Brendan's Learning Log

(I liked the look of @GreenRider’s Learning Log template so I stole it – thanks Kevin!)

Hey all, I’m Brendan, 40 year old from Canberra. I’m a white, middle-age, middle-class nerd, and, to borrow a line from Matt Colville, if you looked at me and thought “I bet that guy plays D&D”, you would be correct.

:open_book: Back story

In 2006 I bought a beginner electric guitar kit and tried to teach myself to play with no guidance whatsoever. Got frustrated and gave up. In 2015 or so I got Rocksmith for the PS3 and gave it another go. Put a few hundred hours in over a couple years but ultimately lost my momentum.

In May of 2022, I picked up the JustinGuitar app and have been really diving in to guitar since.

I go into a bit more detail on how I got here in my introduction thread.

:guitar: Gear

  • Ibanez RG421
  • Squier Bullet Strat
  • Peavey Rage 158 amp
  • Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD
  • Rode TR1 condenser microphone
  • no picks!

Ibanez RG421 and Squier Bullet Strat

Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD

Rode TR1 condenser microphone

:star2: Longterm Goals:

  • Able to confidently bust out a guitar among friends and play something enjoyable
  • Rock along to some of the songs I love
  • Pull off some sick riffs, a tasty solo or two and some fingerstyle stuff
  • :ballot_box_with_check: Basic recording and production/mixing
  • Sing in tune

:dizzy: Midterm Goals

  • Run through the JustinGuitar courses as best I can

:arrow_forward: Actually Working on:

  • Digging into Grade 3 of the guitar course
  • Plowing through Grade 4 of the music theory course
  • Dabbling with recording and production
  • Making an attempt at composition and songwriting
  • Trying to tune my voice and ear so that I can tell when I’m on or off pitch
  • Transcribing simple melodies, nursery rhymes and such

:metal: What feels easy/fun for me

  • Basic strumming patterns
  • Simple riffs and lead lines
  • Simple fingerstyle, arpeggios, block chords
  • Thumb muting
  • Theory

:-1: What feels crappy/difficult for me

  • Palm muting/backbeat hits
  • Really fast strumming/tremolo
  • Memorising chord sequences in songs
  • Singing (my pitch sucks)
  • Interval ear training (it’s the worst)
  • Transcribing (failed on the 2nd easiest song in Module 15)

:trophy: Milestones

  • 09 Jul 2022 - Worked up the nerve to post video of myself playing and singing
  • 19 Jul 2022 - Got my first 60 changes in one minute with full barre F
  • 16 Sep 2022 - Released my first original song (?!)
  • 25 Oct 2022 - Moved into Grade 3 of the guitar course
  • 25 Dec 2022 - Bought my second guitar, an Ibanez RG421
  • 28 Dec 2022 - Started the music theory course (quick revision on grades 1 - 3 and then jumping into Grade 4)

:headphones: What I like listening to:

I like a whole bunch of stuff from a whole bunch of musical styles, but most especially I enjoy

  • 70’s and 80’s rock and prog - Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac, Golden Earring, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, Yes, Rush, all that stuff
  • More recent era prog rock/prog metal - TOOL, Plini (of course), If These Trees Could Talk, System of a Down, Karnivool, Muse, etc.
  • Technical melodic metal - Allegaeon, Leprous, The Ocean Collective, Ne Obliviscaris
  • Rémi Gallego “The Algorithm” - gets his own category, because he doesn’t fit into any of them
  • Everything from the Blues Brothers soundtrack

:record_button: Recordings:


I’m a sucker for a well structured learning log, good stuff! I’ve found that my own learning log has helped keep my momentum forward and keep track of my journey, hope it goes the same for you!

I purchased Rocksmith on my Xbox before I found Justin. It’s pretty good, but the delay I got from the console to my guitar was not good at all. So glad I found this site.

Ayyyy, I’m currently running a home game with my buddies through Curse of Strahd, fun stuff!

the delay I got from the console to my guitar was not good at all

That’s interesting, I didn’t have a problem with delay (or, at least, didn’t perceive a problem).

I think Rocksmith does a lot well. The dynamic difficulty thing is very cool. Lots of fun songs. Where it failed for me is the lack of structure and routine. It’s got all the lessons and exercises in there, but you just pick them up, or not, in whatever order and intensity you like. It seems what I really needed, and am now getting from Justin’s lessons, was that slow-paced, highly structured daily practice routine to get those fundamental skills in place.

I feel like once I get to more of an intermediate level, I could go back to Rocksmith and have a much more productive time of it.

Always good to meet another TTRPGer, glad you’re enjoying Strahd. Haven’t played that one myself but I hear good things. I have been playing Mummy’s Mask (Pathfinder 1E) which I do not recommend unless PC death is your idea of good time :grimacing:

Excellent LL start there Brendan :+1:

You’ve clearly got some good skills in the bank but, as always, any lack of structure is always going to lead to a sink or swim outcome. You’ve made a great start to your intro to the community and it’ll be great to track how you get on.

