Emily Dolan Davies How To Learn 40 Songs In A Day

Monday, June 20th, 2016

This was something that I have learnt to do over the years and has been one of the most valuable skills I’ve worked on! How to Learn 40 Songs in a Day!  Now it might sound pretty crazy, but this is something I had to learn how to do through pure necessity. It was a time in my life where I was depping for a lot of covers bands, who’s drummers would occasionally go AWOL… or just on holiday… and I was left being asked to do gig, usually with a week or so notice which was fine.

One day I was called by someone I’d been recommended to by a mutual friend, who had a gig that same evening, and for whatever reason their drummer couldn’t make it. At this point I had been playing covers for about 6 years and was finding that most set lists had very similar songs in them, maybe a couple of odd ones at most, so thinking ‘i’ll probably know most of them’, I said yes.

Cut to a 40 song set list being sent over, and me not knowing a single one!!!

Panic well and truly set in, but luckily I had devised a way of learning songs over the previous 6 years (like I said, usually for 1 or 2 songs at a time)! It was time to put it into turbo mode! I’m now going to share with you the system I use, and one of the exact charts I used that day!

Feel free to notice all the scribbles and crossing outs… there was no time to start a new chart!


Although this is in the context of drumming, it can be used for any instrument, you just have to find the best way for you!

This is the way I’ve developed over the years that is easiest for me to learn, and means I’m able to use it on a gig (I’d prefer not to, but sometimes it can’t be helped).

Suffice to say, I learnt all 40 songs (without a kit), did the gig (with my charts by my feet), they asked me back to do more shows, and I learnt 40 new songs! A very productive day to say the least!



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