#1
So I have been trying to learn guitar for about 7 years or so now. Ever since I was in high school I began to take classes in Music and tried to learn guitar. The same thing has happened to me ever since 9th grade high school. I take the class, and right off the bat the instructor wants me to learn how to read music....

And thats it. That's basically where I get stuck.

I once took a music class in Middle school to learn to play the violin. And Guess what? I did learn to play it. (At least for that one semester). I was actually ok at it. I learned to read the notes and all!

But Wait No I didn't!

I memorized every single finger position for the 2 songs I managed to learn

What I'm getting at here is I seem to be unable to learn actual Music for as long as I can remember I have loved the idea of spending my time learning how to play an instrument instead of actually playing video games for 20+ hours a week. But the moment I am put in front of musical notes I instantly just give up on learning it all together. I own 4 different guitars. Acoustic X2 , Classical , Electric. My classical guitar is by far my favorite, because well Its the one I bought with my own money after I worked for about 2 weeks to buy it. Its a solid Yamaha C-40. All of the guitars are essentially brand new even though some are 10 years old they have never been played and strings are mostly super loose as to not cause any damage. *though they prob need to be replaced*.

When I started college in 2007 I signed up for a beginning guitar class and again the Reading music came up! Argh!

The same thing happened when I began to take private lessons form a guitar store owner I went to 2 sessions (Pay per day sessions) and I never returned because again it was about learning how to read music..

I'm now 21 Years old about to go into my MD/PH.D program in about a year and 6 months for psychology. When I get into the program I will not have time to learn guitar. And this is probably the last chance I have in the rest of my life where I have as much as 15+ hours a week of free time that I am simply waisting away playing video games to learn something productive.

So I want to try one LAST time.

I have just signed up for a class at my college in Classical guitar. The class is literally called Classical Guitar I. It is the beginning levels of guitar. The professor has a 4.8/5 Rating on rate my professor and is widely considered the best guitar instructor on campus.

Why am I even posting here? you might be asking yourself after reading a wall of text no smaller than an article review


Well I know myself to the point I know I need motivation.

I know I need advice and I actually do listen to positive and productive things people say to me.

Very often this helps me keep going push harder and succeed.

I am trying this as another technique getting involved with a community that has a passion for guitar.

I would love to hear some stories of how long it took you to learn, when did you start playing at what age? how old is to old to learn ? and how long does it take to become a decent guitar player?

I just want to hear some comments, maybe a few encouraging words of advice. Anyhow I hope to get some people who are willing to read and provide some feedback.

I just think its funny....There's a much larger chance of me getting 2 Ph.D's in my life than there is of me ever learning to play the guitar and that makes me both angry and a bit depressed. My biggest motivation is disbelief that I am unable to learn to play this instrument!
#2
Well, I started playing at 8, (I'm 15 now), and it's never too old to learn an instrument! As for how long it takes to become decent, well, that varies from player to player, depending on amount of practice, motivation, past experience, etc. There's no real measure of how long it takes to be good.
Splawn Quickrod
Avatar Contemporary 2x12
Various Pedals
PRS Custom 22
Ibanez RG560
American Standard Strat
#3
Buy Volume 1 of Aaron Shearer's Classical Guitar technique and before you even open the book, learn the notes for the first 5 frets of *every* string. It'll make things so much easier when learning how to read music.

For learning how to read music, it's fantastic! Do not try emulate the way the author teaches right hand position or how to use a free stroke, there are better ways which your professor will be able to show you when you take the class.

Remember, have patience, reading music is much more rewarding in the world of music if you plan to be a session musician or if you're playing with an ensemble/orchestra and what not. Tabs will limit you to guitar and bass which is fine if you're just going to be in a normal band but then you can't really notate rhythm/dynamics properly on tab.

EDIT: I started playing electric guitar 3 and a half years ago and I started playing classical guitar 1 and a half years ago. You're never too old to learn but your teenage years are the best to learn an instrument because of the way your brain develops during puberty.

It's not about the amount of practice you do, it's about the quality of practice you do and what you're aiming to achieve from it. Of course, you will need a huge amount of practice to be considered good in the classical world but you won't need as much if all of the practice you do is carefully done and done properly.

