How Long Does It Take You To Learn a Song?

johmica

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I've recently started adhering to a more structured practice schedule that includes 30 minutes per day of learning songs by ear (something that I've never done much of, and want to get better at). I just let myself learn anything that strikes my fancy, as long as I dedicate a solid, 30 minute block of focused attention on working on it.

What I've found is that, with easier songs, I can figure them out within 15 minutes or so. For instance, I've been working on the Please, Please Me album, and I can get those songs down (both John and George's parts) relatively quickly.

Other songs can take longer. Another example: I've been working through the Beano album, as well. I can pick up the "rhythm" or "riff" parts relatively quickly, but at 30 minutes per day, it can take me three or four days to nail down Eric's solos (and these leads, while absolutely perfect in every way, are not particularly difficult).

I'm just wondering about others' experiences. How long does it take you to work out songs? Leads? I'm not really asking about Yngwie-level leads; that's not really something that I even aspire to (no disrespect, of course).
 

chulaivet1966

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I'm just wondering about others' experiences. How long does it take you to work out songs? Leads? I'm not really asking about Yngwie-level leads; that's not really something that I even aspire to (no disrespect, of course).
Howdy J....
To qualify....I'm strictly a rhythm player and that's a roll I'm quite comfortable with.
I don't care about learning lead lines.
Glad to hear you're nailing down your practice routine.

Well....if we're talking songs with only cowboy chords it takes me little time to figure it out.
But...those are not the type of songs/genre I care for or want to learn to play.
I'm pretty particular in this context.

Most of my favorites require a hell of a lot more time and focus.
A few that took me a long time even with watching YT tutorials:
1) Another Park, Another Sunday - Doobies
2) Kid Charlemagne - Steely Dan
3) Only A Food Would Say That - Steely Dan
4) Rio De Janeiro Blue - Randy Crawford version
5) Close To You - Lindsey Webster (this was a request, not one I would have chose)

Most other favorites on my YT channel were far easier to figure out and play along with.

Back to it....
 

schmee

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The basic song? Pretty quickly. I 'learn' maybe 3-5 a week, seldom do I end up performing them. But some just fit and work out.
But if you mean all the rifs and solo hooks etc, I seldom go that far unless I intend to play the song live, then not the solos, just the solo hooks.
 

GeneB

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I use tab sites like ultimateguitar.com and then play along with whatever I'm trying to learn. I use my Mustang Micro and blutooth the song from my android phone to it to practice.
 

twangjeff

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I really depends on what you mean by, "Learn." I can listen to a pop tune, and basically replay it with probably 75% accuracy without touching a guitar.

Yet, to an earlier point, that just means I'm repeating something, I don't really, "Know," it. Knowing it means that I know it in every key, know all of the signature parts, know where the dynamics change, know what positions to voice the chords in so that they don't clash with bass or keys, you can play the melody... you get the idea.
 

Peegoo

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For me, maybe 15 minutes, but I've been doing this ampong time.

I have learned that hearing chord tones does take practice, and it takes a while. But do it a lot and you'll start to hear each note in a chord instead of stumbling around for 30 minutes to discover that 'weird' chord is a m7b5.

Specific lead stuff is a matter of finger memory, and that takes me three or four run-throughs to nail it down.

The more you do it, the faster and more accurate you become. Don't rely on chord charts and tabs you find online because they are often simplified, or even completely wrong.
 

Dismalhead

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Been playing for 40 years, practice usually about 12 hours a week.

For the past 20 years my practice "fun time" is spent just putting on CDs at random from my old collection and playing along. I usually go through my set, work on a few individual songs, and then when I'm done it's random CD time. Sometimes I'll just jam along once to a song, sometimes I'll skip it if I'm not feeling it, sometimes I'll decide to learn it completely note-for-note.

Time takes anywhere from 5 minutes for a 3-4 chorder to a year depending on the difficulty. It's not a set thing, it takes as long as it takes. I've been working on The Loner by Gary Moore since last Christmas and I'm only now getting to the point where I'd be willing to play it in front of other people. If it's got lyrics and I decide I'm gonna sing it, I also have to learn and remember the lyrics (which my brain sucks at) and then how to sing and play the guitar at the same time. That usually takes me a month or two for an average song.
 
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chulaivet1966

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If it's got lyrics and I decide I'm gonna sing it, I also have to learn and remember the lyrics (which my brain sucks at) and then how to sing and play the guitar at the same time. That usually takes me a month or two for an average song.
Howdy Dismal....

Huh....are you talking to me? (in my best gnarly Sylvester Stallone voice)
I hear you...at 7.5 decades old....me too.

Back to it....
 

Wildcard_35

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If it's a 4-chord Chuck Berry song, I can pick it up pretty quickly, including the lead parts. If it's Wichita Lineman, it might just drive me mad and make me throw my guitar onto my bed. "He's playing WHAT there? Man, I'm switching to bass! Or maybe baritone! Yeah, I'll learn the baritone part...when I buy a baritone!"

And so on...
 

SRHmusic

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I found if I make a simple chart while working through a new song that the basic structure including riffs and interesting chord voicings takes maybe 3 to 5 times through. Solos or specific harmonies take longer, but sometimes they are just riffs or chord based. Depends. It definitely gets quicker with practice at it. I'm still working on ear training and try to transcribe as much as I can by ear of the chord changes and structure. (And, no, I'm not taking about jazz tunes. Maybe some day. )
 

Teddyjack

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I think my ear has gotten better over the years. I've read about some well known musicians claiming they're not great at figuring out other people's music. Or, I think it was Tom Waits who said, he likes it when people don't get it right!
 

jrblue

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I can learn most stuff, except deliberately hyperspeed/complex stuff, almost immediately. However, for stuff that's any good, musically, I would add that I can never really learn something completely, since the touch and phrasing of the original artist, on a really good piece, get very deep and personal, even for seemingly-basic stuff. Take "Steppin' Out" off Beano for ex. Easy to learn the part -- impossible to really do it completely. Ditto anything by Hendrix. What I find particularly challenging are early rock tunes done with little to no effects -- just way clean. Some of those tones are nuts. Like anything by Steve Cropper; try "Time is Tight." Easy -- and impossible.
 




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