How to Learn a Song in One Week

Photo by rolands.lakis
I know it is easier said than done to learn a song in one week, but it is quite possible. Of course you have to take one thing into account:

You have to choose a song that fits your capabilities. The song you are able to learn depends on whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced guitar player and the amount of time you can afford to practice.

A beginner could learn a basic pop / rock song in one week, while an intermediate or advanced guitar player could figure out a more advanced piece of music, but that’s not really the point I’m trying to make.

With all the busy schedules nowadays it’s hard to still find any time or motivation left to learn your favorite guitar song within an reasonable amount of time. Assuming you are a hard working male or female working from 9 to 5 or a college student role model you need a good practical way to get the job done.

Let’s see take a look how to approach this in seven days:

It’s the first day of the week. You come home from work or school a little tired but you’re okay. You really want to nail this song, but you don’t want to drown it. Well let’s get this party started. In order not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the task you take small steps. Small steps will get your goal accomplished.

– Choose a song you like. (Ask your guitar teacher or guitar buddy if it is a reasonable challenge)

– Listen to the song on Spotify or Youtube.

– Analyze the song structure. Find out if the song has a verse, a prechorus, chorus, a bridge, etc.

– To analyze the song structure search for the lyrics on Metrolyrics, Azlyrics or Sing365

Let’s assume you have the following song structure: Intro – verse – prechorus – chorus – verse – prechorus – chorus – bridge – chorus – outro.

– Find the chords or tabs on Azchords or Ultimateguitar (Note: Be careful, these chords and tabs are not always a 100 percent correct, sometimes not even 50 percent.) or transcribe the song by ear.

– Today you will start to learn the Intro. Nothing more and nothing less. Don’t work ahead but fully focus on the intro.

– Play it slow a few times and then gradually build up the speed. Playing things slowly and properly is really important. Don’t skip this part. It is essential.

– Analyze your barriers and mistakes. Where does it get tough? Where do you go wrong? Look at the way you put your fingers on the strings. Are you placing them correctly? Figure out a way to get the right sound. Experiment. Observe your left hand as well as your right hand.

– If you tried hard enough let it rest for a while. Forget about the details for a moment and carry on. Enjoy your practice session, have fun and finish the rest of the intro.

– Learn it by heart right away. It’s the best way to master the song.

It’s your second day of work / school and you probably need to do some errands and chores. Finish them as quick as possible and try to simplify your tasks if possible. Now regain your energy, drink a glass of water to refresh and let’s take a few minutes to concentrate on the second part of the song: The Verse.

– Go to a room where you will not be distracted. Turn off your mobile phone, TV and Internet connection.
Ask your family to give you some room to breath for a few minutes.

– Learn the chords.

– Play the chord progression.

– Figure out the added licks. (via tabs or transcribe by ear)

– Memorize the complete verse.

– Remember first play things slowly until you get the hang of it and then play at normal speed.

– Treat chords, chord progressions and licks separately, figure out the hard parts, pay attention to little details and then finally put it all together. If it’s not perfect yet, don’t sweat it.

– Play the the whole thing from the top and give it your best. Reward yourself for today’s practice.

You’re half way through the week. A great day to celebrate with the Prechorus. Feel the excitement of accomplishing your goal. Commit yourself to learning this beautiful piece of music. You must be tired but try not to think about it too much. Tell yourself it’ll only take a few minutes. Just see how much time you want to spend while you are at it. It’s only a prechorus. It’s easy. You can do it.

– Stop thinking….. Stop thinking.

– Take your guitar out the of the stand.

– Start practicing. Be a winner!

It’s time to practice the Chorus, usually the most fun and recognizable part of the song. You are already more than halfway through the song by now.

– Listen to the original song for a minute.

– Focus on listening to the guitar player in particular.

– Listen to the rhythm, the melody, the phrasing and the sound of the licks. Take it all in.

– Take your guitar and try to copy little pieces and elements of what you just heard.

– Play the song from the top starting with the Intro, verse, prechorus and then the chorus.

– Pretend your in front of a real live audience. Give it your best. You’ve done a great job so far!

It’s your last work or school day of the week. You are probably exhausted, but that won’t stop you from doing what you love most. This is your thing! Give it what you got, even if it’s only a few minutes. Be proud of your consistency. You are creating yourself a great habit.

– Get yourself together, sit straight, breath slow and relax.

– Practice the Bridge of the song.

– Go through it a couple of times in different tempos and memorize it.

It’s weekend. A perfect time to complete the song. You only got the Outro left to practice.

– Take your time until you get it right.

– Practice the previous parts of the song. Refresh your memory.

– Correct little mistakes and polish it wherever you can.

– Play the whole song from beginning to end.

– Learn the entire song by heart.

Things that are not so perfect will come in time. Don’t worry about it. Just keep practicing. Enjoy the song for what is has become. The most important thing is that you have improved and you will keep on improving.

