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The Woodshed: Tab Dependency

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JJ Rocks Article # 82:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 19, April, 2008
There are many tools to help someone to learn guitar music and one of them is tablature. But unfortunately too many students depend on it for their only form of musical education. I have had students who have failed my class and went on to dedicate their musical lives to only learning tabs and completely bypassing the basic fundamentals of music like scale and chord structure. And some of them are now impressing audiences with licks mimicked from tabs but still dont know how a minor 7th b5 chord is constructed. This is not only a bad shortcut to take but also a dead end street when it comes to interacting with other musicians and a complete display of ego overcoming common sense.

Tabs should only be an aid for learning and not a replacement for musical knowledge. But too many students are just out to impress their friends or an intoxicated audience screaming for Free bird. Thats ok if it reaches the goals of any individual seeking only recognition from those who cant recognize the difference. But this approach never works when someone wants to head in the direction of being a true musician and communicating with other members of a band in musical terms. Im sure that a keyboard player in a band who is looking for a guitarist wont want to hear that what you are playing is on the tenth fret! And without knowing the basic math that all music comes from, this person will be left in the musical dirt while someone who did their homework gets the gig.

But I am happy to say that most of my students do their homework and will never be faced with the embarrassment of having the door hit them in their non musical ass while leaving an audition that required more than reading a bunch of numbers on dotted lines.

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