How to Completely Learn a Melody in 30 Minutes

Everybody talks about learning tunes. I mean everybody. It’s the one common thread that pops up at jam sessions, on gigs, in music schools and in conversations with great players. Hey, what tune do you want to play next? Do you know this tune? What tunes are you working on? I really need to learn this list of tunes…

It’s not surprising then that a lot players quickly develop an anxiety about learning tunes and dread the entire process. What was once a fun project in the practice room gradually becomes a long drawn-out chore that never seems to end.

For years I was stuck in this mental box forcing myself to memorize tune after tune from a piece of paper. I somehow never knew enough tunes yet I spent countless hours trying to force feed these melodies into my brain.

And when it came to performing these tunes, I was hanging onto those mental images from the page like a stranded swimmer holding on to a life preserver. If I couldn’t think of those note names I memorized or that sequence of fingerings, I had nothing to keep me afloat.

This is not ideal for any musician. When you are learning in a situation like this, building a solid repertoire can seem like an impossible task. And even when you do manage to learn a tune, are you sure that you truly know it and remember it?

If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably had the same thought I often had: There has to be a better way to learn tunes…

Get to the root of the problem

The players that have trouble learning, memorizing and retaining tunes are the same ones that go into the practice room with a page from the real book and try to commit those notes and chord symbols to memory.

You might be able to get the notes into your short-term memory and perform them once, but you’re not going to remember them for very long. The hidden trap with ...

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