Please help - using the App - trouble memorising chords & getting past all down strums

Hello All,

I am having difficulty progressing in the area of playing along with the songs in the app.
I can’t play these songs without the backing track.
There are two areas that I am having difficulty with.

  1. I am not memorizing the chord progressions, because I know it is going to tell me what to do on screen.
  2. I am having difficulty getting beyond all down strums with on occasional up strum after 2 or 3.
    I am currently working on Module 10 while still working diligently on the F Barre chord.

Thanks for any input.

I found it helped to have two sets of songs to work on:

  • Songs on the app to practise chord changes and keeping a rhythm
  • Songs that sounded okay without a backing track, that I could memorise.

For me that second category, for the most part, consists of cheesy country songs with simple rhythms, basic chord sequences, and vocals sufficiently basic that even I could make an attempt to sing along.

I found not having the backing music made it easier to concentrate on the strumming patterns, but having memorised the chords probably helped too.

Hi Don,

I’m also in Grade 2, and I struggle with these same issues. This has helped me:

  1. Pick up the guitar, and start playing a song. If I only remember a couple chords, I look at the app (or the tab) and try to commit the rest of just that verse (or other part) to memory. Repeat until I can play all the pieces in sequence. Working this way, it doesn’t take too long to become familiar enough with the song to feel I “know” it. At this point I don’t worry about strumming patterns, or even very much about keeping time - my thought is to make the chords come naturally.

  2. Once I “know” the song, I return to either playing with the app or using the website tab and a metronome, using a simple strumming pattern.

  3. Finally I’ll add in a more interesting pattern.

For me, this keeps things interesting - I’m always progressing, and getting excited about the new bit I’ve learned. It really feels good when my husband tells me I’m getting better! I guess the down side is that my repertoire isn’t very big at this point, but for me that’s ok (I work on songs I really like!).

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Hi Don,

The application is not great for learning songs. It is good for working on your rhythm. Have you considered the following:

  1. Visit the song page and filter by Grade.
  2. Select the song that you want to learn.
  3. Watch the song lesson paying close attention to the sections relevant to beginners. Note that you can slow the video down.
  4. Using the video lesson either add the chords to your own chart (Check out this post Trouble Memorizing Songs - #4 by Richard_close2u) or create a lyric and chord sheet (Justin has a template here).
  5. Practice along with the song video lesson.
  6. Practice until you can play the song without looking at the chart or lyric and chord sheet.
  7. Use the app as a backing track playing from memory.

Don @Bricker

To put my comments in context, I am just at the end of Grade 1 working on the five songs that I need to play from memory to pass Grade 1.

On your point 1 - After playing along with song on the App for a while, it is a bit time taking but I got the lyrics off the internet and then used the app to put the chords above the words and memorise the sequence to go with the words as I am trying to sing as well. It takes time but it’s working for me. However just recently got Justin’s Tab app for future songs I plan to work on.

Point 2 - I work on strumming patterns away from the app, really I only currently use old faithful with the app. It just takes a lot of practice to get a strumming pattern automatic.

Hope this helps.

Michael :grinning:

Much appreciated. I will definitely find some songs I can play without the backing track. I hadn’t attempted vocals yet.

Thanks Judi. I like the idea of just doing it section by section.

Thanks Socio. I will definitely incorporate your suggestions.

Thanks Mat1953.
It sounds like maybe I am trying to integrate everything together just a bit too early. I’ll try to be patient while I improve these individuals skill sets and integrate down the road.

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I think I am a bit like you, in being ambitious and trying to incorporate too much at the same time which makes for hard work.
My worst failing is I want to do some of the strumming patterns other than 4D that Justin suggests in the video lesson, makes for a more interesting sound but when there is a chord change half way through bar, it is real challenge.
I see lots of others have made suggestions and they are all good.

Cheers Michael

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For me, the solution was to buy the beginner song books and start to use the webpage and the related videos. It payed off and I started making better progress! Soon enough I stopped to use the app alltogether.


@Rille Me too. I don’t use the app much now (especially as a lot of the songs are was playing disappeared but are still in the song books).

I am in the process of going through the songbooks and listing out the songs I know that will allow me to practice various chords and techniques. This is forming the basis of my practice now.


Thanks Rille. I have the first book. I will give this a try.

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I find these suggestions really helpful. I’m practicing like this and I can see all the benefits.

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This is how I do it, break it down into chunks then build the ‘complexity’ over time.

Whilst sometimes the apparant lack of progress can be frustrating, it pays of in the end.

@Socio included a link to my similar question above.
In addition to the answers I got, I have found that picking songs that are not necessarily ones I like listening to, but were relatively simple for me, made them a lot of fun to play - and therefore easier to remember.

Experiment with songs from outside your “favorite listening” list and you may find a few that are more fun to play than listen to!

Bang A Gong and Wish You Were Here are a couple examples for me.

I still struggle with this, but I have a few now that I can remember and am slowly getting some experience with remembering and can start to see a path to doing this more efficiently with more complex songs.

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