Well, I’ve finally decided to start a Learning Log. (I have to apologise but this turns into a bit of an epic).
I read quite a few of the regulars logs on here and always decided against my own as I felt it was a bit of case of “nothing to see here” However it then occurred to me that there is the potential to be missing out on good advice by not having a log that at least gets updated occasionally and also hopefully it will be a good place to look back at and see how my progress has been, so here we are.
I was first handed guitar some 48 years ago by a family friend that played, he taught me some basic chords and played Streets Of London by Ralph McTell that really resonated with me as a northern Kentish boy at the time. Yes, 48 years later I can’t believe how stupid I was not to pursue it through life; I’d probably be playing like Carlos Santana now instead of fumbling around with cowboy chords and getting frustrated with barre and power chords! By the way I still can’t play Streets Of London properly due to that dammed F chord.
Likewise my music theory went untapped. At school we learnt all about key signatures, clefs, quavers, semi-quavers etc etc and how to understand music notation, which I seemed to get on well with at the time. But apparently in my teens I had other things on my mind and so my music classes were another thing that drifted and were never pursued, another “if only” moment gone by J
Following this as the years went by I would at times go through phases of picking up the guitar and attempting a song by looking up chords and I even remember replicating (of sorts) the intro to Apache by The Shadows by ear! Maybe I should add that to my list again now? Unfortunately, there were many things through my younger years that distracted me but………… spilt milk and all…….
As I stumbled through life other hobbies like boats, motorbikes, flying (and yes flying is a lot easier than playing guitar as it turns out ) work, family, life in general just took over as I am sure is a familiar case with many.
As we come to some more recent years (well, not really that recent) my wife had bought me my trusty Yamaha that I still play. Some traction and momentum was gained just by watching people playing tutorials on Youtube and having a go this was followed by the discovery of UG where I would (and still do) look up easier chord versions of songs to play. Around this time I had also discovered JG Youtubes although not really the website. I watched many of Justins Youtubes and would work on parrot fashion versions of them.
Finally, (and now this is more recent ) all of this led me to Justins web pages and courses. In Sept 2021 I retired at 58 and suddenly I had all this time on my hands . And so since then ball has well and truly started rolling and finally after all these years I’m committing time and energy to something that I truly get so much pleasure from in not only the playing but the singing too. I guess the old saying “it’s never too late”……. I do still look back at those wasted years though! (mmmm, sounds like a good line for a song )
At this point, I still look at the efforts of many of our regulars and wonder if I will ever make it that far, I’m sure learning as we get older is harder and slower but I hope to be able to get to the point that I understand the fundamentals behind the playing that allows us to improvise in so many different ways, instead of just repeating something watched or read. Unfortunately I was never really a patient person , but have always been the type that completely immerses in what they are doing lock stock and barrel so fingers crossed.
Late last year I started converting a bedroom into my music room, it’s a work in progress and functional for now but will look good when it’s finished.
So, after all that, where am I at right now? Let’s have a look……
Yamaha FG400A Acoustic Dreadnought. (This was transformed by a Pro-Setup at my music shop).
Fender Squire Paranormal Offset Telecaster.
Boss Katana 50 MkII
Boss RC1 Loop Station
Behringer UMC202HD Audio Interface
Mic Shure SM58
Headphones Audio Technica ATH-M40x
JG Beginner Grade 2 Mod8 (I spent a long time in G1, I tend to overthink things )
Practical Music Theory Grade 4 Mod 4.1 (although slowing this down to concentrate on the practical side)
Ear Training (when I get chance)
Current Guitar Work:
A, Am, D, Dm, E, Em, , C, G, Chord ONCs are around 110-135
Stuck 3 & 4 chords – Pretty comfortable. Fingering is fine, working on moving from the standard chords to and from the stuck chords.
There’s a few other chords I’m ok with that I’ve used on different songs such as G7 and various Sus chords mainly used for embellishments, I just really need to remember the names of them.
Riffs: Seven Nation Army, Peter Gunn, Sunshine Of Your Love, Come As You Are. – All pretty good some are sharper than others and it’s part of my regular warmup.
Wonderful Tonight Intro – a regular warmup item to practice picking and an intro to bending and bending to the correct note – going well.
Scales & patterns as per Beginner G1 have been ok and easily remembered. Playing them also I’m happy with but struggling to visualise their practical use too much yet.
Strumming was always a hurdle. Even probably 18 months ago I wasn’t playing all the way through songs as strumming and timing was an issue.
I still find trying to work a set U D U U D against the backdrop of 1 E & A 2 E & A etc etc hard. If I think about it, it falls apart but if I know the song I am playing and let the lyrics and pattern just flow how I feel it then it just happens and at this stage I think it sounds ok (feel free to check it out in my AVOYPs if you like). This approach is probably fine on my own but I am guessing may be a problem if I was playing with others but it’s still something to work on.
Short Term Goals:
I feel my playing limited and held back by my lack of barre chords and perhaps power chords. So, my shorter term goal in keeping with the level I’m at is to really try to nail barre chords initially to the point where I can move to and from them comfortably.
Mostly I don’t remember these off by heart but use my songbook. As time goes by songs will be committed to memory but for now I know them well enough and I’m trying to remember a lot of more important info.
These are my comfortable basic playthrough list that I can play but continue to experiment with as well. As techniques improve I will hope to revisit some and improve them.
Just Another Moment On Your Own – Redgum (AVOYP)
Mad World – Gary Jules (AVOYP)
Heroes – David Bowie (AVOYP)
Knocking On Heavens Door – Bob Dylan (AVOYP)
Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Leaving On A Jet Plane – John Denver
I Was Only Joking – Rod Stewart
Short Term Songbook Aspirations
Currently playing around with these but there are some hold ups as listed.
I Was Only 19 – Redgum – Hold up F
Knights In White Satin – Moody Blues - hold ups are F and B7
The Final Cut – Pink Floyd – Hold ups are F#m & Bm.
Behind Blue Eyes – Limp Bizkit – Hold up Bm7
Overall Longer Term Goals
Play pick and fingerstyle through full songs.
Improvise leads even if fairly basic.
Be able to recognise & play progressions.
Play more with other people.
Well, if you have read this far, well done, but at least from now on I can just add short updates on progress. And if you have read this far, thank you for your interest Oh! and watch this space for a NGD update coming soon