Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 26

Thread: How important is learning standard notation (for solo/finger style)?

  1. #1

    Default How important is learning standard notation (for solo/finger style)?

    I am taking James Hill's course and trying my best to learn standard notation, but I've hit a point where it's starting to go above my head. I'm sure it's ideal to learn standard notation - but my question is, are there enough solo arrangements out there written in tab that I'd have plenty to choose from without needing to learn standard notation? Or am I going to be doing myself a huge disservice not learning it?

    My goal is to just have fun and play for myself. I'm not looking to be anywhere near a professional. But I do want to play solo / finger I'm hoping there's enough out there in tab that I'd have plenty to choose from. Yay or nay?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    West Virginia, USA


    I have been playing ukulele for two and a half years. I also did the James Hill's course. I did not really spent time to learn standard notation on ukulele until just a month ago. I wish I had learnt it from the beginning. It is a drag but I feel it is well worth the time. As far as tabs, there are plenty out there and you'll never run out of supply. I still prefers to play tabs given the choice, it is just much easier. However, learning to read standard notation now will broaden your musical ability by far. You will be able to play just about anything written on treble staff.
    A day without playing uke is a day not well lived.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Los Angeles - The Foothills


    I learned notation for classical guitar years ago, and attempted a little piano here and there. When I took up 5 string banjo, it was tabs all the way. When I started ukulele, I found my previous guitar experience made it very confusing to play notation so I have stuck to tabs only. I have found a lot of satisfying tabs. I have enough knowledge to use an app like Guitar Pro to translate notation into tabs if needed. Tabs are very helpful in that they clearly help you with left hand fingering. That is always something that notation and stringed instruments have to deal with. A note can be played in many different locations. Figuring that all out is a whole extra layer to the process, and tabs help a lot (although sometimes you alter them for your own preference).


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.


    Tabs are OK, learning a bit of music notation will allow you to create your own tabs, knowing how to read notation whilst playing will open up the whole musical landscape to you - take your choice.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    East Midlands UK


    I play 'by ear' and by instinct. My brother in law has tried repeatedly over the past fifty years to teach me to read music, and whilst I am academically skilled in certain areas, my brain just goes 'la-la-la-la' after a few minutes and refuses to take the information in! But hey,whatever works for YOU is great, give it your best shot and go with it!
    All power and respect to you Concert,Tenor and Baritone players, but Soprano is what does it for me every time! (And my beautiful Sopranino!)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Ames, Iowa


    I learned standard notation in fourth grade music. The lines are EGBDF. You remember it as Every Good Boy Does Fine. The spaces are FACE.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Southern California


    I’ve been fighting this battle since I started playing stringed Instruments in April 2014.

    I’ve been playing different musical instruments for 72 years, but mostly wind instruments and piano. I can read treble clef, tenor clef and bass clef. I started playing strings with ukulele for singing accompaniment but have since moved on to banjos, mandolin and tenor guitar.

    I say I’ve been fighting because I’ve never liked tabs. I also fought against finger picking, but my ol’ brain would not learn and retain chords and insisted on playing melodies — ahhh, well . . .

    So here’s what I’ve learned: If one is ONLY gonna finger pick, then standard notation is very useful and good to know. It opens up lots of material to play. However, if one is gonna sprinkle his/her music with chords, then tab is much easier. Even I prefer tabs if chords are involved. And, as long as one plays in just one tuning, standard notation is okay. Lastly, if one is gonna deal with music at all, notation is good to know, BUT . . . I think playing by ear is best of all. Lotsa musicians are able ta just pick up their axes and wail! And that’s what I’m continuing to blither with now.
    Last edited by Down Up Dick; 02-27-2019 at 05:02 AM.
    Kala "Spalted" baritone - Lo D GBE- Fingerstyle
    Gold Tone tenor banjolele - Lo F BbDF Fingerstyle
    Luna “Peace” concert - CGDA (5ths) Fingerstyle

    Kala tenor eight string - gGcCEEAA Strum
    Flea "Red" concert - Hi-F BbDG Strum
    Kala "Exotic Mahogany" soprano - Hi-A DF#B Strum

    Mahalo yellow "Smiley" soprano (Dad's Day gift)
    Ka-Lai Pineapple soprano (old) gift

    Old age should rather be feared than death. - Juvenal
    God gave us old age so we wouldn't mind dying so much.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Grand Rapids, MI


    Nothing you learn is ever wasted.

    I’m a Simply Dreadful reader on keyboard but I’m nonetheless trying to learn notes “the right way” on guitar.

    Maybe someday I’ll be a Simply Dreadful reader on frets too
    Concert: Lanikai LU-21C (Aquila Nygut)
    Soprano: Kala KA-PWS (Southcoast Machete)
    Baritone: Kala KA-SBG (C: Southcoast LL-NW, A: TBD)
    Tenor: Kala ATP-CTG Aquila Nygut

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Sunny Jersey - where the cows come from!


    Much the same point of view as several other replies ... TAB is fine if the music you want to play has already been converted (and there is a lot of it out there!), but there's an awful lot of music that is simply very unlikely to ever be "Tabbed" ... if you can't read music, at least to a basic level, you are potentially missing out on a very significant repertoire.

    Restricting yourself to prepared TAB means you are restricting yourself to what other people want to play and have bothered to notate ... me, I want to play what I want to play, which may well be in standard notation in a collection of music prepared for the recorder, or tin whistle, or banjo, or ... or... or ... you get the idea

    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
    it just makes me walk funny!

  10. #10


    Good thread. I am also a classical guitar and flute player, so read standard notation prolifically, even sight reading difficult pieces. On the uke, I took the time to learn the 'different' standard notation, but almost never use it. Like some many skills, if you don't use it you lose it. I have a gig repertoire of over 40 pieces in tab, so find very little (if any) need to use or transcribe standard notation to tab.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts