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How long til you could play a couple songs??

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What is a reasonable amt of time from starting to take lessons, til you could actually sit and play a couple songs..(not basics like Ode to Joy, etc ) 6 months??? A year??? Thanks for any input~

Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
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I think it would depend on how much practice you put in, and how badly you want to learn songs unless you tell the teacher specifically that you want to learn songs.

"...I don't know - but whasomever I do, its gots ta be FUNKY!"

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What is a reasonable amt of time from starting to take lessons, til you could actually sit and play a couple songs..(not basics like Ode to Joy, etc ) 6 months??? A year??? Thanks for any input~

Do you mean simple songs like Mary Had A Little Lamb?

Do like these?

Ave Maria is pretty simple:

It can take years to be able to play those simple songs well.

I couldn't find his version of Ode to Joy, but here's Parkening doing a simple Bach prelude:

Music is a journey, not a destination. Don't dis those simple songs, they are part of the journey. And as you learn more you can always, and I mean always, come back and find more within them than you every thought you could.

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST

Joined: 22 years ago
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I'm sure it didn't take very long, but it felt like it took ages back in the day

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at:

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
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Doe a deer a female deer
Ray a drop of golden sun.
I played that within a hour after my first lesson.

tackling a song is one of the best ways to demystify the fretboard and gaining guitar wisdom that can be applied over and over again.

Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
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What is a reasonable amt of time from starting to take lessons, til you could actually sit and play a couple songs..(not basics like Ode to Joy, etc ) 6 months??? A year??? Thanks for any input~

Why compare yourself to me? What if you take longer? What if you're faster? Neither makes you superior or inferior to anyone else. Are you frustrated with your progress? I'm frustrated with mine too. Been that way for YEARS :-) We always want more. That's life.

You are yourself and you are learning at your own speed. Your learning speed depends upon your effort, your amount of practice, your attention applied to your practice, the things you tackle and some intangibles that are unique to only you.

Guitar is someplace where you usually are not following someone else's curriculum, nor taking their exams, or being compared to the jerk next to you. Enjoy it for what it is - someplace you can get as much out of it as you're willing to put into it. And it does not come instantly or easily. That's why so many guitar players can only play the intro to Stairway To Heaven :-) (and nothing more)

Ask your teacher to help you learn to play a song that you suggest and really want to learn. Gotta begin somewhere.
(That's what I did long, long ago. I still play that song regularly and almost perfectly. One day I'll really have it down well. )
If your teacher won't help in that way, try another teacher. (this is why my wife quit guitar lessons - she was only getting theory and technique rather than songs and didn't assert herself enough to demand what she wanted)

Hang in there. You'll be able to fly pretty soon. And then you won't be able to fly as fast as you'd like :-)

(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)

Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 271

I think what you (OP) really need to decide is how long it will be to learn songs a and b, or more importantly how long to learn songs a and b plus a load of other seemingly useless stuff which will allow you to learn songs c and d far quicker.

If you sat down, with or without a teacher, with the sole aim of learning one song, you could probably crack it (as long as it wasn't anything too mental like a Metallica song or something) in a suprisingly quick time, possibly 3 months from an absolute beginner. However, you will be sitting on a tiny bit of knowledge for that very song and if you try and step away you'll drown and have to start over.

OK, this might not be making much sense yet, but I hope this bit will now clarify what I've been banging on about above.

Usually any course, either a book or a teacher orientated one, will start off covering some basic chords, some basic theory, some of them will go into different techniques etc., with the intention of giving the student a broad and rounded knowledge.
Apply this to specific songs and you probably won't be playing much past 3 chord Bob Dylan songs (which are great in their own right of course, but are pretty simple). However, you'll find you'll be able to pick up songs of a similar level from different genres quickly. Furthermore, as you progress, perhaps delving deeper into a particular song you're keen on, you'll suddenly find pieces of the jigsaw puzzle falling into place from the previous rounded education.

This is my 2p's worth based on my (limited) experience. I set off with a pure and simple classic rock head on me. All I was interested in were distorted guitar riffs and bursts of powerchords. Then I started to think further down the line about other music types, but because I'd buried myself so deeply in one direction, it was quite hard to escape into other genres. My chord knowledge is far patchier than most at my level of experience and while this isn't a problem for belting out a lot of heavy rock songs, it is a serious problem for my increasing interest in blues based music. I am learning, but it's like going back to square one again.

So to sum up an answer to your original question, you can learn a few songs in short time, but I'd suggest covering all the basics first before setting off in a particular direction.

