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How to Learn Music in a Time Crunch


Learning a new guitar song on a tight deadline can be a difficult feat for anyone, especially if you’re a busy guitarist. There are a number of reasons you could be in a time crunch to learn that new set list. Maybe you realized, after months of procrastination, that you have a major gig coming up. Maybe you were asked to play a gig on a short notice with a completely new set list for a great price.


Regardless of the reason, trying to learn new songs can be difficult on a deadline. Here are some great ways to keep up with your deadline and play a successful show!


Build a Network With Fellow Musicians


As a performing guitarist, you most likely have a network of other musicians with whom you keep in touch. Talk to each of these friends in your network and ask them to hold you accountable. Let your friends know you’re trying to learn on short notice, and tell them you need help.


Ask them to call you randomly and check up on your progress. Set dates in advance to grab a bite to eat with them to catch up and discuss whether you’ve been practicing. There is a big difference in the way someone feels when they simply procrastinate and when they are constantly verbally admitting,¬†“No, I haven’t actually practiced.”


Having multiple people pressuring you to remain dedicated while practicing will motivate you. When you’re motivated, the next time a friend asks if you have practiced, you can say, “Yeah, I practiced hours this week and it’s going great!”


Sticking to a Pre-defined Routine And Goals


Making a practice schedule can also help with learning new songs in a brief period of time. Take into consideration the amount of new material you need to learn, and write a practice schedule every week. You should practice every day when trying to learn quickly. Fit the amount of time you need to spend practicing into your schedule, and don’t stray from it!


If someone asks you if you would like to go out, and you have a practice scheduled during that time, reschedule going out! Make practicing your number one priority in order to make your deadline. Print several copies of your practice schedule and put them in your practice space and your refrigerator to remind you to learn to play the guitar.


Put them somewhere you will encounter them multiple times a day. Hand them out to your network of musicians if you have to! Whatever you do, don’t skip out on the time you already set aside to practice. Getting drinks with the boys can wait; practice now!


Here’s a great ¬†resource to help you get started: http://www.guitarplayerworld.com


Start Slow Think Big!


One of the best practice methods for learning a new song efficiently is to start learning at a slower tempo. You might be able to play the song well the first few times through at normal speed, but beginning to learn the piece slower from the beginning will help you perfect the song as you continue to practice.


When you attempt to learn a song at normal speed, you will most likely have to go back and work out different issues bit by bit. Set yourself up for success by practicing at a reduced tempo and speeding up as you are able to master runs at 10BPM increments.


Although it seems as though this exercise would take you longer to practice, it is the most efficient way to learn based on my own experience. By taking extra time to practice this method every day, you will not have to go back and learn anything you might have missed.


If you’re learning a new piece of music with less time to prepare because of procrastination, there might be some other issues on which you need to work on, such as your practice habits. However, if you’re simply under the gun to learn a new set list in a short amount of time, because you were hired for a gig last minute, these exercises will be extremely beneficial for you.