Earworms and song selection

Hello, All. I am very prone to earworms. For my entire life, it’s been incredibly rare for me not to have a song playing in my head. I’ve learned that I have to consider that consequence when choosing which songs I want to practice every day - because I’ll have those songs rolling around in my mind all day long. There are definitely songs that I don’t want running continuously, so I don’t choose those. Even songs I do like become tiresome after a while.

Does anyone else face this challenge? How do others handle it? Psychotherapy? Drugs? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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I have the same issue and have learned how to turn it into a positive. Earworms are actually combustable material for inspiration, they are sticking because I need to work on (or with) them. Generally I try to put my own spin on the song/progression and then record and release it as a Youtube track. Once recorded and released they no longer bounce around in my head. That is my process.

For original tracks, which I rarely record/release, the process can start with a clever line (to me) that needs to be crafted into something musical.

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I just had the same thought last night at practice. I thought - hmm which song do I want to go to sleep with and wake up in the middle of the night hearing. Something not too annoying, so I settled on some 60s oldies.

I have a hot take that isn’t popular in the guitar community… but I don’t love learning my favorite songs. The magic goes away eventually with the listening, and listening, and drilling, and studying, and breaking it down for it’s notes, and drilling some more. Going to sleep with it in my head, waking up with it still in my head, hearing it all day…it can ruin a song for me, quite literally.

Almost no one in threads I’ve tried to discuss it on seems to get it. They all act like it makes them love the songs evem more after 10,000 listens. For some reason I’m the opposite.

I find songs I really like, and learn those. But songs I really love, I stay away from. I only listen to those to get lost in them.


@artax_2, I have the same concern. I feel like I have to learn to play songs I like but not my favorites - because they wouldn’t be my favorites for long. I don’t know how people listen to the same songs over and over again. I need a gap between listenings so that I can fully appreciate them when I hear them.

I am extremely prone to earworms, so it can be as if the song never stops playing. Many times I’ve intentionally listened to a song with the hope that it would replace the one in my head.

I’ve begun to wonder how popular musicians do it. They must sometimes really get sick of some of their songs.

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Probably that’s one of the reasons that if an act is successful enough, they switch to organizing bigger tours every few years instead of playing hundreds of gigs a year.

As to the OP, I seem to have less and less prone to earworms over the years. Sure enough, I’ve got periods when I listen to a given artist more than others, but the “playing in my head” bit pretty much stopped. It might be related to streaming as well… the moment an earworm starts to develop, I can listen to the real thing and satisfy the need.

Over the past few years I got to the point where I have a few dozen songs to choose from if I want to play along to original recordings, and the longer the list the less danger there is that songs will become boring. Although, it happened that about 2 years ago I really wanted to perfect a song (only a chord progression really as I don’t sing) so I played it almost exclusively for 2-3 weeks, then I got so tired of it that I haven’t touched it ever since. Not that I don’t like the song, but listening to it is more than enough for the time being.

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I’m right there with you Stacy. I no longer like Wonderwall because of the amount of time and effort I put into it.

Me too. In fact my youngest, my brother and I have a Spotify group that we post our daily earworms to.


I don’t know. I never seem to get tired of John Prine’s “Illegal Smile” running around in my head…


I am not prone to ear worms fortunately, although they do occur occasionally.

I feel that as beginners we run some boredom risk because we need so long and so much effort to learn a song, our songs choices are more limited and our repertoires are so small.

Sometimes, I just want to play a song on my guitar rather than learn part of a song or practice technique. But my list of songs I can play comfortably enough to feel like I am just playing is short and sometimes I am just tired of them.

I like that the little classical training I am doing emphasizes inspection of deeper nuances in the music than just the broad view of the whole song. They helps me find interest in songs I may be getting tired of.

What I haven’t been practicing much is improvising and playing along with songs or backing tracks. I plan to explore this more, partly because I think it is a good way to have something that keeps me fresh and interested.

I will look forward to a time when my ability to learn a new piece is less of a slog and my repertoire is broad enough that I have songs I can be excited to bring back to the forefront of my memory.


I understand that. Last night watched a TV show and was left with an ear worm of a song I really really didn’t want to go to sleep to. So I listened to playlist of a handful of progressive rock songs and the unwanted earworm was gone gone gone

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There’s a technique I use for persistent earworms that works for me.

Let the song loop through your head. At any point, just extend the current note in your head, as long as possible. Hold it until you’re bored and then hold it some more. It kind of brings out the need for you to keep repeating it over and over.

Hope that helps!

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Hi. I get what everyone is saying. I often have songs in my head that I haven’t been playing of have heard recently. I believe it’s just what musicians go through. You know, “you got the music in you”… Anyway, I feel like when I am learning a new song or lead part, that the more I hear it in my head, the better I get at the timing, so that when I am playing I have the “feel” for the part and don’t have to think so much about how to play and when to play at the same time. Call it a combo of muscle and music memory. I will admit, though, it can be very annoying a 2am. Happy playing.

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Earworms from another aspect:

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I did go through a short time a few months back where I’d wake about 3am and, almost instantly, George Michael’s ‘Praying for Time’ would start playing in my head … and no amount of mental exercises or exorcisms would stop it. I love the track… but that period sorely tested me :grin:

If I’m set on learning something, though … I can listen to it in permanent repeat all day, every day. Marillion’s ‘Sugar Mice’ played on the radio around last Christmas, so I had that playing constantly for the next two months, analysing the hell out of each nuance of Steve Rothery’s solo. Can play it note for note, now … and still not happy with it. One day :grin:

Until then, I think I’ll listen to it a few times more while I’m in the shower. In my head…

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