So what do rock musicians really need to know about music theory? and how can we best help our students who really want to be able to read and are prepared to make the effort, but still struggle?

here are some basic ideas to help those students in your classes:

have them learn the bits they need to know to play their instrument

There is very little point in Bass guitar players learning to read treble clef notes, or drum notation. Concentrate on the clef that is used by your instrument, and the aspects that are most important to it. For guitar it really is rhythm. Most guitarists can work out the tablature ok, but I’ve found that they struggle when reading rhythm. Reading the bass clef notes can be a struggle for bass players

Focus on rhythm and pitch as separate things

Each musical event has both a pitch (what note it is) and a duration (how long it is played for). Practice games and drills to develop your skills in both of these key areas.

Listen to recordings and follow along with the sheet music.

Have them follow recordings and name the notes as they follow along, while listening to the recordings.

Get some good music theory worksheets and work through them as a class with the students.

I hope that this article has given a couple of insights and ideas for musicians who want to learn to read music and learn music theory. With a little bit of the right training and a good attitude it really isn’t that difficult to learn to read music.