7 Tips For Learning A Song

Everyone loves learning new material and I am often asked “what’s the best way to learn a song?”.

I don’t particularly believe in a “best” way, but here are some tips to help you learn a new song!

1) Break it down!

Practice small sections of the song. The harder the song, the smaller these sections need to be. It may just end up being three notes – but that’s ok! Learn one section at a time before combining them all together. When you do combine them, just put two sections together. Then add a third, and so on until you’re shredding the whole song!

2) Listen to the song – LOTS!

I remember listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody repeatedly back when I was a teenager. I really wanted to learn the solo but my guitar was off getting fixed. When I got my guitar back, I opened up the guitar tab and played the solo with near perfection almost instantly. This was because I knew it so well that i could basically press play in my head and listen to the whole thing from memory. This process also helped me memorise the solo instantly!

3) Memorise fret numbers!

This one sounds obvious. But it’s amazing how helpful it is for so many students. I often tell students to put their guitar down (this is one of the only ways to stop a guitarist from playing!) and repeatedly say aloud the fret numbers – just like repeating a phone number. Once you’ve memorised what you’re playing, it will certainly make your life much easier. This tip is especially helpful for young students.

4) Practice the technique behind the song!

This is one of the points that we are HUGE on here at UGA. If you’re not learning the skill behind the song… what’s the point?! We use exercises, practice routines and other tools to help students learn and develop the necessary skills for playing songs. The skill to practice will of course depend on the song!

5) Split up your hands!

Learning something really difficult? Practice just the left hand. Then just the right hand. Then combine. I’ll be honest, this is kind of boring. But it works! I’ve found it especially useful it you’re having difficulty with the picking or fingerpicking.

6) SLOW!

Ok, so this is ridiculously obvious and such a cliche. But really, it’s probably my biggest tip for someone who’s having difficulty learning a song. I always use the quote “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”.


Yet another obvious one. But here are some ideas of HOW to practice a song effectively.

Idea 1 – Choose a song (or small part of a song) and make that the song that you play whenever you are bored, have a spare five minutes, are just watching TV ads or any other wasted time. It’s amazing how many songs I’ve learnt by keeping a cheap guitar out all the time (never keep your good ones out!) and using it to practice 1 to 2 minutes at a time.

Idea 2 – Play ONE song. I once heard Tommy Emmanuel say that when learning a new song, it’s a good idea to play only that song for the first one to two weeks. This would mean that if you practice for an hour a day, you’ll only be playing one song for that entire hour. Every day. I’m not sure if I really like this idea because I prefer holistic practice sessions (i.e. scales, exercises, songs etc in each practice session), but I can see the merit in this focused approach.

Well, there you have it. Try implementing at least one of these ideas – it might take some conscious effort and thought. But that’s ok because you will benefit from it.

I would absolutely love to hear from you if you’ve implemented some of these ideas, so feel free to hit us up over at our Contact Page!

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