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Tips On Learning A New Song

When you have a full time job and a young family, learning a new song can be tricky.  This is a position that many worship team members find themselves in.  Here’s some things I do when preparing to lead a new song.

  • I put the MP3 on my iPod.  When I travel to and from work, I have the song on repeat.
  • Depending on what work I am doing, I may have the song(s) on repeat at work.
  • I keep listening until I feel my way through the song, identifying and separating all the parts (verses, pre-choruses, choruses, etc).
  • I would sing through the recorded key for the song and make sure the range works, considering moving the key to better suit the congregation.
  • Every song can be boiled down to a core arrangement (stripped down).  I will use the guitar to find this and then think how the band can build around this.
  • I will usually chart the song after finding the core arrangement.
  • All the time I still have the song on repeat in my car to concentrate on the lyrics.  I probably never have the lyrics learnt 100%, but I’ll have the first lines of the verses down and the choruses.
  • Sometimes I’ll make a YouTube video of the new song which helps on a couple of levels.  It helps me get the arrangement nailed down.  It also provides me with useful feedback.
I’d love to hear of any tips you employ to learn new songs – leave a comment!

4 thoughts on “Tips On Learning A New Song

  1. Steve T says:

    I have to play a lot of melodic stuff and lead electric content, so in addition to having the song on repeat, I focus a lot to find those signature melodies. When I get a chance to set down to work on the song, I’ll pan left/right in headphones to see what various guitars are doing on the track. I try to get an idea of what’s important and learn straight from the track (for the learning experience and to get it right). If I’m busy and get in a time crunch, I’ll check YouTube for demonstrations if needed. You nailed it though, the big thing is fitting in exposure to the song any chance that you have.


    • I’m sure it can be difficult at times to filter out the other instruments while you try to piece together the lead guitar part!

      Background vocalists can run into the same trouble trying to find the harmonies.

      This separation of layers is a skill that definitely improves with practice!

      Thanks for your thoughts Steve.


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