When to start learning to actually play songs ?

Guitar Tricks Forum > Open Discussion > When to start learning to actually play songs ?

mathieurevel

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Joined: 04/15/19

Posts: 6

Hello,

I am to the stage of the beginner journey where I am learning the 5 chords ! I can plain all those 5 chords alone but i m having issues to change chords like D with AM or D with C and C to G. The ones which basically needs to move all fingers !

Anyway my question is, when should you start to learn an acutal song ? I m trying to learn songs like knocking on heaven s door and few other simple ones but I find that I struggle to change some chords correctly following the song rythm, my fingers are trying to move faster than what they actually can and it sounds bad / late etc...

Is it best to keep going through the lessons and manage to perfectly change all 5 chords in all different orders before learning to play any songs or it s not a problem to learn songs while making mistakes at the beginning / lack of rythm etc... hoping that down the line the misplacement will get better and better with time. Not sure if I can get bad habits like that.

A bit hard to only stick to chord changes ! but if it s really necessary i ll do it and forget to learn songs for a while

#1

Hello,

I am to the stage of the beginner journey where I am learning the 5 chords ! I can plain all those 5 chords alone but i m having issues to change chords like D with AM or D with C and C to G. The ones which basically needs to move all fingers !

Anyway my question is, when should you start to learn an acutal song ? I m trying to learn songs like knocking on heaven s door and few other simple ones but I find that I struggle to change some chords correctly following the song rythm, my fingers are trying to move faster than what they actually can and it sounds bad / late etc...

Is it best to keep going through the lessons and manage to perfectly change all 5 chords in all different orders before learning to play any songs or it s not a problem to learn songs while making mistakes at the beginning / lack of rythm etc... hoping that down the line the misplacement will get better and better with time. Not sure if I can get bad habits like that.

A bit hard to only stick to chord changes ! but if it s really necessary i ll do it and forget to learn songs for a while

JeffS65

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Joined: 10/07/08

Posts: 1166

I posted this verbatim in another thread but applies here. Chord/notes are different but the concept applies. In short, just go slow. Don't worry about playing the song up to speed. Just get comfortable with the changes and speed up from there. From my post:

Originally Posted by: JeffS65

My suggestion is to just go as slowly as you can, without playing along with something and drill going from one chord to another: E to Am, then Am to E and so on. Go slow. Don't worry about speed. As a matter of fact, you will always use this 'start slow' way of learning something even if you're experienced and been playing for decades. Patience is the best friend of a guitar player. Well, after a while you want every guitar on the planet so, so the true best friend is money (hehe) but a close second is patience. Just go back and forth and get used to the movement.


There isn't per se 'muscle memory' in as much as your brain is making a pathway for that skill. If you're trying to go faster than your brain can process, your brain just shrugs and goes 'oh well, whatever...'. Also recall that right now, you might also be trying to strum a melody/pattern in a lesson. In addition to just getting your fingers to hit the right string, you're probably trying to strum a pattern and the same place in your brain has no sense of what is the priority motor skill to focus on. So, start by doing the slow E>Am>Am>E pattern but just one strum per chord change. Once you start feeling like the chord changes are getting a little more natural, then strum a bit. Don't force your head in to competing motor skills.


I mean seriously, I was noodling around with Pat Benatar-Heartbreaker (with some aid of the GT lesson...I mean hey....that solo is awesome!) and for whatever reason, the opening song riff was not clicking. I've been playing a long time but there's always that one thing. The riff is a barred F to a barred G#. Walk in the park. Except my brain totally knew the G# is the 4th fret but my hand kept on going to the standard barred G/3rd fret. Been a long time player so I can tackled hard stuff but this little, dumb interval of F to G# wasn't making it to my hand.


Answer? Go slow.

#2

I posted this verbatim in another thread but applies here. Chord/notes are different but the concept applies. In short, just go slow. Don't worry about playing the song up to speed. Just get comfortable with the changes and speed up from there. From my post:

Originally Posted by: JeffS65

My suggestion is to just go as slowly as you can, without playing along with something and drill going from one chord to another: E to Am, then Am to E and so on. Go slow. Don't worry about speed. As a matter of fact, you will always use this 'start slow' way of learning something even if you're experienced and been playing for decades. Patience is the best friend of a guitar player. Well, after a while you want every guitar on the planet so, so the true best friend is money (hehe) but a close second is patience. Just go back and forth and get used to the movement.


There isn't per se 'muscle memory' in as much as your brain is making a pathway for that skill. If you're trying to go faster than your brain can process, your brain just shrugs and goes 'oh well, whatever...'. Also recall that right now, you might also be trying to strum a melody/pattern in a lesson. In addition to just getting your fingers to hit the right string, you're probably trying to strum a pattern and the same place in your brain has no sense of what is the priority motor skill to focus on. So, start by doing the slow E>Am>Am>E pattern but just one strum per chord change. Once you start feeling like the chord changes are getting a little more natural, then strum a bit. Don't force your head in to competing motor skills.


I mean seriously, I was noodling around with Pat Benatar-Heartbreaker (with some aid of the GT lesson...I mean hey....that solo is awesome!) and for whatever reason, the opening song riff was not clicking. I've been playing a long time but there's always that one thing. The riff is a barred F to a barred G#. Walk in the park. Except my brain totally knew the G# is the 4th fret but my hand kept on going to the standard barred G/3rd fret. Been a long time player so I can tackled hard stuff but this little, dumb interval of F to G# wasn't making it to my hand.


