dobleA's Learning Log

Thanks Tony. Yes, writing the goals has been very well used time for me. It is not a straightjacket. If I achieve them sooner is good. I’ll set new ones. If it takes me more time is good. I would be still playing guitar.

Thanks David. I think the next recording will be Elvis Presley’s Don’t Be Cruel, with all downs strumming that is the only pattern I can play it and sing.

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Thanks Gordon and Darrel. Yes, at the end is all about playing the guitar, the lessons, the practice, learning a new song, are just excuses for grabbing the guitar, in case I needed one. I do not see me singing if I do not play the guitar, I do not see me editing an audio or video if I am not included in it playing the guitar.

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Last weekend I started my Level 9 Beginner Guitar Course [Classic] practice.

I’m having my 40 minute practice routine of the lessons split into two 20 minute sessions. Saturdays are for finger style accompaniment patterns and scales, and Sundays are for chords and strumming patterns.

After each day’s practice of the lessons, I spend from 10 to 20 minutes playing songs I know and practicing new ones I’m learning.

I still have some Level 8 and below practice items in my routine to consolidate them and for a warm-up before practicing the Level 9 items.

In addition, I’m reviewing my F#m and Bm chords to correct my finger placement on them as @DavidP advised me in regard to my Saber que vendras post in the AVOYP section.

I’m practicing my slash chords included in the chord sequences Justin says they are often part of.

It looks it won’t take me very long to play decently the finger style accompaniment patterns introduced in Level 9. I’m looking forward to use T, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 with Can’t Help Falling in Love in the near future.

It looks it’ll take me a while to play decently the Am scale patterns introduced in Level 9. For the blues improvisation, I think that it should be more fluid once the patterns are wired up in my brain.

I am not satisfied with my 12 bar blues. I don’t think I’m feeling the rhythm, just playing the patterns mechanically. I’m planning to try practicing with some of the blues rhythms of the drum machine of the modeller as backing track.

At this point I prefer work on a single new song. I’m working now on Elvis Presley’s Don’t’ Be Cruel. I’ve memorized the structure and the lyrics. I practice separately singing the lyrics only and playing the chords only without the lyrics (Verse: 4 bars of D, 2 bars of G, 2 bars of D and so on) and after that I give it a try to the whole thing. I wanted to play a bass line for the intro I saw somewhere but it looks is beyond my current skills. I’m using the DUDUDUDU strumming pattern Justin suggests in the app. My songbook suggests to use as rhythm a variation of the “old faithful” with an up strum at the end, but I can’t sing and play with that rhythm. I’m trying to speed up the rhythm but I do not think 161 b.p.m. is within my reach now so I’ll settle for whatever I feel comfortable playing and singing.

In parallel to the Level 9 practice, I’m reviewing the lessons of the current Beginner Guitar Course Grades 1 and 2. Just a quick look for now, later, when there is a chance, I’m planning to include in my practice routine the new content of those grades to strengthen my guitar foundations.



A minor pentatonic scale patterns are giving me more trouble than I expected. For my next practice I will work only on one them, ascending and descending, and give more practice time to each of them.

12 bar blues variations are also more difficult for me than I expected. For my next practice I will do the same than with the scale patterns, one variation at the time and more practice time for just that one.

Slash chords and other chords are in due course.

Don’t be cruel is sounding good intro to verse 2 and bridge, not so good after that. I think is a dynamics issue. I think after I increased my volume for the bridge I stayed like that for the rest of the song. I have to pay more attention to my strumming volume. A least I have now a reference of how I would like it to sound. I am not sure if playing standing up played a role. I felt comfortable doing so despite being the first time with this song.

After a while not playing the electric I played it yesterday. Some phrases of The Pink Panther Theme sounded good once I adjusted my finger force to be as subtle as possible. I am using the Opto Tremolo preset of the modeller. It gives a organ like sound playing this song.


Wow, Andres. Your consistency and attention to detail are taking you far. It’s neat that you inspire yourself with goals the way that you do.

