For beginners, this is a great, it allows them to stay engaged in the learning process by working towards a goal. In this case, the goal is being able to play the song. Most players continue this style of learning even when they become intermediate and advanced level players because the process worked so well when they were beginners.
Learning how to play songs is effective in getting beginner level students to the intermediate level. For intermediate level students learning songs can be beneficial, but if the students continues to only work on the physical aspect of the song, they will quickly begin to plateau. To get from an intermediate level player to become an advanced level player, the skills you have to focus on are different. As a beginner you can barely play the instrument. So the majority of your time should be focused on developing the coordination to play. When you become in intermediate level player, you don't need to focus as much on the physical aspect of playing. This will allow you to start developing other important musical skills.
When you learn a song as an intermediate level player, you need to:
1) Transcribe the song by ear
2) Practice the physical aspect of playing the song
3) Analyze the song
Transcribing a song by ear:The first part of the process is transcribing a song. These days so many people go straight to YouTube or tab sites to learn songs. By doing this, they are only hurting themselves. It's better to spend time transcribing the songs yourself. The act of transcribing a song is connecting your mind to the fret board. Many people would insist that using tabs is fine. It cuts down on the guess work and then their mind can already connect the patterns to the fret board. This is an assumption and if you carefully noticed how someone uses tabs, it doesn't help their ear.ю When someone goes to play tablature, they sit in front of the tablature sheets. They look at where they need to put their fingers. Then they look over at the fret board and place their hands where they need to be. Then play the chord or note. There is no listening going on here. Their just moving their fingers.
The act of transcribing song by ear means that you're going to listen to the music. You're going to play what you think it is and correct it if you're wrong. You're listening to the song, not viewing it as a finger pattern. This is what's going to develop your ears, not YouTube and not tab sites.
Before I move on, I want to bring up one more point. Even though I list how to learn a song in a specific order, you don't need to work on each separate process first before you move on to the next one. In fact, it's better for you to practice all these areas at the same time. This way you will optimize your growth.
What I just wrote might confuse you, so I'll offer some suggestions I find beneficial.
You will have to transcribe a song in order to practice the actual physical aspect of a song. However, there is no reason you can't analyze the song structure or other aspects of the song while picking it out by ear.
You can also analyze two songs at a time. Work on transcribing one song by ear and then when you've finished this one, begin analyzing it and practicing it. While you're analyzing and practicing the one you already transcribed, transcribe a second song by ear.
My final suggestion is this:Practice all the areas in isolation. If your ear isn't strong enough to do the two suggestions above, pick one song to work on transcribing by ear. Keep working on it until it's done. Then pick a second song, find tabs or music notation for it and work on the physical aspects and analyze the song. We do NOT practice transcribing this second song by ear.
What we want to do, is start getting out of the habit of simply learning the physical aspect of songs. It's not important that you transcribe every song by ear at first.
Song Analysis:If you're a beginner songwriter analyzing a song is going to be very useful to you and a lot of fun. Many people aren't sure how to anaylze songs correctly, so I will take some time to discuss this. When analyzing a song, you can literally analyze anything. What you'll want to analyze will probably depend on the weaknesses in your own songwriting. Since this is a small article, I'll keep the discussion to the more important aspects for beginner song writers and analyzers.
First your going to want to breakdown the chord progression. Figuring out what chords are used and in what order is going to help you see how the song fits into music theory. Breaking down the chord progressions in a song will also help you notice any specific patterns in your favorite artist's music. Even more important, you'll be able to find exceptions or differences between your favorite artist's music and music theory.
After the chord progressions, you'll want to analyze the melodic aspects of the song. If you're a singer or lead guitar player, you can look at what notes they use over what chords. Each note is going to give off a different emotion over a different chord in the scale. Knowing what note over what chord is giving you the chills, will allow you to represent this in your own songwriting.
Again, many artists don't strictly follow music theory or use what's commonly used in certain situations. You'll gain enormous value by analyzing their melodic choices.
The final basic aspect you're going to want to analyze is the song form. Most amateur songs these days are structured in the traditional verse, chorus, verse, chorus Bridge, Chorus format. They maintain a 4/4 beat and every part is grouped in 4's. There are so many different song forms, and twists and turns you can use to spice up your songs. Analyzing song forms is going to help you learn these twist and turns.
Transcribing and analyzing songs is the first step towards developing some serious musical skills. Make sure to take the time to do more than just play songs and you will reap the benefits.
About the Author:
By Chris Glyde. http://rochesterguitarlessons.com.