Guitarist Joe Walsh on Learning Songs
Guitarist Joe Walsh talks about the learning process:
“My first influence was rock ‘n roll from the mid 50s to the early 60s doo-wop and things from that era. That’s what I grew up on. I memorized every chord. Eventually I got in a band and we played covers. Gradually I started changing things and other people’s songs. When it came time to play a lead guitar part, I wouldn’t necessarily play the part that’s on the record. I’d play something I like better. Over time, as you sit around practicing and spending time with your instrument, you come up with your own ideas and start writing your own stuff. Things you spent time learning start to sink deep into your skin, and that knowledge becomes available so you play things the way you want to play them. It takes a long time. It’s also essential to play in front of people.” Music & Musicians Magazine June 2012 Volume 3, Issue 4
One of the most common questions I receive from my website visitors and customers goes something like this: “How can I learn how to compose music and improvise guitar solos?” Often the same people who ask this question explain that they’re not interested in learning songs or how to play like someone else, instead they want to go straight to playing in their own unique style. Then I tell them that it doesn’t work that way.
Before you can make up something new and create your own signature sound, you first need to learn how to play. This involves understanding what other guitarists have done and developing your skills one lick at a time. This is accomplished by learning other songs and copying other players. Think imitate to create. Each song (or song part) you learn will teach you something new about technique, composition and phrasing. Every lick and phrase you learn becomes part of your own vocabulary. You use this vocabulary to play over music. Over time, as your repertoire grows and your skills develop, you’ll begin to form your own unique sound and style. This is how all the pros learned. There’s no other way to get good. That’s why I include so many song references throughout my video instruction.
So if you want to get good and improve your skills, regardless of which skills you seek to improve, learn songs!