How to Learn and Memorize Songs and Solos on the Guitar Better
By Tennyson Williams, Author of The Essential Guide To Guitar Virtuosity
Learning any song on the guitar and making it stick can always be a chore. You should understand that no matter your skill level on the guitar, this is always a challenge. However, there is an excellent system that facilitates memorization, and overall learning process that I would like to tell you about.
The system break down
The system literally consists of breaking down the song piece by piece, and it is such a simple and effective approach that it is often times overlooked. Unfortunately, a lot of beginning guitarists know that they should work on a song in sections, but even then they often times go about it in the wrong manner.
Actually breaking it down
The best way to learn any song or guitar solo is to divide the overall mass of that song or solo into very small sections. Lets say that you have a guitar solo that is very short, yet is unusual and hard to remember. Let us also say this guitar solo has a total of twenty-five notes. In this case, the ideal way to learn it and make it stick would be to work on five, five note sections, starting from the beginning of the guitar solo.
The system doesn’t just stop their though. Now that we understand that we have to break a song or solo down into sections, lets take a look at the actual breakdown in great detail:
The first step is to memorize the notes and the patterns on the guitar so that you can quickly find them without hesitation. Make sure that you take the time to pick them out as intended. This part is a bit more mechanical, because this is where you should focus on technique. If a guitar solo requires a certain type of picking, like alternate picking, then make sure that you include this during the memorization process. This also speaks true of learning any chords or chord structures for the main part of a song. If the strumming or picking process of a series of chords is clear from the beginning, then this should be included in the memorizing of a piece.
This is where most guitarists quit and move on. Don’t do this. Instead, after you have adequately memorized the notes, work on the phrasing of those notes and try to get them to a point where they sound like they were intended to sound. It can be very difficult to go back and try and do this after you have learned the solo or song as a whole. You should be very aware that this is your next task.
Now its time to move onto the next section of the song or solo. For now, abandon the first part that you were just working on, and focus on the very next section. In the case of our 25 note guitar solo, this would be the next five notes. Use steps one and two to get this section down, just like you did with the first part of the solo.
The connection process is very, very important and is really the key part of this whole system. Once you have mastered the first two sections of a song or solo, start with the first section and try to go straight into the next section. Its important to learn a song or solo at a slow rate of speed, regardless of how fast its supposed to be played, so that you can connect these sections in good timing. Remember, you don’t want to have to pause before each section so that you can set up your fingers first. This is very irritating for both you the musician, and the listener.
5. The lump sum
Its a funny title, but it works, because what we’re talking about now is lumping the pieces together. Its true, that in the case of the 25 note solo you only have ten notes down, but you should start thinking of those ten notes as one complete section of the solo.
For the next five notes, repeat steps one and two. Move onto the next fives notes and also repeat steps one and two. Then – you guessed it! make the connection between those two newer sections.
Now you have two complete sections as well as the majority of the solo down. Your job now is to use the connection process and lump these two larger sections together. Now you should have one complete section of the solo down. There are only five notes left. Use steps one and two, and then starting from the very beginning of the solo, attempt to connect the last five notes with the large section that you have put together.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can learn a complete song or solo by doing this. Now its true that if the song or solo utilizes difficult techniques, speeds, phrasing, and/or time signatures, that this will still be a bit of a burden. However, this really is the process to go with, because now you can use this process to up the annie of the speed of certain sections or to focus on the individual techniques. Just make sure to keep everything balanced. You want to strive to keep everything as even as possible throughout the song or solo.
This learning tactic is also excellent for learning classical guitar pieces, as they tend to consist of many sections anyways.
In terms of a guitar solo, it does not matter the length or intricacy of the guitar solo, this process is still idea. The more complicated a guitar solo, the better this process will work. If you are trying to master that super insane shred fest that’s been plaguing you, then this should work very nicely.
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