Alex's Learning Log

February 2nd, 2022
Hi all!

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.

Guitar Journey:
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 :cry:. 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. :slightly_smiling_face:

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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. :slightly_smiling_face:

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!~

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Hi Alex. Great start to your LL. It sounds as if you’ve got a solid practice plan for learning there.
You say you’ve been learning for 4 weeks and are on module 5. That’s pretty fast progress I think. Take your time, don’t rush, you need to build solid foundations. It’s good that you’re going to consolidate after grade 1.

You say you want song recommendations. The website has loads of song lessons that you can search for filtered by the chords you know.

Those plus your beginner song books should give you plenty.

I look forward to hearing you post on AVoYP when you feel ready.

Edit. I’ve just remembered I’ve heard you play. That was the 11 bar 12 bar blues! :smiley:

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I’ve just remembered I’ve heard you play. That was the 11 bar 12 bar blues!

That was me! Muting at the 12th bar. I’ve since been practicing it with all 12 bars just so I can get used to it.

You say you’ve been learning for 4 weeks and are on module 5. That’s pretty fast progress I think. Take your time, don’t rush, you need to build solid foundations.

Thanks for the advice, I also thought I was moving a little quickly. I’m hitting all the “before you move on…” milestones though so I figured it was alright. The other thing is that I’m practicing everyday instead of 4 days a week. So those extra 3 days are probably why I’m hitting the milestones. I’m sure I’ll hit a point where I wont hit those milestone and I’ll extend the time I’m practicing a module. I’m also going to spend a month doing the consolidation from Grade 1 so I’ll probably be moving on to grade 2 at ~3 months. Hopefully I’m doing it right.

The website has loads of song lessons that you can search for filtered by the chords you know.

Wow, I’ve only used direct links to songs before. Being able to filter the song list by all those fields is really helpful!

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Alexis, great LL update.

In the long run there is more to learning to play than hitting the milestones. Yes, hit the milestones, and then as you say focus on consolidation which I think is all about being able to make music through applying all that you have learned in each Module of each Grade.

This is where @Richard_close2u mantra ‘Learn songs Learn song Learn songs’ is the key. Being able to play songs so they eventually sound and feel good to the listener. This I think is what can take the time. Kind of consolidating each module as you continue.

And as you learn those songs I always encourage the making of recordings to share, which will help you through feedback, a good way to assess your progress as you are working through the modules.

Personally I often feel I am still really consolidating Grade 1 and 2 with a few extras from some of the grades/modules that follow (like E and A shape barre chords). But that suits my musical aspirations, primarily to play and sing songs on my acoustic.

Look forward to hearing those songs you are working on.

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Thanks David!

This makes sense, as the weeks have gone by I did choose songs to work and playthrough (besides the 3 I practice from the app) but I sat and played through them only once or twice. Maybe I’ll add a personal milestone like recording and posting a song in the forum. That way my nerves will force me to practice at least one song until I feel comfortable posting it before moving on.

Before my current job I was a project manager for years so I have a tendency to over plan and take a very rigid approach to milestones. One of the things that made me gravitate towards Justin’s lessons is how well structured they were.

My aspirations are to play rock and roll so I’m really excited to get to Grade 2 power chords! Though I know I need to spend the time in the foundational stuff.

I purchased Justin’s Rock song book with the hopes that one day I’ll get to play through all 50 songs in there (They’re all awesome). I expect that I’ll spend a lot of consolidation time in Grade 2 with that book, but as you’ve seen I often get ahead of myself :slightly_smiling_face:.

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February 17th, 2022
Today I finished the video lessons for Module 7 which means I’ve officially finished all the lessons for grade 1! I figured it was time to update this since I’ll be starting the consolidation stage of grade 1.

How it’s been going:
Learning a lot recently, I’ve started practicing about 40min a day, 20min on the structured practice using the practice assistant and about 20min just messing around with the guitar and playing the songs I know. I’ve also been experimenting with my Boss Katana and the sounds it can produce and patches that Justin has made to get specific sounds which are awesome!

I purchased a cheap tripod so that it’s way easier to record my self playing with my phone and it just makes things a million times easier. I’m able to see the mistake I made and not have to keep fumbling to make sure I have the angle right when trying again.

Going through the checklist for passing grade 1 and I’m good with everything except memorizing 5 easy songs. I’ve played a ton of different songs from start to finish along the way but have only a couple memorized so my consolidation will be all about songs!

