Ivan D.'s learning log

I am starting my learning log.
As I’ve written in my introductory post, I am learning guitar and harmonica for 5 years already. However, I had several long pauses in my guitar practice during recent years, so now I want to catch up a bit and do some consolidation with simple songs and ear training.

A challenge I set for myself is to plan and follow a structured training routine.
This is the basic structure:

  • Target having at least 4 or 5 days of practice per week
  • Each structured practice should be around 40 minutes and include warmup with technical and theory-oriented (scales etc.) exercises, some work on repertoire, and some ear training or improvisation. If I have more time in a day, I will practice previous repertoire and continue working on exercises from the day that I am most interested in.
  • I will alternate guitar days with harmonica days. One day a week is a free play day for some fun playing and experimentation.

My short term goal with the guitar is to consolidate Grade 1 by:

  • checking all 25 common chord changes and make sure I do them at least 50-60 times a minute,
  • learning 5 songs by heart. I now can play 3 from memory and need to add 2 more.
    Aside from that, I want to work on the basic open major scale.

This is my routine for the following week.

Today I was learning Three Little Songs by Bob Marley. The beginner rhythm from Justin’s video sound a bit too basic, so I tried to experiment with different rhythms and playing it with both open chords and barre chords. I also tried to transcribe the little riff but failed and found the notes. In this video I have some fun playing the riff on harmonica while playing the barre A chord.


Ivan, if I tried to play guitar and harmonica, I would fall out of my chair, shove the harmonica down my throat when I hit the ground, and break my wrist trying to catch myself. I admire your abilities so far and can’t wait to see your progression.

Rolling with the harp?

Nice. :sunglasses:

Do you need to match the same key harmonica as the song? I bet you can just go for it. If it sounds good, it is good right?

Ivan, that sounds like a good, structured and achievable plan :slightly_smiling_face: I tried making such plans at some point last year and I could never really stick to them, since I ended up randomly going down rabbit holes instead…

Thanks for posting the short video. Coincidentally, that’s the strumming pattern I plan to work in this morning before work… I’m still fascinated by how easily you can play harmonica and keep your disciplined strumming rhythm at the same time :grinning:

Yesterday’s new song was Twist and Shout. I tried playing it with both open and barre chords. I can do the E major and A major barre chord forms well most of the time, but the A7 form will take some time to be able to move my pinky quick enough. The little bass walk from A to D also sounds very nice.

It was hard to follow the plan and stop with the song immediately after the planned 20 minutes, so I spent some 15 minutes more despite having other things I needed to do this evening. With the recording, I can play the basic version without the dominant 7th chord and the bass walk, but it sounds too basic. I’m not sure I can sing well enough to make it sound pleasant in public. So I’ll try to take some time and work on the fuller version.

So Twist and Shout and Three Little Birds are my 2 songs for the next at least couple weeks.

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I could really stick to my structured routine for a week. On the second week I really wanted to work more on learning the harmonica part in Jimmy by Moriarty and playing it together with the guitar. Maybe I should try alternating a week of structured practicing with a week of free playing.

On harmonica, I also practiced Have a Good Time by Big Walter Horton. On the guitar, I recorded my second AVOYP: the Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.

My son came to visit me in Oxford for a month, so probably i will have much less time for music the next 4 weeks.

I have to admit I’ve failed miserably with trying to follow a planned structured routine. Once again.

Nevertheless, I was having a bit of progress lately. “Jimmy” by Moriarty, which I started learning a really really long time ago is finally starting to come together. I can kind of play it from start to end, but with a lot of mistakes, which gets even worse when I try to record.
Anyway, here is a very raw video of the state it is currently in.

I am also having fun with a number of different books along with Justin’s course. I am trying to go through the first routine from Levi Clay’s book on practice routines daily.
I also started to learn the first tune from Woody Mann’s “The Complete Acoustic Blues Guitar Method”. It is a fingerstyle piece with steady bass based on Mississipi John Hurt’s “My Creole Belle”. A more campfire type of song I am trying to learn is a Russian language song “Na Ivana Kupala” by a Ukrainian artist Venya D’rkin, however it still is kind of complex with quite a lot of chords used. The good thing is that it’s a great chance to practice sus chords in a context of a song.

I should probably concentrate on learning more easy songs like “House of the Rising Sun”, “St. James Infirmary” or “Chocolate Jesus”, but I am currently really inspired by these tunes I started.

Speaking of harmonica, I am mostly trying to learn Big Walter Horton’s “Have a Good Time”.

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