I had posted this on the forums, however now we have this cool new Lesson creator I thought I'd put a fresh version up.
So, basically this is just an insight into how I personally go about learning songs.
To start with, I totally immerse myself in the song that I'm learning (right now I'm learning a song by Paul Gilbert, and I have the song playing on my computer and on the CD in the car!!). The benefits of doing this are that you will learn the timing of the song and you will become aware, and almost an expert, of how each lick/passage/riff etc should sound. So as your learning the song you'll know if something doesn't sound right. By immersing yourself in the song you will also begin trainging your ear, you will start to pick up bits and pieces and have a good idea of what notes to play.
The next step for me, is to start scouring the net and through all the magazines I have to see if theres any sign of any tablature for the song already. Sometimes you might hit lucky and find an almost perfect tab in a magazine or through the hundreds of TAB sites on the 'net, sometimes you'll only maybe find a riff or a particular part of a solo or whatever. Either way this stuff can be extremely helpful to you, so take it, keep it and learn it!! With the introduction of Guitar Pro and Powertab programs, it becomes possible to download many different TAB versions of the song, then you can cut and paste to make the perfect tab for you to follow.
So you've learnt what you can through the use of tablature and some of the sraight forward parts. However what do you do if you can't find any tabs for particular parts and you ear is trained enough to be able to work it out on your own. Well you'll have to work it out yourself, END OF!! So the best way for you to do this is to slow the music down. One of the easiest tools to use here is Windows Media Player, however there are over means of slowing down music.
Amazing Slower Downer -- (Mac only)
These two programs are also available at a price, these were recommended by Olmonatron in the original thread. Also rickelpotamus recommends using Nero CD Burning software. I've never personally used any ofthese so I can't really vouch for them, I use Windows Media Player as its simple for me to just load a song in there and slow it down. I'm sure if you have any kind of recording software that too will also be able slow down music. Just be sure that theres no change in pitch or when you come to bring it up to normal tempo, what you've learned will sound wrong. Theres no real pointers or advice when trainging your ear like this, just slow down the music and listen carefully. One thing I would advise though is if you have access to GuitarPro or Powertab and know how to use it, tab out what you learn as you go. Or if you can't work out how to use them, then just grab a bit of paper and write down some TAB bars. Whatever you do, make sure you write it down so you know where you are!!
Now, I see alot of people when learning songs focus on one part of the song, that one part is usually the hardest part of the song. They've spent months learning all the song to perfection then spend all their time focusing on the one passage, which leads to dimissal of the rest of the song. Obviously this is bad because by the time they've perfected the hardest part, they've forgot the rest of the song. It seems obvious however I see a lot ofpeople do this!! So my advice whilst learning the song is to practice 3/4 parts at once. For example, when I was learning 'Satch Boogie' by Joe Satriani, I would work on the intro section for 10/15 minutes, the move onto one of the legato passages in the main solo for 10/15 minutes, then work on one of the sections of the tapping section on the outro for 10/15 minutes. Also this way your taking in and learning more. If you were to spend the cumlative time rehearsing one section you'll get sick of that part and eventually you'll get sick of the song!! Not good, so make sure youwork on 3/4 parts simultaneously.
So, after I've learnt most of the song and have a grasp on how to play most of it. I'll stick the track and play along with it. I'll do this hundreds of times. By doing this, I can pick up on parts that are not particularly perfect, and remember to work on those sectionsa little bit longer whilst I'm rehearsing the parts without the song playing.
This is the final part involved right now, and its simply putting all what you've learnt and play it yourself...SOLO!! So stick the backing track on and go for it!! If you find theres some parts your not happy with keep rehearsing the parts and it'll all come together. Also if you have the oppurtunity to perform it live, do it!! I find quite a lot that when I'm learning songs at home they can sound a bit sketchy, then as soon as I perform them live they sound awesome!!
So there ya go thats all that goes into learning a song. One thing you must bear in mind when reading this, is that this is an idea on how you can learn a song NOTE-FOR-NOTE. Try listening to loads of different versions and interpratations of the song, live footage/covers by others/different arrangements etc, these will give you some ideas of how you can make the song your own, and will help to increase your musical vocabulary!!
There ya have it, if anyone has any questions or suggestions then please feel free to email me at email@example.com!!