Mark's Guitar Learning Adventure

After a nearly 23 year break, and at the age of 58, I restarted my guitar learning adventure on March 23rd when I picked up my new Yamaha Pacifica and attempted to form a D chord. A few days ago I got a Yamaha FS800 acoustic to take with me on upcoming road trips so I won’t miss practicing. So I guess you could say I’m motivated to learn!

Here’s my gear in my music room:

I’ve always enjoyed listening to guitar based music in almost all genres so I figured it was time to get going on my long-term goal of being a competent player. I had finally reached the point where I can reliably practice on a daily basis and truly give myself a fair shot at learning the guitar. I am also motivated to learn music/guitar as another way to challenge my brain and hopefully reduce the chances of age-related cognitive decline. This has become important to me as my Mother battles against Dementia. Learning guitar will get added to my lifelong aerobic exercise and healthy eating routine, hopefully giving my brain the boost it needs to resist the effects of these terrible diseases.

In the last 10 days I’ve managed to practice every day and have worked my way through Module 1 to the point where I can usually get the A and D to ring clear and switching between them about 30 times a minute with most of them sounding OK. My fingers hurt (a lot) but I’m continuing to practice 2x/day. I’m seeing more progress in this short time than in 6 months of lessons back in 1999 so I’d call that a win! I figured I’d update my progress from time to time and tap into the vast amount of experience I’ve seen on this forum.

Here’s a summary of where I’m at:

Chords: Currently working on A, D, Am and E. Making progress on getting them to ring clear most of the time. I do struggle with the A shape (“surrounding” the 1 finger with the 2 and 3 is tough for me but it is getting better). The D is mostly good now but my ring finger is particularly sensitive/painful so applying enough pressure isn’t too pleasant but I expect that will get better. Any input on how much longer I can expect to flinch every time I press down on it?

Finger Strength/Flexibility: I’m doing Justin’s Finger Gym and Finger Stretching for a few minutes each practice session. I’m also doing a “Fast Fingers” exercise I saw on Lauren Bateman’s channel that really tests the independence of each finger, especially the 3rd one! These do seem to be helping a tiny bit but I have a LONG ways to go before I could call my fingers “nimble”!

Songs: I’m currently working on Born in The USA, Brown Eyed Girl, A Horse With No Name and Free Fallin’. Technically, only Born In The USA is appropriate for my level but Tom Petty is one of my all-time favorite artists and Free Fallin’ seems within the realm of possible for me. Brown Eyed Girl is something I failed at when I last took lessons so it’s on my “get back at my 1999 self” list! :grin: I spend about 5 minutes a day on a couple of these songs.

Music Theory I signed up for the free intro to the Practical Music Theory. I figure it can only help me in my learning. Anyone else enrolled in it that could give some feedback?

That’s it for now. I think I will start Module 2 this coming week and keep working on my songs. I’m really enjoying the process and Justin’s approach to teaching.

Any tips, suggestions appreciated!


That’s really awesome. Hang in there, the fingers soon toughen up. They really do.

HI Mark, welcome to the community. My fingers were feeling better by the end of the 2nd week, but I was only practicing once per day, don’t know if resting my fingers longer than you makes any difference. Nice looking guitars.

Cheers from another Mark. I also own a Pacifica. They are great guitars.

Welcome to the merry band :wave:


Hi Mark, good you started your learning log. It’s a good place to receive advice and encouragement and to self reflect about your guitar learning process. Justin proposes very short practice routines at the beginning mainly because finger pain, the undeveloped strength of the muscles involved and the lack of ability to stretch the fingers may not allow longer sessions. Just listen to your body and don’t push to a point you can injure yourself. It’ll get easier as the practice passes by. Good you’re giving a try at some songs you like.

Practice Update-I’m Living In A Bryan Adams Song!

This last week has called for some short-term changes in my practice. Why? Well, just like Bryan Adams hit “Summer of '69” I played my guitar “til my fingers bled”. Not blood pouring out of my fingers bleeding but still, I did get a small cut/blood blister on the tip of my ring finger, making it very painful to press down the strings.

I was warned by you good people not to practice too much and I am now paying the price. :grimacing:

I’m working through Module 2 and will probably stay there for another week until my finger is 100%. Here’s what’s happening:

As a result of the blister, I’ve only spent a few minutes actually practicing chords that require the ring finger but, in the spirit of making Lemonade from Lemons, I have spent a fair amount of time practicing switching between chords without actually pressing on the strings. This has helped a lot so I feel good about that. I have also spent a fair amount of time practicing strumming using a metronome.

Finger Strength/Flexibility:
I’m still doing the Finger Gym and Faster Fingers exercise and making some improvement but boy, does that ring finger need some work! It’s flexibility and independence is really bad but I’ve noticed a smidge of improvement. Also, the Peter Gunn riff is a good exercise and I started doing it today.

The blister has essentially stopped me from practicing songs that require chords so I’ve spent some time exploring finger picking patterns as I’m really interested in learning how to do that. Hopefully I’ll be back to practicing songs in a couple of days. The strumming practice should help me as well.

Music Theory:
I’ve spent some time using the Fretboard notes app to start memorizing the notes. I plan on starting the basic music theory lessons over the weekend.

My blister is almost gone and I have started to get callouses on all of the fingers so I should be back to full strength in a few days.


Oh wow. Almost reached that point myself, but luckily got distracted away for a couple days due to work. :face_with_peeking_eye: - Nice to hear your are quickly healing up again and you found other ways to keep some practice going. Interesting how eager we can be, even when it hurts. :joy: and thnx for the reminder to take care of those sensitive fingertips. Wish you a smooth and pleasant guitar journey :guitar: :sunglasses: :pray: