' Books" because so long as you know the song you can't go wrong - they come with the chord boxes for each song and the lyrics with the chord names printed above them so you can sing and strum and know when to change chord. Buy some.

Get yourself a simple book about music theory - it really ain't rocket science so don't buy a rocket science book. I recommend "the Right Way to Read Music" by Harry & Michael Baxter, published by Elliott Right Way books. I paid five quid for mine. It covers reading music, harmony, keys, ornaments and all those Italian phrases you come across in printed music, and will cover you up to GCSE level. It's not guitar-specific but that's not important.

Sit down, grab your guitar, your Buskers' Book, and an endless supply of tea, look at the first chord box, put your fingers where it says, strum it, sing it.

Then, in three months time, assuming you still want to be able to read music, throw away the course book, and go get one that doesn't give you tab. As Rahul says, sheet music won't teach you to play guitar well - and nor will tab; you need a teacher for that. There are any number of successful guitarists who cannot read music; some of them have even been successful for more than five minutes, but sooner or later their songs run out of ideas and all start to sound the same - but they'll all tell you to get yourself a decent teacher. I took over a bunch of students from a teacher who dropped out of the school music service; they could all play the riff to Smoke on the Water and the Wallace & Gromit theme, but not one of them could read a note of music - make sure you get a teacher who knows his arse from his elbow.

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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(@apache)
Reputable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 301
 

Hi Fruitbat,

I stirred up an interesting debate when I posted about sight reading, as I said that I didn't read music, just tab, while there is a very good case for learning to read formal notation, I think it also depends on your aspirations, I'm just learning for pleasure, and want to be able to play some songs, and if playing tab is a way to do it quickly, then that's what I'll do.

If I was aiming to be a professional musician or performer, then then learning to read music would be a valuable skill.

Also - I know from experience as I seemed to have acquired enough guitar books to open a shop! that not all are the good beginner books they claim to be.

I've only been playing for 5 months, so I'm no expert....

A


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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 174
 

Long ago my wife started learning the guitar with a teacher this way. In 2 years she couldn't play any songs and quit because she wanted to play songs. Now, much later in life, she can't do anything with the guitar.

About the same time (in a different part of the country) I went to a guitar teacher to learn some stuff beyond the 3 chords I could sort of do. My teacher showed me tab and gave me a couple of picking patterns to help approach some of the Gordon Lightfoot songs I wanted to learn. From that boost I could learn more chords (from chord diagrams), try more picking patterns and could play more and more songs.

Now, much later in life, I can play lots of songs, do lots of chords, pick fairly well and am having fun.
And I'm starting to learn to read music. (I may never get there)

All this to suggest that if you're learning to play guitar for fun, you should learn guitar in a way that IS fun for you!
Learning notes and music will be useful but I bet you'll have fun with chords and lyrics more quickly.

Maybe taking a lesson or 5 from a teacher who understands this would get you going nicely.

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


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(@alangreen)
Member Moderator
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5366
 

All this to suggest that if you're learning to play guitar for fun, you should learn guitar in a way that IS fun for you!

Absolutely - a good teacher should find out what you like in Lesson 1, and then find a way of getting some of that into lesson 2. I think what happens is that too many students go along to lessons without a clear idea of what they want, or don't tell the teacher what they want, so the teacher wanders around in the dark not knowing what to do and the student becomes disillusioned.

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


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