Practicing songs

How do you guys set up your song practice? Do you set up a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music or whatever and play along that way?


I just play along with the songs in the app and/or the practice assistant on the web page


Hi Mark, I use the song app and sometimes just have chords and words on the screen or printed. Good luck.


I print out the lyrics, I often use a word processor to have them “tidy” so that the song structure becomes clear, then I add the chords with a pen. I also practice them along with original recordings, but I don’t have a list.


Depends. The only playlist I have is a bunch of songs recorded from the Musopia app. Other than that I practice individual songs playing along via Riffstation, or on my own via Justin’s song books or Ultimate Guitar tabs.


I differentiate between songs I just play to train certain skills, like specific chord changes or power chords or whatever. Those songs I mostly play with the app as a play along.
Other songs, which I’m working on for a longer period, I practice in different ways. I print them out, to see structure, chords, etc. Then I play them through, often with the app, I also play them only with a metronome, sometimes only in sequences, work in different strumming patterns, etc.


Great to hear from you, Norrie!

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I practice 2 songs at a time so no need for a playlist. I practice the different riffs/progressions individually (These are usually ones I’m having issues with) in 5-minute chunks and also have a 10-minute chunk where I play along with the original song (I switch to a backing track once I’ve memorized it). I have these chunks in my practice schedule daily using Justin’s practice assistant.


I bought Justin’s Beginner Songbook and of the 3 songs in there I’m working on now, I didn’t know one so listened to it over and over on Spotify till I learned it by heart and then just practice it over and over in 5-to-15-minute increments per song. I’m trying the metronome with that one (Three Little Birds) and doing fine but gave up on the metronome with the Beatles’ song Love Me Do as it was messing me up something fierce. I am NOT up to any other strumming patterns; I’m just doing the down strums on the 4 downbeats per measure.

I did print out a copy of Ain’t No Sunshine from Ultimate Guitar Tabs but their chords do not appear on the words the same as they are in Justin’s video lesson. So, I’m scribbling all over that and essentially just, dare I say, playing it by ear? :laughing:

Yes! The sooner you can trust your ears the better off you will be.

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I print out the lyrics which include the simple chords. Here is a rather dated vid I made:

My inner ear is working and,oc, I’m sad that day b/c I had lost my family.

Still surviving today! -R. …and playing


I do one of two things: I download a Guitar Pro file so I can play along to that and focus on the rhythm or lead. Or I’ll print a tab to a PDF file so I can view it on the computer or tablet while I practice. With teh PDF I can also make notations on the tab like the strum patterns or notes to myself.


I’ve got an ever-growing playlist of songs (original recordings) I play along to. I figure out melodies by ear instead of relying on tabs, so the first few attempts are about finding the right notes, then it’s about fine tuning and getting the hang of it.

As I don’t sing, I don’t bother with lyrics, though I would use them in case of transcribing a more complex vocal melody.

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  1. Download the song
  2. Import to Ableton.
  3. Use “tap tempo” to understand the bpm. Set it in Ableton.
  4. Warp the audio and use marks to fit it exactly to metronome.
  5. Input vocal lines from internet.
  6. Section by section, try to figure out chords, vocal melody, bass by ear. Solo too if feeling ambitious.
  7. Look up online if can’t figure out.
  8. For vocal sections, figure out exact location of each phrase “starts at and of 3” etc.
  9. Loop each section and learn to play. Slow down if required. Once able to play, loop 100-200 times more to cement.
  10. Repeat for vocals.
  11. Learn to sing and play at the same time.
  12. Think about its theory. Which chords are chosen? Any out of key notes? Why do they sound good?
  13. Keep practising until believing it is as best as it can get with current level of ability.
  14. Print out chords and vocals for easy recall later.

Thanks for your reply. Sorry that happened to you mate.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. The take from this is find your own way, I guess. I was worried I was doing it ineffectively but I’ll push on knowing there’s lots of ways to do it. Cheers.

Here’s a short. I watched a vid of the DBs and thought about the sound. HERE GOES … today I have forgotten how to play it!!

You have to practice every single day, else it’s in the air!


Hi Serhat! That is very comprehensive and nice work flow! Thank you so much sharing your ideas :heart:

Agree. We got to play and develop our repertoire every day. Justin taught me the importance of this haha

Of course. Would be very glad if it helps anyone.

I am finding importing the song into a DAW very, very useful.

The setup might sound complicated and off-putting at first, but it only takes 10-15 minutes and is totally worth it in my opinion. It opens a lot of possibilities afterwards, such as:

  • I can zoom in and loop any section or tiny bits. Loops exactly line up with the metronome, so no awkward few milliseconds at the start and end of each loop like in Youtube video looping tools.
  • I can slow down and speed up very precisely. For e.g. I can practice a section in 2-bpm increments.
  • For tricky vocal melodies, I can add a midi layer and tinker with it until I’m confident I found the correct notes (a midi keyboard helps a lot here but the embedded tool also works)
  • I can filter out low, mid, or high frequencies to roughly filter out bass, guitar, or vocals to practice mine.
  • I can import sections from Guitar Pro, line them up with the original song and use them for practising.
  • I can add any effects to my guitar and play along.
  • I can record all of my takes, listen back, and practice until it sounds good (listening to your recording is always a rude awakening :slight_smile: