Reading the above would sugest you have no intention of learning to read music....ok not a problem, just got to play the songs you like over and over again untill you find the notes that fit, or press a few keys and let the Jah do the rest...
The more i read this the more it comes over as a contradiction in terms, firstly you've got about three options: 1, be able to sight read and play the written piece. 2, be unable to read music and play purely by ear. 3, be able to do both and know what the notes, chords etc are called whilst improvising (because of your ability to sight read).........but why would you need to know what a certain note or notes are called if you cant read music, it's a total irrelevance?
Same as BM says, i couldn't read music when i started playing and it is certainly worth putting the effort into learning the dots, i can read them albeit slowly but i can see an improvement and over time it does get (a bit) easier.
Also if it helps you, why not write the notes under the dots in pencil then when you get familiar with the dots rub out the notes (hope you understand what i mean)
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I know what you mean. I've been playing the saxophone for nearly 45 years and I'm still struggling with reading music. Not my thing. I use to write out all the notes with letters. It helps me. I just read music when I learn a song. My friends use to laugh at me and say my charts are so colourful!
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I found it helpful with my students to point out the relationships with how the notes get their names from their placement either on the staff or on leger lines above and below the staff. The attached file shows those relationships. It boils down to memorizing Every Good Boy Does Fine (or your version of the saying) and the spelling of the word FACE.
For those who may have difficulty putting the names of the notes to the musical symbols, the fingerings to the symbols or vice versa, the exercise that helped my students overcome this difficulty was to "say and finger", or better still "sing and finger" the song or exercise. In other words the students would sing in pitch B A G A B B B---A A A---B B B---B A G A B B B---A A B A G---to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb in rhythm. When and only when they could do that perfectly on a new song, could they play the tune on their instruments. Once note names and fingerings were locked in, then we would move on to singing pitches using syllables for the correct articulations while fingering, etc.