How am I getting worse (Grade 1, Module 7)

Hey community,

This is my first post here. I’ve been playing since March (after a near 2 year break, as I originally started learning in Oct 2019 and stopped mid 2020) and am now at the finale Module of Grade 1. I believe my self-assessment has generally tracked with the milestones Justin set out per Module; while I’ve struggled from module to module with consolidating chord perfect finger placement, air changes, strumming, and strumming the correct strings in my song practice, I thought I did enough to move on at each stage while keeping my interest up.

Now I’m 4 weeks into Module 7, but it feels like I’m regressing?.. Idk if it’s the challenge of trying to combine everything I’ve practiced so far, but even though I do well with playing each chord in my Chord Perfect practice and I try to repeat One Minute Changes for changes I’m having particular trouble with at least once (sometimes twice), I’m finding it harder to play songs and get everything sounding at least half way decent, lol. My chords still sound squeaky, and switching from any chord to the D or Dm chord is the bane of my existence :face_holding_back_tears: It sorta feels like I’m reinforcing the bad playing each time too, like my brain is just not getting it right. Backtrack to Module 5 where I got a good handle on 6:8 strumming with 'This Year’s Love’s but now it’s like I can’t ever get the D chord finger placement and change right.

Ahh, I’m just more than a bit frustrated at the moment, and I don’t know how to tell if or when I should move on. I really want to, but while I’ve been able to land 4 out of the 5 things Justin recommends to pass Grade 1, if it all goes to shit when playing songs, even easy songs, it doesn’t feel like I’m ready to move on. And that’s a bit discouraging.

I’d just love some advice from anyone who may have been at a similar place or who may be atm, and if this sort of thing is ‘normal’ 6 months into the journey.

Thanks,
Danielle

EDIT: Wow, I’m so pleasantly surprised/touched at how helpful and engaging this community is. Thanks to everyone for your comments, it’s been beyond encouraging to see the feedback, and feel much less alone through it all. I’m still reading thru everything haha.

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We’ve all been there sometimes it’s 2 steps forward and one step back. The only way you can really tell what your progress is, is over a few months or more.

And even then it’s sometimes difficult to see.

One piece of advice is to record yourself occasionally and then look back at the old recordings. Then you will see the progress.

Cheers,

Keith

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Thanks for your response and words of encouragement, Keith.

Just to be clear though, are you also saying I may have to continue on with Module 7 for another several months before I see any more progress :anguished:?

I’ll try the recording tip, even though I cringe thinking about looking back at myself, lol.

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@JammasterDee3000 one reason we feel we’re not making any progress or going backwards is as you get better you know sounds right and what doesn’t. So what sounded good a week ago may not today. Also as you progress the things learnt are getting harder. There does come a point where past lesson help with future lesson. So keep practicing and you’ll see progress

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I think you pointed out the problem here perfectly. The better you play, the better you hear. Stuff that sounded great some weeks ago now sounds awful - but not because you play worse it is because you notice the mistakes (that went unnoticed before :wink: ).

It happens to all of us and will happen again in the future. Hang in there, your playing will catch up with your hearing soon enough. :slight_smile:

I myself get super frustrated from time to time and feel like I am regressing too. In this cases I ignore the technique for a bit and just play the stuff I enjoy :smiley:

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Hi Danielle, from my own learning with Justin what you’ve described is something I certainly went through. I think I did grade 1 in about 9 months. I remember absolutely that whilst OMCs, strumming patterns, riffs and all the other specific practice elements were decent, putting it all into practice for my 5 songs it just took forever to come together.

As a perspective more than advice, keep in mind that over grade 1 you’ve learned a lot in a shot period of time, it will naturally take time for everything to organise itself in your head and hands but it sounds like everything’s in place and practice will see you right. The bad days make the good days better!

Keith’s advice to record yourself at various points is really good, your perspective on what’s “good” is constantly changing so that log of a couple of months ago will be eye opening.

Good luck, and keep smiling as much as you can, it’s definitely worth it! :+1::metal:

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Oh and one other note…… I HATED D minor, kind of still do :joy:

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Don’t despair, and certainly don’t give up! I am up and down like a yoyo, and have gone back to the start of grade 1 seceral times to recap and revise whilst progressing with the next lessons.
Sometimes when I feel I can do nothing right I search out a new song on Ultimate Tabs and play around with that until I feel more positive.
I hadnt realised quite how difficult playing guitar was! So many people seem able to do it effortlessly, I imagined it would be simple. But it’s not: it’s blooming difficult. And endlessly rewarding :blush: Hope you feel more postive about your progress soon.

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I’m glad you posted this! I don’t have any advice, but I relate, for sure. I’m hearing you about the fear of practicing in bad technique. I worry about that alot myself. Somehow, magically, my technique improves over time, I guess? I dunno, I try to not think about it, and I try to trust that if Justin thought it was important to worry about, he’d be talking about it in the modules.
Oh and yes, D minor is a pain in a few different ways.

