I love it when the light bulb goes on and you can consolidate information from seemingly unrelated lessons to create a new way of doing things tailored to your needs that enhances your guitar journey. Inspired by several of Justin’s Grade 3 non-technical lessons, including 3 Types of Songs You Should Practice and Learning to Sing in Module 19 and The Spacing Effect and Singing & Playing at the Same Time in Module 20, I recently developed a Guitar Song Learning Tracking spreadsheet that I would like to share with the community.
Click the link below to access the spreadsheet template.
The Guitar Song Learning Tracking spreadsheet is designed to track the progress of each of your songs from the date the song is chosen until one year after the “Campfire Plus” revision milestone has been achieved. The time that it takes to complete the process for a particular song will vary subject to numerous factors unique to the song and the individual.
The purpose of this initial entry in my Learning Log is to explain how to use the Guitar Song Learning Tracking spreadsheet. The spreadsheet includes three tracking sections and three information sections. All sections are illustrated with relevant screenshots for a song just getting underway. The three tracking sections are as follows:
TRACKING SECTION #1 – DATE SONG TYPE ASSIGNED (Screenshot #1)
An important assumption built into the spreadsheet is that you initially designate each song as either “Dreamer” or “Developer.” The date of all assignments of Dreamer, Developer, and Campfire Plus song status should be entered in the Date Song Type Assigned section of the spreadsheet (Screenshot #1) when the applicable status has been attained. Please refer to 3 Types of Songs You Should Practice for detailed information regarding the various song types.
Justin defines “Campfire Songs” as “songs you should be able to play with ease.” He also has a “Campfire Plus” subcategory that includes songs that “are not easy but that you have put effort into and can now play comfortably.” To keep things simple, the Campfire Plus designation on the spreadsheet includes “Campfire” and “Campfire Plus” songs.
If you assign a particular song as “Dreamer,” you should reassign it to “Developer” when it meets the latter category’s criteria. You should reassign each song from “Developer” to “Campfire Plus” status after completing Step #10 of the Date Song Learning Step Completed section (see Tracking Section #2).
TRACKING SECTION #2 – DATE SONG LEARNING STEP COMPLETED (Screenshot #2)
Tracking Section #2 tracks the completion of each of the ten steps in Justin’s 10-Step Method for Singing and Playing Guitar introduced in his Singing & Playing at the Same Time lesson. Justin developed his 10-step method to provide students who want to cover their favorite songs with a systematic approach for learning how to sing and play a guitar song at the same time.
Although I’m just beginning to do it, I believe that learning how to sing is an important skill for any guitar player even if you never plan to sing in front of anyone. Assuming that you’re on board with this, you can track the progress of each of the ten steps of the song-learning process. Please feel free to modify Section #2, however, if learning how to sing songs while playing them on the guitar isn’t your thing. See Justin’s Learning to Sing lesson for a discussion of 10 points to begin your singing journey if you’re new to the game.
Important Point: As noted in blue next to the “Date Song Learning Step Completed” and “Campfire Plus Song Calendar Revision” (see Tracking Section #3) headings in each respective section, each item should be practiced in 5-minute blocks of time. This is in accordance with the “How to Easily Memorize Almost Everything” section of Justin’s The Spacing Effect lesson.
TRACKING SECTION #3 – CAMPFIRE PLUS SONG CALENDAR REVISION (Screenshot #3)
As stated in Tracking Section #1, you should reassign each song from “Developer” to “Campfire Plus” status after completing Step #10 of the Date Song Learning Step Completed section. Once the latter status has been achieved, it’s time to begin tracking your song in the Campfire Plus Song Calendar Revision section. This section was designed using Justin’s The Spacing Effect lesson. As Justin states, “the Spacing Effect technique will help you memorize many things you can access when needed.” The technique can be applied to guitar to help you memorize songs and licks.
The Campfire Plus Song Calendar Revision section of the Guitar Song Learning Tracking spreadsheet incorporates Justin’s six recommended time intervals for revisiting a song: 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. Once Campfire Plus status has been achieved for a particular song, the “Scheduled” column for each of the six intervals should be completed with each of the six applicable dates using the date that this level has been achieved. The date on which each song has been successfully revisited for each of the six milestones should be entered in the applicable “Completed” column when each milestone has been achieved.
In addition to tracking key dates, the Guitar Song Learning Tracking spreadsheet includes important “high-level” information that’s relevant to learning each song. The information is located in the following three sections:
Basic Information and Guitar Grade (Screenshot #1)
Basic Information includes the date each song is chosen, the song title, and the artist.
Guitar Grade includes each of the six grades corresponding to the difficulty level assigned by Justin to each of the songs in his lessons. A grade should also be assigned to other songs you’re learning using your criteria.
Type of Guitar (Screenshot #1)
The Type of Guitar section includes acoustic, electric, 12-string, and bass. Please choose multiple guitars as applicable, e.g., electric and bass.
Miscellaneous (Screenshot #4)
The following six items are included in the Miscellaneous information section:
- Open Tuning
- Capo Fret No.
- Beats Per Minute
- Time Signature
Beats per minute and time signature should be used for all songs. Strumming and fingerstyle should be checked as applicable. Open tuning, if applicable, should indicate the type of open tuning, e.g., drop D, double drop D, open G, open D, etc. See Justin’s Grade 3 Module 18 Open Tuning Basics lesson for information on how to get to and use the various types of open, or alternative, tuning. Capo fret no., if applicable, is self-explanatory.
Once again, the three information sections are intended to provide “high-level” relevant information for learning each song. With the exception of beats per minute and time signature, both of which are included in the Miscellaneous information section, the purpose isn’t to replace things that you would normally include on a song lead sheet such as chord symbols, melody, repeats, arrangement directions, and lyrics. Having said this, please feel free to modify the Miscellaneous information section to suit your particular needs.
As I have learned from my nine-month guitar journey with Justin, planning, organizing, and goal setting play a huge role in determining one’s ability to evolve as a guitar player/musician, stick with it, and enjoy the process at each step. This certainly applies to song learning. I hope that my Guitar Song Learning Tracking spreadsheet, the development of which was stimulated by Justin’s various Grade 3 lessons, helps you plan and organize your song-learning experience and enables you to achieve your guitar and other music goals. Enjoy the ride even if you’re one of those U.K. residents who drive on the wrong side of the road! (I’m a Southern California Anglophile who’s been there, done it several times, and survived.)