🎸 BurnsRhythm’s Burning Ambitions

Hey up! I’m David from North Lancashire.

My first attempt to learn guitar was in my 30’s. That story would read as- How not to do it!
I picked my guitar up again in summer 2021 and messed around with it, on and off, for the rest of the year pretty much as in the previous attempt.

I’m 62 now and I hope this log will build up to read as a success story.

January 2022

In early January I started practicing with justinguitar grade 1 module 1 and I signed up a few weeks later.

I’ve been doing the chord exercises in modules 1 and 2.
Over the month I’ve got all the changes with A D E up to 60 changes a minute.
I find strumming and picking easy at this level.
The Peter Gunn riff is easy for me, although I can’t keep my fingers over the frets because of the stretch.
Later in the month I started learning songs with A D E I can’t do any from memory yet but I’m working on it. It all goes pear shaped when I sing. Terrible. I never could sing. I’m not beating myself up about it though, I’m learning to make my guitar sing!

Moving in to February, I’m about to start practicing in module 3 and continuing to learn my A D E songs.
I’m happy with my first month.
I feel I now have focus, structure and direction in my learning. Motivation is a bit of a problem. At 62 and working long hours, I don’t always feel like practicing. Sometimes it’s easier to watch a bit of telly and then sleep! But I do what I can.

I’m keeping going.


Great stuff and welcome to the community. When I started I didn’t expect to sing as I’d been told it was a lot harder so my wife sung the first song I learned, Blowin in the wind. After she’d sung it probably 50 or 60 times I accidentally started singing along in the chorus. Then I realized it wasn’t so hard. y

There is a lesson where Justin talks about singing and playing, one of the secrets is to know the song really well (as far as playing goes) before you attempt to sing. That’s effectively what happened to me.

Keep at it, it’s worth it.

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David, one more excellent step that’ll contribute to achievement … starting your Learning Log.

Sounds like you are fully engaged and powering ahead, making progress.

Singing is not obligatory, but if you are maybe it is not as pear-shaped as you think. I’ve heard folk say this repeatedly over the years and when they share some singing it has almost never been as bad as they thought. I think we all have an aversion to hearing ourselves on recordings, even talking can be hard to hear, and singing more so.

You may not sing like Bob Dylan but still may be more than acceptable to sing along as you play and to share a recording here when you reach that point. And even if you don’t play and sing, I do encourage making and sharing recordings in #all-about-your-music:audio-video-of-you-playing

Keep on keeping on!

Thank you both for your comments.
Quick question- how do I get the orange username when I’m referring to someone in a reply?

Hi Tony. Blimey! I bet your wife is itching to move on to your 2nd song.
I find that having the lyrics and melody in my head help me to learn the song. Without that it’s just a chord progression. You’re saying that Justin’s lesson sort of puts it the other way round. Where can I find this lesson?

Hi David, I’ve been reading about you in the Newsletter. Congratulations on your new role.
I think a log is a good step. I’ve never been a “look at me “ sort, I’m doing it more for myself so that I can see my journey from humble beginnings to….who knows what. I’m sharing it here knowing that others will see it and maybe comment and advise. But that’s good, I’m always open to advice.
The only advice I can give right now is “if you practice doing it wrong, you’ll always do it wrong “ I know this is true because I used to be an expert!

Thanks again, I’ll switch the amp on tonight and do some more keep on keeping on stuff.

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If you use the little reply arrow at the bottom of someone’s post (beside the ’like’ heart icon) your reply should be targeted to that person. However, my experience of this is it seldom works. If you want to reply to someone in particular the best way is to include their username like this. @BurnsRhythm That way they get notified of your reply.

Hi @sairfingers Thanks for the techno lesson.
Another question. I have a photo on my profile but it doesn’t appear on the community. Any ideas?
By the way, I can’t find a way back to the website and I’ve seen a chat about it on here somewhere saying that there isn’t a way. Just now when I was looking at the photo problem I went to community menu bars-update profile- and it took me back to the website into my account.

Learning log February 2022

I wasn’t planning to do my learning log until the end of the month, but practice isn’t going well.
At the start of the month I replaced A D E chords with Am Dm Em and continued as was. I was also learning chord progressions for songs but they sounded dull and boring with just down strums on the beat. It all started to feel regimented and tedious.
My practice time is limited and can only be at the tired end of the day. My enthusiasm waned and now my practice sessions are few and far between.

I need to change things. I’ve looked through the rest of Grade 1 and picked out all the strumming lessons. My plan is to work through these and build them into my chord progressions to try and make my playing sound and feel more interesting. I’m going to focus on rhythm, new chord practice can wait.

I haven’t started on this yet but thought I’d share it here and maybe someone will tell me if my plan is a good one.

I think working on strumming along with the 6 chords sounds like a fair plan, David. You might consider purchasing the Strumming Technique course and working through the first stages of that.

The early stages are tough as one lays that foundation, but persevere and you will become more musical, enjoy playing the songs more.

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David. I think you’ve reached that critical stage when many feel they want to give up. You’re not progressing as fast as you’d hoped.
Stop and think. Are you better than you were last week? Of course you are and you’ll be even better next week.
This is a slow journey that takes years, not months. You started this Log and Justin’s course In January I think. Give yourself a chance.

You say things are sounding regimented and tedious. I’m afraid that’s the reality. 3 chords and some downstrums won’t ever sound great so ditch the Am, Dm, Em chords for the moment and concentrate on your ADE chords and strumming technique as you’ve suggested yourself.
Once you’ve got some up strums into the equation things will sound a lot better.
With A, D and E and a strum pattern like DDUUD you can play hundreds of songs.

Stick in and good luck.


Hi @BurnsRhythm, the suggestion put forward by @DavidP is a very good one. It’s a very good course.

In your post, you mention that you have replaced the A,D & E chords with the Am, Dm & Em at the start of the month but getting fed up with doing just down strums on the beat.

As part of the lessons for those minor chords, you will have been introduced to strumming patterns with ups, including old faithful.

When it comes to playing the songs, once you’ve got the chord progression worked out, you can apply those strumming patterns you have been learning.

Check out Justin’s song videos on the website. You can filter it by grade and by chords.

Stick in and you will get there. It will sound a lot better now your learning strumming patterns like old faithful.

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You’re in the Danger Zone, David! The zone where 9/10 of new players get bored and discouraged and abandon the guitar. I have gone through this so many times in the just over 2 years since I started this journey, I can’t count. What keeps me in it is the realization that my frustration is normal; my feeling stuck is normal; my feeling like I should be a lot better than I am at this point is normal; etc.

One of the first things I realized after the first few weeks is that this is actually a LOT HARDER than I thought it would be. At first I thought it was just because of a lack of talent and ability on my part. I had thoughts like “those people that can play guitar have something I don’t have. More natural talent. Started younger. Musical background.” Stuff like that. Gradually my thoughts shifted a little bit. Yes, those people do have something I don’t have, in almost all cases: YEARS of perseverance. Not a few weeks or even months, but YEARS of working hard. They have all gone through the doldrums and boredom of feeling stuck on whatever level they are on at different points.

What I realized is that 1) my assumptions that other people just have something that makes them able to play guitar turns out to be a little insulting - what those people have is something they EARNED; 2) they earned it over a prolonged period of hard work; and 3) if I want to reach any particular ability with the guitar I will have to commit to working hard for a long time!

So, it just means that you have to set realistic expectations for how long it will take, but accepting that shift in perspective does help keep me going, and maybe will help you as well.

The other thing is to remember that you are doing this for fun, too. When you are fed up with A/D/E or Am/Dm/Em then do something else for a few days. Don’t make it a slog, break it up.

Just, don’t quit. Not if you really want to play the guitar.


Hi David, Gordon, James and Dave.
Thank you all for your comments, they’re all very helpful and encouraging and they’re all pointing to my plan to focus on rhythm for a while to be the right thing to do.
This was never me giving up though. This is me trying to find a way forward that suits me.

There’s always a way - You just have to find it.

Thanks Dave911 for taking the time to write your piece and post it here. It’s a very good read. I think you should post it on a new topic and make it compulsory reading for everyone.

Thank you all again for your positive feedback.



February 2022 update

During the last week I’ve ditched my practice routine and been playing various strum patterns with chord progressions from a couple of songs. Whilst it’s been fun it’s also shown me where I need to improve. The advice is to do the mundane stuff first and then playing songs is the reward. After long days on the farm I find it’s easier picking up the guitar to have fun first and then with the guitar already in my hands the mundane becomes less mundane and more out of necessity. I’m playing around with this idea and creating a more flexible routine.
It’s been a good week. My enthusiasm is back up and I’ve had some fun.

So that was February. A month of ups and downs, ending on up.


Sounds constructive, David. Keeping it fun, continuing to play, is crucial. After all we pursue this hobby for enjoyment. I like to set myself mini-goals and evaluate my focus every so often, nothing structured and regular about it, but it works for me.

I think so @DavidP I guess we all find a different way of doing the same thing. I’m slowly reading through your way in your learning log. I’ll let you know….if I ever get to the end of it!

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This is the best bit David. With this attitude you’ll be playing and progressing in ways that make you proud of yourself. Whether you sing or don’t doesn’t have to be a road block.

Haha, she was very patient with my beginner level progress. And still is.

Probably better to watch Justin’s lesson on it and draw your own conclusions.

I reckon there is some very good advice in that video. I sing “okay” and I think that is because I’ve always sang along to the songs I listen to and I think have slowly improved over the years. So when he talks about listening to the songs, reading the lyrics and singing along I think Justin has it spot on. Similarly the idea of using simple chords to start with and knowing where the chords change is pretty key…the vocal and chord change doesn’t always sit together which catches a lot out. Generally I will know the song before I start to learn it so that makes sense to me.

Hi @batwoman My inability to sing won’t be a roadblock. My primary school teacher told me I couldn’t sing….and I agreed with her. She also told me that no one else in the school could make the Recorder sing like I could. In fact myself and my sister were the only two from our school to be picked to play in a Recorder concert at the Town Hall along with 50+ other kids from surrounding schools. So there’s singing and there’s singing. People have many goals for their guitar journey’s but I only have one. **Make My Guitar Sing **

Thanks for your encouragement Maggie


Thanks @tony for pointing out this lesson. I looked at it a few weeks ago when you suggested it. It made me realise that I was trying to do everything at once. I’m not trying to sing and play but I apply the principles in the lesson to playing. I break it down, keep it simple, then build it up. Justin says to make it automatic. Well it’s not, but if I keep at it…. It will be.