The good thing about learning classical guitar is the availability of countless works that will help you improve; they're called studies, estudios or etudes. They're basically designed to focus on an aspect of technique like an exercise but they're structured loosely like actual pieces. Here's an example of one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEg68PBHnoA

This etude focuses on bringing out the melody through a rest stroke with the ring finger (known as the a finger in classical guitar), notice how melodic it is? You'll come across countless etudes of similar and greater quality as you learn. While this etude isn't something you should start off with, alot of the beginner etudes are still quite nice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHH0hwruVmw

While this video is rather crap in terms of tone and playing, this is one of the beginner etudes (grade 2 guitar) which you can probably pick up easily if you apply yourself very well.


Anyway, good luck with your playing and best wishes!
Last edited by XianXiuHong at Jul 9, 2010,
#4
I started at 17 I think and I'm 20 now. Once you actually get the hang of the reading music part it gets a lot easier! I still don't consider myself to be that great of a player yet but I am able to read music pretty well. A nice trick for reading is to learn the notes and write it out. It'll keep you motivated to learn them better and its just convenient overall
#5
Shearer's later books, released in 1990s are far superior to his earlier ones, much pricier though.

The problem with the approach used to read music by Shearer and the overwhelming majority other guitar tutors is that it is fundamentally unmusical. By that I mean it is based on the layout of the guitar - you know the approach 'here is the first string, here is e',f' and g' (Helmholtz notation), Next there is "here is 2nd string, here is b,c,d". What the student gets at this stage is, in ascending order, b.c,d', e',f', g'.; an unfinished locrian mode. Musically speaking that's not a good way to introduce the ear to intervals and notes. And the procedure carries on for all 6 strings. I think most tutor book authors are too plain lazy to think outside the square that imprisons them on this issue.

There are some books that introduce the notes starting on the tonic, sayfor example the 3rd string g, and introduce the notes in an ascending major scale, in this example from g to g' on 1st string. That's far better from a musical standpoint.
#6
my husband is an excellent guitarist, and he can't read music at all - he started when he was 15 and is more than double that now. i was forced to take classical lessons when i was 11 to 14 where they made me learn to read music. i hated it, and stopped the lessons soon as i could. fast forward years, and i play much better now because i love what i'm doing rather than suffering through it. i've played many shows, played with a number of bands, and all this came about after i forgot how to read most music almost entirely
#7
sheet music is way overrated UNLESS you're trying to make a career out of playing. which, obviously you are not. if you just want to play just for the sake of it, for fun, or for any other reason besides making a career out of it, why fret over reading sheet music? if you have fun playing by ear, or tab even, have fun dude. if you dont need sheet music, ya dont need sheet music
#8
Quote by stilt37
sheet music is way overrated UNLESS you're trying to make a career out of playing.

That's absolute rubbish. Reading music is of immense benefit to anybody interested in performing classical repertoire regardless of whether they wish to be professional or otherwise. Convincing performance of much classical repertoire is made much more difficult without being able to read music and take advantage of the information it conveys.
It's also highly beneficial, but not always an absolute necessity, in many other performance styles.
#9
If what you say is true then maybe I am trying to learn this the wrong way. Maybe learning how to read music really is not the right way for me to personally play guitar...I mean god knows I absolutely hated taking classes on it. And From what I hear if you hate doing something like playing an instrument then your probably not ment to do it..or your doing it wrong. I love holding my guitar, and learning a few tabs here and there but I don't know how to learn without the proper structure. The problem is to get the structure you need to take a formal class in which they will teach you to read music...

Is there any other way to learn guitar? Is there some kind of learn by tabs class or easier way to learn?

Also My main focus is to learn to play classical music...so for this purpose is learning how to read music the overall most effective and easiest way to learn this specific category of guitar music?
Last edited by alazar14 at Jul 10, 2010,
#10
There are books that have tabbed classical music, although for classical reading music is, indeed, the most effective way to learn, because there's a lot of pieces you will never see tabbed.
#11
Compared to standard notation tablature is grossly deficient in the amount of information it conveys in even moderately sophisticated music. There is no politer way to put that, it's a fact.

