Is reading music essential to being a good musician? Obviously NOT! …there are too many good musicians who do not know how to read a lick of written music to successfully argue that point!
Can it be a very help tool and skill to have? ABSOLUTELY!
Wait… I’ve heard that learning to read “sucks the soul out of your playing.” Is this true? No. But, there ARE millions of musicians in the world who were only taught to “play from the page” and were never educated in the proper balance between reading and actual feeling, emoting, and creating in our musical experience.
This would be like an person only being able to hold a conversation if they could read the words. That sounds pretty absurd doesn’t it? …but this is essentially what Classical musicians are doing.
One the other end of the spectrum, many fiddler’s and rock musicians tend to hold the skill of reading at suspicious arms length, when it would probably only take a couple weeks worth of practice to learn this most useful educational tool… and a tool it is… to be put away when it’s use is finished… nothing more.
Not knowing how to read “music” … or “Staff Notation” as it is more properly termed, is kind of like not knowing how to read words… that would not mean that one was stupid, as evidence has it that there have been many brilliant people in history that did not know how to read… but only that reading signs and navigating through our world would be more difficult and cumbersome… imagine trying to get directions to “123 Montgomery Ave.”… when someone tells you to take left onto “Wadsworth street” and a right onto “Jefferson Ave”… you’d be easily lost! Reading staff music is much the same… If you want to learn a Led Zepplin tune… you could pay someone like me to “spoon feed” you every note, or just simply go to your favorite music store and buy the Led Zepplin book and teach yourself!
Check out the “Non-Reader’s” Page for more info.
I encourage comments below.