JokuMuu's Learning Log

Practicing made me laugh today. From the bottom of my heart. It made me so happy. Why? Because I found that I can do something, that I thought I couldn’t.

I have now been owning my Gretsch, also known as Scratchy (of course it has a name …) for 13 days. I have not been practicing or playing as much as I would have liked, since there are three rules I set for myself:

  1. Be patient. Forget that you know some basics. Have an open mind and start from scratch.

  2. Never touch this beautiful instrument when you are stressed.

  3. End practice always on a happy note e.g. when you have mastered something that you thought, you couldn’t do.

I had a lot of stress at work during the last two weeks and birch tree polls have high season here. So for most of the evenings I was stressed and tired. I actually did pick up the guitar on some evenings, but it felt like a chore that I would be happy to quit after 10 minutes or so. That’s how rule 2 was born.

I began Grade 1, Module 4 today - and I love it. I absolutely love it. I used to dislike D minor with a passion. Turns out that I can actually play it just fine. Of course with first finger, second finger and third finger. My brain does not not want to accept using little finger here. Yet it sounds fine. Every string rings out just right.

The strumming pattern… Practicing with the strings muted is brilliant for my muscle memory. Repetition, repetition, repetition. I even tried with E Minor, and it seems, I, who has always played with what seems like self-made irregular patterns, can actually hold a pattern while playing a chord.

My biggest successes today though were the riff and the beginner stretching exercises.

I never really tried to play any riffs before I got my Scratchy. So it feels almost like a miracle to me that I can play the first seven notes of that riff fluently and in a good rhythm. Even without watching my fingers. Of course there are mistakes and not every run was good. But the more I was doing it, the more I understood the logic behind.

The stretching exercises, I had wanted to skip, since I thought, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Then I decided to try at least. And… I don’t know why and how. I can do it. The exercise starting in the fifth fret, relatively easy actually. Yet…also the one starting in the first fret. My fingers are able to stretch enough. Granted, not every note sounds good always, but I am able to do this.

On that note, I stopped my exercising, feeling so comfortable and happy.


Hi Nichole. Good you started your learning log. Good also that you’re getting some rewarding moments from learning to play de guitar. Some guitar skills can be easier to get fluent with than others, but all can be achieved to a decent level and beyond with practice.

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Hi Nicole. I love that you stopped for a moment to enjoy the victory. We all have to remember to enjoy the moment even if it is a small step towards success. Playing 4 or 5 chords slowly and perfectly sounds way better than 15 that are sloppy. Very proud of your accomplishments. D minor- you’ve got this :sunglasses:



Thank you Andrés and Jeff. Might we’ll be that this was a one off and that the next weeks will be frustrating and full of setbacks. But, no matter, what happens this glorious is now accounted for in the learning log, and I can always go back there for a little spark of hope :unicorn:


Hi there Nicole, it’s always good to hear of successes. Our improvements in daily practice are often incremental, and go unnoticed until we have an ‘AhHa’ moment and recognise how far we have actually progressed.
Re your point 3, ending on a happy note, great idea. And, if you haven’t mastered something new by end of practice, (happens a lot with me​:grin:), just finish on something you have mastered earlier. :slightly_smiling_face:


Your happy post made me happy. Nice start to your log!

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Thanks. Yes, at least for me it will be so much easier going back to practicing knowing it well last time. Your idea might actually work just fine as well :grinning:

That’s wonderful feedback. Thank you so much.

Hello Nicole, a beautiful start to your log, it is very nice to read and made me smile all the way through :heart_eyes: I agree with you on so many aspects! Do aknowledge every smallest improvement and little victory every single day and take care of this sense of well being during your practice that you’re describing here…I’m deeply convinced it will lead you to your guitar dreams! Cheers,
Silvia :blush:

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Hi Nicole, had a nice read through your log, it made me smile. I like your positive attitude. Seems as if you are getting a lot out of your practice and as if you are having a lot of fun. Constant practice will show you how much you can achieve on your guitar. Have a lot of fun!

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Thank you so much :heart:

Hey Nicole! Das ist ja eine tolle Geschichte! Nice to have another German speaking member here! I’ ll answer in English, even if it’ s bad, out of the reflection, that non Germans can’t follow our chatting otherwise. Yes, this community is amazing and really helpful. I love the diversity. So many nations here, a great possibility to get in contact with people from all over the world! How did you come to Finnland? Fascinating country, but I’ve never been there! If you miss the German language, feel free to send me a PM. Greetings!


