Leslie's Learning Log

Hi there, so I’ve been at this for about 2 and a half months now and decided I probably need to start making a record of my progress. Hopefully when I look back in 6 months or a year, I’ll be astonished at how far I’ve come.

I’m 59 years old from Texas and this is my 3rd time trying to learn. I tried when I was a kid with a cheap acoustic guitar, with group lessons at the Y. I have a vague memory of trying to learn “It’s so Easy” and it wasn’t. Then about a decade ago, I got inspired from guitar hero. I bought a cheap electric guitar and I couldn’t even get it tuned. More discouragement.

The last few years, I’ve been focused on what I want to do with the rest of my life. I changed jobs from a Software Developer to an Animal Rehab Tech (mainly focused on dogs). Instead of stuck at a desk all day, I spend most of my day in the Underwater Treadmill with the dogs. Finally, a fulfilling job that I love. Then I started thinking about bucket list items. The two major items on my list are to compete in dog agility and to be able to play guitar so I can sing along.

About 3 years ago, I started training my dog, Kizzie, who was 7 yrs old at the time, in dog agility. It took about a year and a half of training, but we’ve been competing for over a year now. We’re currently at the intermediate level, but we’re just one qualifying run from being in Excellent.

A few months ago, my partner took up the harmonica. Lots of squeaks and squawks for the first few weeks, but then one day I noticed I could tell what song she was playing. This got me inspired to try guitar again. The internet can be a wonderful thing. I stumbled on Justin’s lessons and I was off and running.

I started with a Yamaha APX600 Acoustic/Electric guitar. Then a couple of weeks in, I decided to get a Cordoba Mini Classical guitar, so I could practice at work. A few weeks later, I decided I needed a Squier Starcaster Semi-Hollow guitar. My idol is Bonnie Raitt, so I wanted to learn slide guitar, so I then got a cheap Cigar Box guitar, thinking 3 strings would be easier. And to round out the list of guitars, my partner has a Teisco Tulip Electric guitar from the 60s.

I’ve been lurking here for a couple of months. I’ve been tempted to post for awhile, but I wanted to be a little further along in my journey. I’m definitely improving, but I’m still not very good, which I know is to be expected after just 2 and a half months. But ever the optimist, that I can speed up the process. Anyway, the “D” chord is my nemesis. I do practice A, E and D with chord changes and strumming with the beat everyday, but changing to the D chord is still a killer for me.

I’m probably not helping my progress, by branching off in too many different directions. I’m practicing on 5 different types of guitars and instead of just sticking with the basics, I’m off trying to learn things like how to use a slide and fingerpicking. And I’m working on several songs that are using more than just A, E and D chords. I even wrote a song. I think I may have a little ADHD going on. I’m sure it’s not the wisest way to approach learning, I would never train dogs this way, but it does keep me motivated to practice, so there’s at least that. Here’s the songs I’m working on, for each guitar, with a few edited videos:

Acoustic: For what it’s worth and Sweet Caroline

Playing at 50% speed is extremely hard for the strumming piece, but the slow speed was needed for chord changing. I was counting in my head trying not to speed up on the strum.

Solid Body Electric: I’m so Lonesome I could Cry, Sweet home Chicago and 12 bar Blues

This was just a little improvisation. My partner informs me that it’s too fast to sound very bluesy.

Singing is definitely hard when trying to play.

Semi Hollow Electric: Moon River

Cigar Box: Women be wise

Classical: Pink Panther theme

So that was a little sample of where I am. Suggestions appreciated.



Welcome to the Community, Leslie.

Loved the story, the pictures, the clips … you’re well on your way.

At this stage I can just say, take it slow and steady, enjoy yourself, relax and I look forward to hearing how you progress.

Wow, what a collection for a beginner - jealous! Haha
We’ve been playing a similar amount of time, good luck on your journey, following along!

Hi Leslie,
Welcome and you already have a nice collection of guitars :sunglasses:…and how nice that you made all those short videos with the different ones…nice that you re-record the same parts every few months to to follow progress well, really do what you plan to do…I myself was / am planning to do that but I have too many things that I am doing…
I wish you enormous much fun…

Hey Leslie, that’s a great start, so glad you are putting such effort in, I started 10 years ago at the age of 53 and I’m so glad I stuck with it. I tried once about 10 years or so earlier and didn’t get very far. It’s such fun now to be able to belt out tunes. Keep at it and keep smiling. It’s so very worth it.

Hi Leslie, welcome to the community. That’s a lovely collection of guitar you have there. That’s great that you are recording your progress. That’s the first time that I’ve seen a cigar box guitar and was great to see you playing it.

You must find that very enjoyable. I used to take one of my dogs on a weekly basis to the hydrotherapy. She is a very nervous and independent dog but after the first couple of sessions gradually introducing it to her in her own time it became her favorite day of the week.

Likewise, I found it to be a fantastic guitar to learn on.