Believe me, I'm a classical guitar performance grad and full time teacher of guitar, if you choose to learn classical guitar sans music you are in for a very difficult time of it, with a high probability of a disappointing outcome, even for trivial music. Why would you choose go the difficult route?

No offense meant, but in regard to learning notation you seem to have a 'hang-up' as my generation used to put it. Yet you can read, write english, and are intelligent enough to enter university. I suggest you address the real problem, you are probably capable of doing so. Reading music is/can be easy, I've taught hundreds and hundreds to do it, over twenty years I've only had one failure - a young girl who had previous experience in the Suzuki method, she, as you once did, pulled the wool over my eyes and memorised her lessons. Trouble was it only took her so far, very soon the music got too long and complicated to keep that up: resulting in a trainwreck.

I'd never say learning classical repertoire without music is impossible, just that it extremely difficult. And tab is no substitute.
Last edited by R.Christie at Jul 10, 2010,
#13
I think the sheet music is easy. If you have the time and motivation and you practise a little every day, you will pick it up very fast. Whether it will make you a better guitarist or not is a pointless debate, I prefer to think in terms of knowledge. It never hurts to know something more, does it?


I started playing guitar I think roughly 5 years ago, but I'd been playing the guitar since I was 5 or 6. Asking how long it takes to get good is a hard question. It depends on how much you put into it. I don't believe that musical talent, some natural disposition towards music, comes into play until later stages as a musician. ANYONE can learn at first. It all just depends on how much time you dedicate to it.


But yeah, go for it.
#14
Being able to read sheet music is immensely beneficial, but not completely necessary depending on what you want to play.

I, for one, also do not read sheet music for guitar. I play guitar for fun, not because I want to perform. So for me, it really doesn't matter. Playing by ear is just fine.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
#15
Well I own 2 books right now which I bought a few years ago. Both are basically new. One is guitar for dummies. Although iv lost the audio CD and the other is Solo Guitar playing 1 by Frederick M. Noad Fourth edition.

How possible is it to get a head start in learning how to read music on my own? I mean if I was unable to do it with an instructor it is probably to hard for me to do it alone then again...when I had the instructor I never had much free time because I was taking 4 other classes. Maybe now that I'm in summer brake and have 20+ hours of free time a week I should crack open the books go online and get a head start..

Secondly I have read on a lot of places online that classical guitar players let their fingernails grow long. I can't do that for 2 reasons.

#1 I have a history of bacterial infections which means I have to be super hygienic at all times otherwise I get very sick.

#2 I have become sort of a Germa-phobe so I keep my nails extremely short.

Can I still play classical guitar with short nails?
Last edited by alazar14 at Jul 10, 2010,
#16
honestly not that hard. you can use books - although i'm a big preferrer of video - or you can even figure the notes out yourself from middle c and high e. do you know where each note is on your guitar in the first 5 frets?

Quote by alazar14
Well I own 2 books right now which I bought a few years ago. Both are basically new. One is guitar for dummies. Although iv lost the audio CD and the other is Solo Guitar playing 1 by Frederick M. Noad Fourth edition.

How possible is it to get a head start in learning how to read music on my own? I mean if I was unable to do it with an instructor it is probably to hard for me to do it alone then again...when I had the instructor I never had much free time because I was taking 4 other classes. Maybe now that I'm in summer brake and have 20+ hours of free time a week I should crack open the books go online and get a head start..
#17
Quote by patticake
honestly not that hard. you can use books - although i'm a big preferrer of video - or you can even figure the notes out yourself from middle c and high e. do you know where each note is on your guitar in the first 5 frets?


No I honestly don't

I just know the name of the strings from the ground up EBGDAE I know the right hand finger names PIMA(S)

Thats about it.... as far as knowing anything about the guitar.
#18
Quote by R.Christie
Compared to standard notation tablature is grossly deficient in the amount of information it conveys in even moderately sophisticated music. There is no politer way to put that, it's a fact.


No offense meant, but in regard to learning notation you seem to have a 'hang-up' as my generation used to put it.
.


Baloney

There is no more stifling straightjacket to creativity than music notation.

I started to play guitar in 1970. Have taught piano, trumpet and guitar for over 30 years. Notation is the death bell to budding guitarists.