My superior at work had insisted that I take today off. Yesterday was a bank holiday in Finland and in many other European countries, hence I am getting to enjoy a long weekend for once.

So I was playing guitar many hours today, too many most probably. I should have stopped on the positive note that D minor and I, we are slowly but surely becoming friends. But no, I had to continue chasing that happy feeling from yesterday.

Meaning, I practiced the whole Cream Riff, and yes, it did make me laugh with pleasure. I should have stopped there, but yet again I didn’t. I thought, if I record myself then I have proof that I can do it. Strangely, as soon as I pressed record stage freight set in. Nobody was listening, I was only recording myself.

I started judging myself and realized the art of sucking at music is the right philosophy for me. That thought did make me a bit happy at least and so I did end practice on a positive note after all :slightly_smiling_face:

This is how my practicing sounded a few minutes ago. Lots of improvement needed, but I do love this very strange and alien sounding note at the end that in no way belongs to this riff. Trial and error - YouTube


Lots of rhythm and strumming training today. The morning started relaxed with checking out the Strumming Foundation course and playing along lazily until the different strumming patterns got mixed in my head.

My plan is to go back to the Strumming course exercises at least twice per week, since I know that these exercises will be very helpful for me. Have I ever before consciously paid attention on whether my strumming arm is moving down and up constantly? I seriously don’t think so :laughing:

So back to Module 1 I went and tried to find songs with only two chords that would somehow motivate me. Alas, I didn’t find any since with my limited skills two chord songs sound notoriously boring. My motivation was low, but I didn’t want to give up.

Rule No. 3. “Always end practice on a positive note” :slightly_smiling_face:

“Born in the USA” went ok with the click sound of the App even at preset speed. Granted, strings snared now and then or were sometimes muted, but that was not my focus today. “Feeling alright” is not in the App, so I invented something counting two bars for each chord with up and down strums. Far from perfect, not even good, but no revolting neighbours to be seen anywhere. Looks that it at least did not sound as if I would have been torturing a cat :cat2:

“You never can tell” has then actually been a funny experience. 160 BPM, two chords and all down strums. Impossible for me at this stage to stick to the rhythm. I always ended up speeding, muting the strings and having to start again a few bars further on.

There is a Tom Waits song called “What’s he building” Tom Waits - "What's He Building?" - YouTube. I can literally picture certain neighbours starting to ask in the same conspirational tone “What is she doing in there?” , :laughing:

So back to muted string strumming practice it was. Confessedly downstrumming on every beat of a 20 BPM metronome was a strange experiment, but I wanted to test something silly. It took ages for me to even figure out how to count this, so that I could even strum at broadly the right moment. 40 BPM was easier already and up to 120 BPM everything went fine with muted strings. Even 140 BPM and 160 BPM were comfortable.

I stopped at 200 BPM all downstrums while trying to keep my strumming arm moving constantly. Impossible for me to avoid upstrums at this high speed and impossible for now keeping a constant rhythm.

Thus ended a wonderfully relaxed Saturday with my guitar, experimenting for the first time ever with strumming on metronome clicks.

I suppose, the neighbours have meanwhile decided that I have gone made :smiley: My husband, on the other hand, had fallen asleep in the next room at some point while I was still trying to get a grasp of those two chord songs.

Meaning, there is a small chance that maybe the horrible sounds I thought I was creating were in my head mainly. And if that is not ending practice on a positive note, I have no idea, what is :musical_note:


A magnificent long weekend filled with luxurious guitar time is coming to an end. A stressful work week will be waiting for me with so many things to do before my real summer vacation will start.

Around two weeks in and I did it. I went to the Baltic Sea. With my accoustic guitar.

That’s me.

Here is a glimpse of the Baltic Sea.

I have been there for several hours and almost the entire time all that I could hear were birdsongs, waves and the occasional motor boat passing by. There I sat on a big rock (somewhat uncomfortable, will have to bring a blanket or pillow next time) grabbed my guitar and thought what to do now. I hadn’t memorized any songs and senseless random chord strumming somehow did not fit the scenery.

