Learn Songs Faster In 6 Easy Steps!

If you’re looking to learn songs faster on your guitar, then you’ve come to the right place. 😀

I created this post because I’ve been receiving a lot of questions from guitarists about how it’s taking them WAY too long to learn songs online.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but if this sounds like your situation, then you might be thinking that there is something wrong with your hands or your guitar or your guitar technique.

Actually, I’d bet it’s none of that stuff.

I’d say that 90-95% of it has to do with poor practice technique.

But it’s ok, no one really teaches this stuff well, so it’s not your fault. 🙂

 

The 3 Amigos

When I organized the questions, I came to the conclusion that there are 3 main types of “Practicers”:

  1. The Practicer who wants to practice their guitar more often, but gets psyched out by the thought of practicing for 30-60 minutes a night, so usually doesn’t practice at all…
  2. The Practicer who practices for 30-60 minutes a night, but never really feels like they’re making any significant progress…
  3. The Practicer who understands exactly what they want to get out of their practice session, has an efficient practice technique under their belt, and makes more progress in less time because of it.

Since #3 is rare (I should note that some of my friends who are professional touring guitarists don’t even practice that effectively, so don’t sweat it), I thought I would focus a little bit more on #1 and #2, so you can gain a better understanding of what goes into a productive practice session and what mistakes you might currently be making in your own guitar practice.

 

The Truth About Practicing

So which of the 3 types of “Practicers” are you?

If you’re reading this article, then my guess is it’s #1 or #2.

It’s important to know this number before we begin because your Awareness will be an essential skill in your guitar practice (what you hear, see, feel, think, etc.) and Awareness can always be improved.

I’ll tell you that regardless of what number you’re starting at, you’ll be doing yourself and your guitar playing a HUGE favour by adding more direction, more purpose, and better technique to your practicing.

So read on and I’ll guide you through a practice technique that is very quick and very effective!

 

Rocking The Boat

Ok, this might be controversial, but you actually DON’T need to practice 30-60 minutes a day to get noticeable results on your guitar.

I’ll repeat that: you don’t need to practice your guitar 30-60 minutes a day to get noticeable results on your guitar!

You just need to know what to do and when to do it. What you need is a solid Practice Plan.

Haven’t you ever heard the sayings:

“Do it right the first time.”

“Keep it simple, stupid.”

“Practice makes perfect.”

Well, somewhere along the line, practicing got mixed up with just trying something over and over again until you maybe possibly might just “get it”.

As you probably know, this is usually a dead end strategy that doesn’t get you the fast results you want on your guitar.

So let’s tweak the saying to “PERFECT practice makes perfect.”

And there actually isn’t that much to it (see below for details).

When all is said and done, you can get A LOT out of even 5-10 minutes of practice a few times a week if you know what to practice when.

That’s exactly what this article is about…

Overview

This article is divided into 6 sections, each representing a different step to learning songs faster on your guitar.

I’ve included an infographic version of this post for you as well as a text version.  You can download a PDF version of the infographic here.

View the text sections of this article by clicking on one of the links below to view the song learning techniques from that section:

Let’s start with the infographic… (Click the image to enlarge or download the PDF version)

Learn Songs Faster In 6 Easy Steps!

 

And here is the text version, including an example from the song “Hysteria by Muse…

How To Learn Songs Faster In 6 Easy Steps!

Follow each step in order and you’ll have a powerful practice routine at your fingertips in no time!

1. Pick A Song You Love

This is the MOST important step!

Developing your Guitar skills THROUGH Songs & Riffs you love is the best approach because:

  • You know what the end result should sound like.
  • It will keep you motivated to practice your guitar often.
  • It’s WAY more fun than playing boring exercises!

2. Gather Resources

Now that you chose a Song/Riff, it’s time to gather a few things so you know what to play:

  • A TAB, Chord Diagrams, or a Songsheet
  • The Target Tempo (i.e. 90BPM)
  • A metronome and a recording device
    (your phone will most likely do the trick)

CLICK HERE for a list of recommended Sites & Tools

3. Segmentation

The secret to learning a new Song/Riff fast is to SEGMENT it into small sections and master each one before moving on to the next.

This will program the parts in both your mind and your fingers (muscle memory).

Most guitarists try to play too much at once and keep making the same mistakes. This is usually why little to no progress is ever made.

Look at your TAB/Chord Diagram/Songsheet and start with the first few notes (for riffs) or 1-2 chords (for chord progressions). This will be your first segment that you start practicing.

