Playing By Ear
Our most important tool as a musician is our ear. I recently picked up a song book from one of my favorite bands. When I started to learn one of the songs, I noticed a lot of differences between the tab and standard notation. At this point the only way to figure out which one was right was to listen to the song itself. In some cases the tab was correct and in others the notation was correct. This made the book a very unreliable resource in learning the song.
There are many tutorials on Youtube and many tabs floating around on the internet. These can get you in the ball park but can’t always be trusted. I highly encourage all of you to first try to learn your songs by ear. It starts as a slow process, but in time you will get better and faster. You will make mistakes, but even I still make mistakes when transcribing. Every time we do it, we get a little better at it. If you get stuck or if there is something you can’t hear then find a video of the song being performed live and see how it’s played. Use Youtube and tabs as another tool to help you learn, but your primary tool should always be your ear.