What I’ve been playing:

  • Mad world - I pretty much have this one down using “Old Faithful”. It will likely be one of the 5 songs I’ll focus on when consolidating since the chord progression is simple. I’ve found just the vocals on Youtube and have been playing with them by connecting my phone to my amp and playing along to some success. Some times playing slow is harder than playing fast =)
  • Hey Joe - I like this one, I’m using the chord progression and the strumming pattern from the song book and it sounds pretty good. C chord is still something I struggle with sometimes; not the actual playing of it but the chord changes. I’ll likely use this as one of my consolidation songs to get better at those changes.
  • This Years Love - I’m terrible at 6/8 time! If I’m using all down strums I can get it, but any more complicated pattern and it falls apart. This one also has C and those chord changes are faster. I can get most of them if I’m doing all down strums but again anything more complicated and it falls apart. Honestly considering this for consolidation since the pattern isn’t too complicated and I want to have at least one song in 6/8 there but not sure yet.

The plan:
This is obviously subject to change but I’m thinking of spending the next 6 weeks consolidating. Week 1 I’m going to focus on finding my 5 songs. I’ll be experimenting with all 30 songs in stage 1-3 in the beginner song book as well as some I find on the website. The goal here is to find songs that I like + will help me consolidate/work on somethings I’m not 100% on. I’ll also experiment with recording my self this week and decide if I want to record and post those songs as an extra personal step to pass grade 1.

Each week for the last 5 weeks I’ll be focused on one of those songs. All the practice: Chord perfects, Chord changes, perfect changes, strumming, and playing will be focused on “Perfecting” (not really going for perfect) Those songs. I hope that by the end of these 6 weeks I’ll have a solid grasp of grade 1 and be ready to move on to 2 but as I always do I’ll re-assess every week.

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Alexis, congrats on reaching this point. Your plan for the new little while sounds just right. All I’d offer is extra encouragement to record and share some songs. As hard or contrary to how it may sound, I’d not be overly worried as to how well you play the songs.

You are at the start of a life-long adventure and will play the songs much better a year from now. But it is invaluable to get some feedback to affirm your own self-assessment plus (as I’m sure you’ve seen) people will offer lots of positive encouragement.

And you don’t have to worry about whether or not you sing, include a backing track or just play through the song. The crux is the playing.

Well done and have fun consolidating!

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Well done Alexis and sounds like good progress. Good advice from David in terms of consolidation. Also don’t worry about reading ahead a little on the next lessons whilst consolidating…it takes a while just to get your head around the new material before you even start to apply it AND you will still be consolidating why you learn it.

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Thanks David!

I agree! I’ve seen great constructive feedback and encouragement in other posts and I’m eager to post more. I’m kind of hoping to get an audio interface before posting more.

I was having a conversation with a friend at work, of course it naturally moved into music, and to my surprise he plays the keyboard! I asked him if he could recommend a cheap audio interface for recording and offered me his old one. Apparently, he just spent a ton of money on a brand new one and his old one is just collecting dust. I only go into the office once a week (Fridays) so hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to check it out. Otherwise, I think I’ll still record but I won’t spend money on an interface for a little while.

Ah, I’m afraid if I start it I won’t be able to stop my self, lol. Grade 2 is where I get to power chords which I’m really excited for! Maybe I’ll just take a peek…

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It’s really good to be able to read up on your progress @alexisduprey . I’m earlier on in my journey but we’re on the same beginner Grade so it’s cool to be able to see someone making inroads and getting benefits from Justin’s approach to teaching. Keep it up! :+1:

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That’s a bonus, Alexis. I’ve found getting into recording and music production to be as much fun as learning to play. At this stage, noting wrong with making and sharing recordings with your phone, making use of that tripod.

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Thanks Charlie!

The learning logs are my favorite part of the community site. Great to see someone around the same place as me. I’ll be sure to keep your learning log on my watch list =).

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I was actually looking into how to sync video with my phone and audio through the audio interface. I’ve found some promising articles but I think it’d be cool to use everything I have to make it look and sounds cool. I work in IT at a University so the tech excites me as much as the playing =). I’ve been talking to some of the AV guys here on how best to do this.

Speaking of recording, what’s the most appropriate way to share my recordings in my learning log? Do I post each recording in it’s own thread and just edit a learning log post. Like if I post all of my consolidation recordings should I create a post here about my consolidation, post individual AVoYP post for each, and edit my original post here to add links? Are there rules concerning this? Just want to make sure I do it right.

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Hey Alex, enjoyed reading your learning log. You are making a great start and showing keen discipline to work through your challenges. Keep up the great stuff.

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Alexis, I was going to write up an approach and decided I’ve done it a few times so perhaps I can save myself from repeating myself. So have a look here: Producing a video with phone cam and an audio interface

There aren’t any hard and fast rules.

My suggestion would be to post performances of songs as you feel ready in #all-about-your-music:audio-video-of-you-playing. Once you feel done with the consolidation the you could write a Learning Log update that summarises your consolidation stage with links to the songs in AVOYP.

That’s how I’d do it.

But nothing wrong with posting the recordings in your Learning Log. You may get more views and feedback posting in AVOYP though it does seem as if people are reading Learning Logs more than they used to read the equivalent on the old Forum.

Again personally, I think it is appropriate to post work-in-progress recordings as you are learning either songs, studies, or techniques in the Learning Log. I have seen people do that. For myself I chose to create a specific Topic in #community-hub:what-are-you-learning to record a particular learning effort that will require much time and many work-in-progress recordings.

And if something ends up in not the most appropriate place then a friendly mod may pick up on it and with your blessing move a Topic or Reply.

Enjoy the rehearsal, recording and I look forward to your playing.

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February 18th, 2022

Song Exploration:
Goal during my 10 minute song practice yesterday was attempting a bunch of the grade 1/step 1-3 songs to see which I’m going to be focused on during my grade 1 consolidation. I ended spending hours going through attempting to play/listening to them and I think I have my five songs!

  • Mad World - For the reasons I mentioned in my previous post.
  • Hey Joe - Also for the reasons I mentioned in my previous post.
  • A Girl Like you - This one has all of the minor chords and while I’m not struggling with it as much as the C Chord, Dm still gets me sometimes. Also, the mid bar change sound great.
  • What’s Up - Easy pattern, but has C Chord and 2 bar strumming pattern both sounds interesting and seems like a fun challenge.
  • Stand by Me - Also has a C chord (Really want to get this down) and I practiced muted strumming for hours yesterday with varying degrees of success. Honestly not sure if I could get it sounding good enough for me to be satisfied but “Old Faithful” is a great alternative that makes this song easy.

Some other songs I really liked that could make there way up there if I feel like switching one:

  • Chocolate Jesus - I just really like the song, also has a Dm.
  • Bad Moon Rising - I just like how the progression sounds even without the lyrics.

This was fun to do. I’m really looking forward to really focusing on playing these start to finish. I’m leaning towards posting my recordings in the forum, will definitely record my self at least for my own self assessment.

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March 4th, 2022

How it’s been going + What I’ve been playing:
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update and I’ve been chugging along with consolidating Grade 1. All my practice has focused on songs and the chord changes/strumming patterns required. I’ve mostly been working Stand by Me, but try to attempt the chord progressions for all 5 songs I’m working on at least once a day. My C chord (one of my weakest chords) had gotten a lot better so I’m glad I took the time to consolidate.

Still not 100% sure I’ll post audio/video of me playing them yet as I’m not sure how best to do it. Speaking of…

New Gear
I mentioned this in another post but I was speaking to a work friend about music and mentioned I was looking for a cheap audio interface. I asked if he knew of any cheap quality interfaces that could get the job done and he did me one better. He had just purchased a brand new interface, said his old one was just gathering dust and was glad to give it to someone who could use it!:

I just picked it up and haven’t tried setting it up yet but I’m really excited to try it out!

The Plan:
I expect that I’ll continue consolidating for another 2-3 weeks. Possibly record and post the 5 songs for you fine folks. I’m really excited to move forward to Grade 2 but enjoying the journey!

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Sounds like you are making good progress on the consolidation, Alexis.

That appears to be exactly the same AI that I have. Once you have set that up, which is fairly straight-forward then you’ll soon be ready to make a recording, either audio or video. Here’s a link to the user-guide that should explain the sequence of steps to setup: https://d2zjg0qo565n2.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/focusrite/downloads/7317/scarlett-2i2-user-guide-v2.pdf

If you have a PC or Laptop then making a video with audio recorded through the 2i2 and using your phone as a camera is also pretty straight-forward (as per the link I previously shared with you)

Have fun and look forward to hearing you when you are ready.

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This is awesome, thank you!

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March 10th, 2022
How it’s been going
Continuing consolidation of grade 1 with a focus on playing/memorizing 5 songs. It’s reaaally hard not to move forward at this point because I’m anxious to learn some new things but it’s hard to argue that I haven’t been tightening up the skills I’ve learned in grade 1. I’ll probably spend another couple of weeks consolidating and posting the songs here in the forum.
What I’ve been Playing
My 5 songs haven’t changed much and I try and play them all at least once a day while focusing on one song in a particular week.

  • Stand by Me - I posted me playing the chord progression here: Stand by Me - Chord Progression
  • Chocolate Jesus - This is the song I’m currently working on. Dm chord changes are the focus here as they are pretty weak from lack of use.
  • Hey Joe - pretty much have this one down, will probably post this one soon.
  • Mad World - Also have this one down and will try and post soon.
  • What’s up - Next week’s focus, I love the 2 bar strumming pattern in this one.

New Gear
I’ve been playing for ~3 months (time is flying by!) and it feels like its about time to change my strings. I took this as an opportunity to purchase a couple of tools that I’ve been meaning to get: A snark tuner, a string winder/cutter, new strings, and a guitar neck rest/stand (which comes tomorrow) to use when I’m working on the guitar.

And that’s it! I’ll probably do another learning log post at the end of my consolidation in a couple weeks but I’ll be moving on to grade 2 soon!

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