I too am horrible about learning songs. It takes a lot of time to get it to sink in and stick well enough I can put the paper it is written on aside. A lot of this I know is due to my work requiring me to remember a lot of little details. I do much better learning a song once I am rested up and don’t have any work burdens.
So, from one novice at this to another, here is my experience so far, maybe you can use something from it.
The songs in the app didn’t satisfy because they didn’t sound like the original I wanted to emulate. I used the app for ‘just playing a song’ but didn’t memorize any of those long term.
I started listening through my inventory of music and would list some that I liked and thought to be easy enough to learn. I quickly found out only about 10% of those were actually easy enough to learn, and most of those were still over my head. So, I chose a few that had short repeating rhythm guitar.
One of those songs, it is the same 2 bars for the whole thing. It has a groove I enjoy and it required some talent I did not yet have with finger picking, sliding, and bending. It took me about 4 weeks of 2xday practice sessions to get where I could play it about 60% speed of the original. I discovered some covers by folks that played it very slowly and I was able to play along with one of them. It didn’t take long after that to get up to speed to play with the original.
What I learned is that if the automatic playing is not very engrained in my head, then a small slip will create enough of a mental mess I cannot find my place again. I can now, about 8 months later, plat that riff fairly reliably while talking to my wife. I still need to see the fretboard a bit too often, but i don’t totally have a train wreck. This simply took time on something short enough to learn quickly (for me). I can also kind of play it about 40% too fast for a few bars at this point. it is sloppy, but I can at least not get lost.
On another song, I just used tenacity. It is 15 bars before it repeats. It is fairly slow, so playing it was not much trouble, it was remembering it. I had to take each note one by one and stack it on top of the last one I finally remembered. This, embarrassingly, took me 5-6 months. I kept reaching for notes out of order or completely forgetting what came next. I basically did this one brute-force play over and over until I remembered the next note. Breaking into bars only helped later once I needed to fix timing. I play it now almost daily, trying to clean up small string buzzes and deadened strings. This one is also finger-style, and I wanted to use a technique that took me several weeks to get kind-of right before I could really take on the whole song.
My third case s one that I could not stretch far enough to play the chord it needed on the opening bars. I would practice the stretch daily until I could finally reach it, then started to learn the song. It very repetitive, more than the first song, and I found this one pretty easy to remember and slow enough to play with the recording. Those things helped me remember it.
For your numbered questions:
- if OMC sounds good, but playing doesn’t, maybe you need to get the notes in memory well enough before you expect it to sound good. I really need to do that.
- No help here. I remember lyrics like breathing. no idea why. I sound like strangled cat when I sing, so there is some cosmic joke played on me there.
- Justin has a retention lesson but I cannot find it. the method is basically play it at decreasing time intervals like 4/week, then 1/week, then 1/month. you will remember it that way. Maybe that can be useful for the longer term memory once you have the short term in place.
- get yourself a variety pack of picks. My preference is Dunlop, I got the ‘Electric’ and ‘LT/MED’ sets. You may hear clicking - see if you hear it on a recording, with the mic near the speaker, not the guitar. If that really is bothering you, try turning up the volume on the amp or using headphones.
- I saw it said before, get the rhythm up to speed. A lead without a feel for the rhythm won’t sound good. I have learned that the rhythm parts are actually fun to play once you dive into the details!