#1
Do you guys grind on the same song over and over until you get it right? The reason I ask is I'm learning a fingerpicking song and progress has been slow even though I'm grinding on it hours a day.

How much practice is too much? After a couple hours should I put the axe down and do something else for an hour or so. Is any more than an hour a day counterproductive?

Is it unusual to take a month or two to "master" a song if you really work on it? Longer even?

Thanks
#2
I play the song over and over and over and over. Then I play it some more. As for how much practice is too much, well that depends on the person. Personally, after 2 hours or so of learning a song more often than not I'm so damn sick of it and I'll stop there for the day. It's nice in theory to spend 6 hours learning a song in one day, but I would get burnt out so hard and go crazy. I'm not going to push myself to the point where learning the song is no longer enjoyable and becomes a chore.
As for how long it takes to "master" a song, well there's no answer to that. Depends on the player and the song. I've learned songs in a couple hours and I've learned songs over months. It's very different for everyone. Give me pretty much any generic metal song and I'll learn it very quickly. Give me a classical piece and it will take me ten times longer.
#3
If you want my objective opinion, it would be that it's completely okay to spend a long time on a complicated song. I still can't wrap my fingers around some songs even though I've known them for years, like Technical Difficulties by Racer X. I just can't seem to make progress with that song. I think that the problem might be that you're approaching it from the wrong angle. Fifteen minutes of effective and focused practice will benefit you a lot more than three hours of sloppy practice. How are you practicing it? Do you just try to nail it for hours without getting anywhere? Do you use a metronome?

I personally learn songs by ear. I put the track on and figure out how the first parts go, and then move on to the later ones. Occasionally I start the track over and try to play along to it with what I've got so far. I rarely learn full songs or grind parts until I get them 100% right, I just figure out the things that interest me and learn them well enough for me to understand them.
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#4
Quote by Kevätuhri
I personally learn songs by ear. I put the track on and figure out how the first parts go, and then move on to the later ones. Occasionally I start the track over and try to play along to it with what I've got so far. I rarely learn full songs or grind parts until I get them 100% right, I just figure out the things that interest me and learn them well enough for me to understand them.


Definitely a really good practice to get in to learning songs by ear. I can't emphasize this enough.
I learn songs in similar ways. I learn the basic skeletal structure of the song well enough to be able to play through the song from start to finish without too many mistakes. Once I know all the notes I then work on refining each section.
#5
Quote by Kevätuhri
If you want my objective opinion, it would be that it's completely okay to spend a long time on a complicated song. I still can't wrap my fingers around some songs even though I've known them for years, like Technical Difficulties by Racer X. I just can't seem to make progress with that song. I think that the problem might be that you're approaching it from the wrong angle. Fifteen minutes of effective and focused practice will benefit you a lot more than three hours of sloppy practice. How are you practicing it? Do you just try to nail it for hours without getting anywhere? Do you use a metronome?

I personally learn songs by ear. I put the track on and figure out how the first parts go, and then move on to the later ones. Occasionally I start the track over and try to play along to it with what I've got so far. I rarely learn full songs or grind parts until I get them 100% right, I just figure out the things that interest me and learn them well enough for me to understand them.


Your statement about trying to nail it for hours without getting anywhere sure sounds like what I'm doing. But I am learning some things from all the practice even if it's not showing up in my results yet.

I'm using an instructional video on youtube. The instructor moves the lesson along a bit too briskly for my taste, but he plays the best version I've heard so I figure he's the guy whose fingers I need to be watching. I'm pretty sure the lesson is intended for stronger players than myself as well. I try to play the song as far as I can without making mistakes. I generally start again once I've made a mistake. But I've learned that I can hit the "wrong" note sometimes and it'll still sound okay, even if it's technically not correct. When I hit an incorrect note that doesn't sound bad I'll sometimes keep mashing through until I hit a sour note.

I'm also, incidentally, getting a lot of "ear training" through the repetition. It's starting to sink in. I think I'll take your good advice and maybe work on some other parts of the song for awhile so I don't get too burned out. If you have any more advice it would be gratefully accepted.

Thanks much
#6
Quote by vayne92
I play the song over and over and over and over. Then I play it some more. As for how much practice is too much, well that depends on the person. Personally, after 2 hours or so of learning a song more often than not I'm so damn sick of it and I'll stop there for the day. It's nice in theory to spend 6 hours learning a song in one day, but I would get burnt out so hard and go crazy. I'm not going to push myself to the point where learning the song is no longer enjoyable and becomes a chore.
As for how long it takes to "master" a song, well there's no answer to that. Depends on the player and the song. I've learned songs in a couple hours and I've learned songs over months. It's very different for everyone. Give me pretty much any generic metal song and I'll learn it very quickly. Give me a classical piece and it will take me ten times longer.


