Guitar Lessons:

classical, electric and bass guitar lessons; finger-style lessons; music appreciation; music theory

the importance of learning to read music notes

The first benefit, in the process of reading music, is that a guitar student will learn where every note is placed on the guitar. As a trained guitarist, I find that it is helpful, when playing with other musicians, to be aware of these placements in the event that those who are playing with me can direct me by calling out the changes at the appropriate time. If the bass player or another guitarist gives me a key, I have the acquired knowledge that will allow me to play a lead that will fit in with that key, because I know where the root note, or, {the first note of a scale} is and from there I can determine which scale I want to play.

It is helpful because scales are comprised of single notes. The major and minor scales are used in the majority of popular music. These scales are comprised of seven notes with the major scale sounding upbeat and positive and the minor scale having a sad effect. The major scale for the key of C, {which begins with the placing of your third finger on the third fret of the fifth string}, is C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. For the scale of A minor, which is relative to C major, the scale begins by striking an open fifth string, this scale is constructed of the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A.

The pentatonic minor scale consisting of the scale tones 1, b3, 4, 5, and b7, {b= Flat note} is commonly used with blues, rock and metal songs. For example, if a blues song is written in the key of A, the pentatonic minor scale will be A, C, D, E, G, A. The pentatonic major scale with scale tones 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 is a scale that is heard mainly in country songs. The pentatonic major scale for the same key of A will be A, B, C#, E, F#, and A {#= sharp note}. Reading music teaches the student the tonal value of any given note and where the notes can be found in different places on the guitar.
Positional playing (or the fret on which the first finger will extend to) is instrumental in the playing of lead guitar. For example, an A minor scale that begins on the open 5th string is called A minor in open position. Consequently, the same scale can be played by starting at the fifth fret of the 6th string, and this is called an A minor in fifth position, and it is relative to this fact that being able to move fluently around the guitar neck is a direct result of studying musical notation.

Equally important to this matter is the fact that the ability to read music teaches the student, by assigning a time value to each given note, how to develop the discipline of counting out whole, half, quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes, which in turn allows the guitarist to create musical nuances that are important when playing both rhythm and lead.
After many hours of reading music, rhythm becomes intrinsic and listening skills improve because stimulating the visual sense as well as the auditory reinforces the guitarist’s musicality. After all, music is a language and like any language to be fully understood, it must be read, practiced, and written.

Composition, or the process of writing music, is, I believe, the centre that exists at the very core of any musical artist, and while it is not necessary to know how to read or how to write musical notation, the ability to do so will inherently enhance a guitarist’s original works. Structuring music on a piece of paper or placing notes on a computer program gives the writer the visual aid of precision. It ensures that time signatures and key signatures are being obeyed within the constraints that he/she defines at the beginning of the composition. In the process of recording, the writing of any musical notation will reveal itself as a check and balance to ensure the quality of the final product.

The discipline of reading musical notation is a skill well-worth learning for any guitarist. Even the great Jimmy Page took brief lessons, if for no other reason than to play written music as a hired studio musician, and perhaps he felt, as I do, that musical notation is the universal language that allows musicians to communicate and create great works of art in harmonious
fashion.