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Why it so hard for me to learn a song?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Vevy, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. Vevy

    Vevy Guest

    Jul 18, 2013
    maybe I got a wrong leaning technique? I know a lot of riffs but I can play only 2 songs decently for their whole lenght along with the track, and I have been playing bass for almost a year. There are some hand positions I find very simple to learn, but there are some patterns that are really hard for me, or 'cause their speed, or because I can't remember the notes sequence (almost always I can't play without look at the frets..), or because the pattern has a uncomfortable positions for my little hands (I'm girl).

    Usually I follow this steps:
    -give a overall look at the tab while listening to the song
    -try to play the entire song slowly
    -learn to play each riff decently
    -play all the song along with the track

    Despite these tricks there are riffs I just can't get, even if I tried them plenty of times. Is really frustrating..
  2. Maybe you've started out with the bar raised a bit too high. Maybe pick a simple song. One with few notes and simple rhythms. Not sure what kind of music you play. Like a Weezer song for example. Play it til you can play it from beginning to end a couple times in a row flawlessly, then move onto another easy song until they are no longer challenging for you.
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    I agree with "bunkmunk". Try working on more simple songs first.

    Work on sections of the song individually, say a minute at a time. When you have all the sections learned, then try playing the entire song.

    Dont become over reliant on tab, instead listen closely.

    When trying to learn riffs, sing them as you play them. Play them slowly at first, then gradually increase the tempo. If necessary, divide them into sections also. Playing slowly helps to get the fingers and ear working together. It also helps you to find the most beneficial fingering to use.

    Finally, be patient with yourself. One year is a very short time to be playing. Frustration will get you nowhere.

    Best of luck ! :)
  4. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    What songs are you trying to learn? Like others have said, maybe stick with simplier tunes right now. Go to www.songsterr.com and look at their Beginner Tabs and pick three songs you want to learn. Practice those three songs until they sound good. Or better yet, write some of your own songs.

    If you have smaller hands, a short scale bass might be easier for you to play.
  5. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I agree with what has already been mentioned. Learn simple songs first. I did this then developed my own exercises to improve speed and technique. Don't worry about having to look at the fret board. The majority of musicians look at it fairly frequently. I saw Paul McCartney several years ago and there were times when he didn't look at it and times when he looked at it frequently. Since you mentioned that you have small hands, try a bass with a narrow neck such as a jazz bass. Some Ibanez models have necks which are narrower than a jazz. My final suggestion is to find a good teacher and take lessons. Everybody learns at a different pace. Stick with it and you will improve over time.
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    First thing that came to mind was what everyone else said. Find simpler songs to learn, for now. While you're doing that, if you still want to work on the ones that challenge you, I'd suggest this. Find the parts you struggle with, and slowly practice the transitions. Instead of practicing whatever riff you're transitioning to, take 2 to 4 beats before it, going into 2 to 4 beats of the riff. If you do this with a metronome at a speed that's comfortable (even if it's ridiculously slow), after enough repetitions your muscles will memorize it.

    I've played in bands with some ridiculously riffy stuff and that's what I used to do. Learn the riffs, then practice the transitions. Stuff that was virtually impossible for me to play, became stuff I didn't have to even think about. The trick however is to play them first at a speed that you CAN comfortably play them at, and have patience. It will come.

    Only other thing I could suggest is to not put too much thought into your hand positions. Sounds like there's a possibility you're overthinking it. Do what feels comfortable, and what works.
  7. Trayster2


    Aug 13, 2012
    Palm Coast, FL
    I'm only playing a year also & what has been working really well for me is to chunk a song- learn small sections at a time to mastery, then move to the next section. Learn the tough spots first, then the easier sections.

    What has also helped tremendously is to go to finbarbass or someone good on You Tube, & actually write out the tabs they are teaching. Doing this helps you own it & therefore you'll remember it better.

    The worst thing you can do is try to learn the entire song too quickly. You'll only set yourself up for disappointment. It takes time, and practice. Lots of it.
  8. phoenixjmw


    Jul 9, 2013
    Just a suggestion from my own recent learning:

    I do not learn as well trying to play something note for note from a tab as well as I do listening to the song, know what chords are in the song and improvising from there. Eventualy I get closer to the original.

