Divide and conquer- on the guitar!

Works for acoustic, electric, and classical guitar.

It can be a daunting task to learn a new song or piece on the guitar. There are many ways to practice and many ways from to get from one point to the next. Ideally, whatever we are doing helps us to learn quickly and efficiently, while also being fun and rewarding.

Here are eight steps you can use to learn any guitar song more quickly.   These can also help you to make your practice time more effective and more rewarding. Remember, keep things light and relaxed yet focused.  These tips are great for all styles of music, including rock, folk, alternative, world music, polka, or any other.

1) Decide exactly what you would like to do and how you will know when you get there.  Nothing is worse than working really hard on something and not knowing whether it did any good or not!  So know where you are going.  For a song that has strumming guitar chords and singing, this would mean knowing what strumming pattern you plan to use, knowing what the chords are, and knowing the lyrics and the melody.

2) Practice the rhythm by itself. If you are playing a song then this might be just the right hand by itself, strumming.  If you're working on a classical guitar piece, then it would mean practicing just the right-hand fingering.

3) Practice just the guitar chord changes, or the notes, by themselves without the right hand playing. This will not sound like much, because your right hand will be silent. But at least you will not have to think of but one thing at a time.  Focus on clean movements and good finger placement behind the frets.

4) If the song has vocals, practice the vocals by themselves.  Make sure you are singing the correct notes in the correct rhythm.

5) You can then practice the vocals with just the right hand playing, and the left-hand just muting out the strings.

6) Practice the vocals with just the left-hand chords. Let the right-hand Just relax or hold the guitar, but do not actually play anything with it. This way you don't have to think about the rhythm of the right-hand at all and can focus completely on just playing the chords.

7) Then practice just the two hands playing together with no singing.  Just play the chords and strum with consistent timing and rhythm.

8) Finally, you can put it all together and hear where it takes you.  If you have practiced each of the different aspects of vocals, right-hand, and left-hand, in isolation from each other and also in combinations of each two of the three together, you will be well on your way to making the song happen.

I hope that helps.  If you have any experience with this you would like to share, please leave comment.  I would love to hear from you.