If you just started learning guitar you are probably asking yourself this question: is it possible to learn guitar by playing songs?
In this guide, we will go over some of the most common questions about learning guitar by playing songs.
Is learning songs a good way to learn guitar?
Yes, learning songs is a crucial part of learning guitar that you will need to go through. One of the first things beginners learn is songs. One of the reasons is that it gets you excited to learn new songs and to continue to practice the instrument.
If a guitar instructor only gave you chords, scales, and other guitar exercises you will probably never master the instrument. Learning songs is an important step because it motivates the student, and also allows them to improve their tempo.
Playing songs you already know is also easier because you will be able to tell if you are playing them correctly. Learning songs is an important step for every guitar player, no matter their skill level.
Is learning songs the best way to get better at guitar?
It depends. Learning songs is a way of improving certain areas of your playing. For example, if you are practicing a song that requires a lot of chord changes this is a way to practice chord shapes, and chord transitions.
Instead of doing chord transition exercises, you can play a song and practice exactly the same thing.
The key here is that every song is different, and therefore it will demand different techniques, and you will develop different skills.
The best way to learn guitar is to identify exactly what areas you need to improve and find songs that have those. Another example is if you need to practice and improve your soloing, you might want to learn a solo from a song you already know.
Learn guitar by playing songs: Advantages
There are several advantages of learning guitar just by playing songs, such as:
- It gets you motivated
- It is easier because you already know the song
- Develops your musical hearing
- You develop more musical ability
- Allows you to understand if you playing correctly
It gets you motivated
The greatest advantage of learning guitar by just playing songs is that you get very motivated. Learning a new song is a rush of positive feelings because you see your own progress and you are accomplishing something.
The feeling of learning a new song is hard to describe, but it is one of the most motivating things for beginner guitar players.
It is easier because you already know the song
It is also easier to learn songs, mainly because you already know them. So, therefore, it is easy for you to spot any mistakes just by listening to what you are playing. In turn, this forces you to develop your musical hearing ability.
Develops your musical hearing
Since you already know a song and start learning it, your hearing develops. You start to identify certain licks or chords from the songs you have learned, as the pieces of the puzzle start coming together.
You develop more musical ability
Playing songs also develops your musical ability, much more than practicing scales or doing guitar exercises.
Allows you to understand if you playing correctly
Finally one of the common things that happen to beginner guitar players with no guidance is that they do not know if they are playing correctly. By playing songs you already know it is a lot easier to understand if you are playing correctly or not. This makes it easy to develop your playing overtime.
Learn guitar by playing songs: Disadvantages
Although there are plenty of advantages of learning guitar by playing songs, there are also some common disadvantages:
- You will not be able to develop specific guitar techniques just by playing songs
- To become faster you need to do guitar exercises
- It is easy to find yourself playing the same songs over and over again, which does not push your learning forward
- You need to progressively choose more complicated songs to improve
Guitar exercises vs songs
While you can learn guitar just by learning songs, it is important to incorporate guitar exercises into your practice routine. The reason is that exercises allow you to practice scales, and work on different techniques.
The best analogy to this is sports. When you are a basketball or soccer player, you can practice your sport, which means playing with the team. This is the equivalent of guitar players practicing a song.
However, every sportsman needs to work on some specific things. Perhaps they need to increase their arm strength, and they might pick up some dumbbells, and work specifically on some aspects. This is the equivalent of guitar exercises.
To be a complete guitar player you will need to practice songs and guitar exercises. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both guitar exercises and learning songs.
Advantages and disadvantages of guitar exercises
Advantages of guitar exercises
Allows you to improve specific things
If you need to practice bending, you can choose a guitar exercise that includes several bends. Guitar exercises allow you to work on specific techniques.
It is the best way to improve your technique
Because you are working directly on a certain movement, or technique it is the fastest way to improve it.
Repetitive movements will make you faster
Guitar exercises are also the best way to make you a faster player. Do you want to shred? Then you need to keep practicing guitar exercises and scales!
Increases your finger and hand strength
Guitar exercises are also the best way to increase your finger and hand strength.
It is the best way to learn scales
There is only one way to learn guitar scales, and that is by practicing guitar exercises over and over again.
A great way to start improvising
If you want to start improvising, you will need to practice guitar exercises at some point. While practicing songs is great to improve your chord changes, it is not enough to be able to improvise on scales.
Only by doing guitar exercises will you be able to develop your technique, and start improvising.
Disadvantages of guitar exercises
While guitar exercises have several advantages you also need to consider their disadvantages:
- They may be too repetitive
- You may not be able to develop your musical ability just by doing exercises
- You need to do the right exercises to be able to improve
Are guitar exercises worth it?
Yes, guitar exercises are definitely worth it because they are the only way a guitar player can develop fast and consistent technique. It is also the best way to learn scales, and really push your playing to the next level.
In order to become a better guitar player, you need to constantly push your abilities to the limit, and test yourself. The truth is that guitar exercises are the best way to do this.
Can you get better at guitar just by learning songs?
Yes, you can get better at guitar just by learning songs, however, it all comes down to the songs you choose. You need to be able to choose songs not only based on the fact that you want to learn them, but also choose more difficult songs as you progress.
By choosing difficult songs, you push yourself to learn new things and constantly improve your playing. Nonetheless, you will always need to practice guitar exercises to learn new techniques.
How long does it take a beginner to learn a guitar song?
Even if you start playing guitar today, it should take you a week to learn some of the easiest songs out there. All you need is to practice a lot during the initial week and try to get past the initial fingertip pain, which is so common among first-time guitar players.
When should you start learning songs on guitar?
The first thing you should learn is songs. It is the most simple and easy way to start learning, and it will also be very motivational once you are able to play it correctly.
It is also the best way for you to start understanding chords, and strumming, as well as playing some short melodies.
How many songs should I learn on guitar?
While you are first starting to learn guitar you should try to learn as many songs as possible. Just remember to choose a song that is appropriate for your current level, and make sure you know how to play it before moving on to the next one.
How do guitar players learn songs?
There are three main ways for guitar players to learn new songs:
- Guitar tablature
- Music sheet
- By ear
- Watching a video
Guitar tablature is one of the most common ways to learn songs. Guitar players that do not know how to read music, use tablature because it is more simple.
Guitar players who have studied music theory and know how to read sheet music will often use it to learn new songs.
You can also learn guitar by hearing songs, and picking up the chords and melodies from them. This was one of the most common ways to learn guitar throughout the 20th century before the internet was created and revolutionized everything.
Over the last 20 years or so, it has also become popular to watch videos to learn songs. There are thousands upon thousands of videos of guitar players showing you how to play different songs. They are easy to follow and extremely convenient.
I have been playing guitar for the past 15 years, and my knowledge and passion for guitars prompted me to start Guitaresque to share my knowledge, tips, and tricks with other guitar players. The sole purpose of this website is to help and inspire guitar players worldwide, to improve their playing and their love for guitars.