Two Principles of Learning Music

Slow it down

Slow it down until you can do it on time.
Don’t go fast on the easy bits, slow on the hard bits; stop, start, stop, start.
Get your exercise ON TIME as soon as possible.
You don’t start learning until you are playing to a regular beat. (Even if it’s really slow.) The speed will take care of it’s self.

Chop it up

(into smaller pieces)
If you can’t jump over the creek you need to make some stepping stones to get to the other side.
If you can’t play a piece of music you need to cut it up into smaller bits (bars or phrases) that you can handle.
Just try the first 1 or 2 bars of a piece until you can do it, then learn the next few bars or phrases then put them both together.

Practice Strategies

Chords (Left Hand Only)

Step 1 – Change from one chord to a new chord slowly without strumming. Figure out which fingers will move where. Are there any fingers which don’t move?
Step 2 – Strum Two Bar changes slowly but on time. i.e. [A [A [E7 [E7 etc.
Step 3 – Strum One bar changes. i.e. [A [E7 [A [E7 etc.
Step 4 – Practise a simple chord chart. i.e. part of a song or a few bars of a family of chords.
Step 5 – Practise the chord chart for a simple song.
The more times you repeat it the better you’ll sound. To teach our hands to do something we must repeat the correct movements many, many times.

Strums and Fingerpicking (Right hand Only)

Step 1 – Practise the right hand pattern slowly until it’s smooth. Hold a chord but don’t change chords yet. Concentrate on the right hand. Aim for a good loud sound played evenly and on the beat.
Step 2 – Practise the right hand pattern slowly with 2 bars changes on easy chords. When it’s smooth, try it with other chords.
Step 3 – Practise the right hand pattern slowly with 1 bar changes.
Step 4 – Practise the right hand pattern with a simple chord chart. i.e. part of a song or a few bars of a family of chords.
Step 5 – Practise the right hand pattern with the chord chart for a simple song that you already know well.

New Songs (If you have never seen the song before)

Step 1 – Read through the arrangement. Count out the bars and chord changes.
Step 2 – Strum through the song slowly using an easy strum to concentrate on the chords. Do this until you can do all the changes easily. If you have a problem with only a few bars, practice them on their own then do the whole song.
Step 3 – Run through the right hand exercises above using chords from the song and parts of the song chart. Play through the song chord chart using the suggested right hand pattern.