How do I remember all the music?

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John K
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Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:40 pm

I have been hacking at the guitar for a while. I can play most of the chords and do OK if the music book is in front of me.
I have a hard time playing songs from memory. I know some chords fit well with others and are the likely next step, but in general I can not remember all the songs that I would and could play with out the tab.
At 46 my memeory is not shot yet.
Any tricks to doing this ?

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Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:44 pm

I find that not trying to look at the song as a whole, but to look at it as smaller pieces. I mean, the verse music is pretty much always the same, the same with the chorus. So, learn the verse music first, then once you have that down move to the chorus music.
If learning the lyrics along with the music is too much then wait until you have the music established before worrying about learning the lyrics. With me, I find that learning the lyrics helps me to keep the chords in line.
Also, look for patterns, i.e. the G always follows the D or similar type things. If you look for small blocks of patterns then instead of memorizing 10 chords you just have to memorize 2 or 3 or 4 blocks.
I hope some of these suggestions help.

Keep Playing

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Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:47 pm

Repitition is one way to memorize a song. I use this method to help me memorize songs to play later. Also if you practice these songs often it will help.

Good Luck

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Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:52 pm

John K,

Repetition and muscle memory will do the trick for you. Just keep at it. There are many, many songs in know, that if I had to stop and write down the chords and notes, I would be totally lost. My fingers know what they're doing...I just follow along and tap my foot. lol

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Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:05 am

I agree with all the comments to date, one of the Laws of Learning is Repetition, therefore break the song down into natural parts repeat it then repeat it again slow and agonising I now cos I have difficulty in recalling chord progressions , I also get a CD of the song I am learning and play it over and over in the car on the way to work to really get the tune in my head I find this helps

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Mon Apr 06, 2009 11:23 am

LOL... I find it hard just to remember WHAT SONGS i know... once someone suggests a song, I can often remember the chords, but when the boys say "what should we play?" I come up blank.

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Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:15 am

I find that listening is key. We find it easy to memorize song lyrics rather quickly because they are in the language we are used to. Music is a language as well and learning to listen is probably the most important part of mastering this language. As you learn chords, progressions, scales, patterns...etc, be sure that you listen carefully to what you are doing. Then, as you listen to other music, listen for these patterns. Try learning simple songs by ear as this forces you to memorize them. Start with simple familiar melodies and work your way up.

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Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:26 pm

I have this exact same problem!! I can play hundreds of songs if I have the music in front of me but get me around the campfire or at a gathering of friends and it's as if I've never played before. Very frustrating!!

One thing that someone suggested to me beyond rote memorization and repetition is try to understand the key the song is played so you know what chords belong, or don't, in that key. For example, a basic song in C will use C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am and seldom Bdim chords. Or in the key of G you typically find G, Am, Bm, C, D, Em, and very seldom Gbdim. Playing any of these chords may not be right for the song but it won't sound like a clunker!! The Circle of Fifths makes this much easier to understand and see visually.

And knowing the intervals for the music you play is a big help for example most folk songs use 1-IV-V intervals so knowing what chords I can use sometimes helps me remember. The added benefit to learning intervals is you can build your own chords if you like messing around with chord formation.

It seems like a lot of music theory but unless you are a stage musician or play with a bunch of weird musicians playing instruments in Bb or Eb you can usually take care of most of your songs in two or three keys.

Good luck with learning your favorites and Happy Playin'!!!

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Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:40 pm

I keep a little spiral notebook (3" x 5") as a song list. It's small enough to go into the pocket of my guitar case. I write down the songs and annotate with the chord sequence.

I Love a Rainy Night - Eddie Money
Chorus: C,F,G (x3)

I even draw strumming patterns and/or little chord diagrams for chords I don't know by heart yet or are different than how I know how to play.

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Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:49 pm

you too! I was beginning to worry. I must know about 25 songs now, but i could only name about 7 or 8 spontaneously. I also have difficlty memorizing lyrics which is frustrating. But i am 62. I used to remember poems in high school.

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