Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Reading Tablature

I have been on the site for a few weeks and am trying to make sure I am going about tablature the correct way. I can read it, but I do so very slowly. When learning something a song or lick, I am doing it in chunks (a measure or two at a time). Basically,I am reading the tablature until it is memorized. I am assuming that the end goal is to be able to read it while playing at full speed vs. memorizing?

I think your approaching it correctly as far as doing a couple of measures at a time. If you watch the videos Ben does for each lesson he breaks it down like that. I will say that for myself I dont try and memorize it before moving on. If you can keep interested and learn the whole song that way that sounds awesome. I try and just get the songs under my fingers to play. I only play for me and whoever hears me from the other room at this point, so I dont worry aboutt memorizing the whole song before moving on. At some point hopefully the song becomes muscle memory, not sweating that detail right now though.

— Begin quote from "naturalstate"

I am assuming that the end goal is to be able to read it while playing at full speed vs. memorizing?

— End quote

I have always used tab simply as a way to learn a song. It’s just a different way (as opposed to standard notation) of specifying note values and duration. I never considered (much less pursued) a goal of being able to sight read tab at performance speed. Sight reading of tab or standard notation isn’t something I have seen in bluegrass. By the time I get a bluegrass song learned well enough to play it at speed, it has been committed to memory and tab is no longer needed.

Thanks guys!

Like mreisz, I use tab just to learn and only sight read it if I haven’t memorized the piece. The advantage of tab over std notation is that the position of each note is indicated. For classical guitar sight reading is commonplace and annotations are used to help with position and fingering(right and left hand). For lute playing, there are four basic tab notations: English, French, German and Italian and sight reading lute tab is commonplace even in concerts. I’m most fluent in std notation and English lute tab. Bluegrass and traditional acoustic fare are new to me as is the tab for this stuff. My goal is to memorize things and play free of sheet music/tabs like all those flat pickers like Tony Rice, et al. Tablature is only a means to an end and for me it starts very slow every new piece Ben posts.

I have been at tab for three or more years and I now can read it and play but it is slower, as Mike said it is not music to play but music to learn by . I started out using a bar at a time but now can use more bars and sometimes can play through a tune complete . I know people play piano reading it and if you pull the sheet music away they stop playing . I would rather memorize my playing the guitar just because of the dynamics of instrument, and the ones you have around you playing . It is a great tool as the Nashville number system is a good tool for backup players. I would learn that system also . it saves a lot pf paper and time . Keep at it you will get much better at it as time and practice allow. Good luck on you learning and hope you enjoy what you do . the spacing of the notes also help with note values in tabledit .