Welcome to episode 8 of Another Guitar Show, you're weekly 30 minute guitar lesson every Sunday!
We all want to be able to play more songs easily and off by heart, but this can seem to be an overwhelming task when learning and memorising even one song can be so tough and take u so much time.
In this episode, we look at all the ways you can learn more songs faster on guitar. See a full writeup and links to other helpful lessons and song suggestions further down this page!
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How to play more songs FASTER and easier on guitar
1. Use a capo
See a full and detailed look at how to use a capo further down this page! Top reasons include
- Many songs require a capo to sound correct (i.e. Wonderwall or Hotel California)
- Play the same song with easier chords
- Capo holds strings closer to the fretboard, making chords easier on the fingertips
2. Visualise shapes
Visualise shapes not only of chords but of chord progressions and the general movement of the fingers, as well as the letter names of the chords used (discussed at around 9 minutes in this episode)
3. Memorise the chords that occur in the common guitar keys
This is the most essential piece of music theory for all guitarists, especially when it comes to learning songs with chords. This can be known as diatonic chord theory, the Nashville number system, the 1 4 5 etc, etc. All of these terms describe the same thing, which I explain below!
4. Remember; songs with simple structure are quicker and easier to learn
Songs with a repetitive chord progression are always easier and quicker to learn. This is because one you know the first round of the chord progression, you know the song! Great examples include 50s rock n roll and 12 bar blues based songs (Chuck Berry, Howling Wolf, even Eric Clapton and early Beatles songs) and also simple pop songs.
Why to use a capo?
A capo gives you more options to play more songs. It can make the chords easier to play while sounding the same. It can also be the only way to play certain songs authentically e.g. Wonderwall requires a capo at 2nd fret to be at the correct pitch to the original recording.
For singers, if a song uses a capo in the original recording - singers can choose to put the capo at a lower fret to make it at a lower pitch, which is typically easier to sing.
How to use a capo
Songs in the key of G or G#
Song uses chords G and C or G# and C#
Solution; Use a capo at 3rd fret and play the chords E major and A major instead, this will sound the same.
Song examples; Love Me Do by The Beatles, Common People by Pulp
Songs in the key of E major, but uses barre chords
Solution; capo at 2nd fret and use chords in the key of D major using ‘transpose’ feature on a chord sheet website.
Song example; Sit Down by the band James.
Song is in the key of C, but uses the F barre chord
Solution; Capo at 5th fret and play chords in the key of G to sound the same!
Song example; Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley/ Leonard Cohen
Song is in the key of B major, requiring to player to use many barre chords
Solution; capo at 2nd fret and transpose those chords to the key of A major, which uses fewer or no barre chords
Song example; Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen