Music students spend a lot of time studying musical notation, terminology, and theory. Of course, many musicians don't read music while they perform, so this emphasis on reading is obviously not related to one's ability to play their instrument. Rather, it's about learning the language that musicians use to communicate, and that is an important part of music education that we shouldn't neglect.
However, some beginners aren't able to read music, or they aren't able to learn to do so using traditional methods. It is therefore necessary to allow them to adapt, whether that means learning entirely by ear or approaching notation differently.
Many of my new students inform me, before the first lesson and without me asking the question, that they can't read music. Some phrase it as if they think that's going to be a problem. The fact is, I prefer it when my beginners know absolutely nothing. I like working with students who have some experience. We have interesting conversations and I learn a lot from them. However, it's much easier to teach someone who doesn't already have established concepts and habits. I don't have to worry about my method conflicting with whatever method(s) previous teacher(s) used or offending them by telling them the bow hold they have been using for ten years just isn't working for them. We can start at the very beginning and build a solid foundation, rather than renovating an existing structure.
But sometimes, after we get started with lessons, it becomes apparent that when the student told me they couldn't read music, they weren't actually apologizing for their lack of experience. Instead, they were saying, "The thought of reading music terrifies me." New things can sometimes be intimidating, and musical notation is kind of a strange at first. You have new units of time, and unlike seconds or minutes, they are relative. There's this thing called tempo, and we measure it with this thing called a metronome that ticks just like a clock, but it doesn't just tick once per second unless that's the speed you choose. Then, you have the staff, which is made up of these lines that represent "higher" and "lower" pitch, and somehow you're supposed to connect those lines with the fingerboard on your instrument, even though your instrument has four strings and the staff has five lines.
If you let all your worries about being able to read the music get in your head, you'll panic or shut down and won't be able to play or learn anything until your mind is functioning properly again. And don't let the ink itself intimidate you. Sometimes the way that music is formatted makes it look a lot harder than it is because of the proportion of notes compared to blank space.
Often, students are worried about reading music because they are trying to understand - or think they are expected to understand - too much too soon. You didn't learn to read words in a day. You're not going to learn to read music in a day, either, and that's ok.
Music is essentially a graph, with time on the horizontal axis and pitch on the vertical axis. If a note on the staff is higher than the note before it, you need to go up in pitch. If it's lower, you go down in pitch. And those staff lines are just graph lines. They have no relationship with the strings on your instrument, and if you try to make such a connection, you're just going to confuse yourself. Rhythm can only be understood by counting. All musicians have to count to keep time. Treat counting rhythm as something babyish, a bad habit that you have to grow out of, and that will only hurt you when the music gets more complicated.
The best way to get over your fear of reading music is to make yourself do it, so you can see for yourself that it isn't scary at all once you understand it. While I freely supply videos to students who ask for them, if those videos exist or if I can easily make them, you can't use that as a substitute for studying the music. It's not the same as playing by ear or reading the music separately because of a condition that makes it difficult or impossible to read and play at the same time. If you rely on imitating others, you are limiting yourself because there won't always be someone to imitate.