Good luck with your learning and also for qualifying in the dog agility.

Fantastic introduction Leslie and what a background and story!
Lovely collection too, I’m intrigued by the cigar box guitar! Enjoy the journey and look forward as well to hearing about your progress.

Awesome start to your learning log and great collection. I’m also intrigued by the cigar box guitar, I’ve never seen one.

Like the idea of working on a different song for each guitar, would be especially useful when working with different tunings.

Hello Leslie,
I’m sending you a warm Welcome to the community :hugs:.
It’s always interesting to learn about the individual backgrounds and stories :grinning:.

I’ve got only one guitar so far. But that’s absolutely fine for me, as I’m really overwhelmed by the amazing number of songs I’m (theoretically) able to play with it.
If I had more and different guitars, I’m quite certain, that I would get lost completely :sweat_smile:.

I wish you a lot of fun along your guitar journey :slightly_smiling_face:.

Hi Leslie! One can never have enough guitars! I was impressed by your accuracy on the Pink Panther tune! :+1: :smiley:

Hi Leslie, welcome. Good progress. Some things with the guitar playing will be easier than others. Just be patient when something takes longer to get a hold of it.

Hi Leslie, great start to your log.
Looks to me like you’re having fun playing with all your guitars. Nothing wrong with that. You’ll settle down in time and find your way of doing it.

‘You would never train dogs this way’
Not sure which way round you’re looking at that. I train working sheepdogs and I see a lot of similarities between training dogs and learning guitar. Maybe you are seeing the differences, but if you turn it around and see the similars you can use your skills and knowledge of dog training to help you learning guitar.

Looking forward to your next update
🎸 David

Thanks everybody for the welcome and encouragement! I love the vibe here.

@Socio It’s an amazing tool. It made a huge difference for Kizzie. She’s 10 yrs old and has some arthritis in her shoulders. It’s not noticeable as long as she regularly uses the treadmill. She gets Chiropractic from the vets too, which also helps.

Yes, it has a beautiful sound, whenever I hit the chords clean. The Starcaster does too

@Notter @alexisduprey I saw somebody playing one online and thought the same. Back in the day, the blues players who couldn’t afford a guitar made their own, with whatever materials they could find. This one is very cheap, $35, just so I could see what it was like. I do really like playing it. There’s quite a few folks making them of all kinds of different material (cigar boxes, shovels, oil cans, license plates, etc), that can be found on etsy and ebay. Getting a decently made one is on my list, but for now I’m having fun with this one.

@suzieq Thanks! I actually had to do an edit towards the end of the video to get that last piece, because I could not get everything all in one shot and was getting too frustrated to keep trying. But at least it’s now recognizable as the Pink Panther, I think. My partner had no idea what I was playing at first, so my timing has improved some.

@BurnsRhythm Oh absolutely and Justin has done a great job of laying out the building blocks. That’s how I try and train my dogs, setting a good foundation and then building to more advanced concepts. So what I was trying to say by my statement of “I’d never train dogs this way” referred to me not sticking to Justin’s plan and being off in too many different directions.

I totally agree, there’s a lot of similarities in training dogs and learning guitar. It took a year and a half of training before Kizzie and I were ready to compete and I’m a year in with Eubie (we’re getting close to competing), so I mentally know being proficient at guitar is going to take time. When I get frustrated, I remind myself of that. I also practice guitar in short intervals, throughout the day and if I’m having issues and getting frustrated, I put down the guitar and try again later. I think I need to reign myself in a little to focus on the basics more, but not so much as to squelch motivation.

Too cool that you’re training working sheepdogs. I’m very partial to the herding breeds, since having Smooth Collies back in the early 2000’s. My current 3 puppers are all rescues/mixes, but all with some herding breed in their makeup.

Kizzie’s, a Malinois mix. Hanging out at the front desk at work:

Huckleberry’s a Cattle Dog mix. Very relaxed after having Acupuncture at work and not able to stay awake on car ride home:

Eubie’s a Kelpie mix. In the underwater treadmill:


Ah good! You know about the similarities. I’m guessing that putting the guitar down when you’re frustrated comes from there too. You’ll know that your frustration goes straight through to the dog and it just makes matters worse and you end up in a downward spiral. You either have to call it a day or very quickly calm yourself down.

Kizzie’s my favourite. Look at her eyes. They say “ been there, done that, seen it all before “ !
Why do they always rest their chin like that. Looks uncomfortable but they all do it!

There’s an equine centre up my road that has a hydrotherapy treadmill for horses. It cost £80,000 three or four years ago and it’s big. The lorry delivering it couldn’t get round the bends past my place so they had to split it and take it on two smaller trailers. Horse boxes are now going up and down past here every day and from quite a large area I believe.

You’re on it, Leslie, and you’ll put Justin’s building blocks together in a way that suits you.
I’ll leave you to it.
🎸 David