And neat acoustic! I’ve heard such great things about Art & Lutherie guitars. Wishing you continued progress at “Don’t Be Cruel” along with your other goals. Blessings!

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Last week I was satisfied enough with the progress of my Don’t Be Cruel cover to post it in the AVOYP section.

Don’t Be Cruel Cover by dobleA

Both the encouragement and improvement geared replies to that post were highly appreciated. I shared the video also in my siblings chat and my younger brother (my older brother in musical things because he has a PhD in music) prepared for me an audio with a beat count per bar on top a sample of my guitar playing; it happened that sometimes I played three or five beats per bar instead of the four that I should be doing. That may have caused what @sairfingers noticed, that some phrases were starting too early.

Yesterday’s new video of Justin is titled Perfectly Starts Slowly. Coincidentally, last practice I went to the basics with Don’t Be Cruel and played the chord sequence slowly and counting beats. I did the same with Yellow Submarine that I’m starting a more focused practice. I practiced the basic chords sequence of this last song with all downs (as my brother had suggested me to start practicing it some time ago). The idea is to have the chord sequence automated before working more on the other strumming patterns that can be used with the song, and before working on how to play and sing it better.

I’m now playing the Pink Panther Theme in the electric with a better control of the sound and a better tone. It may be my next AVOYP post.

My scale patterns and 12 bar blues variations are improving faster once I focused on one at the time with more practice time on each.

Playing the basic 12 Bar Blues rhythm along with a blues rhythm of the modeller’s built-in drum machine has been good experience for me as I do not have the feeling of the blues ingrained. I do not know if I am going to get it, but at least I felt that I’m playing it less mechanically.



After my latest round of focused practice with The Pink Panther Theme I am able to play it in the electrical guitar from memory with few stumbles and some feeling, but I have to work on how to use better the drum machine accompaniment.

The Pink Panther Theme Cover by dobleA

I’ll keep practicing The Pink Panther Theme working in the rhythm accompaniment, but my focused practice subject will now be Yellow Submarine.

Last weekends have been busy with good life stuff so the Level 9 practice has not happened, but I’ve managed to find time for playing songs that I know and practicing songs that I’m working on.

Last Friday I played and sung again Don’t Be Cruel after a couple of sessions practicing the chord changes slowly and counting beats without singing and I felt a better feeling of the timing, at least more aware of when I may be skipping or adding beats.



Last two weekends I’ve been able to do the Level 9 practice as well as the song practice. I finally understood the pattern in the first two minor pentatonic pattern exercises, but only after paying attention to the notes in each triplet instead of trying to read four notes when they are in groups of three. I was also able to play 12-Bar Blues along with blues style drums not only with the basic pattern but also with variations 1 and 2 (at a lower speed). After last practice I archived some items of my practice routine that are not longer necessary, and added one more minor pentatonic pattern exercise and one more 12-Bar Blues variation for the next practice session.

I’ve continued reviewing the revamped beginner course lessons to check what could be worthy for me to spend some time after finishing the Classic Beginner Course. I am already incorporating the lesson about common chord progressions in my strumming practice. Using progressions different than I-IV-V has brought fresh air to my strumming practice and created an opportunity to practice some barre chords. I’ve also given a try to the beginner hamner-ons that I may need for a classical piece I want to play.

Yellow Submarine practice is progressing very slow. Automation of the chord changes has not happened. Last weekend I created a practice backing track using GarageBand and tried to play the chord changes from memory, playing the first verse over and over. I had very small success this first time but it looks very promising strategy. Also I remembered that I had to keep my arm moving even if I am not touching the strings so that, that was a source of distraction in my last practice, should in the longer term help me to keep track of where I am in the bar. As I see it, although the song has its level of difficulty, the song is just showing my current weaknesses with keeping the beat count while strumming that makes harder to synchronize the chord changes and vocals while keeping the groove.

