What does "learned a new song" actually mean at the end of each module?

In almost all modules at the end, when to move on the section has “You’ve learned at least one song using …”

I am wondering what exactly learned means here.

I am in beginner course 2 module 10 and I can’t play any song close to the actual song. It is mostly me strumming with the song and trying to sound ok. I try to compare with last session of Nitsuj of that module to get a reference point and my observation is that Nitsuj also isn’t playing songs decently well before moving on…


Rohit, if you can strum through, start to finish, with the original then at this stage that would constitute learned. Another perspective would be if you can play the song through around the camp-fire and your or others can sing along.

Over time as you develop your ability there are many songs you may come back to and develop the way you play the song, perhaps getting closer to the original. For example, you may begin with four down strums per bar, which is fine at that point, and come back as you learn more strumming patterns.


I have the app subscription so I do practice with and can strum through start to finish. I will say it is not a perfect melody but more or less like Nitsuj.

I don’t think I would be able to play any song around camp-fire with someone singing as I am having a hard time memorizing the song with lyrics to know chord switch positions. I tried it at the end of grade 1 but gave up and moved to grade 2. :sob:


Rohit, the App is a fantastic way to learn a song and also to develop good steady strumming. Take your time and over time work towards being able to play a song without the App’s accompaniment. Perhaps try that on some of the grade 1 songs as you progress through grade 2.

For me personally, it has taken about 5-6 years to get to be good enough in my playing and singing to be able to learn to play and sing songs live without needing song sheets and feel relaxed.

Which reminds me, try writing out by hand your own song sheets with chords for a song structure and maybe lyrics if you like to try and sing along as you play. Many find that writing by hand helps to learn the structure and chords, better than typing up in a computer or just printing screenshots.

Mostly keep doing what you are doing, having fun, and continuing to learn, practice, and play songs!


Hi Rohit, David has is summarised pretty well.

Learned does not mean you could stand on stage with the band if their guitarist had an accident.
It means you can play through the song - perhaps with chords or the app or some prompt in front of you - and go from start to finish in reasonable manner, not too shabby, holding a decent rhythm and making decent chord changes in time, using any kind of strum pattern from simple to slightly more complex.


This would be my barometer, although really more a theoretical camp-fire!! To define it a bit more it would be to play along with the track at it’s real tempo with clean chord changes, perhaps the real strumming pattern (once you’ve started to look at different strumming patterns) and that’s about it.

As David mentioned there’s many songs that I am still revisiting from grade 1 as I like the songs and want to improve, but for your question clean chord changes in time with the track is really the key to say you’ve learned it to progress.

That’s how I view whether I’ve learned a song. And for me that also means playing it completely from memory. It sounds a lot harder than it is. Once you memorize your first song or two you realize it’s not that hard after all.

Richard’s definition is essentially what I’m working to as well. If the definition was being able to play it without accompaniment, from memory and sing along too then I’d be on module 1 lesson 1 for a very long time! I think that’s the road to getting stuck, frustrated and a bit bored. I’m on the first beginner course, lesson 6 and there’s about 5 songs that I’m currently moving between. I feel this is enough to give me variety but not so many to be spreading myself too thinly. I’m at different places with each of them with regards to strumming patterns, knowing some lyrics etc but I’d be lost with the JG songs app… I’m still a distance away from being able to play along with the songs from my iPhone. Personally I’m taking a pause from further lessons at the moment because I think there’s a danger of never really learning any songs by moving on too quickly and ending up with a long list of songs that I can nearly play!


I would also strongly recommend continuing to work on songs from the previous Grades/Modules as you move on.

If you consider today’s “modules” an equivalent to the old Beginners Course “Stages”, it was fairly normal to continue working on songs from the previous Stage whilst working on the next level (module/stage) of development.

The labels may have changed but the principles haven’t.


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I think this is a good and interesting topic!

Many of us might define having “learned” a song differently.

My thought is that at this early stages, learning a song is about practicing and exploring the skills of guitar playing it requires as part of our learning growth.

So there are many songs I have played up to the point that I feel I have enough of a handle on the lessons it provided to move on. So I do and I would never consider those songs playable to others. However, they met my criteria to move forward.

There is also a slowly growing set of songs I have been working on since grade 1, and adding to as I go, that I am building to what I think as competence. I keep going back to them and refining as I go.

I would say that I have learned these songs, but still have lots to do with them. I could play them for others or an open mic by now, if it wasn’t for my somewhat astonishingly terrible red light syndrome​:roll_eyes::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::cold_face:.

I am also working on some singing, and I am not ready to inflict that on others yet.


This is me some time ago…

Of course you’ll be able to!! :blush: @DavidP has given very good suggestions on how to proceed. Along the way you’ll be able to make sense of more and more things. Enjoy your own pace, it’ll lead you far.

