How do I memorize a wide variety of songs?

Kat the metalhead

Music Theory Bragger
  • Jan 20, 2020
    Ontario Canada
    So I was wondering how do I memorize more songs and not forget how to play them. I’ve learned so many songs but can only confidently say I have a handful memorized haha if I had to go on stage and perform a set list worth of stuff I couldn’t cuz I learn songs and forget how to play them. Any tips?


    Local Dive Bar Favorite
  • Jul 16, 2020
    I think it is totally normal to play things and then forget them if you pass on to something else and leave that song for a certain amount of time. If you have a set list to perform, I imagine that it would be rehearsed like hell before performing it and that's what makes it a permanent stay in your memory I think 🤔
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    William Byerley

    Hot Topic Tourer
  • Nov 11, 2019
    Nether World
    Maybe make a list of similar songs, like with similar chord/shapes, keys or feel and focus practice those ones. Gradually add a song to your list or work on 2 or 3 (in parts) at a time incase you get bored. Could be that the stuff you have memorized better is that you either listened to or played more often than the newer stuff. Probably most important is the "focus" part. The focus here would be "memorize set list". Had a bit more to say but I forgot :confused:
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    Ed Seith

    Supreme Galactic Overlord
    Staff member
  • Nov 11, 2019
    Marana, AZ USA
    When you start playing in a band, it's six months to a year of playing through the songs in your setlist 3-4x a night 2-3x a week before that first gig. Y'all play shit that much you're gonna remember it. It's about muscle memory and repetition.

    There are some songs I picked up after not playing them for 10 years and I remembered the main parts easily and most of the minor parts. By the second or third playthrough, I remembered almost all of it. (not necessarily applicable to fast solos). Newer songs I learn, I don't play as much and therefore forget much quicker.

    There are probably still maybe 150-200 songs I know the bulk of and can polish up for audition within a couple days if I needed to (did that once pre-pandemic and wound up thinking the rest of the band were losers, but oh well).
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    Linda Ode

    One Stringer
    Nov 11, 2019
    Lynnwood WA
    Try playing a song over and over a few or more times a day for a few or more days until it becomes muscle memory. I also keep a little notebook by my amp where I write what fret or string or chord a song starts with (and sometimes add which fret to go to during the major changes in the song) so I can glance at it if I haven't played that song in a while.
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