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Introduction to Piano Tabs

piano tabsOkay, let’s get one thing straight. Pianolessons101 is not a big fan of standard piano tabs. For us, the words piano and tab are like oil and water. They don’t mix. However, in the spirit of open-mindedness, here are two sites that have some useful related information: www.pianotabs.net and www.tabnabber.com.
We feel that in the time it will take you to become fluent with piano tabs, you could easily become fluent with music notation. Standard music notation can enhance music to be of much greater interest, complexity and quality then a piano tab could ever hope to accomplish. Try notating a Chopin study in piano tabs. It would be an absolute nightmare to try to create the chart, let alone play it from the tab…and we don’t think Chopin would have approved!  

In our beginner piano book entitled Dan and Joe’s Survival Manual for New Piano Students, we use charts to illustrate note letters and fingerings. But these do not look like standard piano tabs and they are merely meant to be a step towards actually reading proper notes.

Speaking of fingerings, piano tabs do not calculate fingerings into their charts. Therefore, they cannot be used by serious performers. Musicians memorize mainly by touch. Inconsistent fingerings will make it virtually impossible to play a piano piece from memory and without mistakes.

So do piano tabs have a place in music education? For a beginner who simply wants to find a few notes on a keyboard, tabs are okay. But this method of learning is only temporary. They do not have an important roll in the learning process of a serious musician. One final point: musicians only really have fun when they expand their horizons by conquering new and interesting challenges. Piano tabs are not used in that way. The papers that piano tabs are printed on do, however, make handsome decorative paper airplanes. According to our research and experiments, piano tab paper planes seem to fly equally well both indoors and outdoors. Enjoy! 

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