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Why We Should Avoid Tablature

Let me begin by stating that I love tablature. I use it a lot, both in practice and in my lessons. When I have an idea for a lick, I often write it down on tablature paper. Sometimes I compose something that I want played in a very specific way, so I use tablature to ensure that I do not forget how I envisioned it. With students, tablature is extremely useful for teaching how to play scales, licks, and the riffs in their favorite songs. After all, most performers of popular music are thinking fingerings, not notes, and why should I let a student’s lack of ability to read standard notation get in the way of learning something fun?

However, I also recognize how important it is to read standard notation. It’s the written language of music. Tablature is good for learning fingerings, but its usefulness stops there. Anything that does not require tablature should be presented using standard notation. If a student feels unwilling to learn to read music, what did he think he was signing up for?

In this video, bassist Adam Neely makes an compelling case for avoiding tablature, giving science-based reasons that are pretty hard to deny:

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