Learning tunes with Regina

Learning tunes: A personal letter from Regina

Hello, my name is Regina and now I’m going to tell you a little bit about my way of learning tunes on the guitar. I hope it can help you to focus on the right things which are very important to play the music in a good way (it doesn’t matter which instrument you are using).

You’re telling a story with the music

I’d like to take a tune from one of my favorite musicians ever – Tommy Emmanuel. It is called “Lewis & Clark”. This song is about the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during the years 1804-1806. That’s a lot of feelings, scenes and words you can express through this song. When a song has historical or literary background, it is always important to try and understand what was going through in the author’s mind – what ideas they may have had, and you should know the story behind the tune (usually I find it from different interviews with the musician).

That’s the first thing I do when I learn, for example, original fingerstyle tunes.

Find the right sounds to express the story you want to tell

Ok, now we know the story from “Lewis & Clark” song. To create this scene: prairie, wild west, 19th century I want to guide your attention on a very important thing Tommy wrote: changing Em – G chords to imitate riding a horse! This melody line (yes, I think we should use this name for it) has to be expressive and rhythmically accurate.

Not only melody and chords behind should be in your attention, but things which make ‘overall impression’ of the song too.

I like to practice it with a metronome separately.

“Em – G changing”

Try to sing the song you want to play

After step 2, I learn the melody line and try to sing along with it, that’s an important thing – to know and play the melody without any other ‘parts’ of the song, I always remember Chet Atkins’ words told by Tommy Emmanuel to a Russian interviewer: “If you can’t sing your song I do not want to hear it!”


You can do this with metronome too or…

Understand the logic

…with chords from the tune: try to understand the logic in which the song was built. Play chords, listen to how they are connecting between themselves. Try to sing the melody and play the chords.


Sleep, eat, practise, repeat

After you have done all this previous stuff, start to practice the song in 2 ways:
– from the beginning to the end and not paying attention to mistakes
– from the beginning until you will make the first mistake. As soon as you made a mistake, start again from the beginning (yes, I know it is hard!)

That can help you with playing LIVE and to play clearly every tune.

Also, I recommend dividing the composition in several parts, for example: intro, main theme, bridge etc. and to practice every part separately. Having done that work, you will not be addicted at all. It happened with me sometimes: I could only play the new tune from the beginning! When being asked to play it from a certain score line or something else, I had to think really long about it!

Criticize yourself

So, last but not least: record yourself and listen every day. It doesn’t matter what will be your ‘mic’. It can be phone camera, just a voice recorder or the soundcard… anything that can record an audio is allowed 😀
For example, I have a Zoom H5 recorder and I am very happy with it!

I wish you good luck and all the best in all that you’re doing. I’ll be very happy if I could help you in any way. Feel free to ask me anytime!