The L.H.M.P. Method

I really wish LHMP spelled something cool… that would be really great and make this even more memorable.

And believe me, I tried… I tried to get something that would make a word, but sometimes you just can’t force it.

Anyway, here’s the story behind this (there is always a story…)

Do you find that you have trouble remembering your lessons? You might go over the lesson 20 times one day, but for some reason you can’t remember it all when you come back the next day…

Well you’re not alone, it’s pretty common, actually. And at a private lesson we had an interesting conversation about that… (cue the weird music here as the screen goes wavy)

If you remember “the before-times” (before the internet) when you used to get a new recording (be it on vinyl, 8-track, or whatever) you listened to it – and you listened to it A LOT. 

So much so that, if you didn’t have your music with you, you could usually just close your eyes and imagine the whole album front to back. For my student his favorite was Abbey Road by the Beatles, but for you it could be anything – it doesn’t matter what it is.

The point is, in the modern world music is so easy to come by that we have it on all the time, but we aren’t listening to it.

So my “L” is for listening. Before you play a lesson, listen to what it’s supposed to sound like a few times.

In fact, listen to it often enough that you can hum it – the “H” is for humming. Simply put, if you can’t hum it, you can’t play it. That’s one of the main reasons Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing is so darn hard to emulate. He’s just got his own thing going on and it takes most people thousands of listens to get it down.

Now, if you’ve listened to the music, and you’ve hummed it a few times to yourself, it’s time to start memorizing it – the “M” is for memorize.

Your mind and your hands simply cannot do 2 things at once, and do them well. You can read the music, or you can play the piece well – you won’t likely get to do both until you are pretty advanced and it’s an easy piece for you to play.

And finally, you can probably guess that the “P” is for practicing. You can’t practice something you haven’t heard (listening,) that you don’t have in your ears (humming,) and that you haven’t memorized yet.

Of course, memorize in pieces and you can practice the parts that are memorized. But if you’re reading the music, you’re not practicing. So you might as well focus on getting it memorized since that is what you are doing anyway.

If you focus on memorizing, you’ll actually memorize it much faster and then you can get on to the practicing part.

Do all 4 of these things every day on anything you’re still practicing on. Once you have it memorize you probably won’t have to revisit that part, but continue to listen and continue to hum it to yourself when your guitar is not around.

If you do these 4 things, in that order, you WILL see improvement at a much faster pace.


  • JJ Murphy

    Reply Reply November 25, 2017

    Love the article Griff! I think the humming part is super important because that means the phrase is internalized. Derek Trucks says it’s like an athelete with diet- you have to make sure your taking in the right stuff. So in our case a musicians, it’s important to really, really listen to the music that moves us because it will find it’s way back out in our own playing. I have a lesson on a Derek Trucks lick where I talk about something very simlilar-

  • Michael Chappell

    Reply Reply September 28, 2017

    Hey Griff, this is bang on..going through all the BGU courses that I am doing, I listen to the lesson a few times before I attempt to Hum it thenwith my guitar I follow the lesson and memorize it when I am taking notes then trying to play it.. I now find that I can practice most of what I am learning by memory. I just find it hard to memorise all the Licks / solos..

    This lesson is True to the Word.

    Michael-Sydney-Australia Sept 2017.

  • Jean

    Reply Reply September 26, 2017

    Point well taken. I would add this maybe a way to learn to improvise…,creating your own licks…I need to do L more often.

  • Ken Elliott

    Reply Reply September 22, 2017

    Left Handed Military Police, Level Headed Martian Philanthropist? Humming tickles my lips to much. I vocalize like you would a voice warm-up.


    Reply Reply September 21, 2017

    That was interesting and I have put your suggestions to work daily and you got yer own thing goin too…

  • GT Sipe

    Reply Reply September 21, 2017

    I forget, what does the H stand for? Good lesson Griff.

  • ChrisGSP

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Spot on Griff !! I have said many times to young players “can you sing the part”? They almost invariably say “I can’t sing”, to which I reply “you can speak, you can sing”. We may not be very good singers, but we need to KNOW the part in order to be able to sing it. It’s the same thing that you have implied about improvising to a jam track – imagine your part with the guitar still in its case. When you can “hear” it in your head WITHOUT the jam track is when you should start trying to play it.
    Cheers from the great Southern Land.
    Chris G.

  • G. Clark Ballard

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    What I love about Griff’s lessons is that you can LHMP them all together. All the lessons fit nicely together as well as stand on their own. Some day I hope to share a beer with Griff on my veranda

  • Steven Siegel

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    The people of this Blues lessons have some of the best one liners for any one to start a stand comic act. They are all ways a true delight to breeze over.
    Thanks Griff for the comic hour.
    It is true if you can do as he suggests in this turn your guitar into a coat hanger. They do work very well in that use.

    • Roger

      Reply Reply September 21, 2017

      Was fun to find out that you play Guitar and sing and that you have a BB King Collection is really awesome. Would love to see you perform.

      Roger C.

  • Bill

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    I remember LSMFT…Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.

    • Gary Hylton

      Reply Reply September 21, 2017

      Age wise you must be in your 60s – 70s.

      Old School & Still Rockin’

  • jeff

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    when you say memorize it, what exactly do you mean? memorize the tab for example?

    • zonkerlopez

      Reply Reply September 20, 2017

      good question . I am a hack . I think I memorize tab . but I think at some point you start to play sounds . I got my ham lic. and had to learn morse code. not by dot dot dash but by the sound of the three sounds together it goes to fast to convert . this way you save a lot of time

  • John Coughlan

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    You’re not only right Griff, but this, like everything else you teach, is so simple and reeks of common sense.

  • JohnnyB

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Simple, it’s L-HUMP.

  • John mann

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    I can say this defiantly works, I’ve just been on holiday for a week, without my guitar & I downloaded your latest solo lesson so I got to really study & listen to it over & over again, So when I got home, I found it much easier to play as I was concentrating on the playing rather than trying to remember what I need to play 🎸😎

  • Alex Mowatt

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Thank you Griff for drawing this to our attention. Sometimes the obvious is not obvious unless pointed out. On the subject of memory, I recently had cause to discuss memory with a neighbour. his eldest daughter is possibly showing signs of Asperger’s Syndrome, as is one of our granddaughters. I brought to his attention, something I found to improve memory, which was included in the American Secret Service training regime. Basically it meant taking a piece of paper, cut out a piece to leave an equivalent ‘window’ to enable a paragraph to be seen. The theory is that the paper is then put over a piece of, whatever, is required to be memorized. the ‘piece’ is read; the light put off and after a few minutes put on again. this action is repeated several times and the material is memorized! Kind of a no brainer for those of us wishing to memorize things right. I wonder if it would work for music as it does for text, I am going to give it a go real soon, memory being what it is – use it or loose it.

  • Bernie Heerey

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    You always seem to focus on the very thing I am looking at, when I am looking at it! I have just started to create a new solo for my new song and quickly realized the important connection of – if i can hear it in my head and hum it, i can play it…
    You really are one of the great teaches out there keep it up, and thank you.

  • Jeff

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Wanna hear something SCARY? The present-day education community is actually moving away from memorization. It won’t be long before people won’t even know this skill. All of the commentors today must be “old school” because they all know the benefits of memorization.

    • jim

      Reply Reply September 20, 2017

      The reason for that is that it is better to know how to figure something out for yourself than to memorize it.
      I worked for 2 years trying to memorize a new language. To little avail. I then found a program that allowed me to work out how to communicate in my new language using the power of thinking instead of memorization.

      If you want to play a straight up cover of a song memorize it. If you want to play your own, learn it.
      Listen to it over an over of course. Hum it of course, practise,of course. Memorize it? Why? Why not learn to play your own version using the tools you know? Unless of course you want a straight up cover.
      Not something I want. I have a friend who is a very good musician. Far better than I will ever be. He will not even change the key of a song. So and so played it in f, so so do I is his thinking.

      • Craig

        Reply Reply September 22, 2017

        Right on JIM. I agree 100%. Play in a country duo and we play the song and do it our way…
        Sacrilege …I don’t think so.. People enjoy it the way we present it…even the solos are not perfect copies.ever try and copy a 10 string steel guitar on an acoustic note for note with all the nuances…not possible!
        ……..but no one seems to notice or care…as long as the main gist of the solo…ie the hooks are present …what you play around them is your own…ads individuality and freshness! My opinion. Craig

  • Earle George Chisholm

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Griff it never ceases to amaze me how you manage to come up with these emails that speaks to the very relevant issues that affect all of us in the learning process. The value of these methods, when employed, saves so much time and effort and can be the difference between continuing to practice and getting better or total frustration.
    Any pointers on right hand picking techniques my right hand is slightly out of control I would appreciate your help on this, keep up the emails there are great

  • Bill Swartwout

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    As Brian suggested, I also like the L-A-M-P acronym – because it’s an old programmer, server-related term. I have been involved in Web Development and Internet Marketing for the last 18 years and have only been a guitar picker for two. But, letter choices aside, your recommendations are spot on.

