Traditionally with clandistine music instruments such as the Cuatro, the knowledge of how to play is passed down from generation to generation. The father teaches the son, the son learns some songs from his uncle, the uncle plays along with the man who lives down the street. Cheo Hurtado is such a person who happened to learn how to play the Cuatro by listening or by ear as well as from his family members. It is for this reason why today, he like many Cuatro players are unable to read music as all playing is learned through ability and through creation.
Cheo Hurtado does indicate the importance of having an academic knowledge of music. The importance of reading music grants for persons with the ability to play many songs and to interpret master pieces by the greats. The recommendation is always to familiarize yourself with how to read sheet music and try to avoid learning in the traditional sense.