I started practicing the short basic version of Asturias that I want to play. Overall I think I have a better idea now of how I can play it in comparison to earlier attempts. I’ve watched a few YT videos of some pros playing it, Sharon Isbin, Ana Vidovic, John Williams, and the master of masters, Andrés Segovia, between others. For this song I am using the classical guitar sitting posture, guitar sitting on my left leg and using a foot stool I already had. If the posture works well for me, I will use it for other classical pieces that may attempt. For now I am just looping the first phrase that is to be repeated three times only when played for real. My pinky is having an intense workout with this piece.


Nice update Andres and you’ve obviously got some nice direction of what you need to practice, more importantly, where you want to get to. I’ll be really interested to hear how you progress with the classical style work, it’s not an area I know much about at all really!
Best wishes :+1:

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Sounds like all is moving along well, Andres. Thanks for the update and keep at it.


Last weekend I was able to do some Level 9 practice after several weekends of not doing it. Last practice was August 6. Our daughter moving to Canada’s Atlantic Coast for a master degree and my brother coming to visit from Finland left no space for my regular weekend practice, but first things are first.

Still, after reading again my previous post, I can see that I managed to make some progress, specially with the songs. With Yellow Submarine I was able to do the chord progression along with the backing track with quarter strumming on beats 1and 4 for Verse 1 and four eights and two quarters strumming for Verse 2, at 84 b.p.m., practicing each verse separately four times in a row. At the suggestion of my brother I split my GarageBand backing track of drums in two tracks so I could control the volume of the open hi-hat separated from the kick drum and later I decided to do the same with the snare drum and put it in a separate track. Last Saturday I started practicing Verse 1, Verse 2 and Chorus in sequence to have the strumming pattern changes incorporated in the equation.

Asturias is going well. First 7 bars of 70 (simplified short version) are memorized. I am learning the next two bars. I am playing it very slowly, playing the sixteenth notes as eight notes. It is a long term goal, but I may post something when I can play at least twelve bars.

Habanera has been harder for me than Asturias when is marked the opposite in the YT channel I am following for classical pieces. It has triplets and hamner-ons. At the suggestion of my brother, I started to practice it without the bass notes. So far I think it was a good advice as it is something less to get tangled with. Once I am more fluid with what’s happening with strings 1, 2 and 3, I can add the bass notes.

I finished quick reviewing the Beginner Grades 1 and 2 lessons. Not room yet to incorporate selected content in my current practice other than the chord progressions mentioned in my previous post. I gave a try to the beginner hamner-ons exercise and my hamner-ons are in better shape than I expected.

Now to get the most of my practice time till the next pause in October for holidays in Colombia.

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My holidays in Colombia got postponed due to getting COVID-19. Fortunately it was not as bad as it could be and my wife and I have just remnant symptoms slowly disappearing. We’ll give it a try to travelling again this month.

Level 9 practice has happened but progress has been slow.

Yellow submarine is going well. I’m now practicing strumming verses 1 and 2, and chorus and singing verse 1. If I try to sing verse 2 also, my strumming gets derailed so I need more practice on automating that four eights and two quarters strumming. For the last bar of verse 2 I have to think thrice to do the six eights and one quarter strumming and fall in time with the four down strumming of the chorus. So far a big progress from not being able to do the chord progression correctly more than once.

I unearthed my 40 years old notebook of my in person lessons (for some reason I had the idea that I didn’t have it) and last weekend that was long weekend played the first three songs I learnt. I didn’t practice beforehand, just put the notebook on the music stand and hit record. The bass and chord rhythm, and the chord changes were fine but my alternating bass was somewhat rusted. Vocals for the first two were awful but I liked the third one. At least this time I didn’t get cough like Sunday when I tried to sing Don’t Be Cruel.

Chords for these three songs are a I-IV-V progression but the fifth is played as a 7th chord. We actually played E7 as a regular E to simplify and we did not differentiate between major and minor 7th. I did not really know the theory at that time. I just played the chords I was indicated, the main and the second. For C and B7 we fretted the sixth string when playing it. I do not remember if that way of writing down the chords in chord boxes was my own way or the teacher’s way. All three songs are very popular Mexican rancher’s songs (the equivalent of American country music).