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4. 3xWMM SEQUENCE

Believe it or not, practicing a Song/Riff over and over until you just “get it” is far from the best way to learn. It actually takes WAY longer this way than if you had a solid strategy. So now let’s take your first segment and play it so slow you CAN’T make a mistake (think super slow motion).

Play at this speed 3 times Without Making a Mistake (3xWMM) before moving on to Step 5.

Focus on accuracy and NOT speed.

5. Re-Assemble With A Metronome

Now that you can play the segment 3xWMM slowly, it’s time to bring it up to speed!

Set your metronome to 50% of the Target Tempo of the Song/Riff (i.e. 45BPM).

Now play the segment 3xWMM at this speed. Every time you can play 3xWMM, increase the tempo by 5BPM. Continue this process until you either can’t play 3xWMM or you reach the Target Tempo.

If you want to keep practicing today, go back to Step 3 and develop the next segment.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 12.11.25 PM

If not, then move on to Step 6.

6. Tracking + Completion

Write down your last Comfortable Tempo and record yourself playing the segment(s) you practiced today. This will help you track your progress. Start tomorrow’s session by listening to the recording and then playing the segment a little slower than you ended today (at least 10BPM slower).

Then continue to build up to the Target Tempo using Step 5.

Sometimes it will take a few days or weeks for the Song/Riff to “arrive”. Even though it may seem like this method takes longer, it’s actually a lot faster since Steps 3-5 prevent and eliminate mistakes. This guarantees that you master each segment and each song in the least amount of time possible and keep it in your muscle memory for years to come. Enjoy! 😀

 

Did you know?
There’s such a thing as “OVER-PRACTICING”? It’s true. You can actually confuse your mind & fingers when you feed them too much information in the wrong sequence, leading to a lot of unwanted mistakes and poor “muscle memory”. If you can play a part 3xWMM then it’s time to move onto something different (different speed, different part, different song, etc.). Or else you run the risk of OVER-PRACTICING and making very slow progress.

 

Conclusion

So there you have it.

6 easy steps to learning songs faster on your guitar.

With this method, you really only have to practice each segment once through and then you can move onto adding the next segment because you’ve programmed your mind & fingers so effectively!

Goodbye OVER-PRACTICING!

 

Need A Video Walkthrough Of These Steps?

Check out the Fast Practice Formula for step-by-step video walkthroughs of 3 Practice Plans like this one.

Click Here to Access this Practice Plan for only $10!

Action Plan

Now that you know there is more that goes into successful practicing than just “playing something over and over again”, my goal for you is to get more accomplished in less practice time and move from being a #1 or #2 and become a solid #3.

Download the Infographic and refer back to it until you feel 100% comfortable with the method.

I’m curious, what song are YOU going to tackle first with this method? Please leave a comment below and I will help you start deconstructing it using the 6 steps.

I look forward to hearing from you. 😀

 

Thanks so much for reading and talk soon,

signatureSteveakaVØID

About Steve (aka VØID)

Steve (aka VØID) is the owner and head Guitar Coach at Rockstar Mind. He is a self-taught guitarist for 20 years and a professional guitarist & Major label recording artist for 10 years (touring the world opening for and performing with big name acts such as KISS, Hinder, Finger Eleven, and Our Lady Peace). Most importantly, he has been coaching struggling guitarists for over 15 years to quickly overcome their playing obstacles and play their favourite songs on guitar. After his father was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer, Steve put his music career on hold to become his primary caregiver. He created a fundraising initiative called VØID Cancer where he uses proceeds from every sale to create new programs for patients and caregiver. All in his father's honour. Connect with Steve (aka VØID) on Facebook.
About The Author

Steve (aka VØID)

Steve (aka VØID) is the owner and head Guitar Coach at Rockstar Mind. He is a self-taught guitarist for 20 years and a professional guitarist & Major label recording artist for 10 years (touring the world opening for and performing with big name acts such as KISS, Hinder, Finger Eleven, and Our Lady Peace). Most importantly, he has been coaching struggling guitarists for over 15 years to quickly overcome their playing obstacles and play their favourite songs on guitar. After his father was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer, Steve put his music career on hold to become his primary caregiver. He created a fundraising initiative called VØID Cancer where he uses proceeds from every sale to create new programs for patients and caregiver. All in his father's honour. Connect with Steve (aka VØID) on Facebook.