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  • Writer's pictureRon Dickson

Learning A Song

Learning a song is not as simple as “playing the music.” We also need to understand the feel and structure of the music to learn it properly.

The earlier a person starts learning the feel and structure of a song, the easier it is to learn. As the difficulty level of our playing increases, the challenges associated with learning the song increase correspondingly.

First, we need to listen to the song. Unfortunately, many people fail to start listening to the song and skip past this step, but doing this tells us a lot of information we need later.

Next, work out the chords. For a beginner, that requires finding the music as it can be challenging to work the chords out by listening. It would be best to try working the song out if you know some basic chords. Working out the chord structure of a song is essential for ear training. Then play these chords with single strums along with the music getting the chord changes in the correct place.

Now we have the chord structure in place. Next, we need to get the rhythm correct, a far more challenging task than learning the chords. Rhythm is far more noticeable to everyone when it is wrong than playing incorrect chords or making mistakes with chords. Attempt to work out the rhythm and strumming pattern by ear. Once learned, play with the music to get the rhythm and chords in time.

A quick interrupt. In my years of teaching, one of the most common things a student does is not play along with the music because it is hard to do. The response is usually “I wanted to learn the song first.”, This method can work, but it is significantly longer, more frustrating, and generally, the song learned inaccurately.

After playing the song with the music a few times, you know the general structure. You know the chords and rhythm, and the song will be recognisable to others at this point. So now we can concentrate on fills, dynamics, lead breaks, and all the fancy bits people go for first.

And always remember, We are learning the whole song. We are not learning just the Intro, first verse and chorus…

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