Remembering Solos

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Greenman13Greenman13 Frets: 0
For the last few months I have been working myself through the excellent Dave Celantano's Caged Commander course on Truefire which has been good because it has allowed me to learn the major scale in all 5 positions. There are lots of exercises to help you with this, and at the end of every caged position there is a solo to learn to put everything into a musical context. The problem is once I have learned each solo and move onto the next one after a while I forget how to play the previous solo. Is this normal and will my development as a guitarist be hindered because of this. There are some great moves in the solos which I probably would not use when improvising over a backing track because I have forgotten them. I want to move onto a course on arpeggios next but feel that I shouldn't until I can play all of these solos in my sleep. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks...
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  • jonnyscaramangajonnyscaramanga Frets: 382
    Hi Greenman,

    I find I have to play solos a lot before the ideas get under my fingers enough that I start being able to use them spontaneously in other situations. It's similar to songs. There are a few songs I've gigged so much that I feel I could not hear them for 10 years and still know them well enough to perform. 

    On the other hand when I used to teach at guitar summer camps, I would learn three songs inside out so that I could teach them without referring to my notes for five days straight. But I couldn't play any of them now because I haven't looked at them since. For a piece to go permanently into my memory I need to play it regularly over a period of months.

    If you just want the technical benefits of learning a solo it's probably fine to master it and move on, but if you want to absorb the ideas thoroughly you'll probably need to play them regularly to keep them ticking over.
    My YouTube channel, Half Speed Solos: classic guitar solos demonstrated at half speed with scrolling tab and no waffle.
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 19233
    I'm hopeless at remembering stuff. It had hindered my playing instruments all my life. Learning takes me forever and if I don't them play the thing reasonably regularly I forget it. I'm disappointingly bad.


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  • RockerRocker Frets: 4096
    If you have difficulty remembering solos, write them down. I write out short intros and fills, the act of writing them seems to imprint them in my mind.
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

    Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 477
    The only way I think is just repeating ...and making sure you know how the solo goes without even playing it...also visually practicing without guitar works very well....
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  • Greenman13Greenman13 Frets: 0
    I suppose what I would like to know is it important to remember the solo or is there still value in learning and then forgetting a piece of music?
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 6481
    I learn a solo note for note when I learn the song,  then if the songs in the set for the nights gig and I haven't played it for a while I will practice it. Most songs and solo's I don't need to bother but a big long solo like Hotel California needs a brush up if I haven't done it for a while. 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • fastonebazfastonebaz Frets: 2140
    edited May 5
    Repetition is key.  

    1st listen to it so much that it's an ingrained ear worm so you can hum it all by heart

    2nd learn to play it

    3rd sit on the sofa with your guitar in front of the TV and idly play it 1000 times without worrying too much if you make a minor mistake

    You'll soon have it so memorised it will let much always be there. 

    Works for me. 
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  • VibetronicVibetronic Frets: 731
    yeah, repetition! I only learn a couple of solos in the cover band note-for-note, and it's just doing it over and over. I can't remember how to play the solos I actually wrote for the album we did with the prog/metal band I was in, and even before gigs (if we'd had a bit of break between playing consecutive ones) I'd still have to go through them a few times. Oddly the one I always remember without fail is Enter Sandman, and I never need to go over it. It's really simple, but I've always thought it's a great solo which really suits the song. 
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  • GandalphGandalph Frets: 355
    I suppose what I would like to know is it important to remember the solo or is there still value in learning and then forgetting a piece of music?
    I’d say both apply. I’ve ‘learned’ (apply the term loosely) dozens of songs, some easier one’s in a day or less others a week or longer. The one’s that really resonate with you stay in your repertoire and you build on them.  
    Those that I’ve forgotten I don’t regret learning because they have added value to my learning /playing at the time. 
    It’s all part of the journey. 
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  • BradBrad Frets: 363
    Sing them. 

    Learn to sing them away from the guitar with the track, sing it without the track at all, sing it whilst playing it in your guitar. Don’t worry if you think you’re no good at singing as that’s not the point. Even just hitting a few notes and being in the general area of most of them is suffice. But it will help with you not only remembering the notes, but it also helps rhythmically too. 

    If you’re struggling to retain information don’t worry, that happens to us all. A lot depends on your approach and understanding where you’re at. Musical memory takes a while to develop, so if you’re struggling to remember 5 solos, learn just one with the techniques suggested above... singing, lots of repetition and writing them down etc. Then as you work on the 2nd solo, keep playing the one you’ve finished along side it. Once you’ve learnt those two, keep playing both of them as you learn the 3rd and so on. 

    The important thing is to get into the habit of it and your musical memory will start to grow. That way if you ‘forget’ something, you’ll be able to access much quicker when you return to whatever it is you’ve forgotten.  
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  • CoffeeAndTVCoffeeAndTV Frets: 39
    Personally, I wouldn’t put too much pressure on the requirement to remember solos, unless you need them
    for an integral part of a performance.  

    I mean, you wouldn’t learn a book unless you really needed to recite it. 

    Through out the years I’ve learned a lot of solos or musical parts whether because I wanted to or needed to, I’ll wager I remember less than 1 per cent.  However, the clever part is years of transcribing everyday has given me options on what I know will
    work and a much more rounded vocabulary.  Learn as much as you, but I wouldn’t cling on to everything you will remember the better parts as you go along. 
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 19233
    play it 1000 times 

    You'll soon have it memorised 
    Now there's an oxymoron!
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  • steven70steven70 Frets: 719
    Just learn the good bits - the licks and riffs that interest you. Then incorporate them into your own solos.
    Learning a solo note for note is fun once in a while...I've been learning Hideaway for 35 years...
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 3553
    The problem is once I have learned each solo and move onto the next one after a while I forget how to play the previous solo. Is this normal and will my development as a guitarist be hindered because of this.
    Solos from an exercise book are drills.  They're not really that memorable.
    Learning solos from songs is way more contextual and should stick in your head more easily.
    And as has been said already, loads of us just kind of build up a repertoire of licks that we like.  Once you like something you'll use it in all sorts of places.  Like a few years back someone on here posted a cool little lick using sliding 5ths in a version of Too Hard To Handle and I liked it, learned it, and it appeared in loads of gigs.  Your brain goes, "here we are, slidey 5ths time again!" or something.
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