That's pretty much what I'm doing, repetition on an insane level.

Thanks for the input.
#7
what song are you learning out of curiosity and how long have you been playing?
#8
Quote by vayne92
what song are you learning out of curiosity and how long have you been playing?


Don't Think Twice It's Alright by Bob Dylan. I know the chords and can strum it well, but I want to play it fingerstyle. I'm using Gareth Evans tutorial on youtube.

I'm a beginner. First picked up a guitar in the 1980s, and again around 2000, but discouraged by glacial progress I gave up both times after a few months. Never had a teacher, except for maybe Mel Bay . Started playing again when I discovered Rocksmith 2014. I'm very fond of bluegrass and folk music, hence my interest in Don't Think Twice. Plus....it's a pretty song!
#9
learning a new song is is fun and frustrating. It requires time and patience. When I'm working on something new, I look to the techniques of what I'm attempting to learn. I make an exercise out of it. I'll move it around into different keys and multiple positions on the neck. I find that learning what I'm doing helps me memorize the part of parts more quickly.

Also, slow things down to horrible boring speeds. This will solidify the muscle memory in your fingers. I've used the example of Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder before. The horn line break between choruses was the hardest thing I learned (at that time) it took months to get the smoothness worked out, and the recorded tempo. Now I can play it at any speed and any key.

As a beginner, learning why certain notes or patterns or scales are used is great to increase your guitar knowledge. Sure, the haters will tell you not to learn with exercises and scales. I disagree. Make an exercise out of the various finger motions and change it around a bit to teach your brain and fingers what's going on. Unless you only want to play that one song.

Good Luck 🎸
#10
Really for me it depends what I'm learning the song for.

If it's for my own pleasure then I won't grind it very hard, it'll be picking it up and practicing as much as I feel like, when I feel like it. Admittedly this means it takes a while to learn some things, but if I'm learning them for myself then who cares, right?

If it's for a band, that's a different matter entirely. It depends on the time scales involved but generally if there's other people involved then I'll put much more focused effort in to learning something. Like a few weeks ago I was filling in for a friend in their band and the gig was less than a month away, so I spent hours of concentrated effort listening to the material and learning and playing along. This meant I could get to the point of being able to perform the song decently well all the way through in the space of maybe a week, leaving about 2-3 weeks to put it together with the rest of the band and get tight with them properly.

As for how long a song might take to actually master... That's a whole other question. If something's out of the range of your skills it could take years, depending on how much you actually have to learn. It's probably a good idea to have other things to learn at the same time, or even just other things to do. You can very easily burn yourself out on guitar as a whole if you let practicing the one thing become too much of a chore.
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#11
Quote by TobusRex
Do you guys grind on the same song over and over until you get it right? The reason I ask is I'm learning a fingerpicking song and progress has been slow even though I'm grinding on it hours a day.

How much practice is too much? After a couple hours should I put the axe down and do something else for an hour or so. Is any more than an hour a day counterproductive?

Is it unusual to take a month or two to "master" a song if you really work on it? Longer even?

Thanks


I break it down in parts. Whenever I discover something I can't do, whether it's some idea I had on improv, or it's some thing I want to write, or it's some arrangement I'm doing, I repeat it over and over.

But not just repeating it, you need to design a drill so that it is making you better. You should feel a burn in your forearms. I will push and push and push, and then when I can't anymore push some more, and then stop. Maybe I'll noodle around some more, or take a break altogether.

I'll learn songs section by section as well, get one section well enough, then move to the next. I won't necessarily strive for perfection right away all the time, but pretty close, then after I got the whole thing down I can improve more.

My style is very improv oriented though, so I am more practicing so any idea I ever have, is something I can accomplish, rather than learning set songs. Although I do do arrangements sometimes where I figure out the melody and harmonies, and play them both at once on the guitar. So for that, I need to play it like the original, and sometimes it's very tough. Sometimes I have to make concessions and play stuff in a little easier way, and sometimes I have to practice something real tough over and over.

i don't worry about how long it will take me. Sometimes it can take a very long time.

To keep me from going crazy, I always mix in play with work, so I'll work intensively on something, and then noodle around a bit for fun, and then hit the gym again.

The key, is that if you don't feel the burn in your forearms, you are not progressing very quickly.
#13
learning songs is really a test of your playing skills. if you are skilled at playing certain things then songs with them in it come easier. for instance i sat down and learned Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love recently. my skill level made it pretty easy to learn and play reasonably well after a couple of hours. took me about a half hour to learn Smells Like Teen spirit. not because i'm an awesome player but rather because i had the skills down that were needed for the song.
#14
Quote by monwobobbo
learning songs is really a test of your playing skills. if you are skilled at playing certain things then songs with them in it come easier. for instance i sat down and learned Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love recently. my skill level made it pretty easy to learn and play reasonably well after a couple of hours. took me about a half hour to learn Smells Like Teen spirit. not because i'm an awesome player but rather because i had the skills down that were needed for the song.


