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Hindrances to learning in anglo tutors


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I think this overlooks the point that when most of these tutors were written they would have had a fairly limited circulation and would be aimed at a specific audience with a shared musical culture.  The authors may have been working in relative isolation and may even not been aware of other types of tablature when they invented their own.  Or they may have felt that those existing systems of which they were aware were inadequate and attempted to improve them.  The internet has changed all that, but we forget how difficult it was to find information even as recently as 20 years ago.  When I began playing more than 40 years ago there were very few resources, and very few ways of discovering that they even existed never mind how to gain access to them.


No system of tablature is entirely intuitive.  They have to be learned.  Some may find one system is easier for them to learn, but what appeals to the one player may be challenging for another. We all learn in different ways. The question is, now we have better communication and greater opportunity to compare them, will one system begin to prevail?  And if some still find that system is not intuitive for them, will they invent their own and add to the proliferation and confusion?


I doubt any author thought it would be helpful to start beginners off with tunes they hadn't heard before. On the contrary, they probably chose tunes which they expected their intended audience would know.  Passage of time and the increased geographical range offered by the internet mean that we no longer share a repertoire of common tunes. The OP is in west Pennsylvania, I am in England - if I were to write a tutor I would have no idea what tunes we might have in common.


Perhaps I was lucky. When I started to learn I could find only one printed tutor ( I can't remember which).  It was old-fashioned even then, and I didn't know many of the tunes (although they would have been known to the original audience for whom it was intended). I had the same problem learning guitar - Bert Weedon's 'Play in a Day' was then only about 10 years old, but popular music had changed radically since 1957 and I was not familiar with many of the tunes he had included. My problem with the concertina book was not the tab system it employed but that it wasn't teaching either the type of music or the playing style I wanted to learn. I stopped using it, and began to learn by ear. I would suggest the choice of a tutor should depend more on the style you want to learn than the tab system it employs .


Both tab and conventional notation are not ends in themselves. They are not music, they are just fairly clumsy attempts to represent music, and in the case of tab to indicate how it might be played.  But tab in particular is a dead end, since outside beginners' tutors and a handful of other tune books there is very little music written in tab.  My advice to a beginner would be to use it as a pointer, as an aid to learn to find their way around the instrument, but above all to depend on their ears to discover where to find the notes. If you are going to put a lot of effort into learning written music, learn conventional notation and figure out for yourself which alternative fingerings work best.

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