Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Tabs but no lessons

This I deduced from my experience. (Original thoughts, but many might do this without also knowing! :wink: ) Some things I learned the hard way. The above approach is paying dividends now in my case, so I thought why not I summarize. I’m far off from creativity/imagination though. With decent sight reading skills by now in techniques/chords/scales, I’m into playing by ear.

Glad it answered it for you! :slight_smile:


Hmmm… reading tabs are like reading music except tabs tell you where to play the note on the instrument and often give you which fingers to use.

With that in mind, consider that unless you are quite skilled at reading music notation (and/or tabs), it is best to read the notes one measure at a time. Even though you will/may want to read/play through the entire piece each time you pick it up, avoid that urge and literally read one measure at a time till you can play that measure from memory (without mistakes), then move on to the next measure and learn that one. I understand that taking the learning of a tune one measure at a time may seem like it will take forever, but actually just the opposite is true. By actually learning each measure and then putting them together one at a time, by the time you reach the end of the tune, you can play the entire piece.

Also, by actually learning each measure properly (without mistakes) as you go, you are saving countless minutes/hours fumbling through mistakes you have learned by half learning or poorly learning the tune the first 30 times you play through it. Your brain will learn the tune however you practice it, and if that includes mistakes, then you will need to unlearn those mistakes before you can play it properly.

One last thought. When I would have to learn a difficult classical guitar piece in college I would sometimes do the above by learning the last measure first and working my way toward the beginning one measure at a time. That way I would get stronger in my techniques and memory as I worked my way forward through the tune. By the time I reached the first measure, I could easily play the entire piece. Just a thought.