Ella (She)

“…She didn’t want to listen me. If their lips opened were to tell me I don’t love you anymore…”

I remember having a hard time keeping a steady 1, 2, 3 rhythm.

El rey (The King)

“…with money or without money I do whatever I want and my word is the law…”

This was a step up, having a rhythm change from bass and one chord to bass and two chords and back.

Renunciación (Renunciation)

“…if only affliction I cause you my life I’ll leave from your presence even if my heart hurts…”

And now it was D, 2nd of D (A7) and G.

I’m now practicing bars 1 to 15 of Asturias. Long way to be able to keep a steady rhythm for those additional 8 bars.

Habanera is getting better. I’ve been focusing on the note length of the triplets and a note that plays as 8th with a dot the first time and repeats as a sixteenth the second time.

P.S. I do not know why in the videos I was checking my chords and right hand position as if I was doing it for the first time :upside_down_face:.


Good update Andres. Keeping at it!

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After my holidays in Colombia and reconnecting with the Andean mountains, I realized that six months have passed since starting my learning log and that an assessment against my six month goals may be worthy.

First some background:

It has been four years and one month since I bought a Hal Leonard guitar method and started what I consider my third phase of guitar learning. I haven’t dumped it at all and once in a while I get back to it (the same than a Reader’s Digest course from the library). I spent about twenty-one months using the books and whatever material I could find useful in the internet (I estimate about 100 hours of not so structured but more or less regular practice in that twenty-one month period).

It has been two year and four months since I registered in the Justin Guitar website and set up my practice routine to go through the lessons of the Beginner Guitar Course [Classic] (I estimate about 200 hours of structured regular practice in that twenty-eight month period).

As stated above, It has been six months since I started my learning log (I estimate abut 50 hours of structured regular practice during that specific time [already included in the 200 hours above mentioned]).

In those six months I’ve achieved the following:

I added Elvis’ Don’t Be Cruel to my repertoire and I’m working on Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and a song for the Open Mic XII. The goal was three rhythm guitar (and singing) songs, so I’m a little behind, but the extra work I’ve done with beat count, while working on Yellow Submarine following a backing track, should be useful down the road, while playing other songs, to avoid beat count issues, like the ones I’ve had with Don’t Be Cruel.

I added Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther Theme to my repertoire both with the acoustic, and the electric with effects. An unsuccessful attempt to use a drum beat with this piece led me to dig deeper with GarageBand and being able to create the backing track I’m using for my Yellow Submarine practice. The goal was one finger style piece and it was achieved.

I’m progressing well with two basic versions of classical pieces, Asturias and Habanera. This goal is for the first year so I’m progressing well to achieve and hopefully surpass it.

I signed up to perform at Justin Guitar Community Open Mic XII. This was not a goal so it is a plus.

What I haven’t achieved:

I haven’t finished Level 9 of the Beginner Guitar Course [Classic]. I think that with this level I have less previous knowledge to draw from. Although I’ve heard some Blues before and I’m aware of their presence in other genres that I like, it’s not something I can connect with easily to play it. Also my hand dexterity has progressed very slowly with the A minor pentatonic scale patterns and 12 Bar Blues rhythm pattern variations, least to be able to put some feeling on it. I have no problem with spending a little more time with this level than I’ve spent with previous ones. At the end the goal is learning the skills not how a fast learner I am.

I haven’t completed JUSTIN ear training exercises S2 to S4. The ear training exercises got sidelined due to time constraints. I have to find a time slot for this as anything that can improve my ability to consciously identify the sounds coming from the guitar can improve a lot my musicianship.

My assessment:

I’m satisfied with my progress so far. No changes necessary except to find a weekly time slot for JUSTIN ear training exercises Next assessment to be in April 2023.


Nice update, Andrés. It’s good to read that you setting goals and assessing your progress.

