For those of you that may not know what tablature or sheet music is, here is a quick rundown.
Sheet music works by having different shapes represent different rhythmic values, which tell us how long to play a note. Depending on what line or space that shape is placed on in the musical staff tells us what note to play
Tablature is the more common form of reading music known amongst guitarists. This is because it is easier and can often be learnt quickly unlike sheet music, which can take a number of years to learn.
Even though reading sheet music helps us in many ways, some of the greatest guitar players have admitted to not being able to read music notation. One of these includes Jimi Hendrix, who is heralded as ‘the greatest guitar player of all time’. In addition to this much of the way we learn songs is through listening to the music and seeing what the guitarists fingers are doing. This form of learning the guitar has also become very accessible with things such as ‘Youtube’, where a student can watch what a guitarist is playing note by note.
So is sheet music important and necessary?
In my opinion, yes it is and so is tablature. Many players today can shred the meanest guitar solo you may have heard but cannot tell you where a ‘c’ note is on the guitar. Even though reading music notation can be more difficult than reading tablature, once you understand it, all aspects of your playing including technique, improvising and composition will improve. To make the process of learning to read sheet music easier, you might try combining it with guitar tab, For example you might learnt the main riff using sheet music, but the solo using tab. Remember that even though it can be tricky to learn to read music, in the end it is very rewarding.