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Thread: Learning new songs

  1. #1
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    Default Learning new songs

    Hi all
    After a bit of advise again. I have stuck around the first 3-4 frets for a while. I am trying to be a bit more adventurous but it is hard work. Could you share with me please how you learn a new song and say for instance there is a part where it takes forever to get your fingers in position. This is where I normally give up and try to find another song that I can actually play straight through but it is time to knuckle down. I think I have worked out that if you do not know in your head what you are going to play when reading the music your going to be playing slowly.
    how do other people tackle this.
    Thanks Phil.
    Mahagony Uluru 11

  2. #2
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    If you find a particular chord change to be difficult, practice that chord change. Start out very slowly, speed up as the muscle memory develops. Also, try to form the chord all at one time, not finger-by-finger.

    Don't play through a new song making the same mistakes over and over, you'll only train yourself to make those mistakes. Work on the difficult parts until they aren't tripping you up anymore.

    Play the song only as fast as you can play the most difficult part.

  3. #3
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    If a song I'm working on, particularly a tab, has a more "difficult" part. I slow everything WAY down. I work to play it smoothly, as slow as needed ... once I can play it clean at a very slow speed, I ever-so gradually speed things up. Hope this helps!
    Covered Bridge Cedar/Myrtle Tenor
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    Concert Flea
    Mele Mahogany Tenor
    Mele Mahogany Concert Pineapple
    Mainland Mahogany Soprano
    50's Roy Smeck Soprano
    guitars, mandolin, fiddle, harmonica

  4. #4
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    I agree with the other two. Slowly work into it. Take the parts that are tripping you up, and work on them alone, work on the parts, then put them together. But I might add, be stubborn. When I hit a rough spot in the road, I just get determined. If your attitude is that you are just going to give up if it is hard, then you will be giving up a lot, because as you progress, things get harder. That is just the way it is. The easy stuff is behind you, no matter where you are at. That's all I have to say.
    Last edited by Rllink; 10-04-2015 at 10:43 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary52 View Post
    If you find a particular chord change to be difficult, practice that chord change. Start out very slowly, speed up as the muscle memory develops. Also, try to form the chord all at one time, not finger-by-finger.

    Don't play through a new song making the same mistakes over and over, you'll only train yourself to make those mistakes. Work on the difficult parts until they aren't tripping you up anymore.

    Play the song only as fast as you can play the most difficult part.
    Thanks Gary and Desch
    I do the slow down part but I just want to be able to play it fluently. I have been playing a long time and every time I try to learn something different it feels like I have just started all over again. I do only fingerpick which makes the changes even harder. I can play the first 3-4 frets without looking but when I go further up I just feel like a fish out of water. I just keep going over the hard parts but not getting very far with it. As you say just repeating mistakes. So should I just keep on the hard parts really slowly switching from one phrase to the next and keep going over them. Then do you go and play something else and come back to it.
    Thanks Phil.
    Mahagony Uluru 11

  6. #6
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    Speed is a result of precision, as a musician recently told me. In other words, yes, you have to play it at a pace that allows you to play accurately (which in my case can mean: painfully slow), and then increase the tempo while minding accuracy (if you play fast and sloppy, you practice playing fast and sloppily, he told me).

    If you have too much trouble with a song, the song may also be too difficult for the time being. Apparently, we learn best when we practice things that are just a little outside of our comfort zone, but not so difficult that we get frustrated or annoyed.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    I agree with the other two. Slowly work into it. Take the parts that are tripping you up, and work on them alone, work on the parts, then put them together. But I might add, be stubborn. If your attitude is that you are just going to give up if it is hard, then you will be giving up a lot, because as you progress, things get harder. The easy stuff is behind you, no matter where you are at. Be determined. That's all I have to say.
    Thanks Rllink that is my drawback but I have stuck at it longer than anything else so I do have the determination there somewhere.
    Mahagony Uluru 11

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by philrab66 View Post
    Thanks Gary and Desch
    I do the slow down part but I just want to be able to play it fluently. I have been playing a long time and every time I try to learn something different it feels like I have just started all over again. I do only fingerpick which makes the changes even harder. I can play the first 3-4 frets without looking but when I go further up I just feel like a fish out of water. I just keep going over the hard parts but not getting very far with it. As you say just repeating mistakes. So should I just keep on the hard parts really slowly switching from one phrase to the next and keep going over them. Then do you go and play something else and come back to it.
    Thanks Phil.
    I've been playing about 4 years and mostly fingerpick. Each new song is a new challenge. I start playing a new song very slowly, and work on a small part of it (e.g., the first line) until I can play it (slowly) with some competence. Then I add another section or line, building up until I can play through the whole song (but still slowly). Then I start working on increasing the speed, and practicing the short bits where I stumble. It can take me months to learn to play a new song at a speed and skill level that I'm happy with.

    As for playing up the neck, it requires practice and a willingness to listen to yourself playing wrong notes over and over until you learn to feel where those frets are.

    So spend some time on a new song or two, practicing systematically, then have fun playing the tunes you're fluent with.

  9. #9
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    I read something recently in an article entitled: Failure is the Worst Way to Fail.

    In the article they talk about success in anything, here is the key.
    Repetition+Slow=Genius

    On playing slow-
    Meadowmount Music School, where Yo Yo Ma and other greats studied music, has a technique:
    "The students were encouraged to play each note
    so slowly that it would be impossible for a passing
    stranger to guess what piece they were playing."


    Here is the article in full:
    http://www.thealtucherreport.com/wp-...2015-10-v2.pdf

  10. #10
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    muscle memory just takes time, and practice.
    Usually awkward is a better description than difficult.
    Like.. when you're a kid learning to write your name in cursive. At first it's "difficult" but soon you do it without thinking.

    Sometimes with some chords there's little tricks to work out, like is there a different way to finger this so that moving in or on to the next thing is easier. Or, is an inversion that's farther but simpler to finger still going to sound like what you want. But like.. if you're learning a tab that someone's already figured out, it's usually muscle memory you just don't have yet, but you will.

    Alot of times, there's no short cut, just practice, and in the end that's all you really needed anyway.

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