Matt’s Learning Log

Hello Matthew, thanks for sharing your learning log :hugs:.

Taking it slowly, is also my strategy. I always want to feel quite confident with everything before I move on to the next module :blush:.
Some really nice songs in your practice routine, by the way :star_struck:.

I wish you lots of fun with your six-string-friend :smiley:.

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Hi Matthew, I personally prefer the reward of feeling the (relative) proficiency with a skill than passing levels. At some point it just happens that is more useful moving to the next lesson than working more in the current one. You decide when to do it. Keep on working to build a good foundation.

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Good to see others are onboard with the idea of putting the brakes on a little bit. I know that in the past I learned little bits of lots of things (often badly), none of which joined together to make anything and that’s when the motivation dwindled. There’s enough choice of songs at the current stage that there’s no real excuse for getting stale.

Hello Matt… Great entry and good start. I really feel bad about myself now :slight_smile: JK but really this is my fourth go around with learning guitar being away from it for 10 years. I’m really having a good time with Justin’s course and like you taking my time. I liked your selection of selection of songs. I went with songs 3 little Birds, Heart of Gold, Hound Dog, Eleanor Ridgy and Don’t forget about me. Don’t Forget About Me was the lesson on YouTube that got me here with Justin. I’m struggling with son selection and want to p;ay songs I really like or think are fun. Cool Kids, Hometown Girl, Hero’s is one that was removed but is a great song by David Bowie are a few i’m working on.
Thanks for posting. Jim in California.

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Thanks Jim. I’m in a similar boat to you. Multiple attempts over the past 20 years and probably haven’t picked up a guitar in the past 5 years prior to this. I think song selection is so important. Finding ones that aren’t too easy or too hard, that offer different elements to learn and most importantly are fun to play. Of my selection, the tracks by Neil Young and CCR are well within my musical tastes and so I was keen to learn. The other 2 are just ones that I’ve enjoyed as I’ve gone through the levels in the app, even though they’re not necessarily my favourite genres. Hope you continue to enjoy your journey

Good intro Matt and yes put the brakes on! you need to make sure you embed the skills and actually get them working.

The challenge with Justin’s course is that each lesson is only imparting a small amount of knowledge AND then you need to practice it. So the key to getting the most of it - IMHO - is to do things in a staggered fashion. Watch the lessons, understand the material, setup a practice routine to start really learning how to use that material and when you think you’re getting it under your fingers start to move on to the next bit, then add that to your practice routing…of course the other bit to factor in is learning songs.

So you always have a three stage process going on… Learning songs based on lessons you’ve really understood and practiced (usually 1-2 stages before what you are now learning), practice for the lessons you’ve watched and understood previously, then looking at lessons slightly ahead so you can think about including that in your practice in the future.

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Hello MATT… I drop HEY JOE and a couple others from my play list. shooting my girl for cheating… just kick her to the curb as I did with the song. LOL :slight_smile: Where do you get your music sheets from? i have a Justin’s version 1 & 2 song books, also his 50 acoustic song book and his app. I found watching his lessons on my desk top, and practicing with the app works well but once I get going I just want the sheet music as the app seems to distract me from getting my own rhythm for a song.

Yeah it’s tricky to find something that works in the exact way we want as I think we all want slightly different things. I’ve been learning the basic song structure in Justin’s songs app, initially just to learn the chord changes and not worry too much about whether my rhythm sounds like the song or not. Once I’ve got to the point of feeling ready to play along with the song I’m using an app called Capo (iOS and subscription based) which is good for slowing down the song and looping sections to really focus on them. Capo also automatically detects chords in the songs (not always 100% correct but does allow you to make changes). With Drive by Incubus I’ve looped through the same section of 4 chords (with muted strings) so many times it’s not funny to get the rhythm right and then gradually started playing the chords and bringing it up to speed. Capo either gives you a scrolling waveform of the sound or can give simple chord diagrams or chord letters. It’s not the perfect app, I wish it could isolate sounds (as apps such as Moises can do - but Moises doesn’t seem to let you edit the chords it detects) so I’ll continue with it for now. That probably doesn’t answer your question at all but it’s what I’m doing until I find a better way!

Thanks the information as I will take a look. I did watch the Spark App/amp and was amazed.

I’ve been continuing on with the same songs as mentioned a couple of weeks ago but am increasingly playing the songs without looking at my guitar. I’m either looking at the songs app on my iPad which is deliberately set well above the level of my guitar, or as I learn the patterns, with my eyes closed entirely. I’d really encourage other beginners to try this. If you wait until you think you’re ready, you’ll never feel ready, get those training wheels off and see what happens! Will it sounds rough at first? Yes. Will you make mistakes? Yes. Are you learning loads? YES!!! Is it better for your neck and shoulders? YES!!! If you make a mistake, see if you can get back on track without looking. If there’s a chord change causing problems then it’s a sign to get back to those chord change exercises that Justin shows us. I feel that it’s also sharpening my listening skills.