If you haven’t already done so it worth doing a run through of the new Grade 1 and 2 courses. Everything after BC9 Lesson 2 is not covered in the updated beginners grades 1 and 2. So that would be a good point to recap using the new course to make sure you haven’t missed out on any updated learning material.

Those pentatonic scale patterns and 12 bar blues riff variations can be a little bit tricky. As you know practice slowly and accurately and speed will come along in due course. It’s worth noting that neither is covered in the new Beginners course yet. As for the applied fingerstyle patterns lesson that just recently been added to the Grade 3 lessons. So consider yourself already further developing your knowledge and experience in preparation for Grade 3.


Hi James @Socio. Thank you for your advice. I already went through all the content of Grades 1 and 2 and bookmarked all that I think could be useful for my learning as a complement of the Beginner Guitar Course [Classic]. It’s impressive how Justin was able to reinvent a good and friendly course even better and friendlier. Looking forward to try the riffs and so many other things he included. Yes the minor pentatonic scale patterns and 12 bar blues riff variations are tricky. Far more trickier than I expected. So far enjoying trying to master them before attempting some Blues improvisation.

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I successfully participated in JGC OM XII. I was able to play and sing El último beso, Last Kiss Spanish version, the best I can at the moment and the audience received well my performance. I initially planned to use the chords indicated in a magazine I have, but the chords looked to be at odds with the record, so I got help from my brother to get chords and phrasing right. I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with Eb7 for my debut at the Justin Guitar Community open mics :smirk:.

I shared a video from two years ago of my daughter and I playing live Los peces en el río (The fishes in the river), a villancico de navidad (Christmas carol) in Spanish. That was my only previous experience playing live (for a virtual audience or else of non close relatives).

My daughter and I successfully participated in JG Xmas Bash 2022. A la nanita nana sounded good despite the volume of the sound of the guitar and my daughter’s voice being a bit low (I may have forgotten to turn off the echo cancellation setting). Unexpectedly sometimes it sounded like there was someone playing a tambourine :upside_down_face:. My wife did a recording while we were playing which sounds more like what I had recorded the night before.

Although having a song performance ready and actually performing it in public are excellent guitar exercises, I think that my Level 9 practice could be needing a little push to be able to move on. I will pause with the open mics for now, but I’m already thinking what I could play for the next one I participate.

One spontaneous comment from the audience during my OM participation was “Not a beginner anymore :)”. I’ve been wondering even before that when I could call myself an intermediate player (other than when in a future I could be doing the intermediate grades of Justin Guitar). My latest thought is that there is not going to be a set date, beginner before that, intermediate after that. I am already fluent at my level with some guitar skills and should be more fluent with others as the time and practice passes by.

The skills that would be making me feel a more advanced player are being able to transcribe and being able to transpose on the fly. Beginner Grade 3 includes some transcription practice so when I graduate from that level I should be on the right path to consider myself an intermediate player. I have still plenty of work ahead finishing Level 9, later exploring select Grade 1 and Grade 2 content and finally consolidating what I would have learnt till that moment.

I surprised myself the other day by being able to play and sing the whole Yellow Submarine song by just looking at the chord sequence, without the lyrics in front of me. It was not planned; I just started with Verse 1, that I was already able to do it that way, and carried on till the end. There are some rough spots yet and this was without the backing track, so I expect some fun when the backing track is back into the equation.

I’ve kept practicing the first fifteen bars of the simplified version of Asturias. My goal is still to post in the AVOYP whenever I feel more fluent with it. I think is time to bring the metronome back in. I had used it at the beginning while learning the first three bars, but after adding more bars there was no point of using it until I could have somewhat memorized them

I almost can play the short version of Habanera from memory. The same than with Asturias now the metronome can be beneficial, in this case to polish the main melody before adding the bass accents.

Once I’m done with Yellow Submarine, and post a video of it, I would like to tackle A Horse With No Name to work on a strumming pattern that spans two bars.

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Great read Andres.
Nice work participating in the JG live performances. And it looks like you have also set some good goals to keep yourself busy on that progression path. Keep it up!

