Learning and age

Evenin all,

I’m 9 weeks into Justin’s beginners course and I’m at the end of the first grade. Having a great time… Most of the time.

Trying to clean up my 5 songs to pass grade 1 and get into a comfortable place with them.

The songs I’ve been learning are,

Wild thing,
Knocking on Heavens Door,
Wish you were here (minus the guitar solo),
Talk tonight.

I can do them all…badly.
They feel incomplete without being able to sing them but dear lord, singing and playing is so so hard…feels almost impossible.

And here’s the question I suppose. I’m 48, and really struggle for consistency.
I’m practicing for maybe 2-3 hours per day for 9 weeks.

Sometimes I will just pick up the guitar and play it fairly well, including singing. It’s like I have magic in my hands.
Other times I will be practising and nothing is working, I can’t sing, I can’t even remember the words when I strum anything but the most basic pattern and the chords won’t come together.

Is this normal? It feels very much like age is playing a part and trying to drum simple songs into my head… It just won’t go in at all.

Also, I keep remembering Justin saying early on in the course that nobody has ‘too fat a finger’ but I’d swear mine were too far to play a D chord!!! Haha.

Anyway, the course is utterly fantastic and I’ve recommended it to anyone who will listen and appreciate the community.

Thanks all


I can only say one thing.

9 weeks

You are doing great and playing a lot. Hang in there, if you persist you will learn and get better. Slowly, surely, and with much joy and aggravation. Embrace it all.

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Sometime, you may consider focusing on rhythm and strumming. Why not play with a backing track from youtube or even better with the JustinGuitar app ? You will feel like being in the band. And you can focus on your singing later once your strumming and chord changes are automated.

Yep totes normal.

We all have good days and bad days.

Just warm up properly and take it easy if there’s no vibe work on the nuts and bolts.

As you progress your low point on the bad days raises along side your good days so it’s not too bad!

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Hello James & Welcome!

9 weeks???
You just finished your 1st half semester of your 1st year of Primary school… you’re barely out of Kindergarten… like a 7 year old who’s worried that calculus isn’t making sense!!! :roll_eyes:

Learning anything new isn’t easy & guitar is not a super-easy instrument… give yourself a chance to learn the basics! Build a strong foundation before you worry about framing your new home!!! This is not a sprint, it’s a distance race & it’s important to pace yourself & be ready to “forgive” yourself :heart_eyes: when you have a bad day or practice session!

Ok, lecture over!!! :joy:

One thing I like to recommend to newbies is to buy a guitar stand or wall hanger & keep your guitar close at hand… then, when you have the odd few minutes, pick it up & work on something that you are having a bit of trouble with… I often play scales or bar chords for the 5 minutes the coffee’s brewing in the morning before everyone wakes up. This really helps with progressing & improving!!! :+1:t2:

Good luck with your journey!!!

Tod from New Mexico USA

Hi, James. Welcome.

It sounds to me like things are going exactly as you’d hope. I’m at 8 months, and you’ve described my daily experience pretty well. I’d say two days a week are clunkers where I tell myself that at least I’m strengthening the neural pathways. The fact that you have magic days where you can sing while playing tells me that you’ve got something I don’t, so consider yourself blessed.

Most of all, enjoy the ride. It’s pretty special.

Yeah, ups and downs are very normal. On my bad days, my fingers feel clunky and slow, and I find myself playing the easiest songs I know, just to have something that feels a little bit like music. Since you don’t have that option yet, I understand your frustration very, very well. Keep at it, it gets better, I promise.

As for fat fingers, yes, I have that problem, too. A friend loaned me a steel string acoustic, and the neck is a lot smaller, and the strings nearer to each other than on my nylon acoustic, and I find myself touching strings accidentally. I am trying to really watch that I only put down the tips of my fingers, and press only as hard as I need to and no harder. It helps, but I still prefer my nylon strings, where I don’t have that problem. Maybe you have a way to try a few different guitars, and see if there is one that fits your hands better?

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Hey James.

Welcome mate.
Yep your experiences are par for the course; playing songs poorly, inconsistency, problems singing and playing… all part of the fun.

Keep pluggin away man, and keep reaching out here. You’ll look back after 12 months and and smile at how far you’ve come.
All the best.

Cheers, Shane

It takes time.
After my 40 years of playing some things still take years (!) to internalize.

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This is pretty normal. I’m about your age now, I’m practising as much as you do. After some years there are things that mostly don’t work, when they do it feels almost out of place. It is a lifelong journey and you are at the beginning :).

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Hello James, welcome on this fantastic journey :hugs:.

Wow, only 9 weeks in and you’ve already come so far :scream::smiley:. It took me much longer to finish grade 1. And I granted me some more time to consolidate everything I’ve learned and to work in my five songs.
I also wanted to sing and play simultaniously. Oh, that’s so hard in the beginning (and it still is :sweat_smile:). It might help to focus on the playing part and the singing part seperately in the beginning. Try to get at least one part on autofocus before bringing them together. And then it’s practice, practice, and some more practice.
It normally takes months, before I feel that I can play (and sing) a song at a satisfying level. Particularly , when there are new chords, strumming/picking patterns or other new techniques in it.
And yes, some days are better than others :grin:.

Keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re on a good path - and don’t forget to have fun. That’s all what it’s about :smiley:.