So I tried to recall some fingerstyle from more than 25 years back, when I could last time play certain patterns somewhat fluently. Of course it didn’t go very well and trying to add on the “distraction exercise” made for a bit more challenge still.

It didn’t sound great, it wasn’t especially inventive. But actually playing guitar outside, while looking at the sea made me unbelievably happy :blossom:


Hi Nicole,
You and your guitar are well on your way :sunglasses:. But…do you have the right guitar?
Shouldn’t you have a travel guitar? :joy:

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Something strange happened. I was in a mood yesterday. Certain things at work had frustrated me and it was next to impossible to get those things out of my head.

Back home, I thought, so what about rule nr 1 " be patient" and nr. 2 " don’t touch the guitar when you are stressed". To hell with everything. I will never learn it anyhow.

Grabbed the guitar. Did not even tune it and went for something I knew I would fail at. The F-chord. Since I was anyhow in an F- mood. I had never been able to play that barré chord and even my mini-F had mostly been mute. This would be the proof that I am not good at anything.

What happened was that on the first try the full barré chord was almost perfect, except for the b-string. And I was only this first try. Like magic. As soon as started to think and tried to repeat it nothing worked anymore. It was that magic first try, as if my subconscience wanted to tell me even if your brain wants to give up, your heart, your yearning will not let you give up. Not this time.

Then I knew, I will be in this for the long haul.


F-chord any other chord requiring force will come as you practice, you are developing strength in your hand that in time will help you deal with it, after years it will be automatic.

As for not playing angry, sad, depressed or any other mood different then happy - I practice regardless of how my day was, it is always a muscle memory training. Some things will work after few weeks, some after few years. Same rule applies to running, cycling etc. :slight_smile:


Liked to read youre thoughts and your take on things Nicole :grin:
You are well on your way, just hang in there and keep on playin.
I have a completly different take on your #2 though :grin: when im stressed, tired or in bad mood the guitar is the first thing i reach for. It serves the purpose as an release valve for me. It makes me relax and shut everything out… just looking at my guitar gets me in a better mood :rofl:
Continue down the path youre going now and throw out some more avyop when you feel for it :+1:

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Thank you. Yes, I know - or better, I should know. I in fact will have to get used to try becoming more patient. More than 25 years ago, when I had my first nylonstring-guitar, I never practiced much. Just wanted to play and sing. I had that guitar book that came with a CD. Learned some chords and off I went. Had not even been aware that the process was supposed to take time. I still remember, one of the songs was “Lady in black”. Two chords according to the book. Em and Am. Learned those chords, started to play, noticed I can sing to it, that’s it. Same procedure with other chords in the book. D, E, A, C, G, Dm, A7, D7… I had no idea that certain chord changes were meant to be difficult. I just memorized the chords and the order in which they were supposed to be played in a certain order, and played the song. Not good, but good enough that I could sing at the same time. I never did any “chord perfect” or chord change exercises though. Strumming can be practiced? There are actually different patterns that can be learned and have to be practiced? I seriously believed that people are making those things up on the fly.

And barré-chords… Those I would have probably needed to practice religiously. Tried a few times, noticed I can’t gave up.

The only thing I ever really practiced were fingerstyle patterns, because I loved the idea of being able to do that so much. I still remember how glad I was when I got down a simple version of “The boxer” and could sing to it, and both my mother and sister said, it sounded good.

But that’s a long, long time ago. And this time I know that good things come to those who do actually practice. And this time, I will practice more because I understood that it’s actually worth it. And if it takes years and years to get those barrés down. Well then it does :slightly_smiling_face:

Definitely something worth thinking about :slightly_smiling_face: I just fear with me being back to that absolute beginner level, finding motivation to do random chord changes etc. might be somewhat difficult while being annoyed and stressed. At this stage, I am still going for passively listening to music … Unless there are especially bad days, see last LL-entry :laughing:

Unfortunately looking at my guitars makes me think that I do need one more. I have the cheap accoustic Yamaha, the semi-accoustic Epiphone, the hollow body Gretsch, but I actually still need a “real” electric guitar :smile: Well, no money for that now, but there is a little thought becoming louder and louder in my head whether I would like to give myself a guitar present for Christmas :gift: