Dan's Learning Log

Time to start a log to document my progress. For the record, I’m Dan. I turned 55, stopped traveling in our motorhome full time and bought a house last year. Before we sold our old house and began traveling, I owned three guitars and was learning to play…sort of. I could play several songs (Seek & Destroy sans solo, Pipeline, Highway to Hell and maybe a couple of others) and I practiced random other skills with no direction or plan. I was reading tab, learning songs or parts thereof but with no real purpose.

Well, we sold the house, went full time and the guitars had to go. That was fine as my interest waned. Parroting songs just wasn’t fulfilling. Skip ahead to 2021 and COVID and my dad’s health caused us to get off the road and get a home base. But that meant I could pick up old hobbies with my new found space.

So I sold a few things to pay for a guitar and amp. I wanted to play again but with purpose and really learn the guitar. I ended up with a Yamaha Pacifica 112J in Candy Apple Red, which was a really hard to find in stock, and a Positive Grid Spark 40 amp. I didn’t want to sink a lot of money into this since I’d already given up playing once but I’m very happy with the gear.

I received my gear in early February and promptly came down with COVID but it was a mild case and in a week or so I was ready to get started. Anyway, I searched for an online course (I learn better on my own) and remembered Justin. I started Grade 1 despite having some knowledge and skills and glad I did. I needed and wanted the foundation.

I knew my open chords and could play them well enough but changing was slow and clumsy at best. Strumming was not something I ever really learned or worked on. But, the riffs, rhythm, playing in time and such were pretty easy, though I was rusty. I’m already in the final consolidation phase and a lot of it came back to me quickly. But chord changes and strumming were/are tough. I’m getting there and probably proficient enough to pass myself but I’m going to practice for a few more weeks and let it all sink in.

However, the wife and I just took a 4 day trip and today was my first day practicing again. The break did wonders. Chord changes/minute went up significantly. I was strumming well while changing, something that had been difficult prior. And I actually was able to do all that while singing. My brain was doing it’s thing in the background while I vacationed, apparently.

Anyway, I’m currently working on Wish You Were Here, Wonderful Tonight and Hey Joe (including the riff) all with open chords. Wish You Were Here is the song I was singing along with. So much fun. Chord changes still aren’t perfect but not horrible (darn C chord!).

My ultimate goals are to play songs by ear, improvise riffs and solos, play chords, strum and sing along and generally use the guitar creatively and expressively. I will start on Grade 2 in a few weeks and I’m working on the ear training course on the side. I will also go through the theory course and pick out some favorite songs to learn but go beyond open chords and strumming and learn them as recorded, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Anyway, I’ll update this when I hit milestones or make breakthroughs. Thanks for reading and comments are welcomed.


Excellent start to your learning log. Your journey is very similar to a lot of folk on here. Guitar looks great, I like the colour, very nice choice. It’s good that you started from the very beginning. That will help you out a lot in the long running, getting those basics firmly consolidated. That’s a great selection of songs your working on. Chord changes will improve as you practice. Throughout the learning experience we will face more chords we have difficulty with but with the right attitude and patience will overcome them. That’s some good goals you have set yourself. Look forward to future updates. Keep up the good progress.

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Looking forward to following your progress, Dan. Isn’t the brain remarkable … able to learn all on its own when you thought it was on vacation with you. Keep on keeping on and I hope you’ll share recordings of you playing and singing soon in #record-yourself-progress-performance:audio-video-of-you-playing

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Welcome Dan, sounds like a bit of a jump start on Justin’s courses with what you had in the locker, so excellent progress. As David said share some songs and report back on progress.


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A little insider info, until recently I had a fairly successful YouTube channel. But it began to feel like work and it was just for fun so I retired. But I’ve got the equipment and know how to shoot a good video. I just need a little more polish on the playing. I won’t lie, I’m comfortable talking on camera but playing kind of scares me. But pushing boundaries isn’t a bad thing.

Hey Dan, welcome to the community, thanks for a great learning log. We are currently doing the big lap (circumnavigating the continent of Australia) in our RV and thoroughly enjoying entertaining other campers with campfire songs on the guitar. Look forward to more posts from you.

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Looking good there Dan and yes sometimes a little break can do wonders :slight_smile: interested to see how you are getting on!

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Can’t lie, Dan, making and sharing that first recording is a scary, vulnerable moment. The folks here are super supportive and encouraging, so sharing unlisted is really safe and the feedback and encouragement is invaluable.

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Like I said, I’m very comfortable talking on camera but playing guitar is a whole other thing entirely. Singing? :flushed: Then again, I do sing quite a bit while driving and if I become as exuberant expressing myself musically and I was talking on camera, watch out! :laughing:

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Update 1:

Well, after watching Nitsuj’s last Grade 1 practice, I decided it was time for me to move on. Chord changes and fingering need polishing but the rest was decent to good. I learned five songs and could play along with either the app or the record. They included:

  • Three Little Birds
  • For What It’s Worth
  • Wonderful Tonight
  • Hey Joe
  • Wish You Were Here

I did play almost everyday with my wife listening so I satisfied the play in front of someone task, more or less. I was also able to sing along with Wish You We’re Here, something I could never even attempt in the past. But it just clicked one day and I now can juggle the chords, changes, simple strumming and singing with some success. I will post some performance videos at some point.

Anyway, I watched all the videos for Grade 2, Module 8 and began practice today. First off, I’m really enjoying all the new stuff to learn. As before, my previous attempt at learning guitar helps in some areas but not all. Second, the practice was way harder than Grade 1. I split up my song practice between four songs. Now my pinky finger and my brain both hurt. So many stuck chords, strumming patterns, new songs and more!

