4 Steps To Memorizing Your Music

We don't need no stinking charts!

I have a love/hate relationship with worship chord charts. I love them because they make it possible for volunteer worship musicians with full-time job and family commitments to hang with the band on Sundays. Awesome. I hate them because they steal the joy of playing freely and confidently because once you’re stuck to one you can’t escape it. Not awesome.


I’m not going to be one of those worship leaders that tells you you can’t have charts on stage, but I am going to give you some tips on memorizing worship songs so you don’t need them as often. I’m a guitarist but this works for anyone.

Step 1: Listen

The other day Third Eye Blind’s "Jumper" came on the radio and I knew every single word. I never tried to learn it. I just listened to it so much in high school it came right back. Same thing applies to any worship song you need to learn. Put that sucker on repeat and listen away. Don’t try and learn it. Just listen until it’s in your soul.

Step 2: Break it up

Once you know how the whole song is supposed to sound you can break it into parts. Start with the intro. Learn it. Practice it. Repeat the practice until you can play it without thinking. Got it? Move onto the verse, then the chorus and so on.

Don’t try and learn it. Just listen until it’s in your soul.

Step 3: Make the Transition

The hardest part of learning parts separately is gluing them all together so work on the musical transitions. Take note of where each section ends and the next one starts and just jump between the two. I find that if I have the individual parts under my fingers, I can be looking at the fret my next section starts on before I’m done playing the current one so I naturally make that leap.

Step 4: Practice

Now that you know the song so it’s time to know the song. Play it straight through with the recording. Give it a rest and come back to it later. Do this as often as you can, always with the song so you really get the feel. Our tutorials' play along mixes are there for a reason. Your brain will continue working on the song even without the instrument in your hands and you’ll feel it when you make the jump from kind of knowing it to truly knowing it.

Always play along with the song to truly get the feel.


If you’ve never memorized your music for Sunday, you are truly missing out. It can be overwhelming so I always suggest starting with one song of the set and building it week to week. Once you get a taste of that freedom, you’ll never want to use a chart again. Our lessons are here with music videos, chaptered lessons and practice loops to help you get there. If you’re not a Worship Artistry member, you can start your free trial here.

Jason Houtsma serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA, Husband to Alli, Father to Bjorn and Asher, and guitar instructor for WorshipArtistry.com

4 Steps To Memorizing Your Music

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Secular Music

I have to say I'm surprised how many Christians think it's ok to listen to and support secular music specifically groups that promote lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life; which is most all of it. It's like they think they're above satan's influence because they are saved by the blood but don't seem to get that they can still be rendered useless to furthering the Kingdom of God. We convince ourselves it's ok when it's not! This music is of the world and I personally struggle with it and have been given over to it in the past. If you put this music through the filter of the three things listed above it should be clear. We don't come to God to be entertained musically, we come to be feed the word enriched in our relationship and the music is just to support this. If we are feeding our selves Satans music; and he is the master of music don't kid yourself, it creeps into our worship and that is not healthy. I come here to sing a new song otherwise id just keep on rocking the blues. Rock and Roll was slang in the 50’s for fornication and sexual immorality. References to secular music on this platform and for any group earning a living with worship and praise while publicly serving two masters is not cool with me and I will not continue to support as it only serves as a stumbling block for me.

Thanks for your response

I think it's great that you know your boundaries and what influence music has in your life. You'll notice I didn't say "Go listen to this song." I simply metioned I listened to it. Personally I believe it falls under Paul's idea that all things are permissable but not all things are beneficial and it's up to each of us to listen to the Holy Spirit and let him speak truth to us. Jesus engaged in the culture around Him and we do our best to follow His example. There is plenty of music I avoid based on content but I don't strictly divide it between Christian and secular. If Christian artists never listened to secular music, we wouldn't have the broad range of styles available in the Christian world as many of them are influenced by pop music.

That being said, I fully understand if you choose to avoid any talk of secular music and choose to avoid our site as a result. If you've spent any amount of time here, you'll know that it is a very small piece of the conversation.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts.