How to PASS Grade 1

Should I have mastered old faithful before passing?
I think I already do well on chord changes and have memorized a few songs. Everything sounds nice if I’m doing 1 strum per bar and chords transitions go smoothly, but when I try to apply old faithful its still rough. Chords don’t sound as clean and I can’t sing along. Should I insist in mastering old faithful -or other strumming pattern other than 1-strum per bar - before moving forward or can I go ahead to practice new chords and techniques and let time and practice take care of that?

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Welcome to the forums!

You will find that you use Old Faithful often, so if it is really rough, you should spend time on it. No matter if you consolidate more or move on, if it isn’t right, you will want to keep it in your practices until you are happy with it. I used the Nitsuj sessions as my guide many times.

this is not the official method, but it has been ok for me so far:

  • When I have a collection of technique practice elements that makes my total time too long for my available time, I stop there until I can take a few elements off practice. This gives me a chance to keep things that are slow for me to learn, and I can still move to new material when elements are fast to learn. A really good example is that I have had Barre chords on my practice for months, but I am many modules past the lesson.

  • Another case where I may need to stop is when I want to learn a song that uses something I cannot do yet. I’ll add a little more time with the song which takes time out of my formal technique element practice.

You are adding singing. I do not sing and not sure I will try. There are a lot of postings about singing and I recommend you use the search feature and see if you can get a feel for recommendations there if you don’t see anything here. I kind of feel like it should be treated independently early on because thinking about singing while learning to do something complex with your hands is tricky. Conventional wisdom is that you need to be very comfortable with independently playing and singing, then combine the two.


I’d say old faithful is not REALLY rough, but it’s definitely not butter smooth. Also you’re probably right about singing not being a must. This will probably come naturally as I evolve with my guitar and play more naturally. I guess I’ll give it another week for consolidation and move on!


Hi @jpedro_AM, This is exactly what I was going to suggest! If you are not already practicing Old Faithful with a metronome, I’d recommend adding that to your practice for 3 to 5 minutes. This works for me: start out slow - slower than you think you need - and increase the bpm until playing it properly feels challenging. Work at that speed until it feels easy - then bump up the speed again. And as @sequences suggests, you can always move on, keeping this exercise in your practice routine.

As for singing - I’m not a good singer, and there are only one or two songs I’ve been able to sing along with. For me, singing is not a “must” for continuing with my guitar skills.

If you have a minute, tell us a bit about yourself over here!


Uploaded my first practice video on my learning log. Rewatching I realized that the main thing that is bothering me is that chords sounds sloppy when changing. I now where to go but it isn’t precise and clean, resulting in buzzing and mute strings. This will probably be adressed in the “Perfect change” lesson on grade 2, so I’m thinking about moving on. What do you think?

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I have just watched the two videos. You are okay to move onto grade 2 though I would suggest you take it slow working through the modules. Each of the grade 2 modules requires more time and practice than those in grade 1 so do not rush them. And keep consolidating the grade 1 songs and key skills.

I hope that helps.

Cheers :smiley:

| Richard | JustinGuitar Approved Teacher, Official Guide & Moderator

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I found A chord to be most difficult to play as my fingers get tired after 5 minutes of playing any song which has A chord. In module 1 I really love playing it with anchor finger but now I am thinking of learning traditional fingering with fingers 2, 3 & 4.

I tried to play the A chord the way Justin shows it in the video , but same as you my hand tires way more than when i play it in the traditional way so i switched it back to the " traditional " form

Its because the anchor finger never moves its a lot more tiresome

Moving on to Grade 2. The songs(hindi) I play are:

  1. Shinchan theme song
  2. Tu Jo Mila

The chords used are G, Em, C, D

Grade 1 was fun, engaging and a great start of my guitar journey. Problems I still have are:

  1. Finding songs to play (as English is not my first language so I have to use other sources to find songs in my language i.e. hindi)
  2. Strumming. I am on tempo but my strumming is quite hard and not very pleasant to hear especially when I use thicker picks.
  3. A chord. I can play it just not for long duration.

I’ll keep working on the songs with open chords while in Grade 2 learning new stuff. Thanks to Justin and his team for creating such a wonderful platform and sharing music and love. I love how well structured are the courses. That’s why I’m here even when English is not my first language.


Well done, @tonkyponky! I think the “problems” you identify are typical of students just completing grade 1. Well, maybe except for finding songs in Hindi. :wink: You will have many opportunities to improve on them in Grade 2. Just be sure not to rush through things - take your time! And be sure to check in with the community when questions arise along the way. :smiling_face:


Congratulations, it really feels good to play your first chords and get some callouses on the fingers xD

Just out of curiosity, Why don’t you want to play songs in English? You can always create your own songs using the chords you already know and using different strumming patterns. It’s also fun

Because I have not sung any English song before. I can strum along to backing track or someone’s singing but I’m afraid of singing myself.

if singing prevents you to play the songs so maybe you should just focus on playing guitar ?

Playing and singing when you are learning the first chords makes it even more challenging. I have been playing for 7 months and I’m not even trying yet… the most important thing right now is to learn new songs and get your chord changes right.


Tonky there is no requirement to sing at any Grade, that is purely optional. This is all about learning to play, so do not worry about trying to sing please. Justin’s recommendation for passing Grade is to PLAY 5 songs not to play and sing them. Hope that helps.


No wonder why I took 4 months+ time in grade 1. It was quite an experience. But as you and others said I will focus on learning guitar first instead of juggling guitar and singing when I have just started.

Singing along is the real fun. Ear training helped a lot in my singing and also turned my guitar practice sessions into singing sessions :smiling_face_with_tear:. The most fun part is to try to sing each note on fretboard which is certainly impossible for me at this stage and quite a pain for whosoever is listening to me. :joy: