Learning Songs

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BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 141
Ok, this is probably going to sound totally ridiculous to you guys but does anybody else have this problem or have any ideas on how to learn songs??? My mate and I have been playing together twice a week on and off for ages.  We usually play the same selection of stuff but despite having played each song loads, I still have to use a chord sheet because I cannot remember the chords and it makes me feel so stupid and amateurish.  I am wanting to play a few open mic nights but I am going to look a right arse getting up with my sheets.  I know the songs well but I just cannot commit them to memory for some weird reason. Does anybody have any suggestions - other than give up playing - that might help before I go crazy!! 

Its really holding me back as I would love to just be able to learn a few songs that I could just play through without a poxy sheet in front of me! Like a proper guitarist would do. I am only talking chords here too, not soloing.  I am such a looser!!  HELP!!! 
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  • LegionreturnsLegionreturns Frets: 4500
    I use set list helper on my tablet, which has lyrics and chords if wanted. I use a tablet clip attached to my mic stand. Looks a lot less intrusive than bits of paper. Maybe try that? I think the app cost me about £3. 

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  • LegionreturnsLegionreturns Frets: 4500
    Here's a random screenshot I found on Google so you can see what it looks like. 

    You can also set auto scroll or use a Bluetooth pedal page turner.


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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 141
    I use set list helper on my tablet, which has lyrics and chords if wanted. I use a tablet clip attached to my mic stand. Looks a lot less intrusive than bits of paper. Maybe try that? I think the app cost me about £3. 
    Hey, that's great thanks! It would be a big help, at least it looks a bit more pro than my tatty bits of paper! I will investigate it.  I have got an older iPad that would be perfect for that! Thank you so much. 
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  • markblagdonmarkblagdon Frets: 630
    I’ve found singing along helps as the melody you sing has a relationship to the chords you play. It also helps you remember the song structure.
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  • CarpeDiemCarpeDiem Frets: 108
    I tend to work through the song in sections initially, eg intro, verse, chorus, bridge, not moving on until I've learned each section. I then play along with the song to ensure I know the song, and then without it. I also listen to the song repeatedly so that I know the structure.
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  • munckeemunckee Frets: 1224
    I generally focus on a couple of songs at a time and when I practice I play both songs at the start when I'm cold, widdle and play other stuff old and new, then half way through play both songs through in their entirety again, then repeat finishing on them before I put the guitar down.

    No science behind that just always done it.  Most songs stick some I can never remember the right bits in the right places.
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 6982
    I have some bits that don’t seem to ever stick in my head. However, if I work out a song's structure with pen rather than guitar in hand that helps. Just work out how it all fits together, writing it down. Intro riff, first verse, second verse, pre chorus, etc,etc. Sometimes counting the bars even, just trying to really understand how the song was put together. 
    Sometimes it's most helpful with familiar songs because they aren't structured how I hear them in my head. 
    Dum dum dum, dum dum de dum, dum dum dum, dum dummmm.
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  • markblagdonmarkblagdon Frets: 630
    Also try the Justinguitar - sing the chord names as you play method - theres lots of examples of him doing this on his youtube channel. Helps you remember the chord changes. 
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  • JAYJOJAYJO Frets: 773
    Try practising without the sheets infront of you. See how far you get before you get stuck. Quite often your hand will play the chord even if you have forgotten what the next chord is. Practise recovering when you do get it wrong. 
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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 141
    Thank you so much guys! Some great suggestions thanks.  The annoying thing is, I know the songs well, know the lyrics and where the music goes next but just can't seem to tie the chords to it in my head! 
    I will definately give them all a try thanks as I need to overcome this. Have signed up to Set list helper too! 
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  • LestratcasterLestratcaster Frets: 341
    I listen to the song from start to finish first (without my guitar) and map out the layout of the tune. Then divide up the sections into lengths, e.g intro 4 bars, verse 8. This is all before I've worked out any harmony or melody.

    Singing the phrases or saying the chords out loud help too, I do this with my students. But one thing they tend to struggle with is playing from memory, or keeping up with the tune. They just can't remember what the next chord/section is, fall behind and just stop in the middle of the song.
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 3861
    edited March 27
    1. As others have already said, study the structure of the song. Most songs are actually pretty straightforward once you understand how they're built. For example in the Amazing Grace screenshot above you'll see that lines 1 and 3 use the same chord sequence so straightaway once you've learnt line 1, you don't need to work too hard on line 3.

    2. Don't practice until you get something right; practice until you're unlikely to get it wrong.

    3. Try and practice without the paperwork. Daunting at first but it will become easier.

    3. For open mikes etc choose songs that are well within your capabilities - better to play an easy song well than to play a more difficult one badly.

    4. Check out...

    http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/285/one-chord-progression-songs-suitable-for-jams-or-encores/p1

    ...for some songs that shouldn't be too taxing.
    It might look like I'm listening to you, but in my head I'm playing my guitar.
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  • SnagsSnags Frets: 273
    To add to all the above, I'd say you also have to force yourself to do it without the prop of the paper (or screen, or phone, or whatever).

    I've played in church bands for over 30 years, and have probably played some very popular songs hundreds of times, but I can only remember a tiny, tiny handful off by heart. Because at rehearsal and in the service, I have the music in front of me. So I can be lazy.

    Contrast to when I thought I was going to have to take part in a client's charity 'talent' show, and was going to do the equivalent of an open mic with 'normal' songs. Learnt some that are easy to do busking versions (Bad Moon Rising, Stuck In The Middle With You, I'm A Believer, Hurt ... stuff you can do simply on an acoustic) with. All have really simple basic chord patterns, so it's play along with the song, then take the chords away and play along with the lyric sheet, then take the lyric sheet away and play it from memory, only looking back when stuffing up.

    Then after you're comfortable doing it all from memory, do it all along to the record, and discover just where you've changed the words, chords, or lyrics :)
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  • PlectrumPlectrum Frets: 490
    My eyesight has deteriorated so much with age that I have no choice but to commit the songs to memory :) I think it's just a matter of repetition to commit it memory.
    One day I'm going to make a guitar out of butter to experience just how well it actually plays.
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  • MtBMtB Frets: 397
    The few songs that I have learned to words to off by heart have been done using the (somewhat tedious) method that Frank Sinatra supposedly used. Which is the write down (or type for computer) the lyrics for the whole song multiple times over a couple of days - directly copying the original first, and then by the 3rd or 4th time it seems to commit to memory.

    Have done the chord progressions of a song in a similar way.
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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 373
    Most open mics I see these days, people turn up with their a4 folder with their lyrics and chords and have them on the music stand in front of them
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  • icu81b4icu81b4 Frets: 5
    Here's a tip I got from ....... Wait for it ...... Tommy Emmanuel, when I broached the subject of me having to learn lots of new songs he said, "Only learn one at once, Ideally you want to get to the point where you don't have to think about what you're playing on stage and can focus on the performance" 
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