Memorising a song

Hi everyone.

I hope you’re all well.

I’ve found the beginners songbook to be a great way to learn and be able to memorise a song as it’s all laid out really well in terms of verses, choruses, links etc. along with the chords throughout.

The app obviously has many more songs which is fantastic and you can play along which is great. However, I don’t find it conducive for actually being able to memorise songs as it isn’t laid out in a way that (for me at least) helps me to remember it like the songbooks do. Does anyone else have this issue and if so how have you tackled it?


Rob @Rob7

I think you are right the app is great for playing along with but not for memorising the song.

For me it is just hard work following Justin’s ten steps for playing and singing. It is getting easier with time and working on more songs, I find learning the lyrics the hardest part, when I start I really struggle to remember a few lines and get to about 50% but after that getting the rest correct happens very quickly, although for a little while after the odd word sometimes catches me out. Learning the chord sequence and matching that to the words is not the hard part for me.

Michael :notes:


Yep, definitely. I often noticed that even songs I could play really, really well using the app simply didn’t flow at all when I tried to play them alone. Since my subscription expired my song practice has been drastically reduced as I no longer have the app to carry me. Instead of playing through my app-based repertoire of 20 songs most days, I can only play maybe 5-6 from memory now.

So yeah, what Rob said is bang on. The app is great for playing along with songs. It is a great way for beginners to put their new skills to use, have fun doing it, and remain interested in guitar while they practice the fundamentals. But for the rather important skill of memorising songs to play unassisted, it is almost useless. In fact, it could even be a hindrance… why memorise if you can just fire up the app on your phone?

I’ve gone back to basics. I’ve picked out the songs I enjoyed playing most from the app, found the real tab to play them (the app simplifies many songs for the sake of beginners), and am learning them the old fashioned way. In addition, I have a number of Justin’s books which I was using long before the app.

I find this “manual” method is helpful for more than just memorising. For example, you can instantly jump back and repeat parts of the song you struggle with multiple times, no messing with the apps clumsy controls trying to find the right spot. Plus it gets you used to tab, instead of the “bubble” notation method used in the app which is not used anywhere else.

The app is fun and certainly has it’s place, but I think there’s definitely a time when you have to ditch the support and go it alone in order to improve certain skills.


I’ve spent time writing out lyrics, chords, structures, and melodies by hand, with a pencil and paper. The writing helps for memorising, and allows me to do things like transposing the chords into a different key that better suits my awful voice. And, as the other Ross says, it lets me jump back and forth to work on the bits I’m finding hardest, and allows me to play the song without looking at the notes and only glance at them when I get stuck, which helps with that gradual process of memorising.


The app song book/play along functionality is great for a beginner as it gives an early opportunity to “play along” and feel that you’re making progress…as you’re all discovering there comes a point when you go beyond it and start to learn songs the old fashioned way (well not completely the old fashioned was as that would be transcribing) using other resources.

Justin’s old song books are fabulous (and used to be the only song support outside of his YT videos) and most of them come with a matching tutorial on YT. Also look at things like Ultimate Guitar Tabs. They wont all be perfect but again they are mostly good and you’ll soon spot where the issues are.

I’d definitely advocate building your own song book (either using an app or physically). No matter how much you learn those songs you’ll forget them (at least partially) later and need something to prompt you. Nothing wrong if you ever progress to playing live having a song book as prompt should you need it.


I’ll admit that the app was a crutch for the longest time, but I’m starting to break out of it finally…after nearly a year and a half. While it doesn’t help all that much with actually memorizing a song, it has gotten me familiar with some chord progressions that I like to sit around and practice with. Of late, I’ve just been using the app for the click tracks, to get used to the clicks and check my timing (the metronome is something I’ve been subconsciously avoiding, but I’m turning a new leaf, lol). One thing the app does not address is capo use; wish it did. Lastly, a lot of the newer song additions lack the features of songs that have been in the app longer (practice tracks, strumming patterns, etc.).

I’ve got a number of JG’s song books and I’ve been increasingly turning to those for playing. :smiley:


I started learning long before the app came out and have all of Justin’s songbooks. I find the books have the extra bits of detail and it’s useful to scribble notes on, it all aids memorising. I miss new books being released, the app doesn’t work so well for me.

Georgie @Georgie
Welcome to the community :grinning: