Question: Do I need to spend a lot of time learning songs to improve guitar playing?

Tom Hess's Answer: This depends on what your specific goals are for playing guitar. If you want to become good at playing songs, or if you play guitar in a cover band that requires you to play a specific list of songs very well, then it makes sense to spend most of your time working on songs. However, unless your goals include nothing but ONLY playing songs by others, then looking for guitar practice songs should be only of secondary importance in your guitar improvement. Here is why:

  1. When you learn to play songs made by others you do not really learn the reasons why the songwriter made the specific choices he/she did to make the music sound great. Even though you are learning the “notes” of the song, you are not any closer to composing a similar piece of music yourself in a different musical context.
  2. Contrary to what most people think, using songs to improve guitar playing does not help you learn guitar technique. This is because most songs (and especially guitar solos) are not created with the goal to ‘develop’ anybody’s guitar technique. Unless the music is already within your current ability to play you will have a very hard time playing it as well as it sounds on your favorite record because the skills needed to play the music have not yet been developed.
  3. Most songs do not incorporate a large variety of musical skills within them and if your repertoire is only limited to a narrow range of songs in a particular style, you will always lack skill in various musical areas that you NEED to develop in order to play guitar at the level you ultimately want to play.

Since you do not currently take online guitar lessons with me, I cannot say specifically (without knowing a lot more about you) what YOU need to do to improve as a musician. The first thing you must do before you can really know what to practice on guitar is find out what steps you must go through in order to reach the specific musical goals you have. Go to this musical goals page and find the answer out for yourself.

Learn the best methods to improve your guitar playing using internet guitar lessons.

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