February 2nd, 2022
Today is a special day for me. It marks 1 month since I started playing guitar/found Justin’s lessons. I’ve learned a lot so far and decided to start a learning log to track my progress.
Copy and pasted from my intro post here’s a little bit about my guitar journey and why I wanted to start play with a little added detail.
I’m 31 years old, bought a beginner guitar kit (An Epiphone les paul special) with 2 of my best friends way back in our teens at the height of our guitar hero days but fell off of it pretty quickly. My friends stood with it a little while longer than me but also dropped off of it. Fast forward to a couple of months ago in 2021 and one of those friends passed away due to sickness . The whole ordeal got me thinking of how little time we have, the things my friend never got to do, and the things I still want to do.
So I bought a guitar earlier this month and found this great website. Lots of positive vibes here from what I see, and I’m excited to really push my self to learn this beautiful instrument! So anyway, glad to be here.
Here it is my Squier Bullet Mustang:
If you want to know a little more about my buying experience I made a post here:
Absolute beginner’s buying experience with the Squier Bullet Mustang HH
Where I’m at:
I’ll be starting Module 5 of Beginner Grade 1 tomorrow. So far so good, looking back at this month it feels like I’ve learned so much already! I’ve officially practiced 20 minutes a day every single day these past 4 weeks. In reality though, I’ve practiced more since I work from home and when I’m bored I pick up the guitar and practice or just noodle around with it. I’ve found that doing that really re-enforces some of the stuff I’ve learned through the videos or have read through Justin’s beginner song book (I bought the second volume). 3 things in particular that I’ve struggled but made a lot of headway with.
- Strumming - during my 20 minute practices I felt like I was making progress but my strumming arm was still feeling a little awkward. To solve this I put on an hour episode of a TV show that I’ve been watching, put on Justin’s metronome app, and strummed “Old Faithful” at 80BPM for the entire hour. The next day strumming felt much more natural. I still can’t lose focus too much without screwing up the pattern but I’m happy with my progress.
- Chord changes while actually playing - By the end of my practice week for a module I have consistently been getting my OMC to about 60 in all my changes. I’ve struggled to actually change on time when playing though. To help with this I chose a song in Justin’s beginner song book (Hound Dog) and focused on trying to play that song since the changes between E, A, D worked well with my anchor finger practice. Focusing on the 12-bar blues progression really helped here. I posted me playing the progression here (I still can’t do the shuffle strumming but it feels too early for it anyway): Attempt at 12-bar blues
- Changing chords in the middle of a bar using the old faithful strumming pattern - When I first started Module 4 last week the final song in the practice routine video “A Girl Like You!” completely through me off. The mid bar change from Dm to Em and Dm to Am seemed impossible, especially with “Old Faithful” which Justin recommends in the song book. To help with this I started to practicing it at 80BPM doing the Dm to Em switch doing 4 strums per bar, then adding “Old Faithful” to the mix. I can’t do it perfectly yet, but I can at least get through the song now when practicing. Maybe I’ll post a video.
Anyway this feels like it’s starting to go long. I’ll end this with a list of things I’m looking forward to and worries about future learning (I go ahead some lessons just to see what’s next, I never actually practice anything until I get there though):
- Consolidating - I think I’m going to try to spend a month consolidating everything I know after grade 1. My plan is to focus on songs, probably 1 a week and I’d structure my practice around them. OMC focused on the changes of that week’s song and strumming time focused on the pattern I want to use.
- Songs - I read that to pass grade 1 we need to memorize 5 songs. I’m not sure which ones I’m going to do but I want them to collectively incorporate all of the chords I’ve learned, and I want these songs to be ones that sound good and natural without playing along with the recording. Some songs that I’ve been noodling around with while practicing that feel like they’ll sound good without the recording are Chocolate Jesus and A Girl Like You!. I’m sure more will open up with the last 2 chords I’m learning. I’m really open to suggestions here. Has anyone found songs that sound really good with just the guitar? Please let me know.
I plan on updating this every so often when it feels relevant. For those of you who got through all of it, thanks for reading!~