    It absolutely helps me understand a lesson better if I’m not even holding a guitar the first time (or two or three) going through. I pay attention AND hum along without any distractions.

    Thank you, again, for some sage advice.

  • Rohn

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    I bet a looper would work wonders for this

  • JimJ

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Do you remember playing a “45” record @ 33-1/3 speed?
    LHMP is a great idea~!

    Thanks Griff~!

    You give good Blues…

  • Gary Hylton

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017


    I wore out many a 7 inch 45 rpm record in the late 50s and early 60s, before I began to listen to my dad who taught me exactly what you are telling us today! He too insisted that I learn the lyrics as a way to help learn the guitar parts.

    Thanks Griff for everything you do to help those of us who play guitar – play better!

    Old School & Still Rockin’

  • Johnny B

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Thanks Griff. You are totally spot on concerning memorization skills. Our biggest issue today, distractions! Too easy to hit the digital pause button promising to revisit at some other point. As with any great actors, rehearsing lines, in small bites until you own the whole is how it’s done. Thanks for reminding us, half hearted or poorly invested produces poor results. I know because I have had some pretty scary, embarrassing moments at live jams believing improv would carry me through. It doesn’t work if you don’t know the tune! Your BGU event shines the light on this idea for sure. Love your commitment to making all players better.

  • John Y

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Forty yr player… It took me twenty years to realize
    what you just shared……..
    Listen until you can’t get the tune out of your head !!
    I f you sing , learn the words front to back
    because forgetting the lines will
    break your tempo and the whole thing
    will crumble!
    Practice until your wife threatens to take the kids and move in with mom
    if she has to listen to you “try” to play that tune one more time!

    • Terry Scheurer

      Reply Reply September 20, 2017

      LAM then PAM

      LIsten And Hum then Practice And Memorize

      You have to LAM it Before you PAM it

      • Terry Scheurer

        Reply Reply September 20, 2017

        How about changing Hum to Mumble/Moan resulting in “LAM then PAM ”

        Listen And Mumble/Moan it before you Pactice And Memorize it

  • Terry

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Right on. I listen to 3 BGU lessons last night figured out which one I wanted to work on and Then listen to the play along a few times for feel and it went really well working, it out and playing it. Sure I may not get it all but Alot came easyer. Thks G.

    • Terry Scheurer

      Reply Reply September 20, 2017


      LAH then PAM

  • Warwick Smiley

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    I find this interesting,Things that need to be learnt overnight(not music)I usually can do.When it comes to the music something in my inner conscious must say “Their is no better.I do learn the piece in my own time.!

  • Robyn

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    I have trouble to remember and rely heavily on the sheet of music. I will give this a real good shot and see if I can break away from the fear of not having the music to read. Thanks Griff and you too Terry.

  • Brian

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    There is an alternative to the acronym LHMP which is a lot easier to remember and as my partner will testify, very descriptive LAMP

    L Listening
    A Annoy – as in other people hearing you humming to yourself!
    M Memorize
    P Practice

    Maybe its me – but I remember that one….

    and once you really get it you can move on and it sill applies

    L Loving
    A Audiences give
    M Money and
    P Praise

    Well we can dream can’t we!

  • Terry Gillen

    Reply Reply September 20, 2017

    Bang on the button, Griff. I remember one lesson in which I was trying to learn Clapton’s version of Hideaway. I tried playing the first few bars for my teacher and it was worse than awful. He told me to put down the guitar and hum it. I couldn’t even do that. His response was, ‘If you can’t play it here,’ pointing to his head, ‘you can’t play it here’ waggling his fingers. So, I listened to it several times a day for a week until I could hear it in my head perfectly. I then added my imagination (and perhaps this is a step I would add to LHMP, making it LHMIP) moving my fingers (accurately but, to begin with, slowly) in my imagination. After that, playing it for real simply meant practising until my fingers caught up with what was playing in my head.

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