Should one take the time to learn traditional standard notation music or simply learn tablature? Tablature is a well known form of music notation for stringed instruments. It is far more simple than traditional sheet music and it is learned much quicker than traditional sheet music. While tablature has some advantages over standard notation, I still recommend that students of the guitar learn to read standard notation along with tablature. The reasons are:
- Tablature, while easily learned, is also far less specific than standard notation. It contains very little other notation aside from the notes played and rhythm and timing is very difficult to properly indicate within tablature.
- Standard notation is a universal, across-instrument, language and form of notation. If one learns to read standard notation, then one can work with pieces of music written for other instruments and connect this music to the guitar even if there is no tablature for such music.
- Standard notation also helps the student to think about music theory as well. In tablature it may only be necessary for the student to know where the fingers go on the fretboard. With standard notation, the student must also think about notes, key signatures, timing, tempo, rests, and so on. Standard notation will prepare the student for further study of music and will provide the student with a level of versatility that tab-only readers do not have.