How I learn a song…

So this morning I had to learn My Forever Friend by Charlie Landsborough. Learn as in be able to accompany a singer singing it.

Here was my process.

  1. Connect my phone to a bluetooth speaker so I can hear everything clearly. The bass is especially important when learning a song and you can’t hear the bass well on either a phone or laptop speaker.
  2. Find the studio version on youtube (the studio version should be your default, unless you are told to learn a particular version).
  3. Figure out the key signature of the song (there is another blog to be written on how to do this).
  4. Figure out the time signature of the song (likewise).
  5. Write an empty chord chart to the end of the first chorus (i.e. figure out the number of bars in each section).
  6. Work out the chords and write them into the relevant bars (again there is another blog to be written on how to do this).
  7. Listen to see if the second verse/bridge/chorus is the same as the first (it often is and if so saves you writing it all out again).
  8. Finish off the empty chord chart for the rest of the song and work out the chords for it too.
  9. Write in any important lines/phrases used in the intro or the rest of the song. This requires your judgement and often depends on the context in which you will be performing the song.
  10. Your chord chart should be finished now and should look something like the picture below. Listen once more and check your chord chart as you go.


The catch – I don’t know what key the singer wants to sing it in yet, so that’s where being able to transpose from one key to another on the spot comes in handy.

The above is a great exercise and enables you to learn a song you have never heard before and perform it at short notice. Any aspiring musicians should try it.

One thought on “How I learn a song…

  1. Kieran’s genius……. the capacity to somewhat simplify into structure the complex task of truly learning a new song…… include chords, bridges, verse/chorus dynamics, nuances/variations etc. Terrific and interesting read 🎶 man!😄👍

    Liked by 1 person

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