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Despite having some days off of work at the end of December during the holidays, my practice was not as frequent as I expected. Once January started, I was able to go back to my regular practice, weekend 1 hour sessions mostly dedicated to Level 9 exercises with some songs at the end, and four weekday evening 15 minute short practice sessions dedicated to the songs I’m working on.

I’ve been able to find a spot Friday evenings for JUSTIN ear training exercises. I’m growing more confident of what I’m hearing and I expect that in a few sessions I could be as sure of the answers to S2 exercises as I was with the answers to S1 exercises when I verified them. I think Justin has a revamped version of ear training but it won’t hurt doing the old exercises and later the new ones.

In January I started reserving the last weekend of the month for repertoire maintenance, extra work on the songs I’m working on, and exploration. I liked having this songs only weekend.

Yellow Submarine is going well. There is rough spot between Verse 2 and chorus that needs to be improved. Once I have that smoothed I can attempt to play and sing verses 1 and 2, and chorus following the backing track and later add progressively the other sections. Now that I’m getting closer where I want to be, I am practicing the chord sequence of the two first verses and chorus one time for warmup; three times that chord sequence while following the backing track; five times the end of verse 2 and the start of the chorus playing and singing; and one time playing and singing both verses and the chorus without the backing track.

The first twelve bars of Asturias are improving. At least once in a practice session it sounds good but I cannot play it well consistently. I’m still stumbling with some bars. I will practice sets of 3 bars in addition to the whole 12 bars to work on that. I’m feeling almost ready for posting it in the AVYOP section.

With Habanera I’m less doubtful about the notes and being able to put some more attention to the expression and timing. I’m practicing the combined hammer-ons and pull-offs first; next what I call the second phrases that include the hammer-ons and pull-offs; and last the whole fragment with metronome.

Although confirmation is still due next week, I’m already practicing the song I’m planning to play and sing for the JG Open Mic XIV. Luckily I started early as it is proving more challenging that I forecasted. This time I went with purchasing sheet music for the song. With the purchased sheet music I also got the possibility of playing a practice track with an app. I may use the practice track as my backing track; not decided on that yet. For now practicing the rhythm pattern at 60% speed and the singing at 100%.

Edit: I corrected that I bought sheet music for the song I’m practicing for the open mic and not a tab as I had written. The sheet music indicates only the chords for the guitar part and does not provide any other information about fretting and rhythm than a tab would do. The sheet music works for me in this case.



As I felt that I had reached a milestone in my progress with both Asturias and Habanera I posted a combined AVOYP of both. The recording of Habanera with the celullar and an external condenser microphone went straightforward, but the recording of Asturias gave me some trouble until I found that I had to reduce the output level of the preamplifier to avoid clipping. It looks that the bass notes were increasing the sound level to the roof.

I participated in JGC OM XIV. It went well. I was able to stay in sync with the backing track, learnt to play a new rhythm and fret some new chords. I also have now a roadmap that I can use to learn a new song I want to learn. I practiced the song in several ways, i.e. alternated between practicing the whole song and sections of it; alternated between playing rhythm only, rhythm and chords, and rhythm, chords and singing; and alternated between playing with or without the backing track.

Of the steps that Justin advise for learning to play and sing a song, I’ve found very effective for me the exercise of playing the rhythm with the strings muted and singing. I do that once in a practice session before practicing the rhythm with the chord changes and the rhytm with chord changes and singing.

After my participation in the open mic I went back to practice Yellow Submarine and now I am able to play the first two verses and the chorus following the backing track. I can now make this the center of my practice with this song.

I’ll be dedicating some time in weekdays to the minor pentatonic patterns that I’ve been struggling with for a while. Now I’m practicing them with alternate picking.

For my next OM participation I would like to play an instrumental finger picked piece. Most likely it will be a Latin American musical piece. I should start working on that as soon as possible :thinking:.

I’ll be also polishing an original I composed last year to make my debut in the new originals subsection :slightly_smiling_face: