How To Memorize Songs on Your Guitar

by Joshua LeBlanc

Many of my guitar students have trouble when it comes to memorizing songs on the guitar. Whether you’re having trouble with chord progressions, riffs, or just remembering how the song goes here’s a basic outline of how you should approach memorizing your songs.

Make sure you can play the song first

This is the start of what you’ll need to do. While this sounds basic, many students try to rush and just start memorizing the song before actually learning to play it. Let’s say you are looking at a song that you have never played before. The first thing that you need to do is make sure you know all the aspects of the song that you are learning. Check to see if there are any chords you may not know or any riffs that may give you trouble and you’ll need to practice in isolation. Even if you can’t play the part just yet knowing where you’ll have trouble and working on that first will save you time when it comes to memorizing the song later.

Find Repeating Patterns

After you’ve isolated the trouble spots and worked on those you can really start to memorize the song. The first thing you want to do is find any parts of the song that are similar. So if you’re learning a song and the form of it is; Intro ñ Verse ñ Chorus ñ Verse ñ Chorus ñ Bridge ñ Chorus ñ Outro. We can see that there are five different parts. But even though we have five different parts it is possible (and common) that the guitar part for the Intro would be the same as the Verse or Chorus. If that’s the case you now only have four parts to memorize. Once you’ve done that you can work on making sure you can play each part of the song. At this point you want to work on playing each part in isolation and getting it as clean as possible.

Put The Song Together

Once you are able to play each individual part with out any major issues, you can start to put the song together. There are many ways to decide how you want to do this so here are a few examples:
You can count how many times you play a certain part of the song before you have to switch to the next part. So for example you may play the chord progression of the Verse four times before moving on to the chorus section
You can memorize the melody that’s played or sang over the guitar part and use that as a guide to remembering what you are supposed to play
Practice visualizing playing the song while the song is playing. Quizzing yourself on the chord progressions is a good way to test how well you actually know the song.

From this point you can work on fixing any small mistakes you have left and you will be ready to play the song from start to finish from memory. Joshua LeBlanc is the owner and instructor of Lafayette School of Guitar. If you live in the Lafayette, Louisiana area and are looking to take guitar lessons visit to find out more information on how to get started.

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