We all play guitar to create music. This can be done either through our own original compositions or playing someone else’s songs. If you haven’t been playing for at least two years, it’s important right now to learn your craft through playing other people’s songs.
Now there are millions of songs out there already to choose from. Which songs are the right ones for you to play? Okay some are easier than others to get started with, but I know you won’t be inspired to play guitar by working your way through a folk song number when you want to play heavy metal. Sure the folk song is easier, but it’s not going to fire you up to play it.
So what is the right song for you to learn? The answer – what artist made you want to play the guitar in the first place. There is usually a particular artist, style that attracted you to learn guitar and that’s where your focus for selecting a bunch of songs to learn to play should be. Now every style has their ‘easier’ songs to play. Of course there are the more challenging numbers so go with the easier one first. Get some runs on the board and build your confidence and then start challenging your self.
Whether its blues, jazz, rock, metal, classical, country or pop music, every genre, or style has its own top songs. Now don’t just learn songs by one artist. For instance if you want to learn metal guitar, look at the big 4 bands of that style – Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth. These artists have been around for many years and between them they have hundreds of songs to choose form. Find out what the combined top 10 songs are and set out to learn them.
The same reasoning goes if you prefer blues. There are many different sub-genres of blues like, Texas blues; Chicago style blues for example. There are so many great songs to choose from, so don’t just sit down to only work out 10 B.B. King songs. Broaden your repertoire by combining them from all the great artists.
Singer/songwriter folk styles have continually changed throughout the years. Sure, you’ve got your pioneers of the genre – Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan etc. but that style has evolved so much to include the classic sounds and songs of the early ’70’s era singer/songwriters through to modern day acoustic guitar based music of the likes of Ed Sheeran, Mumford and Sons and well as early John Mayer.
Here’s what to do now…
- Find out the great songs of the music you want to play then make a list of them.
- Next you will need to purchase a copy of those songs. Buy these recordings do not download illegally. You only rob the artists or their estates of money that is rightfully theirs.
- You may have to purchase some sheet music or tabs of these songs if you can’t work them out by ear. Again, purchase these!
Once you have these items, now you are going to start learning how to play them. Ideally this should be done with a guitar teacher so they can help to make it easier for you. The problem I see most aspiring guitar players doing is that they try to play the entire song in one sitting and if it doesn’t work for them they get frustrated. If this is familiar to you, here’s what to do instead…
First take notes of what you can play or not. Maybe you already know how to play some of the chords. Jot down the chords you do not know and work on these. As for technique, to play through certain riffs, you will need to identify which hand needs work to execute the section correctly. Obviously, some of these things are going to take some time to develop. This is why there is great value in a guitar teacher to make it quicker.
Whatever way you choose, you will encounter some challenges. This is to be expected. Practice the exercises you need to play these songs every day. It doesn’t have to be for hours on end. Even 20-30 minutes everyday will get you closer to your goal of playing these songs well. Because these top 10 songs are songs you want to learn and play you will gain so much satisfaction and confidence when you start ticking off each of those songs as your skills develop.
About Alan Hopgood: Allen Hopgood is a professional guitar teacher and guitar trainer on the Gold Coast of Australia. He teaches rock guitar, blues, guitar and singer songwriter guitar styles and genres to his students from the area and also runs regular rythm and improvisational workshops.