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The Art of Learning Cover Songs & Setlists - A Pocket Guide for Session & Studio Musicians

The Art of Learning Cover Songs and Setlists:

A Pocket Guide for Session & Studio Musicians

By Xavier Gonzalez, Jr.


This book serves as a guide for working session & studio musicians who want to better their song and setlist learning skills. (Level: Intermediate to Professional)


This text is designed for individual study. The purpose of the book is to help instrumentalists (piano, keyboards, guitar, bass, etc) gain useful skills in song and setlist learning. These skills are necessary for success as a session/studio player (hired gun) or permanent member of a band or large musical group. Emphasis will be put on song/part memorization.

I have used this particular method for several years now and have found it very successful when having to learn multiple songs for solo artists and bands.

My hope is that other musicians can benefit from this method and become more sought after session players as a result.

Xavier Gonzalez, Jr.


Table of contents

Defining your scope of work

Making a plan

Learning a single song

Listening Phase 1 - Getting familiar with the overall song

Listening Phase 2 - Paying attention to form

Listening Phase 3 - Paying attention to chord progressions

Listening Phase 4 - Memorizing chord progressions

Listening Phase 5 - Choosing the right sounds/pedals/etc

Playing Phase 1 - Running through chords

Playing Phase 2 - Working out comping

Playing Phase 3 - Working out lead lines

Playing Phase 4 - Working out solos

Playing Phase 5 - Memorizing the entire song

Playing Phase 6 - Full song run-throughs

How to approach learning setlists

Charts and lead sheets

Studio etiquette

Band etiquette

Final thoughts

You will get a GDOC (0) file

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