Learning To Play Songs

As a start you should get as many recordings, song books and copies of sheet music of all of your favorite songs and start learning them one by one. This is a very important step in your learning process and it will quickly help you to become a better guitar player.

Ultimate Guitar
Today's article is about learning to play songs. As a start you should get as many recordings, song books and copies of sheet music of all of your favorite songs and start learning them one by one. This is a very important step in your learning process and it will quickly help you to become a better guitar player. In general you should start with easier songs and then once you have mastered these then go on to more complex songs. You can either learn by ear from recordings or learn from music books, sheet music and tablature. I suggest you do a combination of both. Generally speaking you will need to train your ear as you progress in your playing, so start now and you will have a head start. Having music books, sheet music and tablature will help with your ear training, especially when you want to learn more difficult and complex songs. You can also purchase music books, sheet music or tablature from a variety of sources. Your local music store will have is a good source. So are the larger book store chains like Borders and Barnes and Nobles. You can also purchase such items over the Internet. You can also usually find free chord charts for songs on the Internet, either in tabular form or just with the chords written out with the words. Let's use the song "She Loves You" by the Beatles as an example. I went to Google and typed in the following search phrase... "she loves you chords" A list of links came up as a result. I picked the 8th listing which was the following link: She Loves You. This had a good representation of the chords of that song. If you want to start learning by ear, then it will help a great deal if you are familiar with the different and various chord types... which it sounds like you know how to construct chords. Get really familiar with each chord type, for example you should be able to hear the difference between a major and minor chord, pick out a major 7th as compared to a dominant 7th chord. You should be able to hear an augmented chord when you hear it, etc. Also familiarize yourself with the common types of chord progressions, for example the 2-5-1 progression (both minor and major versions), the 1-6-2-5, etc. Then as you listen to a song start by figuring out the bass notes of each chord. That will usually be the easiest thing to start with. So you listen to the song and you figure out that there is a C bass note followed by an A bass note followed by a D bass note followed by a G bass note. You just play along quietly and try to sound out each bass note when you hear a chord change. Now once you have the bass notes then you start to listen for the chord types and also to think about common chord progressions. So you hear a C major, then an A minor... starts looking familiar, like a 1-6-2-5 progression... so you try playing a D minor and then a G7 and it sounds right. So that is one possible approach to learning by ear... again... familiarize yourself with chord sounds and progressions, start with the bass notes then listen for chord types and progressions.

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Some of you "know-it-alls" should be writing these kinds of articles instead of bashing them since you're so great. Like dude up there said, "just because it doesn't help you doesn't mean it's not gonna help someone else." Put your money where your mouth is or don't open it.
    I think it can help people if their looking for a place to start training their ear ready to transcribe music. jus cause it dosent help YOU dosent mean its bad.
    If you weren't born with the ability to play music by ear, then you weren't "meant" to be a musician; however, that doesn't mean you can't learn to do so with practice and become a great player. Being able to play by ear is essential to becoming one of the greatest (Clapton, Slash, Santana...). For people who are great: some are great because they were born to be great, most are great because they choose to be great!
    huhuhuhuh..!!! it is boring.. i didn't learn anything from this article...
    some ppl are also not born to explain stuff .but just like playing guitar trying en doing it makes u better. like writting an atrticle you need to put quite some time and effort in to make sure din't forgeot somting to say or at least explain more. didnt do it myself jet, so everybody who wrote one gets credit. end of discussion
    I can't believe the vile attitudes of people on here. Someone has written an article to help beginners. If you don't approve then at least be respectful enough to not leave a comment oppose to blatantly slagging off the author. Anyway, good choice of song, "She loves you". The Beatles! Top that, that's right, you can't. RoEy
    Writing these lessons is a lot like writting tabs. You get better with practice. Give the guy a break
    wow man this article is bogus!!!!!its pointless i dont even guess whu you tool your time writing this thing, maybe you should put next to it an article of how this would help us, you must be talented to play guitar, who will ever think of spending 24/7 playing a guitar to became a n00b.
    true youre not born great you can be born to be able to pick it up better, nobody can pick up a guitar and be awesome instantly
    Good players aren't born they are trained. Whatever they are self taught or get lessons. A player has many resources available to learn from including tabs, sheet music and cord diagrams. A player has to have many skills including aural, techinical, and ability to read music. A player only gets out of music what they put in to it and unfortunately many players never get solid training. We all start as newbies and go for there. Learning to play music is a never ending learning adventure.
    pointless article, all that needed to be said, and this only for newbies, was that if u can figure out the bass note of the chords in the songs its easier to find the chord by ear. i think ug team is just writing a bunch of newb crap articles so he can rank up or whatever by spamming newb lessons and gettin contributions and sh!t. he does them on easy stuff that has nothing very hard so that nobody will call him out on wrong info. BTW its stupdi people like that, that really piss me off! there are people on here that actually want to read these articles and lessons to learn how to play and get tips, and are actually serious about PLAYING guitar, not looking like they know everything.
    I happen to think this was a pretty good article. I picked up my guitar and started to play to a song that I happen to love, a little bit by ear, but it's true. Just because it doesn't work for you, doesn't mean that it won't some else. Thank you for the lesson.
    Umm...yeah some people were born to be great. it's not "destiny" or anything like that it's just that they were born with a better finger texterity or mind for music that most people so they're way ahead of everyone right from the start.
    For people who are great: some are great because they were born to be great...by the way, no one was born to be great...no one was born to be a guitar player. that is a load of bullshit but i do agree with you on "the greats" like santana, clapton, slash.
    this goes to show that John Lennon and Paul McCartney still (present tense), know what they,re doing!
    for ppl who dont understand chords, go out and buy a chord map or u can print them off the internet..this will help u with getting familiar with them
    the article clearly says wat 2 do if u dont understand any of thi i dont kno wat ur doin here in the 1st place!
    The article is a good Idea. I dont know if its for beginners or not, but... Anywho, it was a great attempt.
    i have never seen a lesson by either oswald or ug stranger, yet they have reviewed every tab lesson, and what not on this website? im starting to think that these guys just sit in front of their pc's all day, and diss peoples work ?
    i agree, if this is for begginers, how are they going to know about chord progressions and such? you gotta at least explain what your talking about
    how is this going to help mke learn guitar it doesnt do shit 4 me it tell sme how to find song thsi was a complete waste of time
    wow! at least i now know how to search for chords on google! u stupid ass this helps a ton. (jk)
    ugstranger.. i think your little thing back there helps more than his article
    You know, this article has been VERY beneficial to me. This my first time here and I must "WOW" for the first impression. There is someone up there that said this article is useless, I think that person is wrong. Think about this; just because someone is 40years old does not mean that kindergarten becomes useless. It will forever be of paramount importance just as it was when Mr 40 yr old was 4 years old. So before you go bashing articles, or anything for that matter, take a moment to think about it. GREAT job to who ever wrote the article. Keep up the AWESOME job of helping us little guys.