Here’s the question:
Would you like to learn your next guitar solo faster?
I can’t hear anything. Did you say yes?
Ok. Here’s how you can do it. But first let’s examine what is the most common approach that aspiring guitar players use when learning a new guitar solo.
The process may look something like this: (assume we are going to learn solo from Stairway to heaven)
- You listen to the whole solo for a few times to get a big picture.
- You download a tab (hopefully not) or start transcribing (learning the solo by ear and creating your own tab or notation).
- Once you are done transcribing, you start practicing the first lick and continue until the end.
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
For a long time this was the way how I approached any new song or solo. Always from start to the end. I mean, it is not the worst approach in the world, but there is a better way how you can do it.
Why this might not be the optimal approach?
To answer this question let’s consider how are guitar solos usually (not always) built. Most of the times the solo starts with a simple melody to catch listener’s ear. After few repetitions and variations to this original theme, the solo may slowly evolve until it reaches the climax. At this point the guitar player would throw his flashiest and fastest licks in, usually incorporating the most difficult techniques. After the climax the solo would slowly fade away.
Now, it is not important that not all the solos follow this pattern; the critical thing is that often the most difficult parts are not at the beginning but more likely in the middle or at the end. And in order to learn the solo in the most efficient way, you should …
… start with the most difficult licks first. I call this “DF (difficult first) technique”.
It sounds really obvious as I am writing this, but for a long time this was not obvious to me at all. I always started right at the beginning and slowly moved through the solo (but not always reaching the end ). I haven’t even thought about trying some other approach when learning new stuff.
If you are anything like me, you probably also may find it obvious and yet you have never tried to learn things the other way around. Continue Reading →