Play the song one or two times. This time not only try to play it technically right but put your whole heart in it. Feel the song.

Your repertoire is one song richer. Musicianship is all about building a repertoire. Step by step. One song at a time.

You are on your way!

Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will. ~ Vernon Howard

Feel free to leave a comment. I’d appreciate it.
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Thanx, Klaus


  1. Megan says

    Hey! Great article! I was wondering if you have any suggestions for a song to learn? I would say I am an beginner-intermediate guitar player. I want to learn to play a song the whole way through, something recognizable. Thanks!

  2. says

    Hi Megan,

    That’s a bit difficult to say, because I would have to guess how much of a beginner or intermediate guitar player you are.
    Besides that It also depends on what kind of music you like.

    Good songs to play are “Hotel California” – Eagles, “Losing my religion” – REM, “Wild world” – Cat Stevens, “Blowing in the wind” – Bob Dylan, “Everything” – Michael Buble, “Dust in the wind” – Kansas, “Mr. Jones” – Counting Crows, “One of us” – Joan Osbourne, “Zombie” – Cranberries, “Wonderwall” – Oasis, “I’m yours” – Jason Mraz, “Give a little bit” – Supertramp, “Hey soul sister” – Train, “Blackbird” – Paul McCartney, just to name a few.

    I hope you can get some inspiration out of one of these songs.


  3. Liz says

    Thanks for the article, I’ve found I amble a bit learning songs so it takes longer than it should. I’ll try your way soon and report back!

  4. John says

    I am in my second year of learning guitar and this lesson is 1/2 of what I do. This lesson is possibly the most practical (and real) advice I have read on a Guitar site in a year and I am not exaggerating. It is simply the perfect method to progress or become “un-stuck.”

    My plan also inclueds basics that are divided in to rhythmic (metronome), theory (but I include traditional, blues and funk) and I keep my own set list to review.

    After floundering around with instructors that could not teach, internet lessons with no focus or just idiots showing off with no teaching ablity, I developed my own plan and it works. The ONE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT advice you give is to pick a song in the proper range of your current ability. Starting with “cliffs of Dover” is a great way to ruin you love of guitar. Believeing you can do it later is a great motovator and … you can.

    I would add, don’t get stuck and don’t force songs your not ready for. Be prepared to lower the difficulty, learning is more important than my ego. BUT PICK A SONG AND DO THIS!

    Thanks for this, it did fill some holes for me.

  5. ofeminous usang says

    Am writing from Nigeria. I appreciate the lesson on the structure a song can take and i think writing to score a song through these procedure could alway take less than a day, well it depends on the scorer ability, thanks

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  7. GillianG says


    Glad I found this article! I am a solidly intermediate guitar player and singer (the singing is more advanced than the playing!) My goal is to learn about 5 songs all the way through– because I know about a hundred part of the way through! I can never seem to get a song all the way down because I honestly become sick to death of it after practicing it for more than a week. I am always trying to learn more than one song at a time to stave off boredom, but I don’t think that strategy is working. I really want to play and sing a few songs at an open mike or some other venue, but I need to have songs down, and it is my achilles heal that I don’t! I have all the guitar skills to nail a few beginner/intermediate songs to sing and play, but dammit! This is the most frustrating aspect for me. Not to mention the whole singing while playing thing can be tricky. I can do one or the other no problem, but then put them together and things can fall apart quickly. I guess I’ll keep working on it!

  8. SAJ! says

    Man, i can’t believe i almost read out almost the whole website today. This is just so interesting, i can’t resist and stop ready. Seems like i found a guitar teacher online.

    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and improving mine.



  9. Luke says

    Thanks for the article. I’ve been playing guitar for 7 years and am intermediate/getting to advanced but (like Gillian G) suffer the problem of getting sick to death of a song then finding a new one in the hope of reducing the boredom. As a result I now have a repertoire of half a dozen full songs, but primarily dozens of half-completed ones. Persevering throughout the entire solo is often exhausting, and I find the lack of useful articles on ways to learn songs the whole way through whilst maintaining enthusiasm astonishing.

  10. SJGee says

    Thank you VERY much. Practice and learning can be so fustrating, especially at beginner level, so it’s great for someone to spend time and effort to provide help and support to fight negativity and feelings of “giving-up-ness”. Thanks again.

  11. Calob says

    Hey i like this what you had put but i’m just got new into guitar. i only got one song down since the begining of 2013. and the talent show is coming up and there is sonic the hedgehog songs i want to learn from sonic generations to play at the talent show and for autism awareness in April and there is crush40 songs i want to learn
    Knight of the wind.(Sonic and the Black knight)
    Crush40-Free. (from sonic free riders)
    One of those days.
    Sonic boom (Remix from sonic CD)
    I am all of me (Shadow the hedgehog)
    those are the ones i want to learn and ask begining as you want to as i am to this day. i was only able to get one song down…….that’s it. but can it work for me in time.
    the talent show starts in January.

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