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Right there with you. Definitely one of my worst chords. Seems like my pinky always wants to come down on the 3rd string, instead of on the 2nd, where I told it to go. And often my placement of the index finger on fret 1 string 1 sucks too.

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Hi Danielle! I’ve been in the same situation as you, and find myself there again midway through Grade 2. My biggest lesson has been: don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. I try to remind myself not to judge progress based on where I hope to arrive, but rather on how much I’ve improved since I started a particular skill. So, I’ve allowed myself to progress to a new module when I feel I’m “good enough”. Also, in reading comments of many folks here I learned that sometimes it’s ok to say “I’m not going to learn that just now” and move on. It seems that leaving something and returning to in a week, or a month, helps me get over the bump. Have you watched any of Justin’s - I mean Nitsuj’s videos learning left-handed? That really helped me feel better about my progress. :smiley:

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Hello Danielle, I can very much relate to your worries. I‘m exactly at the same point of the guitar journey as you are - end of grade 1. And yes, at some days I also feel like I‘m regressing. Putting all ingredients I‘ve learned so far together, doesn‘t always bring the result I was hoping for. Particularly, since I’ve been playing with a bit more confidence, and therefore hitting the strings harder, my guitar sometimes really sounds awful :frowning:. I’ve already suspected, that something’s wrong with my guitar, but it is much more likely, that it has to do with me not playing all chords accurately :see_no_evil:.
And yes, meanwhile I‘m able to recognize things that I wasn‘t weeks ago - e.g. when I accidentally hit the 6th string on a C chord. So I‘m much more critical right now, than I was before. Recording myself from time to time definitely helps getting a more realistic sight on my progress (even if it feels like regress :sweat_smile:).
One part of me tells me to move on to grade 2 now. But the other - and much louder - part wants me to stay a bit longer where I am right now. Instead of learning new guitar technics, I‘ve decided to do a bit more consolidation work and focus on ear training and music theory, instead. In doing so, I‘m still learning new - guitar related - things, while granting me a bit more time to improve my technical skills. This way feels right for me. And I remind me from time to time, that I‘m in no hurry. There is no race to win. And the more time and effort I‘ve put to the fundamental things, the better prepared I‘ll (hopefully) be for the things to come :blush:.
I wish you all the best - and keep the joy alive :smiley:.

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This says it all, really…

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I also try not to get too worked up about progress. At least for me, I have no agenda starting to learn guitar a year and a half ago at the age of 55.

Play because you enjoy it. Practice because it helps you play what you enjoy. Enjoy the journey now, the future will take care of itself.

I have frustrated days where I feel I can’t play at all, other days fill me with wonder. I find playing, whether a song poorly, a finger picking patter, an arpeggio practice or whatever, soothing, relaxing, challenging and fun.

Slowly, I realize I have made progress. Sure, I wish I was an expert already sometimes, lots of songs I wish I could play well and sometimes the realization of what it will take gets daunting, but it does me no good to stress over something that isn’t realistic after this short a time.

If it wasn’t hard, what would be the point?

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Hello everyone!

My first post too, and am I ever glad I found this discussion. I’m at exactly the same point – Grade 1 Module 7 – and having the same “am I regressing?!?” question. Things were going very well with all the exercises and songs until Dm. Then I wasn’t able land on D accurately. Why is that?? I also found in the last couple of weeks that I wasn’t as consistently accurate with G and C (which had been tough to nail as I’m petite with small hands). Distressing, to say the least. Here’s what I’m doing now: practicing with the metronome and just concentrating on getting accurate rhythm with the exercises and songs. It’s helping a lot in that respect, and definitely taking the stress off my Dm/D issue. Having read through your comments, I’m feeling more confident that this is a “one step back” and it will be two steps forward in time.

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@stitch thanks so much, this perspective helps a lot!

@GreenRider Hi, Kevin! This is super helpful :grinning:

Also, I’m tryna figure out how to include a blockquote for each person I’d like to respond to haha.

@JammasterDee3000 I understand feeling stuck in a particular section when you want to continue!!! when I was 15 I was never taught a strumming pattern so I feel way behind most other people here. I’m hoping I can find more songs I would like to play with the beginner chords and simple strumming because I tend to like complicated songs that are way too advanced from where I’m at.

I’m starting to just dip into module 2 a little because I know The F chord and power chords are important.

So my advice is keep going no matter the frustration. One day things will probably click into place for you and then you will be reenergized all over again! When I’m practicing the F Barre I feel like Thomas Edison with the light bulb! It feels like it takes forever to arrange my fingers even with all the advice I have soaked up.

I’d highly recommend Justin’s Strumming Techniques course. Its a small price to pay for a fantastic course that will get you strumming with confidence not just simple songs. I’ve found it to be a fantastic purchase.

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@Socio Huh. :face_with_monocle: I thought he gave good basic strumming advice for free? I will have to look back through my lessons. Thank you for the advice. :slightly_smiling_face: