Al's Learning Log

I had a brief introduction in my intro post (Al - Intro post) but want to recap a couple of things so I’ve a single ‘story’ thread and then note some short term goals and next activities to kick off.

I find the process of recording my thoughts and sharing them helpful as a way of reflecting and improving. Occasionally others might find something of interest… :grinning:

I might also add some more details of my musical journey so far where it might give insight to others who’ve come across similar ups and downs.

As such - I’m looking to focus on recapping, consolidating and solidifying repertoire initially (next 2-3 months?) and aim to create a short list of songs to learn, play and record and use these to identify things that I can’t yet do and should add to current practice practice routine or leave until later.

I’ve listened back through to some of Justin’s advice on structuring practice and regularly come back to these 3 pages:

As performing and sharing songs is the biggest single thing I think I can do which will also demonstrate to myself where I am and what I need to work on, I’ve a short list below that I’ll aim to work through and record. Probably:

I’m spending some time before jumping back in too much by going through the lesson recaps in particular the Lead Lines, Riffs and Songs but also sus chords, 7 chords, power chords, all stop mute and blues shuffle. I’m making a note of the ones where I ‘had a look’ but couldn’t use it in a song and will look to find a song to practice and record and share that demonstrates that. I’m also looking to play more to a metronome or backing tracks (and even record my own).

  • Summer of '69 (power chords and sun chords)
  • Times Like These (riff and lead line)
  • Hallelujah (F Chord and maybe arpeggio and 6/8)
  • Breakfast At Tiffany’s
  • There She Goes (riff)
  • Thank You by Dido

That’s 12 songs that should keep me busy and give me time to find a few other songs that demonstrate the other parts of the grade 2 beginner courses. Along the way I’m still hoping to explore theory and writing and composition and how other instruments fit into the mix.

After that is after that… But I’ll be very happy if I get to that point by mid-late Spring or Summer maybe? Who knows… After that - more barre chords, finger style, lead, transposing, writing, more advanced song elements etc - I can’t wait but think this is a good phase to consolidate.

More immediately - I’ll probably review and plan more specific exercises to work on eg 1-2 weeks at a time and then review. I will try and do timed blocks in a set daily routine eg (5 min rhythm technique related to the song, 5 min lead or riff or scale technique related to the song, 5 min review of song progress, 10 min practice and build up on the next part of the song or along to record or metronome). I will try to play in smaller sections (eg intro one day, verse the next, chorus the next), at slower speeds and with care to accuracy rather than rush through.

Sorry for all that detail!

[edit: adding links to recordings posts]


Good stuff Al. Nice to see such detailed planning. I vacillate between having detailed plans and just winging it for a while. When I do too much winging it for my own comfort, I get serious about plans again.

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Great job with this, Al. I have bookmarked it because I want to look at it again as I get ready to start my own learning log (soon!).

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Looks good Al.

There are some here who have a big appetite for detail :laughing:


Great stuff. Don’t get too caught up in all the detailed planning. Remember to have fun! :smiley:


I feel I’ve made good progress in last few weeks, most notably to continue to regularly pick up and play and record and practice towards performing songs. And also keep up piano practice alongside it.

I’ve been doing a lot of listening - created a playlist of ‘to listen to’ and regularly dropping tracks on it when I hear them out and about or in streams or played or mentioned here etc. It’s been good to revisit some old tunes and discover lots of new tunes and artists. I’ve also been listening ‘actively’ and trying to pull out eg the drum patterns and fills etc with a view to making backing tracks etc.

I’ve also created a playlist ‘to play along to’ which is going well - I’d not seriously tried playing along outside the app. I’m now bit by bit working through them which is very different to playing to a lead sheet or song book etc. I think it will be beneficial in the long run and also helps to learn the song structure better. This has been most of my focused practice - learning the songs, staying in time, making clean chord changes and then trying interesting patterns or dynamics. I’ll add more time to practice solos when I’m a bit further along on these.

I’m amazed at the community here and appreciative of all the time and energy everyone puts in, especially in encouragement of everyone’s playing and sharing or performances - they’re great to see and listen to! :grinning: There is also lots of inspiration to try new things and step out of my comfort or default zone.

