#1
i found this on another site that im a member of. great advice for novices. i hope it helps some of you guys. the writer is an amazing acoustic player who shall remain anonymous.
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Some people can just hear a song a few times, then pick up the guitar and play it (I hate you BTW). But for the rest of us mortals, learning something new takes a while. I suspect I'm a bit slower than most, because my process now involves several steps. I thought I'd post it up here to see if anyone has any suggestions or if it helps anyone else.

Step 1: Find a song that is learnable, and that you like enough to put in the effort.
I have a cupboard full of music that was too far above my ability, or that I didn't like enough to put that much work into. Know your limits people. Focus on a reasonably small number of tunes at once.

Step 2: Get the sheet music and TAB
The sheet music doesn't tell you where to put you fingers - which can be a complex operation and could involve re-learning the first section, when the next bit requires you to have started in a different position. TABs don't always help you with your timing - especially when the timing is a bit unusual (Black Water, I'm looking in your direction!).

The TAB also helps by making it clear that a capo makes things easier. I spent ages learning a two finger hammer/flick-off, combined with a barre chord across the second fret for "I am a rock" only to find Paul Simon plays it with different chords on a capo (hammering an Am7 formation across a G chord, which is quite easy) - D'Oh!

Step 3: Practice playing the notes correctly
This part is just about getting the fingers going to the right place. Pay attention to fuzzed notes. The intent is to get the notes right, don't worry about timing at this stage. Go slow, practice getting the notes right.

Step 4: (only needed if the timing is very hard) Plug the notes into Garageband
Garageband allows you play along and cycle each bar, or group of bars at a speed you can handle. Get the timing right, then gradually increase the tempo. For difficult sections, set a loop and just play it over and over and over ...

Step 5: Amazing Slow Downer
If you have a recorded version that matches the sheet music* you have learned, you can load it into ASD and play along, gradually increasing the tempo, until you can do it at full tempo. Be patient, practice getting it right, rather than getting it fast.

ASD also lets you cycle, but it's difficult to do so continuously, because it's very hard to find the end/beginning of the bar. If you have to cycle a section, it is best to cycle several bars at once and put a pause at the end. Otherwise, you may learn the wrong timing (which you'll have to unlearn).

(* This is something you should have in mind when you get your music in the first place)