I'm hoping the skills that I hone while learning the song will help with other similar music, for sure. It's kind of weird, some days I play and it seems like I'm making huge progress....sometimes it seems hopeless. Today I started picking and was amazed at how quickly I was able to play, although I think I have my chord progression slightly hosed up. But I think I have the pick pattern about down, now to work on ironing out the chords.
#15
I haven't read all the replies, so this might already have been covered. I have found, and apparently so have many others, that if you come back to a difficult song after a break of a day or two, I can often do it better than where I left off. - It takes time to get it "hard-wired" into your brain. So don't get too discouraged if progress seems slow, practice hard, have a break for a few days, and then come back to it.

I never consider any song to be "mastered", I could always do better, and I've been consciously trying to improve some songs for 20 years or more. I'm currently working on Bert Jansch's style, and it looks like a very distant target. But if t isn't a challenge, it isn't worth doing.
#16
Quote by fingrpikingood
I'll learn songs section by section as well, get one section well enough, then move to the next. I won't necessarily strive for perfection right away all the time, but pretty close, then after I got the whole thing down I can improve more.


Yep I think breaking it into sections really helps, and most importantly working more on the parts that are most difficult. If you play the entire song every time you are probably wasting a lot of time on the sections that you can already play easily.

That is specific to learning a new song though. Once I can play a whole song I tend to just play the whole thing every time, since that's the whole reason to learn a song in the first place.
#17
Quote by Tony Done
I have found, and apparently so have many others, that if you come back to a difficult song after a break of a day or two, I can often do it better than where I left off. - It takes time to get it "hard-wired" into your brain. So don't get too discouraged if progress seems slow, practice hard, have a break for a few days, and then come back to it.

Ya, I think this is often because when the human body improves, it is generally becuase things are being destroyed, and when they grow back, they grow back stronger. So, if you push and push and push every day, you don't get the full improvement, since your always destroying, taking two steps forward and one step back. But if you leave it a little bit, the body mends up, and you get more out of the work you had put in.

Quote by bptrav
Once I can play a whole song I tend to just play the whole thing every time, since that's the whole reason to learn a song in the first place.


I think this is an important thing to note. I think sometimes people forget to do this, and one of the symptoms of that, is they don't know how to end songs very well.
#18
Break into parts, repeat each couple of times (number depends on difficulty, how fast I adjust/learn, and so forth), then play as a whole. After that, maybe finetune some sections, play thorugh the whole song - depending on what I'm practicing for.

Hope that was helpful
#19
I find learning the structure of the song helps. By that I mean learning what chords and when even if I'm literally just strumming once for each chord until I know what is where and in what order. After that I go through filling in the blanks. I find sometimes if its fiddly it can be frustrating trying to learn a song and not being able to get through the first 20 seconds or whatever so this way I can play with the entire song and add in more and more each time as I learn it.
#20
Quote by TobusRex
Do you guys grind on the same song over and over until you get it right? The reason I ask is I'm learning a fingerpicking song and progress has been slow even though I'm grinding on it hours a day.

How much practice is too much? After a couple hours should I put the axe down and do something else for an hour or so. Is any more than an hour a day counterproductive?

Is it unusual to take a month or two to "master" a song if you really work on it? Longer even?

Thanks


1) You need to take breaks every hour - 10 minutes is probably a good idea.

2) the greatest players practiced ridiculous amounts of hours - sometimes 8 to 12 hours a day ( Paco Delucia, Kurt Rosenwinkel etc). 4 hours a day will make you an amazing player. 1 hour a day is barely practicing at all - which is ok if you just want to strum songs etc., but not if you plan on really excelling at guitar.
#21
Quote by TobusRex
I'm hoping the skills that I hone while learning the song will help with other similar music, for sure. It's kind of weird, some days I play and it seems like I'm making huge progress....sometimes it seems hopeless. Today I started picking and was amazed at how quickly I was able to play, although I think I have my chord progression slightly hosed up. But I think I have the pick pattern about down, now to work on ironing out the chords.


Hey Tobus, I know where you're at. I started learning fingerstyle roughly a year ago. It takes time. If this is your first fingerstyle piece then respect! Because it doesn't look very easy. Even now I think it would take me a while to learn it, though it does seem to be the same alternate bass picking pattern throughout.