I hope this helps.:)


If something's not worth doing it's worth forgetting about.
Epiphone Les Paul Std - Yamaha Pacifica 112XJ - Takamine EG340SC - Taylor Baby - Grainger Hammerhead 50 - Grainger Valve Five

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Joined: 19 years ago
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it depends if you get a good approach: myself i need a methodic approach to reach something. I can remember that at the beginning I struggled with learning rhythms so that for at least seven or eight months I did not reach any result, then in summer 2005 I bought an instructional book and following the suggested exercises in maybe a couple of months I was playing, of course at a basic level, real pop/rock songs. From there on, I've kept progressing and now I feel that I can play some real hard rock, metal songs, which was my original desire. The most important thing is to get the right information and to be patient enough to see some progress.



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Joined: 16 years ago
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I would also avoid attaching any timeframes. It all depends upon your approach to it.

Vintage Guitars

Eminent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 25

What is a reasonable amt of time from starting to take lessons, til you could actually sit and play a couple songs..(not basics like Ode to Joy, etc ) 6 months??? A year??? Thanks for any input~
I was playing songs within a few months (I started back in January). I need to mention that it was not played cleanly throughout but I consider it a song nonetheless :lol: .

I found that doing a search on youtube for a particular song will yield several lessons with chord fingerings and strumming patterns. It all depends on your musical tastes.

My first song was "Horse With No Name" America (was never able to sing and play that song) check out the vid by lazyfret
Second song was "Mad World" cover of Gary Jules cover of Tears for Fears. easy Em, G, D, A
Third was "The Scientist" Cold Play. Again lazyfret has a great lesson.

Good luck,

Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5582

I started learning songs from the beginning. I never took lessons, but I had a few friends who played guitar and I would ask them to show me songs. The first song I learned was House of the Rising Sun, so I learned how to hold the chords and pick the notes arpeggio style. I didn't know any scales at all. I would also buy songbooks at the music store. I realized right away that the notation was piano music, so I would look at the chord symbols above and then listen to the recording and copy that as best as possible. I think I could play maybe 4 or 5 songs within a month of starting, but they were nothing to brag about. I was a real practice freak, I would practice as much as 6 hours a day or more. I still practice almost every single day.

I think it is great you are taking lessons, my one regret is that I do not read well enough to play guitar that way. If you can read you can play anything put in front of you.

Put some time in trying to learn by ear. It is difficult, and takes lots of trial and error, but you will really develop your ear.

As others said, don't judge yourself by others. Some people simply do not have the time to practice hours a day, and so they will improve slower than someone who puts in lots of hours. But practice is the real secret, the more you practice, the more you will improve. And be patient, sometimes you think you are not improving at all, but if you listen back to music you played a few months earlier, you will hear an improvement.

Just stay at it and have fun. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis

Trusted Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 69

I didn't think I'd ever be able to play a song that might sound like something I'd recognize, but I got there and it didn't take too long.

What really helped for me was signing up for a beginner guitar course through my local library. An hour and a half one night a week for eight weeks I think. Great deal for $45!

He got us playing simple songs right away. Started out with Jambalaya (on the Bayou)(which I'd never even heard of), then we started going through things like Proud Mary, Wonderful Tonight, Love Me Do, Margaritaville, Don't Be Cruel, Folsom Prison Blues. It's great! It's even better when I practice the stuff we do all week and then go back to class. There's only 3-5 students there, so it's really nice. I've enjoyed it lots and it's really helped boost me. They're just simple strummy versions, but they still sound recognizable. And that's progress for me!

It's a dry heat!

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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 52

I can't remember the song now, but it took me 6 months to play my first song at 120 bpm. :o
Your milage may vary, everyone is different.

Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 157

One of the great things about music is that there is so much stuff out there to learn. Songs like mary had a little lamb etc. are very simple. I'm willing to bet there are a lot of pop/rock songs out there that are even simpler. If you listen really carefully, you will probably be able to pick the songs that sound easy to play, and ask your teacher to show you the chords and strumming. I'm sure he won't mind, I wouldn't. You learn so much more when your excited by getting a song down because you push yourself harder, and the inherent lessons and techniques tend to stick a bit better. Youve gotta enjoy the guitar. that said, your teacher probably has reasons for teaching you things.

Couldn't agree more with Wes on the reading thing. I was never much of a reader, now i'm doing my music degree and having to work my way through bach pieces and transcribe charlie parker solos. This is very painful for me because i am very average at reading music, the earlier you get that side of your playing down, the better in the long run.

Stick it out man, youre now already one of the most lucky people in the world, the ones who have made music a part of their life.

Don't sweat it dude, just play!