How To Practice Guitar -Learning Songs pt. 2

here is part 2 from last weeks blog on Methods for Learning Songs.


Set Up


Having an organized area will be of great assistance in how to practice guitar . I don’t want to waste any time looking for a pencil, pen capo, slide or paper. I create a work space just for this purpose. I have a table set up t the side of my computer desk. On it is all of the required tools.


The Formula


When it comes to actually learning the music here’s what I do.First  listen through I catch form, key and time sig.  Also on first listen I’m thinking in my mind what position the guitar parts could be in. Capo or no capo? Open tuning?


At this point I’ve written down the key sig and marked bars on the chart. The next listen I map out chords. Before I chart out any guitar fills and riffs, I want to know the chordal foundation of the song. This way I have a better understanding of the function of the lines and fills.


It’s gives me get another angle of association when trying to memorize. Plus if it’s a song I can take liberties on, I have solid footing to begin. Assessment of the situation is crucial when deciding how to practice guitar .


On the 3rd listen it’s time to write in all specifics. Details details details. Hits, breaks, fills and any other nitty gritty bits.


Some music may take further listens. The point is not how many times it takes yo to listen, more of that you have specific tasks appointed to each stage.


Order Order


I follow the same exact routine for each song. The whole point of developing a system is to save time. Constantly changing your system will disrupt your flow. I follow each step of listening and compiling information every time.


Think about an assembly line. Do they change the order of manufacturing every time they make a new bag of Pirates Booty? Nope. They devise a system that works and stick with it. Some of these same principles apply with how to practice guitar .


Amazing Slow Downer


Once in a while I’m learning a piece of music that makes it difficult to hear the frequency of the guitar, or the panning is confusing, or it’s really fast and would take a long time to figure out at tempo.


The amazing slow downer is a great app that lets you not only adjust the speed of the song, (faster or slower) but adjust pitch. On some recordings the tuning is not exact. This can be maddening. But, relief comes when I adjust the pitch by a few mere cents. Calgon take me away!!


Props to Matt Basile from the band Mother Feather for turning me onto this app. It came up in a discussion about learning song form. Matt mentioned that he uses the app to speed up the song two or three times faster just to review the form. That was a great tip on how to practice guitar .


Especially if you’re memorizing music and are on your way to the gig. Let’s say you only have a 20 minute train ride, but an hours worth of material. You could review all song forms for the set in 20 minutes if you chipmunk that trunk!!




There are times where artists decide to perform their songs in a different key live. It’s not really a big problem except it makes playing along to the track a little difficult when reviewing. Yet another way the amazing slow downer could really help out learning songs.


For instance a student wanted to learn a Jimi Hendrix song a few weeks ago. Jimi had tuned down a half step on this tune. I was strapped in time and didn’t feel like dealing with detuning my Stratocaster with spring tremolo bridge. In one press of the mouse the song was in standard tuning. This was a time saver in how to practice guitar .




The eq section is graphic. I can cut or boost frequencies. If the bass is covering up the guitar I cut it so the guitar comes through more clearly.




There is a great knob to adjust it so the left channel comes out of both speaker or vice versa. Great for when the guitar is just in one channel.



Tuner app


It’s important for your guitar to be in tune. Always check before you start playing. You’re going to be greatly disappointed if you start learning a tune only to realize later you’re a half step out of tune from the night before. Epic fail!!




You don’t want to burn out. That’s not a good method in how to practice guitar . It’s good to take a short break after every song. Just a few minutes. Take the time to refill your water bottle. Change scenery for a moment.  Your work will be better when not fatigued.

Tools for Learning Songs

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Guitarist Mark Marshall located at 51 Macdougal St #264 , New York, NY . Reviewed by 11 customers rated: 4.9 / 5
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