How To Use Songs To Quickly Improve Your Guitar Picking


Do your “ears” get overwhelmed when you listen to and try to learn a song that has lots of picking instead of regular chord strumming? Is it difficult for you to recognize and memorize repeating patterns? Do you get excited when you first start learning a new song that has single notes in it only to get frustrated with it and quit before you finish it?


I understand how you feel. In reality, almost all beginning guitar players feel the same way when they try to practice songs. It really is difficult to try to combine the parts of the picking and fret hands into something that sounds cool when you’re not really sure what to do. It is overwhelming.


Here are the primary reasons that beginning guitar players have trouble learning, memorizing and mastering songs with picking in them:

  1. They are not able to recognize that most guitar songs are actually made up of very short, repeating parts. Not being able to recognize that most songs have small picking sequences that get repeated makes it seem like you need to learn a large number of parts in order to get the piece down. This is not usually the case.
  2. Not realizing that once the pattern is memorized it is usually used on lots of chords in that song. There are usually only one or two patterns that need to be learned—just a small number of parts that get repeated over many chords and parts.
  3. Trying to learn both the fret and pick hand parts at the same time. This is too much information for the beginning player to process all at once—this results in frustration at worst and taking a long time to learn the song at best.
  4. Not knowing the best way to learn and practice picking techniques and patterns so that that you can learn the song and get great results in a short amount of time.


So how does the beginning guitar player learn to play cool sounding music with picking patterns? Let’s look at the solution now. Remember, most difficult sounding things on the guitar are actually pretty easy once you know the right way to break them down, learn them and practice them. Watch this guitar picking pattern video to learn how to play picking songs easily.


First, you have to learn how to break the patterns and parts down into small, simple chunks that are easy to get down. I will show you exactly how to learn to see the small, easy pieces that make up these patterns and how to put them together into something that sounds really cool.


Next, you will learn how to practice these parts using isolation. By that, I mean practicing just the pick hand part by itself to get the pattern memorized and ingrained. We will learn to do this by taking a longer picking pattern of six repeating notes and break it down into two groups of three. Even beginning players who have only played for a couple weeks can play three notes—so this is really easy to get.


And last, learning to practice those patterns in a way that both hands can master their parts and get the song down—fast. After all, that is our ultimate goal—playing songs!


The Best Way To Master Picking Patterns


We will learn how to play and master picking parts using a six note repeating pattern. Here is the full pattern:

It’s kind of overwhelming at first glance. Let’s break it down starting with the pick hand first.


First, notice that the first six notes are all picked out of a C chord. So this makes the fret hand very simple—all you need to do is place your hand in a C chord shape.


Next, rather than looking at all six notes at one time, just look at the first three. To pick those notes, all you need to do is pick the fifth string, then the fourth and then the second using all downstrokes. Not difficult at all. Practice this picking motion until you have it down—just those three notes.


Now let’s look at the next three notes—these are simple as well. Pick the third string using an upstroke, then the fourth string using an upstroke, and finally pick the third string again using a downstroke. Practice this the same way that you did the first three notes of the sequence. Work on it until you get it down. See exactly how to play the pattern in this guitar lesson video.


Can you play both groups of three notes smoothly? If you can, then try putting them together. Play the first three, then the second three without hesitation. Practice this until you can play all six notes of the sequence well.


Now we can look at what the fret hand needs to do. Look back at the tablature again notice that there are only three chords that the fret hand has to play: C, G/B and Am. Memorize the fingerings first, then practice changing back and forth from chord to chord just using a simple strum. This is key—when you are first practicing and memorizing the fret hand part, do not try to play using the pick hand sequence. You want to not use the pick pattern so that you are able to fully concentrate on getting the fret hand part down.


Practice these chord changes until you can play them smoothly changing from chord to chord with your fret hand using simple strums. Once you can do that, then you can begin to start adding the picking pattern sequence to the chords.


Breaking down picking patterns into these small parts has many benefits. First, this is what I call “real world” practice—the techniques and patterns you are mastering are taken directly from songs you want to learn. Your practice is totally relevant to what you want to learn—these are not just boring exercises.


Second, this type of practice also improves your overall technique which makes it easier for you to learn more songs, faster. It has a snowball effect on your playing—the better your technique gets, the less time it takes you to learn and master new songs.


Third, you can use these picking patterns to make any chord progression sound cool. Use them in your own songwriting and creating. Picking patterns sound complicated and impressive to the listener, but once you know how to create and play them, you know that they are not. They are almost like musical “sleight of hand” for the guitar player.


Watch the picking video lesson to learn step-by-step exactly how to learn and practice these picking patterns. The video also contains an additional eight note picking pattern with a full lesson and PDF file so that you can further explore, learn and master pick patterns and use them in your own guitar playing. Start getting the benefits of this “real world” type of guitar practice now.


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