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8 Effective Ways to Play Guitar Without Looking at Music

One of the shortcomings of advanced guitarists is the tendency not to be able to play guitar without looking. Songs that should have been memorized or forgotten due to lack of revision.

Before we talk about how to play guitar without looking, we should talk about why you should do that, because without knowing the reasons behind it you will not be motivated enough to memorize the songs.

Misconception about play guitar without looking

For players who are able to read notes or tabs, the process of memorizing may seem unimportant because they are able to read music.

But the book or the music page will not always be with you, and as long as you look at the music, your focus will not be on technique.

Play Guitar Without Looking

Reasons to play guitar without looking

  • Technique improvement: You will not be able to use the music pieces you know to improve technique unless you memorize them.
  • Tone improved: The pieces we play from memory has a better sound, because your focus is on hearing it, not reading it.
  • Improved performance: Unless you keep all your music with you everywhere you go, you probably won’t be able to play a piece if you’re asked to.
    This will be strange and embarrassing for you especially if you have been playing for a long time.
  • Looking professional: A professional player has a long list of songs on guitar that he memorizes and plays easily for hours.
    If you want to play in a place or with a band, you have to memorize a number of pieces suitable for playing for an hour or two in different styles.

Consequences of not memorizing

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Forgetting important pieces

No matter how much time you spend learning a piece, if you don’t memorize it, you know 80% of it. Putting the remaining 20% ​​in and reviewing it at least once or twice a month, will ensure that you got it forever.

Back to square one

If you don’t practice for a long time, it is easy to get rusty, we have all been there.

The technique can easily come back, but the really sad thing is to discover how many music pieces you have forgotten!
Not being able to remember the songs can upset you or even make you quit the guitar, don’t let this happen to you!

Now that you know why you should play guitar without looking at the music, let’s see how to memorize it and what are the best ways to do this.

Best approaches to play guitar without looking at music

1) Repetition is not enough

You can play a song from a book every day for many years, but you won’t memorize it if you don’t try.
Memorizing means that you play it while the book is closed.

2) Commit to memorize the piece

Know the importance of playing guitar without looking, and commit to memorizing the pieces. Decide that any song you can’t play from memory is a song you haven’t really learned.
And if you’ve been playing for 3 years or more, this idea will make you feel uncomfortable.

3) Divide it into small sections

Research on memory has proven that the human brain memorizes the first and last line of a list. This means that we only remember the beginning and the end of a piece, that’s right, isn’t it?

You can get around this by dividing the piece into small sections and memorizing each one. Another way is to play it from end to beginning: the last bar, then the last two, three, four, and so on until you get to the beginning.

Remember: with practice everything becomes easier, even memorizing the music.

4) Try different methods

We are not robots, we are human and we are all different. So one method may work for you that does not work for someone else, and vice versa.
Try one method of memorizing, if you don’t like the results, try another method.

5) Test yourself

You can do this in many ways and have some fun at the same time. The first way is to record your playing through a mobile phone or any other device.

You will be amazed when you hear what you have recorded and you will know the weak points of the piece you are playing.

The other way, a little more difficult and requires preparation, is to play with your friends or family.
Of course, it is possible that most of them are not aware of the pieces you are playing, and no one will notice if you make a mistake, but more important is that you will notice where you made a mistake.

6) Set specific goals

How many pieces you can play from memory? And how many minutes do you want to play the guitar from memory? If you can’t answer these questions, you have little chance of memorizing many pieces.

7) Choose what you want to memorize

You don’t have to memorize every piece of music you play! If the piece you are practicing does not interest you or adds something new to you, you can forget about it.

You can make a list of pieces that you want to memorize in the future (List A), and a list of pieces that you want to play but not necessarily memorize (List B).

8) Review

I know it’s hard, but you have to find the time to conquer this challenge. If you do not review everything you have memorized, you will forget it sooner or later.

Now I will mention some effective ways to review the playlist that you have memorized.

Methods for reviewing pieces on guitar

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The order in which you review the songs makes a lot of difference in how you memorize the pieces. If you review the list in the same order every time, the pieces at the beginning of the list will be reviewed more than the songs at the bottom.

How many times did you not reach the end of the list because of a phone or a sudden job? Consider practicing the pieces in a different order.

Playing everything you know!

If you are serious and want to play guitar without looking at music, you should make one day a week or a month, and play on this day everything you memorize!

Of course, this varies from person to person. For example, if all you memorize is 30 minutes, you can do this for 30 minutes each week. But if your list has increased significantly and it is difficult to review it weekly, you can divide the list into 3 or 4 sections that are reviewed periodically.

Spaced repetition method

If your time is tight and doesn’t allow you to review everything you play, the spaced repetition method may work for you. This method tests your memory strength infrequently.

In the beginning, you will review each piece once every day, then gradually increase this amount, once every two days, then three days, then 4 days, and so on until it reaches 365 days or a year!

If you remember a whole piece a year after you last reviewed it, your chances of forgetting it are very slim.

In Summary

Musicians who did not memorize the list of pieces they know and can’t play guitar without looking at the music sheet became victims to themselves.
Memorizing the pieces you play on the guitar doesn’t have to be difficult or take a lot of your time, but you have to make it a part of your practice routine.

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