I suppose the thing that’s most challenging at the moment is that I’m forcing myself to bounce between songs with different tempos and different strumming patterns, so sometimes at the start of the next song things goes a bit wonky for a while but it’s a deliberate choice to practice that way as I know it will pay off over time

I did briefly have a look at Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. It’s a track I’d like to learn but still a little complex (even just strumming the chords to a rhythm like song, picking the individual notes is much further down the line). It’s added to my list of favourites, along with Fortunate Son by CCR as ones to come back to

Thanks again for reading :slight_smile:


Good point about playing without looking. Especially your iPad being placed higher. That is a great tip for beginners like me.

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I learned this during one of my previous failed attempts to learn guitar using the Rocksmith PC app/game. The only way you could be successful at that was by looking at the screen to keep up with the notes. At first you think it will be impossible but it’s surprising how quickly you adapt. The reason I failed with Rocksmith wasn’t the app as such, just I had no structure to my learning. It does have lessons but I was distracted by songs that were well above my talent level!
You can make no-look chord changes part of your practice routine. Pick a chord change (e.g C to G to C) and look for common fingers that can be used as anchors or at least how the fingers move relative to each other for that change. You’ll pick it up quicker than you might think

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End of 2022 - 4 months on

Seems a good time to post another update. As planned month 3 was mostly about consolidation and just introducing a few new things towards the end.

Heart of Gold - nearly there with it, can sort of sing along to most of it but the guitar playing does become more erratic when I try.

Harvest Moon - still sometimes find my rhythm wandering during the chorus

Incubus - Drive - not perfect but am well on the way, playing what I’d have said was a strumming pattern that was far beyond me, with a chord change in the middle of it (I am just playing the same pattern throughout the song)

Starting to introduce a couple of new songs, Fast Car (initially just the chords) and Rocking in the Free World, both of which have the complication of chord changes in the middle of the strumming pattern (same is true of Drive by Incubus). They do highlight that my chord changes still aren’t completely nailed.

In mid-December I decided to move on from Grade 1 (maybe I could have learned a few more simple songs), which introduced Wonderwall into the equation. The strumming pattern is completely bonkers and isn’t something I’d have attempted not that long ago and yet I seemed to get it quite quickly working with muted strings (especially compared to how long it took to learn the one for Drive). There’s still plenty of work in terms of consistently hitting the strumming pattern when combining with the chord changes but it’s moving in the right direction.

So as far as 2022 goes I’m happy. I feel I’m over that first hump in the road where I’ve quit previously. I can actually play a few songs but the work needs to continue.

So what about 2023?

  1. Keep on practicing, playing and learning. My chord changes still need to be more consistent and there’s more work on my rhythm/timing to do.
  2. Scratch my metal itch! As much as I’m enjoying what I’m learning so far, ultimately hard rock and metal are the genres I listen to the most. I don’t have anything specific in mind at the moment but I need to learn some metal tunes in ‘23
  3. Tackle some music theory and ear training and learn the notes on the fretboard (I have started on theory and the fretboard but not ear training)

Thanks for reading, and have a great new year.

January 2023

My first thought this year was that even though I’ve started the grade 2 module, I actually need to learn a few more simple songs. I added Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s door to my list and I can strum along to a recording of that now.

The next thing was I decided I was overdue fresh strings on my Taylor and after doing it I can only say I was more overdue than I imagined, what a difference. Not the sort of difference that it takes someone with a well trained ear to detect, but it sounds like a different (better) guitar (I used the same strings that Taylor supply, Elixir 12-53s).

The majority of my time has been spent learning Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt. It’s been mentioned elsewhere on the forum, but when I saw Paul Davids talking about it on YouTube, I knew I wanted to learn it. There’s 2 main aspects to the track, picking out strings on chords (which hasn’t been bad) and it’s meant I’ve had to dive into the F chord. It’s taken some tweaking of my fretting hand position but I’m getting there. It has helped that the only change required is Am to F. I’m not there yet with it. I can generally make it sound good if I take my time but playing it up to speed is still quite inconsistent. That said, if you’d asked me after a few days when the side of my finger was sore whether I’d ever get it (I’ve figured out I was doing it wrong) then I’d have definitely said no!

Onwards into February!!!


Good progress Mathew. Good you are almost there with the F chord and applying it to a song.

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February - mid March 2023

So it’s now 6 months since I got my Taylor acoustic and started to learn to play.

The past 6 weeks has had highs and lows. In the middle of February I had a real bad dose of flu, was in bed for 11 days and there was no possibility of any guitar practice. Thankfully, despite not being fully recovered yet, I have been able to resume practicing over the past couple of weeks.

