A few days ago, I just finished the final Module 22 of Grade 3. As the time of pre-set practice routines is over for quite a while now, and I had the feeling I was rushing through the modules too fast (shame on my impatient self!), I was thinking about a way to slow myself down and provide a structured way to track my progress: What could work better than a learning log? Let’s see, how this will work out then…
Some remarks on my journey so far, probably mentioned most of it in my intro-thread already.
I first picked up the guitar 20 years ago as a self-learner (was having piano lessons by the time), self-learning meant: Looking up chord shapes in the web and printing out tab sheets our buying chord books and off we go. At least, my theoretical knowledge was quite good thanks to my piano teacher.
Together with a friend of mine we sat down and played songs we liked, very simple strumming or real basic fingerstyle and just sang along and annoyed… ehm entertained folks around – whether they wanted or not. We also wrote a few songs back then. Some of those I even recorded in a studio session later on (a present from my friends back in the days). But playing-wise, I never really dug deeper than that simple strumming of open chords and singing along. Every attempt ended pretty much nowhere, as I simply had no idea where and how to go on further. Nevertheless, I enjoyed making music and had loads of fun back then. That was until my very early 20ies, I guess. Once my studies got more serious (long lab days), I ended piano lessons and picked up the guitar only occasionally for a handful of songs I still remembered – that was it. There were years I probably didn’t even touch the guitar.
Let’s fast forward these “sad” 10 years until beginning of 2022. I moved and got a new job and the first salary I wanted to invest in something I always wanted to have (thanks to the sound of Roger McGuinn and The Byrds): A 12-string guitar. So, I went to a local shop and they only had 3 different models. I even don’t remember the other 2, as I immediately fell for the Martin D-2XE and took her home with me. I was happy on the one hand, but also a bit lost on the other, as I really did not know where and how to restart. I did, what I always did, picked it up, played those 3-5 songs I still could remember and that was it. Sometimes, I grabbed old tab/chord sheets and played different songs, but it was pretty much the same, nothing new and no noticeable progress, which kind of damped the joy I felt while playing. Spent several months wasting time watching random YouTube-Videos or reading books, but still it was not helping. Finally, in September 2022 I stumbled over one of Justin’s Song Lessons, I think “Jack and Diane” by JCM, and all of a sudden I felt a connection to the way he was teaching. Looking back, I still don’t have a clue how I could manage to NOT coming across JG earlier.
I was heading to the website and started his course from the very beginning and here we are, now.
Now the real work is going to start. As I had quite solid ground to build on, I went through grades 1 and 2 very fast and took half a year for Grade 3. In parallel, I enrolled for Music Theory and the Strumming SOS.
For consolidation purposes, I will re-check all past modules and create an overview of all skills taught there and do a thorough self-assessment. I will focus on those, that require improvement. But while thinking about a way to consolidate and what I have learned so far, I detected 2 huge areas I really need to get my hands back on as they were neglected due to my impatience: learning songs and transcribing!
For the latter, I will pick up those lessons/suggestions I haven’t finished so far. Maybe I will set kind of a monthly goal on how many songs to transcribe and hope it helps to put it up here to actually finish these things. Maybe I need this kind of pressure, haha!
Regarding the songs, I really need to find a way to pick up songs that I love, but also include techniques/skills I want to consolidate and – most of all – be patient enough to learn the guitar parts well enough before singing along regularly, because I don’t want to end up as I did as a teen and really want to learn more advanced playing. I hope this makes sense. To get this sorted, I should finally set up a song book with songs I already know, those I’m currently working on and my (current) dreamers.
The third area I will dedicate parts of my practice time is learning to play “country style guitar”. I have a few books on this that cover the basics in rhythm guitar accompanying, but also lead (for future) and fingerstyle. I always loved country music due to its variety in sounds, but still being recognizable at the same time. Also, it requires a lot of different and broad set of skills – so hopefully will learn a lot on this journey as well.
Last, but not least I have to step out of my comfort zone: I plan on doing AVOYP sometime soon and while typing, I already get stage fright… Not sure, which song to choose first, though the list isn’t that long yet.
To finish this first log entry, some hard facts on my current routine (still aligned with module 22):
- Practice daily for at least 40 - 60 min, mainly using 6-strings (acoustic or electric)
- “warm up”: 5 min E-chord explorer
- 5 min on easy barre chords
- 5 min on scales (legato pentatonics and/or pattern 1 major scale)
- 5 min “time”-practice, i.e. strumming patterns at different speed, framing…
- 10 min for country guitar, 5 min fingerstyle + 5 min basic rhythm guitar
- 5 min repertoire new songs, currently “don’t look back in anger” by Oasis and “Nichts von alledem” by Wolfgang Petry (for the Germans here: This is a real nice tune, would never have expected this), the latter I plan to perform for my Mom’s birthday in August…
- 5 min repertoire revision
- Remaining time just mocking around a little
Apologies for this lengthy post and thanks to all, who read it! This really helped to initially sort my thoughts/doubts… whatever and for the next, I hopefully have a clue on the above-mentioned open points and how to include these into my practice rountine.
Have a great day!
Cheers – Lisa
PS: I’m open to suggestions and experiences made by others and always happy to answer questions.