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Q1: I’m interested in learning to play an instrument, but where do I start?

A1: Ask yourself what kind of music you might be interested in. If you like folk music, you might choose a traditional instrument like a guitar, uke, banjo, etc. You can also play a traditional instrument like the Native American flute. (We’re big on the Native American flute here in America.) But there are other flutes you might investigate as well. I own a traditional 6-hole flute from Afghanistan, and it has ferocious volume for such a small flute!

Q2: Would I need to take lessons?

A2: Not necessarily. Check out a brick and mortar or online music store to see what music method books might be available. Check out the music books on this site as well. We specialize in how-to music books.

Q3: What would I look for in a music book?

A3: You want a book that doesn’t require you to have a background in music. If you can read music, fine. But if you don’t know how to read music, that fact shouldn’t keep you from learning how to play. This means the book should use some form of tablature.

Q4: What’s tablature?

A4: Tablature is a music notation system that doesn’t require you to memorize anything.

Q5: Can anyone learn to read tablature?

A5: Yes. A good form of tablature shows you how and where to play a note on the instrument, and this information is available in every note you play. I like to call it music GPS, because, like GPS, a tabbed note shows you exactly where you are on the instrument. Whether it’s a stringed instrument or a wind instrument, tablature will tell you where to put your fingers, and it will also include note duration and any special effect to be applied to a note.

Q6: What are special effects?

A6: On a stringed instrument with frets we’re talking about slides, blues bends, hammers, pull-offs, and flamenco taps.

Q7: Is tablature a new system?

A7: Nope. It’s been around for hundreds of years.

Q8: Is tablature hard to learn?

A8: No. Tablature is very easy to learn. If you recognize number values, and I’m sure you do, tablature is a sure fire way to find the notes on whatever instrument you might play.

Q9: Where can I learn about tablature?

A9: Wikipedia.com has a wonderful article on the history of tablature, as well as a thorough discussion of different tablature systems.

Q10: Can I find tablature tunes outside of someone’s how-to book?

A10: Absolutely. Tabbed out tunes are all over the Net. The tablature notation you find there might vary slightly from the tablature system you’ve learned in someone’s book, but since it’s all a matter of numbers, it’s very easy to adapt to a slightly different system.

Q11: Why introduce a new tablature system? Those who play the piano don’t use tablature. And classical musicians don’t use tablature, either.

A11: True. But you might be surprised to learn that one of the earliest records of tablature is a TAB for the vihuela, an early form of the guitar, and it was written in 1554! It looks very much like the tablature we use today. (You can see the image of this tablature on Wikipedia.com. Just type the word, “tablature”, (without the quotes), into the Wikipedia search field. But your question was why not use the regular music notation, that notation with elliptical notes most of us are at least intuitively familiar with, rather than tablature, a system that might be new to us. We use tablature because it’s a much easier system to learn. The elliptical notes in the western system require considerable memorization and practice. Tablature notes do not. That’s why tablature is ideal for both the beginning musician and the seasoned pro.