To give you some idea, it took me probably 2 months to learn, and 6 months to master this version of Blowin' in the Wind:

http://www.guitarnick.com/blowin-in-the-wind-fingerstyle-guitar-tablature.html

And that's only a 1:30min version! That's the problem with fingerstyle, especially songs which contain the melody line. It's a slow process. At least as a beginner. But the result sounds awesome.

I keep thinking there must be a quicker way to recognizing which notes of the melodies to hone in on, but the theory behind it, while understandable, is very hard to translate to the fretboard, especially on the fly. I guess it's just time and practice.
#22
it gets easier the more music you tackle

eventually you get to where you can figure out the key and progression of most songs on the radio by the end of the first listen

e: that's assuming you're learning by ear and not that you just can't execute the technique...if that's the case sit with a metronome
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Last edited by Hail at Jul 13, 2015,
#23
I bought a guitar at 15 and practiced 30 minutes to an hour a day for a few years and lost interest because I thought I wasn't making progress. I ran into some trouble and went to college. I picked the guitar back up at 25 and have been practicing 3 hours a day and my playing has just shot through the roof. I am all excited about guitar again and I just sit on the same song for days at a time. I have noticed I will forget parts of other songs I have learned after really studying a new song.
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#24
Thanks for the tips. I'm now breaking up my practice...I'll practice till I get antsy, then I'll just pick on the guitar for the hell of it, maybe zone out on some variations of tunes. If I get tired of playing my instrument I'll put it down and watch TV or something for awhile.

@Gweddle: Dust in the Wind may be on the agenda next .

I think once I get a nice feel for fingerpicking (I'm getting there!) that it'll be time to learn barre chords (so I can integrate both). Today started fooling around with the E-barre chord and shifting it around. Takes me a few seconds to get the fingers in the right spot, how in hell am I ever going to switch between it and open chords? Did it until my hands started to get tired about 10 minutes later and stopped. I'll have to trust that I can eventually get it down but right now it seems pretty tough. Assuming I have average guitar ability...how long you guys think it'll take to master my first barre chord?
#25
Quote by tysona23
I bought a guitar at 15 and practiced 30 minutes to an hour a day for a few years and lost interest because I thought I wasn't making progress. I ran into some trouble and went to college. I picked the guitar back up at 25 and have been practicing 3 hours a day and my playing has just shot through the roof. I am all excited about guitar again and I just sit on the same song for days at a time. I have noticed I will forget parts of other songs I have learned after really studying a new song.



Yeah...it's nice coming back again and actually showing improvement isn't it? I'm having a ball just picking on the guitar again.
#26
I second monwobbobo. The majority of the songs I've learned I did so because I knew it would make me better. Almost every song I've learned took me a long time to learn, because that is where the progress is. As a result songs that I learned after that were similar or had similar picking or rhythms came a lot faster. Also, personally something that helps me is to learn two songs at once. When I get tired of repeating the same thing over and over I can switch to something else. But if it really feels like your getting no where you may just want to find a similar song that is slightly easier and learn that first and come back. My .02$
#27
I tend to print off a chords sheet then write out the chords on a separate bit of paper with how many times I play them.

for example I'm working on "Give Me Love - Ed sheeran"

Intro is


G#m7 - E - B5 - Bmaj7 - 1 Beat BMaj7 / E - 2 A - 2 E - 2 3 (x4)

format isn't working but all the above chords would have a 2 above them except for Maj7(1)


Literally write the whole song out in this way then sit and play it through several times while listening to other things/watching TV.


I also got taught off my last guitar tutor to learn how to play it in 3 different positions on the neck using the C.A.G.E.D system.
Last edited by binaarycode at Jul 18, 2015,
#28
Quote by TobusRex
I think once I get a nice feel for fingerpicking (I'm getting there!) that it'll be time to learn barre chords (so I can integrate both). Today started fooling around with the E-barre chord and shifting it around. Takes me a few seconds to get the fingers in the right spot, how in hell am I ever going to switch between it and open chords? Did it until my hands started to get tired about 10 minutes later and stopped. I'll have to trust that I can eventually get it down but right now it seems pretty tough. Assuming I have average guitar ability...how long you guys think it'll take to master my first barre chord?


Shouldn't take too long if you spend 5-10mins on it each day. I'm learning the C and D-shape barre chord at the mo. I can't remember how long the E-shape took me, but it comes pretty effortlessly now.

I agree with ryane though. Learning songs above your current skill level seems to be a great way to get better. It's also fun! I'm currently learning Everything I Do by Bryan Adams, fingerstyle version.
#29
Took me about 6 months to learn Bohemian Rhapsody fingerstyle Edgar Cruz arrangement. 1-2 hours a day.
Probably the hardest song I know.
not sure if that's normal learning time or not
I consider myself above average player
Last edited by EyeNon15 at Jul 24, 2015,