#1
This may be the stupidest question ever.

After getting my first guitar a couple years ago, I went straight into dvd style lessons and have a few different ones. I get a little bit more out of each one and they have done a lot to help my dexterity, streching and fretboard knowledge.

but

I've spent so much time on lessons, that when I try to work on songs, I really struggle. I attempt to break the song down into certain pieces to work on, but never really get it. There are a few songs I can play, but I'm really choppy with them and it just doesn't feel right. I've don't think the songs I'm working on are overly difficult, but it's seems like it shouldn't be that hard to "get it". I end up getting frustrated and just going back to the lessons.

Are there good techniqes to learn songs? Besides finding songs that are not above my skill level and just trying to break the song down into managable pieces.

The songs I've been working with lately are Seven Nation Army, Blood & Thunder and American Idiot.
Benny
#2
Break the song into parts (like you said), but try playing at a slow tempo and gradually work it up to the correct tempo.
I don't believe in signatures. Ah, sh...
#3
Find backing tracks to play with, it'll help you with timing and give you a feel for the different parts. Also listen to the song over and over, to be able to play something you need to be able to hear it in your head first.
#4
Most songs are naturally structured into pieces that are repeated and arranged in various ways, just focus on learning one part at a time. Start slowly until you've gotten very accurate, then gradually speed up to song tempo. Also, you're not going to be very good at keeping rhythm unless you know the song well enough that you can basically listen to it in your head at will. I find it a lot easier to play a song when you've gotten to the point that you don't need to keep count, you can just feel the rhythm and transitions.
#5
Start with songs that you like that are well within your technical abilities.

Listen to the original a lot.

Break the song down into logical sections - so don't say 'I'm going to learn the first 4 bars' ... instead break it down into phrases, or riffs, so that each section you learn makes sense by itself.

Slow it down - play it slow enough that you can play it with no mistakes.
#6
Don't be afraid to reeealllly slow it down at first. A lot of the time people have a tendency to want to play the song at full speed within 5 minutes of checking out a tab and for a lot of us that just isn't realistic.

Playing songs slowly at first also really helps to clean up your techniques and to establish the muscle memory you need for those insanely fast parts.

Sorry if I'm just restating what a few others have already said in this thread, I just feel like it's an important piece of advice that can't be stressed enough =).
#7
Slowing it down, then breaking it down is the key. A while ago, I bought a Tascam MP-GT1 guitar trainer. Its basically an MP3 player with headphone and guitar jacks. The sweet thing about it is you can load the songs you want to learn and play with them under headphones. But here is the real trick. It has two nice features (among many others). The first is a looper. You can choose a portion of a song you want it to repeat over and over. The second is the ability to slow the song down with out a pitch change. (you can also tune the song to your guitar without a speed change too). With these two features, you can fugure out any song. After that... repetition and slowly increasing your speed.
--- Joe ---
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