You answer: is it better to know how to read music or to be able to play by ear?

"Buy Mummy, I don't know what any of these notes are."
"Buy Mummy, I don't know what any of these notes are." (Image credit: Cultura/REX/Shutterstock)

If you're a classically-trained musician, it's all too easy to cock a snook at people who can't read music and are products of a 'listen and learn' approach. You've spent years studying theory and learning to read music, putting you a cut above those who haven't. Right?

If you've honed your instrumental prowess by playing by ear, you might be inclined to disagree. It's all very well being able to read music, but is that really a superior skill to being able to hear a song a few times and work out how to play it? If you're in a covers band, do you really want to be the person who can't play the new number you're working on unless someone gives you a chart?

It's a difficult one to answer, so we're throwing the question out to you, the MusicRadar users. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on Facebook.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.