Why Learning to Read Music Isn’t Required to be a Musician

Have you wanted to learn the guitar, but felt completely overwhelmed because you couldn’t read music? There is the music staff, notes, sharps, flats, scales, the circle of fifths, modes, etc.  It all seems unending.

When you think of all the things necessary to achieve to understand how to read music, it feels completely hopeless! You just want to play guitar!

Please don’t get me wrong. Understanding those things are important. However, when someone is learning to play the guitar, they are already feeling overwhelmed with all of the info out there. They are lost in a sea of chord charts, TAB’s, YouTube videos and the like, and are in serious need of some clarity. Adding the necessity of learning that complex language is overkill in the beginning.

They are lost in a sea of chord charts, TAB’s, YouTube videos and the like, and are in serious need of some clarity. Adding the necessity of learning that complex language is overkill in the beginning.

Allow me to use an analogy. I love chocolate chip cookies. I love the way they smell, the way they taste, the way they make me feel sick after I eat them. In those moments, I don’t care if they used a pinch of salt or a teaspoon of salt. Or if the salt was kosher salt, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, rock salt or even road salt! I just want to eat the cookies. I could care less about the recipe.

I love chocolate chip cookies. I love the way they smell, the way they taste, the way they make me feel sick after I eat them. In those moments, I don’t care if they used a pinch of salt or a teaspoon of salt. Or if the salt was kosher salt, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, rock salt or even road salt! I just want to eat the cookies. I could care less about the recipe.

I just want to eat the cookies. I could care less about the recipe.

Now, after enjoying these cookies time after time, I might like to make them at home myself.  It is at this point when I will be interested in the recipe and all its details. But in the beginning, I could care less. That doesn’t make the recipe unnecessary. On the contrary, the recipe is essential to replicating that chocolate goodness. But there is no need to force a recipe on someone who just wants the satisfaction of enjoying those cookies.

On the contrary, the recipe is essential to replicating that chocolate goodness. But there is no need to force a recipe on someone who just wants the satisfaction of enjoying those cookies.

The same logic applies to learning the guitar. Most people don’t want the recipe for playing guitar; they just want to enjoy it. Many people have no aspirations of becoming a world-class musician. They just want to jam with their friends in the garage or in front of their fire pit in the backyard. If you were to force feed them music notation, they might just throw their hands up and forget the whole experience, thinking that it is too hard for them.

Many people have no aspirations of becoming a world-class musician. They just want to jam with their friends in the garage or in front of their fire pit in the backyard. If you were to force feed them music notation, they might just throw their hands up and forget the whole experience, thinking that it is too hard for them.

Enjoying guitar doesn’t have to start as an academic pursuit.  Instead, focus on how to enjoy playing the guitar first. For example, by doing something as simple as learning three basic chords, you are able to play thousands of popular songs. If all goes well, the recipe can come later. But for now, just enjoy those cookies!

But for now, just enjoy those cookies!

 

Do you think it’s necessary to read music before learning the guitar? Comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 


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