One of the most common misconceptions about learning guitar is the assumption that reading actual musical notation (notes) is necessary. Undoubtedly, when pursuing a career as a professional jazz or classical guitarist, the ability to read notes is absolutely mandatory.

With that being said, The Beatles couldn’t read notes. Neither can The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, U2, Coldplay, Maroon 5, Metallica, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton, or Ed Sheeran. Nor could Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, or Randy Rhodes. Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel who I regard as perhaps the most talented guitarist today, cannot read music.

In fact, virtually every popular artist or band from the oldies era to today (excluding jazz and classical musicians), do not read music.

What they do however is create timeless and memorable songs. To write a timeless rock guitar riff is obviously extremely difficult, but to be able to play a Stones classic as a beginning guitarist can just take a few lessons.

Learning the essential components that are required in rock, pop, singer-songwriter, heavy metal and virtually every genre of music outside of classical and jazz, is the approach chosen by most of my students, and does not require learning to read notes. Chord charts, strum/picking patterns, and scales mostly taught using “boxes” a few of the core components here.

Alternatively, for those students who are interested in classical or jazz music, a different avenue should be taken which emphasizes note reading, jazz chords, and other concepts that are generally a bit more complex and require a sizable amount of dedication and practice to see results.

Whatever your guitar style or your goals may be, feel free to contact me with any questions about lessons and getting you on that correct path.


* Proudly providing in-home lessons to Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Highland Park, Deerfield, Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Glenview, Northfield, Skokie and Evanston areas.

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