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Maximize Your Memory

Having trouble remembering that passage, lick, or lyric? Start at the end.

by Nicole Solis

earning a song isn't hard. It's remembering it that's tricky. Have you ever driven somewhere new and the way home seems so much shorter than the way there? You know where you're going, so you feel more confident. Let's apply that same approach to learning a new song on guitar: start at the end and work toward the beginning, so you're always heading toward the part you know
the best.

Break the sang into pieces. I'm not suggesting that you literally learn the song backward. Although you might discover some hidden meaning, that's more of a party trick than a useful way to learn a song. Instead, you're going to divide the song into pieces, then start memorizing the last piece. For lyrics, work on one line at a time; for a chord progression, maybe blocks of two to four measures; and for an entire instrumental tune, each musical phrase (hint: phrases usually end with
a longer-held note or a rest).

Work on the iast chunk, Take that last piece of the song and start playing it. Repetition is your memory's best friend-and enemy. Play the section slowly
enough so that you get it right (almost) every time. Wrong notes can sometimes be much harder to forget than right ones, so try to get it in your brain the right way from the


Memnrize the next-to-last chunk. Work your way backward through the song, and when you feel prety comfortable with each new lick or line of lyrics, link it up to the parts you've just learned. With each new section, you'll probably have to slow your tempo initially, but you can speed it up later.

Is your brain feeling overloaded? After every two or three chunks, step away from your guitar for a few minso long that you forget what you just learned. but don't start watching a Godfather marathon on TV When -.'::-':e ready, start right where you left off. Keep memorizing, repeating, playing -.:::c::gh to the end, and taking breaks until you get to the beginning of the song.

S: ::ake

-::s to let everything sink in but not

a cup of tea,

Keep ir memorized. Once you're certain you've learned the song, play it through a fe*- dmes to cement it in your memory. To make sure you have every part of the song memorized, start at'different points of the song, play it all the way through to the end, then loop it back around. Always be aware of what part you're least comfonable with and start there. Play toward the familiar parts, and soon you'll know the song inside and out.

March 2008

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