Reading Guitar Sheet Music: 4 Tips for Beginners

Being able to read guitar sheet music is a great skill to add to your arsenal. To become a better musician, learning to read sheet music is vital.

Reading guitar sheet music help increase your understanding of your instrument and allows you to collaborate with other musicians in ways most guitar players can’t. Even if you think you have tons of knowledge about music theories: if you want to wear the ‘good guitarist’ badge with pride, you should at least be able to read music for your guitar.

What Is Sight-Reading?

Sight-reading is a skill that lets you read sheet music with ease at a performance level without needing to hear the material beforehand. Think of it as similar to reading a book out loud in a school setting.

Let’s set a scenario: if you’re asked to read a paragraph from a new book, you’d be able to do that despite never having read that same group of texts before. Except with music, sight-reading is being able to read through sheet music easily as if you’re reading texts in a book.

Why You Should Learn To Read Music When There’s Tab

There are many limitations to guitar tabs, one of which is that it doesn’t notate rhythm. Yes, the notes are there, but you have no idea of their timing without actually listening to the music. And even if you listened to the music, it’s more accurate, easier, and faster to learn to play through sheet music than having the rhythm written out.

Avoid Saying “I read tabs”

Make no mistake, tablature is indeed a handy tool, especially for a beginner. It allows you to have fun playing the guitar without actually reading. That’s good if you’re not too serious about being a professional guitar player.

However, take note that guitar tabs or tablature isn’t sheet music. As mentioned, it only displays melodic content and has no way to show rhythmic content. For these reasons, you can’t sight-read guitar tabs. The more you avoid going for guitar tabs when playing a song, the faster you’ll become a good sigh-reader for sheet music.

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Tips for Beginner Guitar Sheet Music Readers

Learning to read guitar sheet music from scratch is no easy feat. But you have to start somewhere if you want to enjoy and read printable free guitar sheet music for popular songs.

Whether you’re trying to play acoustic or classical guitar, the learning process requires your utmost dedication. So, let’s get started.

1. Empty Your Mind

Forget everything you know about guitar tabs or guitar in general. This is to avoid confusion, especially for those who already know how to play a little bit of guitar. It becomes even more important if you’re already an experienced guitar player.

Are you a solid guitar player who knows chords and can do a solo over a rock and roll song? If you are, that’s great! You have good potential as a guitar sheet music reader because you don’t have to learn technique together reading like most beginners.

However, even if you’re experienced, assume you know nothing about guitar sheets from now on.

2. Find a guitar teacher

It will help if you have a good guitar teacher who’ll guide you in developing skills to make reading sheet music a breeze. This is extremely crucial for a beginner.

Reading is hard, and it takes brainpower and a good teacher to monitor your technique, tone, and rhythm while you focus on navigating the sheet music.

3. Hunt for a Good Resource

Guitar method books are great, but in the end, they’re just that. Most of the things you read in the book are just small sliver of what’s out there in the guitar music industry.

Start hunting for good pieces of sheet music that you can practice with your guitar teacher. Anything will do, and get as much as you can and in as many styles for guitar. Stack it up in your room or where you usually practice reading guitar sheet music, so it’s always within your reach.

4. Read Something Every Day

Remember that stack of guitar sheet music you placed inside your room? Take a look at one page from it every day and read the entire page from start to finish.

Don’t be picky about choosing which tune to play. Read and pay the first page you see in the pile, no matter how difficult it is. After you finished playing the guitar sheet music, place it at the bottom of the stack.

You have to let your eyes and brain get used to reading guitar music as much as possible. Don’t stress too much about making it sound good. Just read a page and move on.

You’re on Your Way To Be the Best Guitar Player

Learning doesn’t end, and just because you can play the guitar with tabs doesn’t mean you should do away with reading sheet music. Hopefully, the four tips above enlightened you to get started on reading sheet music to play a song.

Don’t pressure yourself too much with practice, and try to take things slow. As long as you focus and set goals, your sight-reading skills will improve in no time. As a result, you become a much more valuable guitar player.