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Learn songs quicker!

For many of my students learning how to play other people’s music is a big goal. It’s also one that takes a lot of practice. As with any goal there is a skill set involved. For learning songs this could include…

  1. Knowing how to read tablature or standard notation.

  2. Having the physically capability to be able to play the music on your instrument or even how to practice to be able to develop the physical capability.

  3. To know how to practice in the most effective way to make the most of your time and reach your goal quicker.

All of these are very important skills and I work with my students almost constantly to help them to develop these key areas if learning how to play other people’s music is part of their goal as a musician. It’s not about the learning of other people’s music but learning how to learn that is important. For many students though there are various barriers to completion that they are unable to cross so I will cover some of these in the hope that they can help others.

Ditching The Sheet Music

In the classical world it is often considered the norm to have sheet music in front of the player when reciting a piece of music. It can be helpful as a reminder, especially in ensembles and in long repetitive pieces of music that rely on cues to different section. However in lessons I find that many students have trouble letting go from the music in front of them and often form a dependency on it. Whilst it is good, especially for visual learners, to be able to reference a manuscript even after they have learned it, it can actually be a hindrance over time, particularly if they are still looking to develop playing techniques and timing.

Imagine if you are playing a new piece of music and you have the music manuscript in front of you on a music stand. Generally speaking you have three points of attention; your fretting hand, your picking hand and the sheet music itself. That’s a third of your attention that’s going on each element. Now imagine that you know the order of the notes, the rhythms, articulations etc and have no more need for the music manuscript, outside of quick checks as an aid to member, now imagine how music more attention the other elements will get. Your overall results will improve because you will be able to focus on your weaker areas.

Learning things by memory can be a challenge and probably deserves it’s own blog post but needless to say, breaking the piece down into smaller sections to learn is helpful, even if these sections are a few bars or even a few notes. Next, create a summary sheet or ‘chart sheet’ of the main elements of the song to help you remember the general structure. Finally, have patience and persist! Work towards many smaller goals when learning a piece of music so that you don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do too much too soon.

Playing In Time Consistently 

Playing music in time is an often overlooked el