April 2004- To my recollection, this is when I first picked up a guitar. I had just been dumped by a girl and instead of being depressed I thought it made more sense to learn guitar. I looked online and bought an electric guitar starter package from a guy named Troy Stetina. Ironically years later I hear our guy @alexisduprey playing some of Troy’s songs from the same songbook I still have. To be honest I was pretty awful. I thought I could learn from books and instructional DVDs. Troy invited to me to one his shows at the time and I remember thinking I can do that; be on stage. I was delusional to think that at the time. I talked to him, but he was not much of a teacher of new students. He has that Eddie Van Halen level of talent.
April 2005- After a year I could play most open chords, but had zero sense of timing, no strumming patterns, and thought it was cool to strum to the lyric. It sounded really ridiculous. My landlord once threatened to evict me because I sounded so bad all the time.
June 2006- I still had made zero progress and most of my learning was through hanging out with losery drunks on the beach in San Diego. Maybe I was a rock and roll legend in my own mind lol. I drank a lot of German beer back then so I probably was delusional about my skill level. I met the woman who is now my wife who like most good women do, forced me to start getting my act together.
2006-2020- My guitar spent most of its time alone in various storages or garages. I had given up any possibility that I had musical talent or potential with guitar. I would play maybe 1-2 times a year when my wife prompted me, but no one can become skilled without practice.
Fast Forward to 2020 when the pandemic hit, everyone was locked indoors. I found Justin teaching how to play a Johnny Cash Song, Walk the Line I think and was intrigued by his teaching style and positive outlook.
August 2020 (maybe?) I decided to start level 1 lesson 1 of Justin’s course. I gave myself plenty of time to absorb each lesson and held myself accountable for each lesson. I loved each step of the way and how Justin tied in the easy to play riffs and songs such as Seven Nation Army. I still use those as warm ups sometimes. I was able to master all of the steps in grade 1 within about 14 months start to finish. By then I had made leaps and bounds in progress in my playing. Nobody was covering their ears when I played anymore. Justin’s lessons were simply amazing.
December 2021-Dec 2022- I progressed through level 2 at a steady pace and was able to master about 80% of the lessons offered. My biggest struggles were mastering the scales and I didn’t do too well with power chords or the blues section of the lessons. The song I posted here “Just Older” is an example of a failed attempt to play something with power chords. I think I spent too much time posting more and more mediocre level of performance songs and not enough time on the fundamentals and skill building.
Sept 2022-Nov 2022- I decided to join my daughter in taking private lessons to see how it goes. I was too advanced for the beginner class and there was no option for an intermediate class so he agreed on 30 minute lessons once a week. The guy was really talented and a good teacher, but I could not catch on to the scales and soloing he tried to show me. I usually ended up watching Justin’s lessons about scales that made more sense to me anyways. I could not learn anything in 30 minutes a week. He did help me fix some of my mechanics such as hand position doing the F chord and was really smart with music theory. I ended up playing StandBy Me on stage with my daughter using my 12 string. It was a great experience but felt odd not singing and just playing rhythm.
Jan 2023-May 2023- I gave level 3 a try and found myself nearly completely lost for most of it. I decided I missed something fundamental and went back to reviewing level 2 lessons.
May 2023- Current- I decided I need to be more structured in my guitar Journey. I gave myself a schedule of what I should be practicing each day more strictly than before.
· I am working on mastering the minor pentatonic scales starting with C on the 8th position.
· I work on the essential 10 chords (A-C-D-E-F-G-Am Dm-Em-Bm) play back and forth with fast and steady changes
· I work on strumming dynamics (thinking outside of just strumming pattern, kick and snare type sounds, Loud and soft- verse vs. chorus-etc.)
· Adding or subtracting fingers to chords for unique sounds, chord embellishments.
· Mastering Barre chords and power chords (E shape)
· Memorized all notes on 6th and 5th string, noting what an octave change is and when it sounds best
· Understanding the note circle, chromatic scale (first looking at a piano keyboard then the guitar)
· Adding song choices that showcase different styles of music, some power chords and various rhythm techniques. (I think I did well with adding some power chords/barre chords in my Aerosmith song; I played Linkin Park at the local park standing in front of curious onlookers. I haven’t done that much this year so want to get back into playing in front of people. I added a couple of country songs too and tried to add some dynamics of strumming-maybe not 100% successful yet). I plan on trying a song in Dutch, and more songs in Spanish or German.
· Next up diatonic scales- why the key of C has no sharps and why we need to have sharps and flats in other keys. (Justin explains as tones and semi-tones or whole step vs. half step)
· Also hoping to get in on an open mic somewhere and work towards performing on stage; begin some songwriting.
(If you are still here wondering when this rant will end…finally it has-thanks for reading.
This is a recent pic while I did a video on Catalina island. The other pic is my first guitar I bought in 2004. I haven’t played her in years.
Thanks everyone on the forum for your continued support and encouragement. I’m not done yet; didn’t expect this to be such a novel I wrote.
Jeff from California