Many new musicians have a major problem with learning sheet music. This is not because it’s hard to learn, but rather because it looks hard. As a result they avoid practicing the essentials.
To many people, sheet music looks like an impossibly complicated foreign language. They see notes and numbers all arranged without a discernible pattern and assume they’ll never be able to interpret them accurately. In reality, however, the biggest bar to learning sheet music is your own hesitation.
Unfortunately, many simply skip it altogether. They think that they’ll be able to get by with guitar tabs or some other form of instrument-specific notation. They are sadly mistaken.
Learning sheet music is an essential part of expanding your repertoire and abilities. You can’t get around it. Even though there are alternate forms of notation that might help you get through the initial learning stages, they each have their own problems that will ultimately make you a worse musician.
Guitar tabs are a common example. By arranging numbers where you need to place your fingers, guitar tablature diagrams make it easy to find proper placement by counting. Unfortunately, they don’t teach you anything about why those particular numbers were the right ones to play. When you try to improvise, you immediately hit sour notes and give up, dejected.
Without sheet music, you can’t play your own sounds, you’re just condemned to blindly following someone else’s order. You’re also limited to playing with whatever instrument that notation was written for, making it harder to collaborate with other people.
Sheet music allows you to translate a piece of music to any instrument. Although most people commonly associate it with playing the piano, sheet music lets people work together with a stunning variety of tuned instruments, even ones that weren’t originally designed to work together. It’s essential for those who want to play with others.
The secret benefit of sheet music is that it lays everything out in a regular, numerical pattern. When you look at a chord, or a group of notes, you can easily understand the relationship between the just notes by observing the number of spaces between them. In an instant, you’re able to write a similar chord using a different group of notes and make a nice sound with it. You can also use this ability to find easier fingerings for the same groups of notes because you know which notes need to be played.
Another big benefit of learning sheet music is that it makes scales easier to learn. Figuring out which notes are in tune with each other is much simpler when you can mark them down on the sheet music staff. Even if you’re slow at first, you can just count off how many notes come between each successive pair until you’ve figured out the whole scale.
If you’re learning piano or any other Western instrument, you need to learn sheet music. Don’t make the mistake of trying to play without understanding the basics behind what you’re playing. Once you learn to read sheet music at a glance, you’ll instantly be able to work your way through any song from start to finish.