By Peter Edvinsson

I guess it is an established fact that guitarists often are poor sight readers. Maybe not you but the rest of us!

One reason why it is difficult for many guitarists to read sheet music is that you can find the same note on different strings. It is pretty easy to master the notes on the first four frets on your guitar but when you reach the fifth fret you have to decide on which string you are to play a note and you also have to find the fret. Making decisions has never been easy!

Do you have a good ear? Can a good ear be your enemy when trying to read guitar sheet music?

Pupils with a good ear, like you and me, can develop strategies to find notes without really learning the exact position on the fretboard. One strategy is to listen your way around until you will find the right note on another string.

This strategy will of course work but you will not develop your sight reading skills. A good ear is an asset but nevertheless you will have to make a conscious effort to learn the fretboard in order to be able to find the notes automatically when looking at the sheet music.

Many guitarists when playing sheet music are continually looking at the fretboard in order to put down their fingers on the right fret. This is not good for your sight reading skills. And not for your neck!

One reason for always looking at the fretboard is that you are used to it. The remedy for this is of course to practice reading the sheet music without looking at the fretboard.

Practice this skill with easy pieces in the first position and pay attention to correct fingering which will help you finding your notes without looking.

Just an honest question: Do you learn to sight read when you sightread?

When you practice sight reading you have to be aware of the fact that you cannot use the same piece of sheet music many times, maybe just once, else you are just kidding yourself!

After having practiced on a piece of music it is of no use for developing sightreading skills anymore. You need new fresh material to work on. Play a lot of easy pieces that you can play accurately the first time without looking at your fingers.

You can download my easy guitar compositions if you want some free sheet music to work on.

Hopefully you will find these easy tips helpful when making the effort to become a better sight reader!

Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and learn to play resources at

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