I was going to start with a learning log before I wrote this post, I didn’t because while my goal being here at this time is to formalize my practice routine and make some progress towards my goals and a learning log is an appropriate step I’m not sure what that looks like. I’m writing this instead because I don’t know what should be in that log and I’m hoping to find some guidance.
TL;DR I tried (sort of) Justin’s beginner program up to grade three for a couple years, but didn’t follow the advice to practice with a metronome or work on timing, still suck, trying to figure out how to reset. I am going back and looking at the requirements of each module’s “when you’re ready to move on” and seeing how well I do, digging in where I don’t do well. It’s tedious to be honest, but I don’t know of a better approach. If someone has a suggestion, I am happy to listen!
My first guitar was a dreadnaught given to me by my grandfather when I was in grade school. I broke a string on it rocking out and thought I broke the whole guitar. Hid it away in its case and never played it again. I no longer have it. A sad story to share another time. Kurt blew my mind when he arrived on the scene and inspired me to pick up a guitar. Restart #1. I wanted a strat, cause that’s what my ignorance thought Kurt played, yeah yeah, I know now although he was known to play them occasionally it’s not what he’s known for. Anyway, I ended up with an Ibanez strat style guitar and a Hughes & Kettner solid state with a blue fabric case. I was not a good self-learner and I struggled to get anywhere kinda gave up. Restart #2 Then, a few years later a Canadian band, The Tea Party, released an album called The Edges Of Twilight. It inspired me to try again and to try harder. I even found a “teacher.” A friends older brother. He was the “coolest”. He was a metal dude. He could shred, played all sorts of metal had a flying V. THE COOLEST. He was also a stoner and a high school drop out. I asked if he would give me lessons. “Sure! What do you want to learn dude?” So I played Fire in the Head from The Tea Party in the stereo. He listened once and paused the CD and said “yeah man, you just do this” and he played it back to me perfectly. Now I know it is a power chord with a harmonic percussive across it not unlike in Brain Stew. Not a big deal, but beyond me now and then it looked like magic. Ok, so do this, but what is that…? How? He repeated, “Yeah man, that’s right” and he played it again, but could not elaborate beyond “yeah man, just do this”. I decided I needed more formality in my lessons. I went to an uncle who played. He gave me a photocopied book on the CAGED system and said once you learn this we can start. I didn’t. We didn’t. I sold the Ibanez and the amp.
Restart #3. A handful of decades later my kid is seven years old and I take him to the local music store to explore. He decides he wants Santa to bring him a red strat. Santa delivers a red bullet under the tree that year. To my surprise Santa also delivered an Epiphone SL and Rocksmith for me and the kid to learn guitar together. It was another slow start, but I’m a mature adult now. Well, I’m older at least. I have developed some grit and determination to fulfill this early ambition to learn to play what has remained one of my favourite albums ever.
The kid’s interest waned in and out, but I have mostly kept at it. I discovered Justin’s program and sort of worked my way through up to where he had published at that point, the end of Grade 2 I think. I say sort of because here is the reason behind the Re Re Re starting. I didn’t follow Justin’s advice. I didn’t play with a metronome practicing until I reached his recommended speeds. I practiced strumming with muted strings to make it “feel good” for too short of a time and didn’t use a metronome at all. I didn’t play along with the simplified songs on the app at the beginning for very long. I love Pulp’s Common People, but the simplified wasn’t close enough to the original to engage me, none of the simplified songs were close enough so I either skipped them or spent very little time on them. Enough so I could say “yeah I get it”. I didn’t. I didn’t spend the time getting the rhythm and feel Justin repeats to work on again and again. And as I tried to progress I couldn’t keep up with the songs.
Unrepentant I’ve wasted a couple years with slow progress unwilling to take the time to practice the rhythm & timing work I needed to do. I tried a local teacher during covid, he was ok, but it didn’t work out. I tried another that worked out well for a bit, but the world returned to normal and he’s off touring. I thought if I could just keep practicing certain elements or simple songs it would eventually click. It took too long to realize it’s not going to click until I play with one. Because of this I was/am limited to how much progress I have made or can make. I’ve had enough motivation to try and pick up the guitar and play the little bits I can to keep my finger tips ready for the time it was all going to click or I was finally mature enough to reset. Within that time there have been starts and stops, but not usually more than a few weeks would go by and I’d practice Old Faithful, the E minor pentatonic scale or one of the few songs I could sloppily play, but progress? Not much.
Restart #4 Now I restart once more! I am going back and looking at the requirements of each module’s “when you’re ready to move on” and seeing how well I do, digging in where I don’t do well. It’s tedious to be honest, but I don’t know of a better approach. If someone has a suggestion, I am happy to listen! Thank you if you made it all the way down here.