Either way, tab or standard notation, is just fine as a way of learning solos that someone else has created. But in bluegrass jamming, people have to “think on their feet” and learn to come up with solos based on their ability to follow chord progressions with notes that fit in the chords, and put in melody notes or pre-learned “licks” where they can. So we actually don’t use written notation in our classes at all, but work on developing ear skills.
We want students to cultivate (with help from a teacher) ear skills such as the ability to remember and anticipate chord changes, and eventually to correctly guess chord changes, and to find melodies by ear. Most students recognize if they lack ear skills and understandably wonder how they will ever learn them. A teacher saying, “It comes in time,” may not be enough to overcome a building pessimism. However – a student who jams regularly gets ample evidence of their developing ear skills at every session.
“But can I use it anyway?”
We encourage you to just leave the tab and notation at home…or in your instrument case! Use the time at camp to learn those ear skills. Unless you are the song leader and need the lyrics in front of you, books shouldn’t be used during class. Read more about what to bring to class/camp.
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