    So maybe try just starting with playing simple root notes first and fill in the little riffs and licks as you get more comfortable with a song?
  9. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Learning chord structure and actual notes will be easier than reading the numbers. It helps breaking down the song into simpler parts. Take your time.
  10. I find that most tabs are wrong in that they are listed in an abnormal, uncomfortable playing positions. Warm up with scales every time and then try transposing the songs notes in to a different position/string. I've seen many tabs that have you play up and down the board on only two strings when the original bassist used three open strings, which is much easier and efficient. Basically, try to find a more efficient way to play the same notes and ignore the erroneous tab.
  11. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Write out a simple chord chart to the tune.
    Learn the form, then slowly work out the fast,tricky stuff.
    Yes, a lot of tabs online are not accurate at all.
    Try using your ear, it's wonderful training.
    My Tascam BT-1 has a slow down feature & a repeat looping feature
    to grab a lick & repeat it that is a great tool for learning songs.
    It would make a nice Xmas gift.
    Hang in there, you are on the right track
  12. kikstand454


    Sep 28, 2012
    What everyone else said, plus practice, discipline, and above all enjoy it. Don't beat yourself up over it- everyone learns at their own speed.
    I've been playing 23 years and there are still PLENTY of things I just can't play.....
  13. Matthijs


    Jul 3, 2006
    You have to learn how to learn a song. It pays to really concentrate on how you learn a song: in what order, how you remember and understand the song structure, etc. Don't just jump into the song and start from the beginning playing licks and following the tabs. Take a step back and think of a fitting strategy, i.e.:
    • First understanding and describing the strucure of the song.
    • Then writing down the harmony (the chords).
    • Then playing along with a recording, without trying to follow the precise bassline, just to get to understand what is happening.
    • Then picking out the actual bass patterns one sentence at a time and finding out wich ones need practice.
    • then practice, and slowly build up speed and complexcity.

    Having a good teacher was extremely helpfull for me in how to do this. Maybe even more than in learning how to master the instrument.
  14. The first year on any instrument is the toughest... it makes you or breaks you. When I started I became a three chord wizard: Wipeout, Hang on Sloopy, La Bamba, Twist and Shout, Wild Thing, Louie Louie... but I didn't have a clue when trying to play anything more complicated. Frustration :confused::help::bawl:. My big break came when I learned to play major and minor triads. Lots of songs use em'. Then I took some lessons with guitarist Frank Quinn in Montreal back in '73 and soon learned that the triads came from scales... building chords/triads by playing every second note in the major or minor scales - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8... voila 1 3 5, 1 3 5 7, 1 3 5 8! Practicing scales and triads. Then harmonizing the scale by playing the triads of each degree. It's amazing, but scales and triads make up 99% of bass lines in songs. Only then could I realize what a riff actually was, instead of simply memorizing a visual pattern on the fingerboard, I now knew how it fit together with all of the song parts! How to connect song parts. Even though I still hadn't learned to read music, at least I could "rationalize" what I was playing or hearing and figure it out. Trying to memorize a whole song by rote is extremely difficult, but once you know your triads and scales and practice them in sequences, interval leaps (thirds, root-fifth) and inversions, you will know what to do after hearing a song only once. A teacher can get you the best start with this. It's difficult on your own, especially in the beginning. A nice book to start is Ed Friedland's Bass Method, Complete Edition, Hal Leonard. Even after years of playing, it will still guide you through all of the essentials.:) You will also learn to read, play in position, proper fingering and it will give your practices structure and meaning. :bassist: Good luck in your journey, Vevy!
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Learn your notes and don't just follow tabs. Learn some basics about chords and how they're formed. Finding a teacher who can teach you some stuff about reading music and chord theory is an immense help not only for learning other people's songs, but also for coming up with your own bass parts for songs you write.
  16. What are the two songs?
  17. Vevy

    Vevy Guest

    Jul 18, 2013
    In effect the songs I'm learning are from Iron Maiden for the most part, maybe they are not so easy..at least for me they are not, I don't know if are considered easy or difficult.

    You all are right about don't rely too much on tabs, I have already seen that most of the times some parts are completely wrong or shows impossible hand positions, so I use them just to help me to write my own tab, transposing hand positions and listening to the song to re-write wrong parts. Sometimes I do the whole tab listening to the isolated bass track, when I find them, searching the notes on the fingerboard and trancsrbing them, so I can get a 100% correct tab.

    AroonVonRock, I was thinking about a short scale bass, but I suspect that the sound won't be the same as a "real" bass..

    Thank you, this sound to me as a good method, wrote it down so I can follow these steps, I just have to develop patience, which I have not XD

    Thank you a lot :)
    yes, maybe a book would be a good idea..I will look for the book you suggest, seems a good book. It is a single volume or more? because searching that on the internet I found a book that is in 2 volumes, is that?

    the two songs are Holy Diver by Dio and When The Wild Wind Blows by Iron Maiden
  18. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    Iron Maiden is a pretty tough place to start learning bass. Steve Harris plays very fast and very precise. Definitely try something easier for a while. If you're into metal, maybe look at some Judas Priest or certain Metallica songs for fairly simple bass lines.

    A short scale bass will still sound like a bass. There isn't any big noticeable difference in sound between a short scale and long scale bass.
  19. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    The fact that some tabs are incorrect is just one reason to avoid them. The main reason is that relying too much on them does nothing to develop you ear.

  20. Vevy

    Vevy Guest

    Jul 18, 2013
    in fact I play a lot by ear, sometimes I write whole tabs (without searching online tabs at all) by myself just listening to the song (if I find the bass only track is better), but I write them down just to remember them better, I think that it develops anyway my ear, isn't it?

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