How to learn a song fast (according to Nashville pro)

JonR

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14,781
Thread title changed so peeps don't fixate on the wrong thing
The article title itself seems good enough: "How to learn a song like a Nashville pro". It seems to be about a combination of speed and (primarily) efficiency. That's its value.
How long it takes depends on many things: how long or complicated it is; how much of it you actually need to learn (your part? guitar or bass? both? vocal melody? lyrics? whole thing? improvisation strategy?); how many other demands on your time; a deadline (the most important details you can get done in time); and so on.
The pro attitude starts with identifying all those parameters, and then the most efficient route to get there.
 
Messages
14,641
The article title itself seems good enough: "How to learn a song like a Nashville pro". It seems to be about a combination of speed and (primarily) efficiency. That's its value.
How long it takes depends on many things: how long or complicated it is; how much of it you actually need to learn (your part? guitar or bass? both? vocal melody? lyrics? whole thing? improvisation strategy?); how many other demands on your time; and so on.
The pro attitude starts with identifying all those parameters, and then the most efficient route to get there.
Just bustin your chops a bit. You know we appreciate your knowledge shares - you write an article as long as hers just about every day. ;)
 

JonR

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14,781
Just bustin your chops a bit. You know we appreciate your knowledge shares - you write an article as long as hers just about every day. ;)
Ha! Yep, that's what I do when I'm not - ahem - learning songs like a Nashville pro. ;)
 

jhumber

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1,399
I thought the video linked in the article was great.

It’s good to remember that for the article/video author this isn’t “learn a song to play to your friends or at a bar gig”. It’s “learn a song to play for one of the biggest country stars (Maren Morris) on stage, without a chart, in an arena, next week”. Not exactly a setting where you want to chance it!

I thought the level of detail she put in to really learn the song was admirable - and came across as very professional.
 

Vcaster

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1,328
I thought the video linked in the article was great.

It’s good to remember that for the article/video author this isn’t “learn a song to play to your friends or at a bar gig”. It’s “learn a song to play for one of the biggest country stars (Maren Morris) on stage, without a chart, in an arena, next week”. Not exactly a setting where you want to chance it!

I thought the level of detail she put in to really learn the song was admirable - and came across as very professional.
Agreed.

Adding a direct link to the illuminating video by bassist and instructor Annie Clements.

 

boldaslove1977

Silver Supporting Member
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4,648
This is pretty much how I do it. I just don’t play arenas!

The time spent in the gym or in the car is often more valuable than the time I actually spend with a guitar in my hands. Playing the songs typically isn’t the problem. It’s remembering the arrangement. The little tricky parts. The one little thing that’s different on the third verse from the first two, etc.

And I can’t tell you how many songs I’ve learned from scratch in the car on the way to a gig. I’m guessing there’s a long list of people here who do that regularly!
 

Linderflomann

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164
RJ Ronquillo did a video like this a while ago. In his case it was 32 songs in a week. It's interesting because he makes the distinction between songs where you can rely on charts, and riff-based music. And just like Annie, he suggests lots of active listening, in the car, at the gym, etc.

 

JosephZdyrski

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Honestly... I may be in the minority here but personally I don’t like to learn things fast. I can and I have but the result is never something I’m proud of.

Also I understand that this isn’t always possible and that is kind of the point of these techniques to quickly learn songs.

However I don’t think those techniques should be your go to for learning songs. They are nice to have in a pinch but if you really want to be really good at playing something and truly make it yours then it best to not rush the process ime.
 
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Jon C

Silver Supporting Member
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17,117
Honestly... I may be in the minority hear but personally I don’t like to learn things fast. I can and I have but the result is never something I’m proud of.

Also I understand that this isn’t always possible and that is kind of the point of these techniques to quickly learn songs.

However I don’t think those techniques should be your go to for learning songs. They are nice to have in a pinch but if you really want to be really good at playing something and truly make it yours then it best to not rush the process ime.

It’s a skill, not necessarily a lifestyle choice. :idea
 

JosephZdyrski

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It’s a skill, not necessarily a lifestyle choice. :idea
Of course but I think it’s one best used for material you need quickly and you don’t mind not remembering for the long term.

Plus I’m thinking in terms of really knowing a piece(a complex piece) inside and and out and being able to improvise on it at an extremely high level, in a performance situation, alongside other monster players. Ime there isn’t a short cut to get to that place without looking to the trained eye like one is faking it.

If you’re just trying to get through pieces and maybe impress some non musicians. Then yeah these techniques are great. But I’m personally never proud of performances like that.
 

Ed DeGenaro

Supporting Member
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22,239
Of course but I think it’s one best used for material you need quickly and you don’t mind not remembering for the long term.

Plus I’m thinking in terms of really knowing a piece(a complex piece) inside and and out and being able to improvise on it at an extremely high level, in a performance situation, alongside other monster players. Ime there isn’t a short cut to get to that place without looking to the trained eye like one is faking it.

If you’re just trying to get through pieces and maybe impress some non musicians. Then yeah these techniques are great. But I’m personally never proud of performances like that.
Think that's beside the point.
I know too many people that moan having to learn a dozen songs in 3 month.
I've taken gig where its learn the set in 2-3 days.
So yes for what I do I chart short hand rather relying on memiery only.
Once the gig is over it's likely I won't need what I learned.
 

TubeStack

Supporting Member
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10,225
Cool article, thanks for sharing. Her process is very similar to my own, which is neat to read.

I do 99% of my song-learning in the car coming home from work (guitar parts, song arrangements, and lyrics/vocals).
 




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