My calluses are starting to come in, so that demonstrates enough persistence to go ahead and introduce myself after lurking for a couple weeks.
In my early 20’s I worked at a camp where I learned a few chords to strum along to very simple camp songs, but I didn’t stick with it or try to learn much beyond those few songs. For my 53rd birthday a couple weeks ago, I decided to treat myself to an electric guitar and give playing another try. I’m now the proud owner of a Fender Player Plus Stratocaster (in “aged candy apple red”) that I found on sale, and I’m on the cusp of Module 6 of Grade 1 in Justin’s lessons.
It has been very encouraging to discover these forums and find that there are plenty of other “old dogs” learning to play. The ship bound for rock stardom has already sailed for me, but I’m content to swim in anonymous waters and just have some fun.
I started out at the earliest modules as though it was my first time picking up a guitar, and I’m glad I did, but some of the early chords came back faster than expected (aside from finger pain). I wasn’t getting everything to ring out right away, but muscle memory is still there for at least a few of the chords.
Two of my most challenging chords early on have been A and Dm. A-chord isn’t hard per se, but I learned it with a different fingering (the way Justin says he learned it) and in this case, the old muscle memory competes with the “right” way. I know either way works, but I see the value in how anchor fingers make D-A-E changes easier with his suggested fingering, so I’m determined to learn it. Dm is only hard because it’s not one of the old ones I knew so I don’t have any automatic reflexes kicking in for it. My slowest chord changes are still between Dm and anything else.
I recently finished the lesson that teaches the G chord and I feel almost duped by whoever I learned it from. I learned it the “hard” way, and in fact, had no problem remembering or getting that fingering right even before Justin got to it, but his “hacked” way makes a lot of sense and he makes a good case for doing it that way even though I can do it the other way. It’ll be another bit of muscle memory for me to unlearn.
One of the revelations for me as I work my way through these lessons is how often it’s not only acceptable but preferred to mute strings. Since I was used to trying my best to not mute strings as I played chords, it wasn’t obvious to me that sometimes muting is what you want to do, as in muting the fifth string in the “hacked” G. It also made more sense of the finger stretching exercises once I realized I wasn’t supposed to contort my hand to make sure I never touched other strings as I went. If you don’t want to play it, it doesn’t matter if you mute it, and it might even help. Obvious, sure, but somehow I never picked up on that in my first go-round.
I’m a ways off from being able to sing and play at the same time, and I practice off to myself (with headphones) where no one else has to put up with it, but I’m enjoying it and feeling like I’m making progress.