Why You Should Hate Every Song You Learn

I’m always saying to my students that you should “hate every song you learn”.

What?! Does this mean I only teach my students songs and bands they hate?!

Of course not. Read on.

I’m sure there’s a movie or episode from a TV series out there that you love, but have seen a thousand times and can practically recite verbatim. Many one liners can instantly bring back vivid memories of famous movie scenes;

“Asta lavista, baby”


‘That’s not a knife…now that’s a knife”


You know these lines because they are from classic, memorable films that you have probably seen countless times. I know I used to watch Toy Story excessively when I was young. As a result of viewing it so much, I know the film back to front and inside out.

This is exactly how you should be with your songs. You should know them back to front and inside out. If I were to ask you something like “Play the chord progression for the bridge” then you shouldn’t need to look up what chords there are, how the strumming goes and what the timing is. Your response should be to immediately play it, without hesitation and minimal mistakes. No thinking needed, it’s practically a reflex.

So how do we achieve this?


And lots of it. I want my students to know their songs so well that when I say “Let’s play Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl” their response would be “Again?! We’ve played it like a hundred times already, I’m so sick of it now.” When students reach this point, then they clearly know the song well indeed.

There’s an old saying in martial arts – “Don’t fear the man who practices a thousand punches one time. Fear the man who practices one punch a thousand times”. Guitarists should be practicing their songs a thousand times each, rather than just playing through it once then thinking “Yeh, I know that now”.

Here are some ways you can practice songs sufficiently and effectively…

  1. Daily Routine. Make a song part of your daily practice routine (you do have a daily practice routine, right??). Simply play the song once each day. A whole year means you’ve played it 365 times!
  2. Repeat Sections. Choose a section and loop it over and over again. This is particularly useful if you’re wanting to improve the quality of your song and get it ready for a live performance.
  3. Backing Tracks. Play chosen song along with the music. Ok, this one’s kind of obvious, but I’m amazed at how many guitarists don’t play along with the song they’re learning.
  4. Practice In Multiples. Most guitarists play a song once and want to move on straight away. But it’s the repetition of something that drives learning, so you should practice your song several times in a row. Your whole guitar practice session can be playing five songs along with the music.

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