Answer? Go slow.

Dilbert79

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Joined: 03/23/19

Posts: 17

Start learning songs right away if you can get good tone out of all the involved chords IMO. It makes the practice sessions much more fun IMO and you will be practicing chord changes at the same time. Thats how I did it. It can be a little frustrating to play your favs slow at first but don't worry about it. Speed and accuracy of chord changes will comes soon. I remember thinking "lll never be able to play this song at the correct tempo" but now, a month later, I'm playing it at tempo without even looking at the guitar. Just pick a song you love and spend time practicing it every day. It really helps, especially when it starts to become recognizeable to you. Very encouraging!

#3

Start learning songs right away if you can get good tone out of all the involved chords IMO. It makes the practice sessions much more fun IMO and you will be practicing chord changes at the same time. Thats how I did it. It can be a little frustrating to play your favs slow at first but don't worry about it. Speed and accuracy of chord changes will comes soon. I remember thinking "lll never be able to play this song at the correct tempo" but now, a month later, I'm playing it at tempo without even looking at the guitar. Just pick a song you love and spend time practicing it every day. It really helps, especially when it starts to become recognizeable to you. Very encouraging!

andrew.colomb

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Joined: 10/06/15

Posts: 47

I agree with you completely!!! Theory is important of course but I wasted too much time (many years) on it instead of doing the reason we all play guitar and that is to LEARN songs and music! It is amazing how much theory one learnds by learning songs through the excellant teachers at GT!!

Originally Posted by: Dilbert79

Start learning songs right away if you can get good tone out of all the involved chords IMO. It makes the practice sessions much more fun IMO and you will be practicing chord changes at the same time. Thats how I did it. It can be a little frustrating to play your favs slow at first but don't worry about it. Speed and accuracy of chord changes will comes soon. I remember thinking "lll never be able to play this song at the correct tempo" but now, a month later, I'm playing it at tempo without even looking at the guitar. Just pick a song you love and spend time practicing it every day. It really helps, especially when it starts to become recognizeable to you. Very encouraging!

#4

I agree with you completely!!! Theory is important of course but I wasted too much time (many years) on it instead of doing the reason we all play guitar and that is to LEARN songs and music! It is amazing how much theory one learnds by learning songs through the excellant teachers at GT!!

Originally Posted by: Dilbert79

Start learning songs right away if you can get good tone out of all the involved chords IMO. It makes the practice sessions much more fun IMO and you will be practicing chord changes at the same time. Thats how I did it. It can be a little frustrating to play your favs slow at first but don't worry about it. Speed and accuracy of chord changes will comes soon. I remember thinking "lll never be able to play this song at the correct tempo" but now, a month later, I'm playing it at tempo without even looking at the guitar. Just pick a song you love and spend time practicing it every day. It really helps, especially when it starts to become recognizeable to you. Very encouraging!

William MG

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Joined: 03/08/19

Posts: 52

I guess you are going to get different reponses, ultimately you have to find out what works for you. In my case, I started learning songs as soon as I could, because I wanted to be playing something. My 1st via YouTube was Wish you were here. Since joining GT I concentrate on their library.

For me personally, I get the chords down, meaning I can make the shapes. Then I start trying to get the tempo down. It sounds pretty bad. But with practise things come together and I get better at the chords and can keep pretty good time.

Thats how I do it. Good luck.

Repertoire:

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (Made Easy)

Link to the lesson here - very good for a beginner

Wild Horses (Made Easy)

Link to lesson here

Highway To Hell - currently learning

Link to lesson here

#5

I guess you are going to get different reponses, ultimately you have to find out what works for you. In my case, I started learning songs as soon as I could, because I wanted to be playing something. My 1st via YouTube was Wish you were here. Since joining GT I concentrate on their library.

For me personally, I get the chords down, meaning I can make the shapes. Then I start trying to get the tempo down. It sounds pretty bad. But with practise things come together and I get better at the chords and can keep pretty good time.

Thats how I do it. Good luck.

Repertoire:

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (Made Easy)

Link to the lesson here - very good for a beginner

Wild Horses (Made Easy)

Link to lesson here

Highway To Hell - currently learning

Link to lesson here

mathieurevel

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Joined: 04/15/19

Posts: 6

Thanks guys. I guess one good tip here is not to worry too much with the strumming pattern first, getting the shape right when changing chords at slow pace and then after 100 times rythm will follow.

I reckon maybe on 1h lesson, i ll do 30min theory, just changing chords like a machine and then 30-40min on one song i want to learn.

I started about 5 weeks ago doing a bit everyday almost, started to learn Knocking on heaven s door and the intro of More than Words from Extreme (out of my league haha but SUCH a good sound, getting there sort of)

#6

Thanks guys. I guess one good tip here is not to worry too much with the strumming pattern first, getting the shape right when changing chords at slow pace and then after 100 times rythm will follow.

I reckon maybe on 1h lesson, i ll do 30min theory, just changing chords like a machine and then 30-40min on one song i want to learn.

I started about 5 weeks ago doing a bit everyday almost, started to learn Knocking on heaven s door and the intro of More than Words from Extreme (out of my league haha but SUCH a good sound, getting there sort of)