5 Steps To Learning Your First Song

September 18th, 2011

Finder Flames Guitar Image

So you want to learn to play your first song on guitar?

Playing popular songs on guitar is an incredible step in progression because other than creating your own music, learning to play popular songs is the primary reason people learn the guitar. While guitar tabs have made it much easier to learn how to play songs it’s important to not get too far ahead. Any expert will tell you that the only way you can master guitar is by A) learning the fundamentals B) mastering the fundamentals and then C) upgrading to more challenging tasks such as learning to play your favorite song.

While you can learn guitar riffs and chords to popular songs on day one the best advice is to learn the basics and fundamentals before messing around too much with guitar tabs. Got the basics down? Let’s learn how to play your first song.

Grade the Difficulty of the Song

Most people who play the guitar love songs that profile the…you guessed it…guitar. Consequently, you may be a huge Van Halen fan, but do you honestly expect to master “Fire in the Hole” after only two months of quality guitar practice? Hence, your favorite song may be a little difficult to learn immediately on guitar. If this is the case, try to learn a song that is not too challenging with a beginner to moderate difficulty. Thankfully, most top guitar tab sites grade the difficulty of each song.

Break the Song into Segments

If this is your favorite song chances are you have heard it. A lot. Thus, learning to play the song should not be too difficult because your ear already is accustomed to the track. Still, it’s a great idea to break the song into its different segments including the verse, bridge, chorus, solo(s), etc. The verse will likely be easier to learn than the solo yet probably not as simple as the chorus. Break the song into segments and start by learning the easiest parts of your favorite song.

Understand The Guitar Tab (and pick a reliable one!)

Several guitar tabs exist for a single tune. Unfortunately, that does not mean they’re all equal. It will take a little time to find an accurate guitar tab that actually teaches you how to play the song. Fortunately, most guitar tab sites allow users to rate the tab seeding out the incorrect entries. Guitar tablature is a simplified version that is easier to comprehend when compared to sheet music. Guitar tabs simply tell you what string(s) to play and where to fret.

Master the Tempo

Guitar tabs are not great at breaking down the rhythm and tempo of the song. Sheet music is much more reliable. Again, your ear is probably accustomed to the song so developing the rhythm will not be extremely hard, but it will take a little practice. The best advice is to listen to the master recording a few times, paying special attention to each segment. Once your ear is trained it’s time to transfer it to your actual guitar playing.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Once you have a reliable tab, break the song into segments and develop an ear for the rhythm it’s time to learn the song. Start with the first segment of the song and progress from there. Learning the guitar is all about muscle memory and thus the coordination of your hands will improve as you practice, practice, practice. Once you learn the song perform it in front of a few people to show off your progress and move on to a new song!

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