Help. I can play from a chord sheet but my problem is learning the song so I can play without the sheet

I am now trying some blues. I am on steady thumb blues and I can play from sheet but my problem is learning the song so I can play without the sheet. I am 71 but try not to use age as an excuse. Any tips would be gratefully received.

I’d encourage you to learn the song using the sheet really well. Then work on memorizing the song one piece at a time. I memorize the first four bars / measures first. Once those are locked in, I work on the next 4 bars. Then put the first and second sets together and effectively memorize the first 8 bars.

Experiment and see what works best for you.


Tony is spot on, bite size pieces and youll be surprised at how much you can learn when you really want to. Repetition , repetition, repetition.

You’ll do it. :blush:


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Once you’ve memorized a song or two you’ll find it’s easier than you expected.

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I’ve always been hopeless at remembering song lines even songs I have listened to over and over I’m flat out remembering the first line let along the chords. I’m 67 and only been trying to learn for 1 year. I’m leaning towards a more Spanish style of instrument only ,and let someone else do the singing.

Hey Trevor, I know the feeling!

You can try gradually reducing the amount that you rely on the chord sheet. Try playing with the chord sheet in front of you, but start to look away or close your eyes while you’re playing. For short bursts at first, and be prepared to lose your groove and make mistakes while you are working on this. If you can’t work out the next chord, look back at the chord sheet and then keep going. Gradually build up by looking away from the chord sheet for longer and longer periods on each play through. You will figure out which sections are giving you trouble and can zone in on those.

Also in case you haven’t seen it, trying writing down the chord progression by hand on paper, breaking it down into 4 bar groups. Like:

| G | D | Am | C | x 4
| F | G | C | C | x 2

Or whatever it might be. If it’s a blues, it might be one of the well-known 12 bar blues patterns or some variation. Once you can identify the pattern, it’s easier to remember rather than trying to remember each chord transition separately.

At least, those are the things that help me. Best of luck!

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