I suppose the biggest highlight was finally feeling confident enough to post a couple of videos in the beginners safe space thread (a bit of Hurt by Johnny Cash and strum through of Honky Tonk Women). That feels like a big step forward. I’ve had some really useful feedback from those which I appreciate greatly as I know how hard it is to give feedback, especially when you don’t know how it might be received - My first 2 uploads

At the moment I’m continuing to practice ”Hurt” and “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. Both feature the F chord and they’re coming along well. I can play House of the Rising Sun pretty well now with simple down strums, so next I want to embellish it. By happy coincidence, I watched a lesson the other day by Angela Petrilli on YouTube that featured this song and picking off notes within the chords, so I’m going to work towards that.

The other big highlight came a few days ago. I was looking for another song to try and chanced upon Honky Tonk Women in the songs app. It’s played with Justin’s old faithful strumming pattern and I was surprised how readily I was able to match that to the rhythm of the song and hit the chord changes within a couple of play throughs. That feels like massive progress over even where I was at the start of 2023.

I’ve got a few days of holiday upcoming, won’t be taking a guitar but once I’m back I will continue to work on those F chord songs (above) and look to add some more new songs into my repertoire.

At some point soon I want to start on something a bit more rock/metal with my electric guitar but I can’t decide what to start with. There’s songs I’d like to be able to play but most have at least one section that’s well beyond where I am right now. One example would be “In Bloom” by Nirvana. I can play most of the song (admittedly needs more practice) and then there’s the solo which despite not being the craziest solo in the world, is beyond what I can play right now and I don’t know what to do about it. Struggle with it and hope it gets better or leave it for the future?

All in all, very happy and looking forward to the next 6 months. Thank you for reading.


Bravo, Matthew, wonderful to hear and see your progress.

I suggest start working on In Bloom. Play what you can, stretch yourself on the rhythm. And maybe the solo is something that you don’t worry about for now. As long as you are comfortable dealing with things that you perhaps discover are just too much stretch and don’t become frustrated then there is nothing wrong with commencing this as a long-term, slow burn project. Just don’t allow it to become all consuming and distract from followig the module lessons, practice, and song playing.

Well done on the playing of Honky Tonk Woman with the app!

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April has mostly been a month of consolidation. I looked at Spirit in the Sky on the songs app and that’s got me practicing up and down strumming on my electric guitar to a metronome, moving round a few power chords and attempting to keep in time. It’s getting better.

I’ve also returned to Wonderwall which I started on at maybe the beginning of this year. There’s lots of simplified versions on the web but I was determined to learn something like an authentic strumming pattern for it which was probably quite a big ask only 4 months into learning to play. It took quite a while playing the rhythm with muted strings before I started to get it and then there was the chord sequences to learn. I got so far but decided to pause it (this was maybe 2 months ago). I’ve returned to it this week and am making progress again. I’ve learned the 2 main strumming patterns (and can switch between them) in isolation from any backing track because there’s enough going on for my poor brain to process. Now it’s time to learn to match it to a backing track. This has made me appreciate that it’s actually quite a fast/busy track in terms of what your strumming hand has to do. I’d say at the moment I’m comfortable at maybe 90% speed, can play at full speed but it’s definitely a bit rushed so more practice required. So people can jeer at Wonderwall and roll their eyes, but I won’t be because it’s proving to be a journey!


Hey matt, interesting log. How’s your Wonderwall coming along? I just started Grade 2 last week and I just added this song to my practice, first time to try in will be this afternoon. I’m not too worried about the fact WW seems to be jeered at (I didn’t even realize this was a thing till I started learning guitar, lol.) I finally listened to it on the App today, and thought, “hey, I’ve heard this at least once before”!) It seems to be a nice little song, don’t know what all the fuss is about.

I’ll have to ask over on the Guilty Pleasures, thread: What songs do we secretly like but don’t want anyone to know that we do! Come have a visit.

I’m continuing to practice the various bits of Wonderwall (there’s the verse, pre-chorus and chorus mostly) but I’ve still not put them all together to play through with the song. I think I keep delaying doing that because I know the first play-throughs will be terrible (I know that’s all part of the learning process!!!). I’m off work this coming week and it looks set to rain so maybe I’ll set some time aside to try to see how close I am to being able to play along to the song in Justin’s app and then the original recording. Don’t expect anything uploaded to YouTube just yet haha!

I do suspect that many of the people who jeer at Wonderwall can’t play it and would struggle if you offered them money to attempt it. It’s true that most of the song is covered by a single strumming pattern but it is relatively complex and also reasonably fast. Justin’s songs app has a simplified pattern of 4 downstrums per bar but in reality it’s a pattern of 1/16th notes and pattern of ups, downs and some gaps if you really want to be authentic. I probably should have started with the simplified pattern and expanded once I’d got that nailed.

I also suspect that much of the jeering comes from people not wanting to give credit to a couple of loud-mouths from Manchester for writing such a popular song. I think these days Liam is still fairly unlikeable but Noel (who wrote most Oasis songs) has dropped a lot of the attitude and comes across far better in interviews nowadays

Thanks for asking about my progress and good luck with your WW practice :slight_smile: