By Jake Willmot
There is a worldwide crisis going on that is hurting musicians without them even realising it, or if they do realise it they are in too deep that they feel too unconfident to solve it. How did this come about?
Well once upon a time a long long time ago, musicians developed the skills they needed to become a musician, everything from their physical playing abilities to music theory knowledge, their aural skills etc. People faced challenges when they were developing their skills but they got there in the end.
But then one day, disaster strikes! This has brought the death of aural skills to musicians.
In the 1990’s the internet came along, which brought a lot of advantages and a lot of disadvantages but here is something which began the problem that exists with many musicians today. As the internet aged, online guitar tabs were coming along through the 2000’s and the present, which was fine.
But then musicians have started to heavily rely on tab and neglected the most important skill to develop. Their ears. Have you ever seen anyone try to figure something out by ear on their instruments, especially on the guitar? You do not see it as often as you used to. Back then before the internet came along people had no choice but to develop their ears which in the end gave them the ability to express themselves fully as a musician. Sure people had tab books but people relied on tab a lot less than they do today.
Now you might be thinking “why is that a bad thing? I can find almost any song and learn how to play it really quickly without wasting time trying to figure it out.”
Well there are some issues here:
1) It is NOT a waste of time to spend time trying to figure out a song or a part of a song you like by ear. This will build up the skills which will allow you to do many more great things as a musician which you will not be able to do if you just type in “Sweet Child O Mine guitar tab” on google and get a tab which may or may not be correct. What does this do for you apart from increase the speed you can type on the computer? Not much.
2) This is the exact mindset which causes problems for musicians. They no longer see the importance of ear training and that is why musicians skills are suffering.
So how do you cure yourself or avoid taking damage?
1) Try to figure out a song you like first before you go and look for tab.
Now do not get me wrong, I am not saying you can never use tab. What I am saying is do not just go to tab without trying to improve your ears. If you try to figure a song out but you just can’t figure it out then look at the tab. It is not important to necessarily figure it out correctly every time, it is the process of doing this and growing your skills which is important. Hum the parts you want to figure out as it is playing, after it has been played and before it plays.
2) Improvise with your guitar to improve your ears. Sing as you play.
Improving your aural skills does not have to be separate from playing. You can do both at the same time this way. This will improve your ability to imagine music in your head and instantly play it on the guitar. This skill gets ignored when you just read tabs all the time.
3) Practice imagining, singing and figuring out your own melodies on guitar.
This will be really powerful for many reasons. There are simply too many reasons to list here.
About the author: Nobody gives better guitar lessons in Exmouth like Jake Willmot does! He has training on how to teach the guitar which will mean that if you want to play the guitar and live in that area, you can not go wrong with him. Aside from teaching one hobby that he has is martial arts, particularly MMA as there is something relaxing about hitting some pads at the end of the day.