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Golden Goddess Guitar Leaderboard

Little Sunday evening tip when you're learning a song

Ids Schiere

Sold-out Crowd Surfer
Nov 11, 2019
I've been trying to learn something new gypsy jazz every week to play during a zoom meeting on Sunday for Robin Nolan's Gypsy jazz club. Sometimes I play something that Robin teaches on the Friday before and usually it gets responses like 'I'm blown away' 'you learn fast'. Personally I don't consider my self especially talented or special or anything like that. I think I'm just a dude and anybody else can do what I do so I kinda think it's more an approach to learning songs that helps me do it than any kind of special talent. I figured I'd share my mindset/approach when learning songs.

To start off I make a choice for myself how note for note I want to play the song. For example SRV, Jimi Hendrix and John Mayer have some songs that are more about the energy and attitude you play it with than the actual notes you play. If you take that away you can play all the right notes but it will still sound pretty weak and crappy as if something's off. If I have to think about the notes I play I can't get that same energy so I work very ballpark so I can keep the attitude and energy intact which keeps the energy of the song alive. This means I'm not worrying about the notes I should play exactly and just play speeding up the process immensely. Of course it comes in handy if you listen to the artist enough to pick up some characteristics of their playing but the general idea is to not worry about the exact notes plates so much.

However, this approach doesn't work on Robin Nolan's pieces/solo's, Django Reinhardt or Syn's stuff. What I do there is letting go of the idea that I have to play and sound exactly like them so I play it like me. If that means an accent is a little bit different or the fingering is a little bit different that's ok. If I play a Robin Nolan Solo piece I may place rests on different places, change the tempo etc. Just generally let go of the idea that it has to be like somebody else and just play it like I would play that set of notes.

I hope this gives some insight in my approach to learning songs and maybe helps someone speed up the process 😅