It’s Christmas Eve, but it’s also Friday, so here is a stocking filler for you.

Your weekly 10-second tip but extended to be more like a 100-second tip.

So here it is, courtesy of Santa’s elves…

…5 power tips for learning songs…


#1 – Make sure the song is an inspiring one

The more inspiring the song is, the more likely you are to learn it. It is not just about the song though, but the arrangement.

I mean, you can find easy strummed versions OR harder “solo fingerstyle” versions of the same song, and they can be worlds apart in terms of difficulty.

Before learning it, listen to whoever is teaching it, and ask yourself, “does it sound great to my ears and am I a little excited when I hear it?”

If the answer is no, move on.


#2 – Slow it down, amigo!

Too many students try to learn a song at full speed.

As one of my wise students points out,

“If you can’t play it slowly, you sure as hell ain’t gonna be able to play it fast.”

Well, you may eventually, but it will almost certainly take longer, and the process will be more painful.

Don’t be like Santa landing his sleigh at full speed, slow it down, and glide!


#3 – Variety is the spice of life!

Don’t just learn one type of song.

Learning a variety can be fun.

Yes, don’t learn more than two new songs at a time but over time, having a mix of fingerpicking songs, strumming songs, a classical piece, a Christmas carol, a riff or two, etc. is all great.

Obviously, this will all take time, so don’t rush, but like cinnamon is the spice of Christmas…

…Variety is the spice of guitar playing – at least in the long term and in regard to songs.


#4 – The “five times rule!”

Perfect each section of a song five times in a row before moving on.

This is harder than it sounds, but it will force you to concentrate, slow down, and be precise.

For some of you, the “five times rule” may be quite natural. To others, it will be brutally hard at first.

Much depends on how you have practised in the past.

Either way, if you want to improve your songs, try it, and stick with it.

There is a lot of power in this rule.


#5 – Learn melodies!

Melodies are fun.

They are the tune of a song, and the melody is the most recognisable part.

If you are NOT a singer, melodies are your voice, so to speak.

Learn some.

You can play little melodies on their own, play famous riffs (a riff is basically a melody after all) and you can learn solo fingerstyle pieces.

All types of melodies are good fun.


There you have it.

The above is an extended little version of your weekly 10-second tip.

Hope you find it useful and keep this in mind as we head towards 2022!


Enjoy your Christmas – I’m off for a glass of mulled wine, or three!


Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. For more help with your playing, you may want to check this out…

Fingerstyle 101 – a step-by-step guide to beautiful fingerpicking guitar playing


P.P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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