I’ve been struggling to get my group to try a TTRPG that isn’t DnD for a while, lol. It seems PF1e is not a good fit hah! I think I may go Shadowrun since it only uses D6s.

Maybe it’s the Xbox version or just the cable I bought but sometimes it works well and some times I get a bad delay. Yeah, Rocksmiths real strength is that dynamic difficulty which makes it really cool for learning the songs it provides. There are some really good ones in the game + DLC. I plan on picking it back up when I want to learn Cowboys from Hell.

Thanks for sharing the log, Brendan. Good plans and you making progress.

Funny I played DnD at varsity in '85/86. My son came home the one day and said he’s off to play DnD. I earned credibility points when I said I’d also played when I was his age, soooo long ago.

Good write up Brendan and good plan by the looks of it. Too many acronyms here for this old boy. I used to like R&B in the late 60s 70s but the music now bears no resemblance. Don’t recall DnD as a genre but guess it could be Dance and Disco (there be a reason I’d be clueless about that. And as for TTRPGer aint a scooby. Guess I’ve miss a lot of meeting.



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Hi Brendan, now you have a plan and the tools to achieve it. As many we have found, Justin Guitar lessons are so well crafted that is hard with regular practice not to make steady progress at your own pace. Your successive videos of House Of The rising Sun are proof of that.

Just for curiosity,
Is D&D Dragons & Dungeons?
Is TTRPG tabletop role-playing game?

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Fascinating story. I remember being really excited when rocksmith came out and playing it a bit, but for me after the initial buzz disappeared, I didn’t keep using it. I guess I should fire it up again, I’m assuming it’s had a few upgrades as it’s over 5 years since I’ve touched it.

Is D&D Dragons & Dungeons?
Is TTRPG tabletop role-playing game?

Correct on both :smiley: Well, it’s “Dungeons & Dragons” but close enough.

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Hah sorry mate, didn’t mean to be mysterious about it. Nothing to do with musical genre, D&D is Dungeons & Dragons and TTRPG means Table-top Role Playing Game. There are many TTRPGs out there, D&D is the most popular and famous of them.

Haha that explains it. I leave all that for the grandkids. Never got beyond Grand Tourismo and MotoGP style games, as the other stuff never floated my boat. Tomb Raider did my head in but were talking PS1 and I never went further than my PS 2. Like I said old git OFITG ! :rofl:

Oh it’s not a computer game. It’s a table-top game. As in, getting together around a table with your friends. Pencils and paper and dice and maps and beers and pizzas and such.

'Course, these days you can play online, and there are (many) video games that are based on the D&D system, but at its core it’s got nothing to do with computers.

You’d probably love it if you gave it a crack :slight_smile:

@TheMadman_tobyjenner you know he’s right :wink: I had to google out of curiosity to see what it was all about and it has a role made just for you


Great start to your learning log Brendan. Looks like your making some good progress. :+1:

See you goy my back ! :rofl:

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Interesting reading about Rocksmith. I also tried this, but on PC several years ago (never had any latency issues thankfully). I found it really good but preferred to always bump the difficulty up to 100% and the speed down to something really low. I found that the lower difficulties simplified the song so much it didn’t really sound like the song and I would use weird fingerings that wouldn’t work when the difficulty increased. However by going to 100% straight away I got to see the full picture (so to speak) and could learn it “correctly” from the start, albeit at a very slow speed (something I should remember to do these days! :joy:). Should really drag it back out again, would be interesting to see what it’s like to play now :thinking:

Never played D&D myself although always wanted to! Just had no friends that were into the same thing. Did read all the Steve Jackson/Ian Livingstone D&D-style pick-a-path books back in the 80s as a kid, loved them! Not really the same though I guess :sweat_smile:

I know what you mean, when you start out with just one note and then it suddenly evolves into a chord, the retraining can be pretty brutal.

The Dynamic Difficulty thing is a very clever idea, and overall I like what they achieved with it, but it did misfire for me sometimes. The way I like to learn, I think I would have preferred a system that said “hey you’re really crushing this phrase, we think you’re ready to bump it up a level, would you like to do that?” rather than doing it automatically (and mid-song!)

Same, those were pretty cool. I still own a few of those books. I think they were kind of a gateway drug to a full TTRPG for a lot of folks in my age bracket :slight_smile:

There’s never been a better time to pick up D&D if you still want to. It’s very popular and very mainstream now, the tools for playing online are pretty good.

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Wow that’s awesome! I am pretty sure there is a box somewhere (maybe at my mum’s or uncle’s) with 1 right through to 50 in that series. Although they won’t be in great shape as I played them all multiple times :joy: My uncle worked for a book store and had everything, it was like Aladdin’s Cave going to his place as a kid :joy:

Thanks! I’m going to look into that! :+1:

I would recommend D&D Beyond for getting started in the first place How to Play D&D: An Overview for Beginners - D&D Beyond

If you prefer to own the physical books and do it all on pencil-and-paper that’s totally an option, but I find it very convenient to build your character in Beyond and keep track of all your stuff in there.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions, DM is fine. Happy to help out if I can.

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