3 Keys to Start Learning Songs On Guitar
How You Should Learn Songs - And What You Should Learn From Them
So you picked up a guitar so you could play your favorite songs. Or maybe you wrote a few in English class and you think a melody could do it well.
That's fine -- I'm not here to judge. I did the same thing. And that's why I'm gonna show you how it's done.
Or, at least the best three ways to start.
Tempering The Storm: Picking The Right Songs
This first key to start learning songs on guitar is brought to you by the minds behind your favorite band, iTunes and the Recording Industry Association of America.
Why? Because they're the ones delivering music to you. Lots of it. Thousands of songs spinning around your head. And you wanna play them all, don't you?
Well here's the thing, you gotta take it slow. No one ever picked up a guitar and played the back side of Zeppelin IV. Even the best of shredders start with a slow, simple song.
This is the reason why the same songs are the "first songs played" by guitarists. The reason why almost anyone that knows more than ten songs can count 'Smoke On The Water' or 'Wonderwall' as one of them.
Start easy. Start slow. Play the simplest diddy you know. It's the way to learn guitar as fast quickly as possible.
...Like Playing Baseball Without A Glove
Second tip is chords. And it's a big one. Chords are, well, uber-important. Trying to conquer a song without knowing chords is like playing baseball without a glove. It's going to be difficult.
So learn your basic chords. Chances are, if you're picking simple, easy songs to start on, the chords will be basic. The chord progression -- how you change from one to another - will be simple.
These are the genetic make-up of songs. The DNA. The lifeblood. Learning the easy major and minor chords will give you the essentials to play millions of songs. And if you followed key #1 above you'll be playing one of these millions.
Chords become important because they're actually HOW you play the song, not just introduce it. That first part is called the riff and that's what most people recognize. However, you can't play most songs with just the riff, and no one wants to hear you play 14 seconds of a song over and over.
This kind of speaks to a larger truth about playing songs - especially at this stage of your guitar career. You should begin to think about song as "vehicles" for learning. They will help you GET places with your playing, but try not to make songs your endgoal. You don't want to be JUST that guitarist - but a well-rounded one.
Too many guitarists just learn to finally play songs and songs only. They don't use songs to make them a better guitar player.
That's why we are encouraging beginners to try StringNinja, our guitar-teaching program. In it, we break down songs so that you learn the song while also learning a larger lesson in guitar playing. Using the song as a vehicle and not a destination.
The program also teaches you how to become a well-rounded guitarist. Once you get to this point, learning songs is easy. Super easy, in fact. It makes more sense to go this route and learn songs easily in the future rather than trying to learn songs in the beginning and struggling.
Getting Past The Riff
Here's the dirty secret about playing songs and not just jamming with your friends. The secret about songs that you don't know until you start playing them.
They're kind of boring.
Yeah, yeah, I said it. Most of the song is just sort of strumming chords to a beat and making sure you keep up.
Riffs are exciting, yes. Solos can be damn near orgasmic, we know this. But truthfully, how much of the song do those make up? Sometimes not much.
Yet, they're what everyone knows.
Have you heard of the 80/20 principle? It's a sales thing that says 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.
Songs are in the same bag. But more like 95% of the recognition comes from 5% of the song.
Your friends will recognize the riffs you learn. They may not know the middle part of the song. Maybe not even their favorite song.
BUT, if you wanna play songs, you gotta learn these middle parts.
For now, though, those are your three tips. The three starters. There's more, of course. These won't get you playing songs. They'll get you started though.
If you wanna play songs you'll want to check take our free 5 day course. You'll be rocking through whole albums before you know it!
And, if you want a headstart on learning some songs, and your skill level is ready to take on the project - check out our selection of videos designed to teach you a specific songs!
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Alternate picking is essential to practice early! More info on String Ninja...