So in response to the topic header, I do think that learning gets harder with age and particularly remembering. I came back to guitar partly to engage my brain. I find that things, such as details, that I learnt maybe a few months or a year ago, I’ve forgotten when I’ve come back to that song. I’ve also found that I’ve remembered things wrong and had to go back to relearn them. This I guess helps to achieve my object of challenging the brain. But I wonder how many people, once they’ve videoed their definitive version, promptly forget the song. I bet Justin can’t remember most of the songs he’s produced video lessons for particularly the intricate detail of guitar solos.

I’m 67 now and have been playing on and off since I was 14. Things that I learnt decades ago I can recall and are easy but at the moment I’m struggling to learn arpeggios.

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Thanks for all the comments and feedback folks.

That’s all I was really concerned, seeking a little assurance that it isn’t something fundamentally different to everyone’s experience.

In some ways I think I’m fortunate in that I pick up most strumming patterns really quickly. On the flip side remembering words to even the most simple songs whilst playing seems impossible right now.
Or I’ll remember the words but find myself just mindlessly strumming with no pattern at all.

Someone mentioned having the guitar on a stand and again, I’m fortunate that I work from home and so every time I walk passed the guitar I’m picking it up briefly.
Practicing my F chord and a strumming pattern before putting it down a few minutes later has become part of my day now.

It feels so good when you play something and it just comes out right, almost like magic.

Or when you learn the first couple of chords to a new song and you recognise what you’ve played; you feel it in your heart suddenly.

I’ve got to play to someone or upload a video on here of my playing for pass grade 1 and so I’ll try to do both.

Anyway, I’ll get back to it.
Thanks all.


As others have noted you’re progress and experience is pretty normal. You should take some time to consolidate the Grade 1 stuff before moving on but don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, in other words you don’t need to have everything perfectly down before starting Grade 2. If you only have 1 or 2 skills that you’re not quite getting you can always keep them in your new practice routines.

You need to be honest with yourself as to when you feel ready to move on, after all this is self-directed learning so you’re only cheating yourself if you’re not. That being said, don’t let it get to the point where you get bored with the Grade 1 material, this is supposed to be a fun hobby after all!

You will find future modules will take a little longer but as you progress you should find the grade 1 stuff becomes easier. The big thing Justin emphasis from Grade 2 is to develop your own practice routines - you know what is giving you problems, so focus on that and not the stuff that comes easy for you. Everyone is different so we all have different routines, though I suspect most of us start with Justins recommended routine and then review/adjust it after a week or so.

To give you a guide, I’m also an older learner in Module 11. I took 1-2 weeks per module for Grade 1, so about the same as you experienced. I’ve found that Grade 2 modules are taking me around 3-4 weeks each. I expect Grade 3 modules to take longer still as the skills get more complex.

Good luck on your journey and above all keep it fun :grinning:

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This is absolutely a marathon, not a sprint and it seems like you are doing really well so far.

I think what happens is your brain has digested some of the information relevant to playing the songs but your fingers have not memorized that they need to do. That being the case, your brain still needs to be engaged in reminding your fingers where to go or what to do. Not sure at what point in the course Justin say’s in order to really sing and play you need 1 of the 2 to be on autopilot. It just sounds like you are not at that point yet with either the guitar or the singing (likely the guitar part). Just keep plugging away and you will absolutely get there.

If it makes you feel any better. I have been working on the same solo from ‘Let it Be’ for almost 9 weeks and its only 30 seconds long. I feel the same way, sometimes its like butter spot on and other times I get to the middle and forget what comes next. I play that same 30 seconds every day multiple times and still my fingers just forget. But I have faith or something that if I keep it up, eventually I will be happy with it and move on.

Hope that helps. Keep up the good work.
♫⋆。♪ ₊˚♬ ゚.

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Yeah, that really is how it is for me too with the singer. Good to know it’s normal.

I e literally just played three of my five songs and sang them right through (the other two were a bit ropey).

I just know in an hour I’ll practice them again and fall on my backside.

Thanks for the feedback. Very much appreciated.

Let it be… Sounds like a good shout.
I really want to learn Long Way Round by Stereophonics, Half the World Away and Live Forever but I’m concious of not having a stack of unfinished songs in my repertoire.

Planning on becoming more confident in my 5 first.

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I fell this way too, however, I am learning that I don’t pick up RHYTHM with the same speed. So I can learn the strumming patterns but I can’t play them well. I have to slow my self down and get the rhythm with it. It doesn’t sound good if the rhythm is off and one strumming pattern that you can play in the groove is worth more than all the others if they are not.


You are doing great, just keep playing. :slight_smile: Things that you mention are all normal at that stage. 2-3hrs might be too much in the beginning, but if you don’t have any issues with your fingers/hands, that is ok. You should just be ready to reduce if your fingers tell you that…



If I feel like I’m having issues with the rhythm of any given song or chord progression, I’m inclined to listen to the song several times without even holding my guitar & strumming my 1945 Gibson J-45 “air guitar”…
then, I pick up my “real” guitar and with eyes closed and strings muted, listen again 3-4 times while keeping the beat & feeling the “groove” or “vibe” of the song. After it’s pretty well internalized, I add the strum patterns… often I have to slow it down to get the strums & chord changes in time, but the original “feel” is still there…
Good luck with this!!!



all sounds quite normal to me. I started at the age of 53 and 10+ years on I still have my good and bad days. Hang in there, it does get noticeably better and fairly soon, 9 weeks in is quite early and you’ve made very good progress