The songs are:

  • Wish You Were Here (improved version with the lesson riff)
  • Hey Joe (again, improved version with some embellishments and riff)
  • Every Rose Has Its Thorn
  • Take it Easy (Little bit of a “Developer Song” but I have come to enjoy it after visiting Winslow, AZ and standing on the corner last fall)

Lot’s of strumming patterns to learn but I’m managing. Even was able to play the Every Rose Has Its Thorn strumming pattern already! Changing chords is another matter, however. The D7sus4 chord in Take it Easy hasn’t proven to be much of a problem. Just needs some chord perfect and OMC practice but it’s relatively easy to finger and switch to/from.

Anyway, I definitely feel challenged but I don’t feel like I’ve suffered any setbacks due to the avalanche of new lessons. Honestly, I’m eager to push myself but I know I need to practice until Module 8 is locked in. Nailing all those songs before Module 9 probably isn’t going to happen but I think I’m going to set aside additional practice time dedicated to songs, at least as long as I’m not overwhelmed.

Signing off for now…


Hey Dan,

Sounds like you’re goin really well there mate, and have a good sense of self- assessment. You’re in for a whole lotta fun and challenges in Grade 2 as things start to move along, but it sounds like you’re up for it.
Impressive re the singing and playing together - not exactly an easy thing to do.
I encourage you to post up an AVOYP when you’re ready. It’ll help you in ways you can’t imagine.

Looking forward to see you progress.
All the best


Honestly, I know the words to Wish You Were Here by heart as well as the song itself. I could concentrate on the chord changes and the singing was automatic, more or less. It didn’t fall into place as easily on other songs I tried.

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Great update, Dan, sounds like you are progressing wonderfully. Keep doing what you’re doing and I look forward to the AVOYP posts when you are good and ready to record and share.

Grade 2 - Module 8

I’ve decided to update this log after each module. I’ve also decided to pass myself on to module 9. It’s only been a week but I feel I’m ready. Again, I’ve played before so I’m not a beginner beginner, if you know what I mean. Because of that, much of this lesson came pretty easy.

I’ve also seen some progress on my chord changes. I can play the Wish You Were Hear riff well enough but I haven’t added it into the open chord version, which I play pretty well along with the record. I can play Hey Joe with the app full speed with confidence including the little riff during the 2 bars of E chord. I’m working on the longer riff in as well. I can also play Every Rose Has Its Thorn with the app full speed and it doesn’t sound bad.

As for he criteria to pass module 8:

  • I know the stuck chord and their names. (came pretty easy, I’d played these before)
  • I can play the open E pentatonic scale at 80 bpm and beyond. (I’ve done this before)
  • I can play the 8th note strumming pattern at 80 bpm and beyond with confidence.
  • As I said, I can play the WYWH riff decently. (Again, I used to play this in the past, though my fingers have no memory but it is familiar)
  • I’ve learned a couple of songs, Every Rose Has Its Thorn and You Shook Me All Night Long.
  • I know the notes in the open position, if not strictly memory. I have to work one out now and then.
  • I played Every Rose Has Its Thorn with the app several times through this morning and I wasn’t half bad.

But I did learn a few things. First off, I can practice several hours a day but not day after day. I was getting a bit punchy after 3 days. My playing got worse! I took a day to just practice songs and it really helped to just mess around and I was better for it when I returned to more regimented practicing.

Also, I see the value in Justin’s advice to practice what you need to play songs and not grind on everything. You’d go crazy with all the possible chords, changes, scales, notes, riffs, etc., etc. But meeting the minimum criteria to pass is a must I think. Just take from that foundational knowledge what you need to move along your path.

I know Justin suggests 2 weeks for this module but I’ve been going at it hard. Sometimes 3-4 hours a day. I was fired up. Plus, some of this isn’t new to me. So off I go to Module 9, the F Chord…dun, dun, DUN! I doubt I’ll be ready to move on after just a week.

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Enjoy your updates, Dan, all sounds sensible to me. All I’d suggest is to add sharing recordings (probably did so before as I always do and forget specific responses), which may provide helpful feedback. Have fun with G2M9.

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Just a small update. F Barre Chord is coming along, the “mini” F is nigh impossible. The rest is going swimmingly. But the songs! I’ve hit a wall. My mind is a awash with chords, changes, rhythms, etc. I fire up the app, start a song to practice and…uh…what…oh yeah, right…why can’t I make this change…why are all those strings muted…Oh, I’m playing the E instead of the Am…wait a minute, those are the wrong chords altogether!

I guess this is part of the process but I definitely feel like I’ve regressed here on Module 9. Powering though. I’m sure it will all click at some point. On the plus side, my pinky is developing a nice callus. :grin:

Good to hear F is progressing, Dan. As for mini F I am in year 6 and having the control to make the mini barre and curl the fingers for the other notes … slowly getting there. So keep on and you you’ll keep on progressing through ups, downs and long long plateaus (in my case)

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I physically can’t get my fingers oriented the way Justin has them in the video. I’ve watched it several times and tried to emulate. Not happening. I thought “cheats” were supposed to be easier. LOL

Hi Dan, good progress. Is like that, some days it sounds better than others but when you less think you are doing the exercise reasonably well and you can move to the next.

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I"m about to pass myself on to Module 10. Part of me feels like I’m moving too fast but when I look at Justin’s criteria and remember I used to play and have experience with some of this, I think I’m ready.

Despite that, I’m glad I started form scratch. Chord changes and strumming were not something I worked on before. It’s added a new dimension to my playing and learning. The structured practice helps too.

It’s my songs that need work. Putting it all together is challenging. But that’s also the fun part and part of me wants to slow down and spend time working on that. But solos, finger style, 12 bar blues…I’m so eager to learn that.