How many teenage kids pick up the oboe, French horn, viola, etc. to play for fun ande keep at it when they are 50? In contrast MILLIONS play guitar and millions dabble at classical music without ever reading a music note.

Classical music is NOT confined to snobs in orchestral settings. Take off your blinkers.
#19
knowing that would probably help a great deal.

low e string, first fret is f, third fret is g, fifth fret is a, same as next string

next string a, second fret b, third fret c - that's middle c, btw - on the treble cleff, it's the note on the line below the cleff. fifth fret is d, same as next string

d string - second fret e, third fret f, fifth fret is g, same as next string

g string - second fret a, fourth fret is b, same as next string

b string first fret c, third fret d, fifth fret is e, same as next string

high e string, first fret is f, third fret is g. high e string is the note between the two highest lines on the treble cleff.


Quote by alazar14
No I honestly don't

I just know the name of the strings from the ground up EBGDAE I know the right hand finger names PIMA(S)

Thats about it.... as far as knowing anything about the guitar.
#20
There is no more stifling straightjacket to creativity than music notation.


That's bullshit. Music notation doesn't stifle anything. You don't become more or less creative by learning music notation. It's just another tool you can use a musician.
#21
I started at roughly 14, and I'm about to turn 18. I can't play guitar off of sheet music. I also don't have a problem with this because the kinds of music I like to play don't require sheet music. I've gotten by just fine with tablature and am just slowly at my own pace and interest getting myself to the point that I can tell you where the note are on the neck. Will I be able to read music to play guitar someday? Maybe, but for now, and for my purposes, I don't need to.
Quote by necrosis1193
As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


Quote by gregs1020
plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
#22
Quote by Raptorfingers
Baloney

There is no more stifling straightjacket to creativity than music notation.

I started to play guitar in 1970. Have taught piano, trumpet and guitar for over 30 years. Notation is the death bell to budding guitarists.

How many teenage kids pick up the oboe, French horn, viola, etc. to play for fun ande keep at it when they are 50? In contrast MILLIONS play guitar and millions dabble at classical music without ever reading a music note.

Classical music is NOT confined to snobs in orchestral settings. Take off your blinkers.

You obviously haven't a clue about performing polyphonic music such as fugue and other types of counterpoint.
Nor have you any idea of the psycho acoustic constraints that govern the pitch detail that the human ear can discern at one listening.
Who mentioned snobs or orchestras?
If your experience is that teaching notation is the death bell to guitarists perhaps you ought to examine the way you personally approach and teach it and not blame the tools that countless musicians have used to communicate with for centuries and continue to use. The reason notation exists and is used is because there is a call for it- it's useful. Very useful. And the more complex the music becomes the more useful it gets. It opens whole worlds of information and resources up to the musician and allows them to communicate musical concepts across the board to other musicians.

Anytime music notation is discussed, out they pop, from under their bridges, championing the cause of willful ignorance. It amazes me, in what other field of human endeavor, artistic or scientific, is it claimed that the less you know or understand about the field the better-off you are.

I mean " There is no more stifling straightjacket to creativity than music notation' ,
- for gawd sake, pleeeaase.
#23
To the OP.

My friend, if you have tried several times to learn how to read or write musical notation and you can't, then this should tell you something.

What is it after all? It is a language.

If your brain, does not take well to learning sheet music, then it doesn't and that is it.

As with anything of this nature, it requires more TIME and dedication to allow your brain to make sense of it enough, for it to not impede your ability to play.

You have stated that you do not have TIME and you would rather dedicate the time you have, to actually playing for the pleasure of it.

So while it would be very beneficial to know how to read/write musical notation, I would think you should take heed of previous experience and not worry about it.

Having an in depth understanding of Ballistics, would probably be useful to a long range rifle shooter, but it does not affect the physical approach and deftness of touch that is required to shoot accurately.
Quote by Cal UK

...that's what Skeet always says anyway and he's a sex god.


Member of the official GB&C "Who to Listen to" list


I support Shay van Fani
I can supply WD Music, ABM and AllParts products to UK builders at DISCOUNTED prices!
#24
Dude, you're never too old to learn and play music!

