Don't Marry Your Tablature

by Linda Ratcliff

At jam sessions, I have noticed the tendency for a group to play the same tune through several times, verse after verse after verse.  Now, many of you have set up your music stands with your notebook of tablature right in front of you.  And I’ve seen you reading your tabs for that tune, over and over and over.  Now there’s nothing wrong with that … except … I think it stifles creativity.

My system is to learn the basics of a tune, and then put the sheet music or tablature away.  I have noticed my wrong notes actually lead to ideas for variations.  And if I couldn’t play a tune a different way each time we repeated it, I might get a little (ok, a lot) bored.

May I make a suggestion?  Set up your music stand with your notebook of tablature right in front of you – like a security blanket.  But leave the notebook closed.  Start playing by memory, and just open your notebook when they play a tune with which you’re not as familiar.  You will see your confidence grow when you can leave behind the tablature.



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