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Agreed. I can’t sing and play…yet. But one thing I have realized is that every time I pick up the guitar I am doing things that seemed like I would never be able to do at one point in my journey. It comes in layers and if you keep at it, you will get there!


In regards to not being able to remember the chord changes or the lyrics it helps to know that memorizing a song is a different skill than just being able to play along to the song on the app.

You also have to put specific effort into memorizing a song, and it will greatly improve the smoothness and fluidity of your playing and singing. I can play and sing along with the app a bunch of times, but then go to play with nothing and can’t remember the words or chord changes. I don’t learn it just by osmosis.

What I do to learn the lyrics or chords is specifically focus on memorizing them once I get to the point that I can play the changes. It helps to bring up the lyrics or chords so you can see them all at once, not just the app that scrolls them. I read through the first verse, and then try to repeat them looking away. Once I can say/sing the whole first verse without looking at the lyrics, I move onto the second verse, I read through it a few times, try to memorize it, then try to sing/say it again without looking. Sometimes it takes two or three tries, then I do first verse and second verse together, or the chorus or whatever comes next. It generally takes me about 15 minutes to memorize the lyrics to a song this way, but then I don’t have to look at a lyrics sheet anymore and I can focus on my playing which becomes a lot less stilted and jerky.

I’ll look at memorizing the chord changes too. Like (G G D C) 4x for verses, then (G D Am Em) 2x for chorus, and the song goes Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus, Verse 3, Chorus. I only memorize it by putting actual effort into memorizing it. I don’t just memorize it by playing it over and over and hoping it sticks.

Maybe that will work for you. Try it on one song. See if it all feels smoother.


A timely post as I’ve been waffling over this “learned” definition for quite some time while working through the lessons (doing the F chord module now). I feel like it’s maybe subconsciously held me back a bit, out of concern that I’m missing something in the process. I can play along with a good number of songs in the app (songs in line with what I’ve learned so far) without too much trouble and have burned into memory many of the chord progressions of those songs to the point where I can play them without the app. I’ve also been using Justin’s songbooks to supplement all of this; however, I’ve yet to fully nail down a song, from start to finish, from memory. I need to follow the advice of @DavidP and start writing these songs down…I think that will certainly help.

I will say that even though I may not yet be able to fully lay down a song around a campfire, I can now walk into a guitar shop, confidently pick up a guitar, and “play something” (and did)…something I would never have been able to do a year ago. :smiley:

@SV_Brightside, that’s a good approach; I’m going to try that! I think the app is great for working out the chord change kinks and getting the flow of the song, but I agree, it’s not really ideal for memorizing the structure or lyrics.


Now…I’m taking the chance to suggest (as an additional functionality) to choose to have only the lyrics on the App and no chords…because it would be helpful for our ear. As a beginner I have been quite unconfident in my ear ability; but as I’m progressing I can see my ear can tell when the chord changes and which chord is next. It still won’t help with the song structure but wouldn’t it be a good ear training exercise? @DavidP @Richard_close2u @LievenDV

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I agree. And also helpful for memorizing…I think these are two separate skills - though very much intertwined.

Many of us have noted that the App does not help with memorization of chord progressions, song structure or lyrics.

Working with lead sheets seems to help with this, but - IME, at least - crowd sourced lead sheets such as those from Ultimate Guitar are riddled with errors and don’t include critical information like how many bars to hold a chord, and phrasing of lyrics around chord changes.

I’ve learned a lot by creating my own lead sheets, but gosh it’s tedious and time consuming!

I’d like to be able hide or show both the chords and the lyrics independently, or hide everything and just hear the backing tracks.

In addition, it would be nice to also show the song structure I.e. Verse, Verse, Chorus, etc., but that’s secondary.

As a retired software developer, I suspect it would be relatively easy to add this functionality - the info is already being displayed by the App. It’s just a matter of selectively showing or hiding it.

I’ve heard Justin say he want’s his App to be the best in the business…I think this would be a really good step in that direction.


That one’s easily solved just don’t look at your device, turn it over or face it the other way to avoid any temptation :wink:


After mulling over your question for a while, I came to the result, that for me, there are two types of ‘learned a song’.
The first one is the easier one, meaning I can play the song with the app more or less correctly, and therefore being ready to move on to the next module.
The second one requires much more effort, as it means to me, being able to play and sing a song completely from memory. That’s what I’m primarely gaining for :blush:.


I think this topic was re-animated by a title edit, but it’s been on my mind too, because of this topic…

I just started with this yesterday, but I really like the approach so far.

Nichole, for your second case, I think you have to memorize all the following to have “learned” the song.

  1. Song Sections - Verse, Verse, Chorus, Verse, etc

  2. Chord progressions for each section

  3. Singing

  • Lyrics
  • Melody - especially first note of each phrase
  • Phrasing

In the context of the linked article, I use these criteria to move a song from “Learning” to “Improving”

For Justin’s course modules, I think the first two are probably sufficient.

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