I'm 12 right now, I've been playing for a little over a year, and I'm learning to play notes, I also hate it, but I know, if I learn it, I'll know it for the rest of my life, and it makes things much simpler.

Try making fun little memorizing games out of trying to read notes and playing the music, That's what I do.

Trust me, you need something to inspire you to continue practicing it every single day, and I don't think you've found yours yet. Once you do it'll be a piece of cake =)
#25
Obeythepenguin, what part of

There is no more stifling straightjacket to creativity than music notation.

Did you not understand?

or, for that matter, my previous statement

I'd never say learning classical repertoire without music is impossible, just that it extremely difficult.


The subject of the thread, as clarified by the OP, is learning classical technique and repertoire.
#26
Hey all, lets get back to the OP's original problem, yes? If you would like to continue this conversation about formal notation or guitar tablature, please use the PM system. Keep it civil though. I don't want any complaints.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
#27
Some of the best advice in this thread to OP comes from Megan9987, age 12:

...I'm learning to play notes, I also hate it, but I know, if I learn it, I'll know it for the rest of my life, and it makes things much simpler.
#28
I'm going to try to start with Tabs...take the class when it starts in Sept and if I manage to learn to read music I will in that class. If I can't then I will play the guitar with tabs. No point in always wanted to do something and giving up just because you don't like part of it. Especially if there are ways to get around it.

Ill take the class but for now Instead of busting my head over it ill just pick up my guitar and learn some tabs and actually try to have some fun while playing for a change
#29
In the midst of squabbling guitarists, 12 year old is win. Makes me wish I'd taken up guitar earlier than 17.
My particular case is a bit odd; I was a classical pianist for 12 years before I picked up an acoustic and began learning rock-type songs straight from tabs. I knew piano music theory, and I knew enough theory in general that once I figured out each fret was a half-step, I figured out power chords on my own without seeing them in any other kind of setting. I never took lessons, just learned essentially from printing and playing tabs. I may be a bit off the thread's beaten path considering that I've been working on singer/songwriter, blues, and rock stuff, but I can read music and understand theory quite well on piano, and I can figure out and noodle around with theory for the guitar, yet I can't quite read standard music notation on guitar. Course, I haven't really tried...and I'm not a classical guitarist. Yeah, this went on a train heading south from the start.
Point is, I personally think it's more important to build up your finger strength, speed, etc. by actually practicing songs, rather than by going over theory all the time. Which is obviously just my opinion. But I learned bending well enough to be pretty good on electric guitar by practicing "Black Magic Woman" and others on acoustic with fairly heavy strings. I worked on improving sustain in my playing technique with Pearl Jam's "Alive", the first riff I ever learned.
I'm a bigger fan of the DIY ethic in terms of learning guitar. Pick it up, work on what you want, and get going.
Gear:
Jasmine ES33C
Hamer Sunburst Archtop Flametop
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
Fender Frontman 25R
#31
Skipping some of the posts, so I hope this wasnt said.. but my eyes hurt. I hate learning how to read music myself, I've only dabbled in it every now and then for something new to do. I hear and read that understanding how to read music will make it much more easier to understand the fretboard. Be that as it may, it's not the only way to understand the fretboard. However, going into this class expect to learn it and just keep at it. The way I see it, it's ONE thing you have to learn before you can fully explore everything else on the guitar. If you get through the first part of teh class which will probably be reading music, again... the teacher will move on and you'll learn so much more, you'll begin learning things that YOU want to learn. It's just a steep hill before you're on the top.
#32
Learn how you want to. If a guitar teacher wants you to learn how to read sheet music, just tell him you don't want to. If he refuses then he shouldn't be a guitar teacher. By the I'm quite proficient at sight reading and can read up to the 7th position. But you don't have to learn how to read it to become proficient at guitar.
#33
Ah, don't you just love the modern world.
Where beginners can dictate to teachers how best to proceed.
#34
Quote by R.Christie
Ah, don't you just love the modern world.
Where beginners can dictate to teachers how best to proceed.

Equality at it's finest, bro
Gear:
Jasmine ES33C
Hamer Sunburst Archtop Flametop
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
Fender Frontman 25R