I’ve tried a few things that I wouldn’t have done before, such as changing strings on my ‘active’ guitar - just need to do a few more times and I shouldn’t need the various YouTube videos paused throughout… :sweat_smile: I tuned down my Pacifica to Eb and started playing it again which was nice. I played with a capo and it didn’t bother me - last time I tried I found it really annoying. I started exploring creating rhythm and drum backing tracks and getting in the habit of kicking up a 909 sequencer app to play along with. I posted my first AVoYP video and started planning a few more. YouTube is being slow but when it’s finished processing some work in progress videos I’ll add them here also and then in the AVoYP area when they are a bit further along and I’ve done the backing tracks.


Couple of work in progress tracks - please don’t feel like you need to listen to them in full or at all! :grinning:

Mostly timing, clean changes still working on and there are a few trips to iron out (eg in the bridge or ending as I get that far less often :slightly_smiling_face:). I’m trying some different patterns and some work and some don’t - I think settling on a more consistent pattern for each of intro / verse / chorus / bridge might sound clearer. I’ll also play with the tone and sound some more.

In terms of recording process - I need to fix the aspect ratio and grey bars and focus etc but they do the job of giving me a reflection of how I’m playing to a track that I can review back. I’m finding it much easier to evaluate after playing and noticing much more than I can observe in ‘real time’.

On the positive side - this is playing along to the original bands (in my ear) so am liking being able to hit play and jam along.

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That made a good read and great to see you going back over the stuff you either skipped or glossed over. That’s very important as likely those things will crop in songs where weren’t expecting them. Also I’d suggest adding a couple of songs that may be out side your normal listening preferences but will stretch or confirm much from those first few grades. Songs like American Pie or even Back to December, one with lots of different chords, one with quite a few sections and ever changing. I’ve booked marked this, so I can watch the videos later.

Thanks for sharing.



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Thanks! Thank you for the suggestion! I’ve added them to my playlists and will have a look.

I can’t believe I missed American Pie on my ‘short list’ (currently 30+ songs!). It definitely fits the camp fire sing along vibe. Last time I looked at it it was in the ‘woah - not yet’ box but that was a while ago so keen to see now.

I’m also looking at Yellow Submarine as it’s one of my kids favourites and it has lots of chords in a quick change pattern.

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Solidly played Al. I would suggest your own self critique and analysis gives you an understanding of areas to work on but I would suggest progress is good but as everything guitar it only gets better with practice and you look to have a game plan. :+1:

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Thanks for listening and for the encouragement! :grinning:

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There were a few interesting threads on kit guitars and builds etc - this was a project the summer before last that I dug out some photos of and I thought I’d share incase was interesting. I bought it locally for £20 and changed the strings and nut and tidied it up to see what would happen.

I knew nothing beforehand on either guitar building or setting up a guitar but learnt a lot in the process…! :grinning:


Thoroughly enjoyed the updates, Al, your progress, the recordings, and pictures.

You are doing well on your playing, keep on keeping on!

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You’ve been working hard and it shows, Al! I was in the kitchen doing a bit of cleanup and had your Radioactive in my earbuds. I really enjoyed it, very nice. Cool job with the kit guitar there. Certainly a huge improvement over the SpongeBob toy looking kit you started with!

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I watched your videos Al, you did great give yourself pat on the back! I really liked the tone of your guitar sounded great! Technique was spot on, keep up the good work! :slight_smile:

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I hadn’t realised how long since I’d updated my progress log… I’d originally expected to be writing at least weekly… I tried to keep up with this forum but found it quite hard to meaningfully read and listen in passing so decided an approach where I can dip in to the details and appreciate when I’ve time rather than trying to skim and follow everything would work better.

Practice wise - I’m playing more and more which is good - and getting more confident to tackle and play along to more and more songs. In doing so - I’m including a lot of the consolidation work I wanted to eg 7th Chords, Power Chords, Sus Chords. I also had fun with the Blues as below. I’m enjoying a mix of acoustic and electric depending on mood. I also got a simple looper pedal which is fun to play with and not as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Listening to lots of music - often inspired by songs I hear mentioned here or played live on twitch so keep around two playlists - one ‘to listen to’ and one ‘to play along to’. I enjoyed the Open Mic event and was really good to see a lot of familiar names and get to know who they are beyond the message board avatars :slight_smile:

I’ve recently finished the piano course I was taking part in and there’s a gap before the next one starts. It was a 21 week Prep A course that involved learning, recording and sharing 21 short pieces (usually 16 bars) on a discourse forum (smaller than this) as well as 5 weekly 5 min sight reading and technical exercises starting from near ground up (having been stop start previously). If interest - I’d definitely recommend and hope its ok to share the link (PianoTV School -

Its mostly a classical focus but the last week lesson was on the Blues and I recorded a version playing each of LH piano, RH piano melody, Electric guitar Blues Shuffle in C and Acoustic guitar with the end of line responses (no video of the acoustic). I might do a full version at some point as the melody is fun to play on guitar also.

In terms of recording setup - I finally got nicely setup with Logic as a virtual mixer - if there is interest I can go through it. I can use it both for recording and streaming / zoom via loopback and listen to either full or just performed mix as I want (eg the performed mix doesn’t include local computer audio or metronome).


What a great update, Al. Lots of musical progress.

I really enjoyed the blues study.

You referred to Logic as a ‘virtual mixer’. A minor technicality but probably correct label would be a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) (unless I am mistaken). Irrespective Logic is a quality tool and will unlock loads of creative possibilities to explore.

And quite OK to share the link to the piano lessons. As long as the links and resources shared are not in competition with Justin, but supportive of our learning here, all is good.

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Thanks for reading and listening! :grinning:

You are completely correct - Logic is in the DAW software category and usually used for recording directly into the tool.

I simply meant that I am using it to play the role of mixing down several inputs into a number of stereo outputs (and in software hence virtual rather than a physical mixer) and then passing those stereo outputs to other places eg OBS or QuickTime to capture the ‘mixed’ audio and a different video feed in real time… :grinning:

In any case - as you say - lots of fun to be had creatively eg I often start playing along to a track, recording parts of the guitar or piano and then switching out the backing track for my own drums or other instruments. :smiley:

I’m running inputs:

  1. Electric Guitar
  2. Acoustic Guitar
    3&4) Digital Piano
    5&6) iPad audio out for eg 909 drum app or other
    9&10) Mac Loopback for listening to eg backing track, midi website
    11&12) USB Condenser Mic

I can then add midi instruments and drums and other tracks directly in the DAW and any fx on any channel.

And outputs:
1&2) Stereo out to Monitors and Blackhole for Loopback to eg OBS, Zoom, QuickTime
3&4) Stereo out to Headphones also with metronome and backing track audio channels

This way I can record only my original parts but listen along to other audio.

Next step is to learn to sing…! :grin:

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As I’ve commented on in the respective threads but for completeness of the Learning Log - I enjoyed taking part in the JG Open Mic last night. Everyone was amazing and massive thanks to Brian, Dave, Adrian and everyone for organising and for all the work going into it. :smiley:

I thought I’d note a few things I learnt which will maybe be of use for me to remember next time… While I practiced the routine and the song many times, the actual experience on the day went very differently but on reviewing the video - I was smiling a lot more than I expected so looks like I enjoyed it… :grinning: I’ve a few setup things to tweak like reducing other software running, checking latency with a zoom recording beforehand and kicking everyone else in the house off the internet beforehand… :grinning: It took me a while to get over the couple of mistakes where I completely dropped where I was but am grateful for the positive support and comments that followed. :blush:

When I now listen back I can now put my ‘critique’ of parts of my performance aside and enjoy that I put my self forward, went through with it and am excited for the next opportunity. I really want to get to a point where I can happily play in ‘social’ (bbq / camping) settings with family and friends and this has given me massive confidence boost to keep going. It’s really helped me think differently about how I play - its another level compared to practicing or recording - but almost better in a way - the focus is on the moment. Again - am massively grateful to past, present and future organisers and participants that enable this safe and warm community and atmosphere for us all to learn! :grinning:

I’d really recommend it to anyone on the fence as to having a go at an Open Mic!

As to a wider update on my Guitar journey… I’ve been working on a number of songs so am getting more confident on a few of the techniques. I’m probably going to spend a bit longer (a month or two maybe) working on repertoire and putting together song book / chord / capo reminders in an easy way and also having a playlist I can jump about on to enjoy playing along to.

I hadn’t recorded anything for a while but promised Toby I’d post here one he suggested once I’d spent some time on it… :grinning: Its got quite a few chords in it… Like all of them :joy: Its not a short song so don’t feel need to listen to it all (or at all)… Am looking forward to working on singing along for future videos but that will be a way off…


Good update Al and it was great having you at OM yesterday, great debut from your end and you will see how those performances are going to help you step up your game significantly. Your American Pie version is a nice one for next OM if you wish, guitar sounds really good love the tone! :slight_smile: all the best

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