If You Can Read Chord Charts, You Can Learn Songs Faster

A chord chart is a basic map of a song that fits on 1 or 2 pages. It usually provides the following information:

  • Style
  • Tempo
  • Key Signature
  • Time signature
  • Form
  • Chords
  • Important rhythm figures and signature riffs

If you can read chord charts, you can learn songs faster.

Most guitarists can’t read and are intimidated by the idea because it’s just not the way most of us learn to play – and that’s totally fine. I sure didn’t learn that way.
In fact, just learning to make sound on your instrument without any outside input is sometimes the best way to start.

But if you want to grow to where you’re performing in a variety of genres and environments, learning to read a chord chart is probably worthwhile. And I’d say the minimum reading skill any musician should have.

And it’s just not that hard to get started. You can learn even if you’ve never tried to read anything.

Imagine this scenario:

  • The band leader schedules a rehearsal to learn 5 songs.
  • Each musician learns the songs on their own.
  • Because there’s no common road map for each song, the rehearsal becomes tedious and maybe even contentious because everyone has learned the song slightly differently.

There are minor disputes about some of the chords or parts. Working on specific sections is challenging because there is no common agreement about the form. A lot of time is wasted because of the different approaches the band members took to learn the song. There’s a little chaos, and by the time the frustrating rehearsal is over, only 2 or 3 of the 5 songs are learned… and… everyone is exhausted and frustrated.

The musicians who had their stuff together are irked by those slackers who wasted their valuable time by not having it together.

Now imagine this scenario:

  • The leader tells the band to learn 5 songs, but in this scenario, he or she provides each musician with basic chord charts.
  • Everyone learns their parts using the charts as a guide.
  • The charts provide all the information listed above – Style, Tempo, Key Signature, Time signature, Form, Chords, and important rhythm figures and signature riffs.
  • Now everyone is reading from the same page – literally.

Because everyone uses the same charts, the rehearsal is efficient. The road maps (the forms) are the same for everyone. If the sections of the song are labeled with markings like A, B and C, the leader can quickly direct the band to a location that needs work. If everyone has done their homework using the chart, the rehearsal goes smoothly. The leader can effectively run the rehearsal and by the end, all 5 songs are done.

Everyone leaves feeling positive and that they didn’t waste their time. Fretboard Biology spends a lot of time with chord charts. You learn how to read them and write them.

The two opposite scenarios described above should illustrate the reasons why, at a minimum, everyone should learn to read a chord chart.


If you are serious about improving your guitar playing, there is simply no other program like FRETBOARD BIOLOGY. This is the only program that combines all the benefits of a structured professional guitar program with the low cost and convenience of self-learning.

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