A lot of my students know how to play quite a few songs. Some of those who have played for a while know anything upwards of 10 songs.

A while back, I noticed that some students would neglect to practice some songs so I got to the bottom of it and asked them why hadn’t they practiced these songs.

Maybe they were bored of them, didn’t like the song, or found them too easy.

The answers they gave me was none of the above.  In fact, they all gave me either (or both) of the following two answers.

What they told me was:

  1. They simply didn’t feel they had the time to practice these songs
  2. They forgot to practice them

Interesting. Those of you who have learned more than 7 or 8 songs will agree with the above.

Therefore, I developed a little fun method to help them practice their repertoire of songs in a productive and enjoyable way.

Here it is — a simple method that will ensure you practice all the songs you know how to play in a fun way.

Practicing Guitar by Using a Playlist

I use Spotify with all my students. I’ll create a playlist, add all the songs they have learned into this playlist and when their lesson comes around I’ll load it up.

I then hit shuffle and play.

A random song from their playlist then comes on. The idea is for the student to start playing along within a few seconds.

I tell the student to do the same thing at home. You should do so too with whatever software you listen to music with.

Simply get yourself a playlist of all the songs you know how to play and, at least twice per week, hit shuffle and start playing along. 

Practicing guitar doesn’t have to be boring. This is a really fun and random way to play songs you might have neglected or songs you try to avoid because they are tough (everyone does it at some point!)

Aim to get playing along with the song within a few seconds and to a high standard.

I always say it’s integral to play along with other musicians regularly and a good way to get ready to do that is to practice along with recordings.

Playing along with the recording is essential for ensuring your timing, tone, and technique are up to scratch.

No doubt you can play some songs better than others (that is the same for everyone). If so, this is a good way to get those weaker songs up to a high standard and like I say, it’s fun.

There is something a little exciting about seeing what song will pop up next. It certainly makes it more exciting than most methods of practice.

Of course, if you know 30 or more songs you might find that when you use this method then not all songs will be played. Therefore, you might want to combine this with a more methodical method such as going down your playlist in order and playing each one.

For anyone who has 30 or less songs in their repertoire, then this method will work great.

Should you play the whole song or just the core bits?

That really depends on how much time you have and how complex the songs are.

For example, if you know 5 songs which are all short simple pop songs from the early Beatles back catalogue, then you could play through each one fully.

Alternatively, if you know 15 songs and they vary from simple pop to fingerpicking or delta blues you might find that you don’t have time to play through each one fully.

In that case, I recommend you play through the core parts of the song. The core parts are essentially all the guitar parts such as intro, verse, chorus, bridge/middle, and any key guitar fills.

Usually when you finish the middle 8 or bridge part of a song, all the core parts will have been played, so when you reach this point you could just hit shuffle again and move on to the next one.

I do recommend that you attempt each song from start to finish at least once in a while though. This is good for your all-round playing and stamina!

Below is a sample playlist from one of my students. (click to enlarge).

practicing guitar


We load it at the beginning of each lesson and for a small portion of the lesson, I’ll hit shuffle a couple of times and he’ll jam along before we move onto something else.

You don’t have to use Spotify of course. I don’t work for Spotify or endorse them (or any other streaming sites for that matter) but I like the layout and the amount of music (mainstream and obscure) on there.

You can use any other streaming site such as Deezer, Apple Music, Amazon Prime or if you have the CDs/MP3s, create your own playlist using a media player such as Tomahawk.

I know many of you use and love YouTube  which is great as you can also create a playlist on there too and because YouTube has loads of live versions—you can even pick your favourite version to jam along with.

Whichever software or site you use, try this way of practicing, it’s lots of fun.

All you have to do is create your playlist, hit shuffle and jam away.


Gary Dailey
May 18, 2016 Reply

This is a great idea to streamline your practice time. Once you have a lot of songs playing parts is the only way to go. I find Band in a box is great for this. Especially if you have your own tunes to jam to. You can tailor the styles to change things up, have different style practices. G.D.

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