Here is my learning log.
Part 1 - History
I must have always been interested in guitars when I was a child, less than ten, my father made me an imitation electric guitar it had strings and peg tuners, his hobby was making things out of wood and he was very good. This was the late 1950’s in the UK things were very different to now. Of course it didn’t play any recognisable notes but as child I didn’t care a bit, wish I still had it but unfortunately not. Later my parents bought me a beginner’s guitar as a Christmas present when I was a young teenager. My mother was a teacher and could play the piano, I think she was hoping I was musical as well, unfortunately not. What I learnt was essential self taught but I did follow along the Guitar Lesson on BBC TV called “Hold down a chord” in the late sixties, see my post in “Older guitar students”. I also had a book by Solo Guitar Playing by Frederick M Noad but there was too much music theory, I didn’t understand any of it. I was science based at school not the arts and never had any music classes. Perhaps at the time I should have had guitar lessons.Then real life kicked in, University, work, marriage and family.
Part 2 - February 2022
Fast forward more than 50 years and I spot my old guitar in the cupboard when putting away Christmas decorations, I have always had in the back of my mind to give it a go again at some point. So I looked on the internet as you do these days and came across Justin’s lesson and decide I would give it a go. I have started at the very beginning and after a month and a half or so at Grade 1 Module 4, and really enjoying it. Playing along with only six chords on the app to some of my favourite songs is magic. Chord changes are going fine but strumming pattern other than four down needs a lot more practice. Have identified eight songs which use a good variation of the six chords, different BPM, and suitable for strumming patterns of either 4D, 4xDU and of course Old Faithful. Probably going to make sure I am competent with what I have learnt so far before I move on although even now I can position my fingers for C and G chords almost without thinking, this must be muscle memory from all those years ago. Even delved into a bit of music theory, it is starting to make sense after all these years. Also starting to think about singing as well after a little bit of pressure from the community, having originally said that is something I would definitely not be doing.
I realise I have only just begun and have a long way to go but at least I have started on that journey.
To follow in due course.
Great stuff Michael, enjoyed reading your story. It brought back memories for me of learning my first song some years ago thanks to Justin. You sound like you’ve got a great start. Upwards and onwards.
I have read quite a few learning logs and introductions in “Old Guitar Students” and there seems quite a lot of us who come back to the guitar in later life.
I’ve been playing for 10 years now and it’s such a pleasure. Yesterday was an exhausting day helping our daughter move house. Got back from that, pulled out the guitar and played for an hour or so and before I knew it, all was well with the world again.
Hey I’m on Grade1 modules myself and enjoying the process as you have said. Seems it will take awhile to get the strumming down but I look forward to seeing your progress!
This is magic Michael, I’m so glad you’re fulfilling the dreams of your younger self.
Sounds like you are making good progress and have just the right mindset, Michael. Take it slow and steady, ensuring you lay a good foundation and you will soon discover that you are musical after all.
Thanks @DavidP i think as beginners we sometimes have a tendency to want to keep moving forward on the journey faster than we should. However with age comes experience on how to do things differently to reach the same goal. I am reminded about the “Tortoise and the Hare” analogy.
@suzieq Thanks for the comments. At the moment strumming is proving the most difficult to master, missing the down strum in Old Faithfully took a bit of getting used too. Now matching it up the metronome is the challenge while changing chords. Strangely I find this easier at 100 BPM or faster than at 80. I intend to post my progress.
@batwoman as you say nice to do something you have always wanted to do.
I refer to myself as learning at tortoise pace, with reference to the fable, all the time, Michael.
Rock on, Michael! Or play on, if rock’s not your thing. It’s really nice to see more and more older guys & gals in the JG community. As Justin says, paraphrasing, as long as you’re enjoying yourself, it is good. Be patient with your strumming, and slow it down a little to get the rhythm, then increase speed. There’s a song (One by U2) that I’ve been playing off and on in my practice, and after just watching part of Justin’s lesson on it again, I realized what I was doing wrong in the strumming (needed to start a part with an up-strum on the “and”), I found what I was doing wrong. It’s a journey…
Rob not sure really what my thing is, I started in the 60’s with The Beatles and the Stones, 70’s with Lindisfarne through to the 80’s and 90’s with Eurythmics and Dire Straits, of course Dave Stewart and Mark Knopfler both come from my area of the country as do Lindisfarne, I think I can see a theme here. In the 00’s one of my favourite songs is the Mavericks Dance the Night Away, delighted to find it as one of the songs in the beginners course needing only two chords.
Mentioning Dave Stewart, my wife used to go to watch him play at the local folk clubs in the late 60’s early 70’s when he was around 18, he was very good and destined greater things, the rest they say is history. My link to him is that Kai Olsson (yes his brother was Nigel Olsson, Elton John’s drummer) was in my class at school, he and his friend who sat behind me spent all there time writing lyrics. Kai joined Dave in I think there first band Longdancer and had some success. Kai went on to have a career as a musician. Apologies for all of that but it is my only claim to fame with the music industry.
Great read Michael. It’s good to see another person dusting off the old guitar and getting back into it.
Nice to hear it, Michael! My music-listening life started in the mid-60s with kids in the neighborhood listening to early Beatles albums, and went on to attend some rock concerts in the early 70s (Mott the Hoople, Aerosmith, Grand Funk Railroad, The Who, Joe Cocker, Allman Brothers Band). My wife, too, was a fan of folk music including the old Nameless Coffee House in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and saw Joni Mitchell there (when Joni was in college). She remembers her playing Chelsea Morning.
I love reminiscing about musical pasts…
Hi Michael, I too found that my fingers knew where the chords were from a learning attempt years ago. I also found that I already knew the theory in the Grade 1 Theory course. It seems we did sort of build a foundation way back then, albeit a wobbly one in my case. I think we’re in the right place now to build a much stronger foundation.
Was not expecting to give an update so soon.
Still on module 4 but must confess a bit ahead on myself in practicing C and G chords and also going to try and change between the other six chords without looking at my fretting hand. Sort of doing this a bit already as when I play along with songs on the app I am watching for the chord changes and not really looking at my fretting hand.
However here is the more surprising thing at least to me. When I first joined the community and responded to post from @Oopsadaisyfaisy who was going to sing as well as play the guitar I said there was no way I would be singing as well. A number of you @tony @Dave911 @TheMadman_tobyjenner @DavidP @Richard_close2u suggested in the nicest possible way I should give it a go. I have never really sang at all, do a very good mime when required. I realised if I was going to do it then I would need some professional help, so I have signed up for my first singing lesson this week, could be my one and only if it doesn’t go well. Must confess I am a very nervous about it but I will give it my best shot.
Enjoy it, Michael. Singing (just like guitar playing) can be learned. So just like guitar, once you have found the right teacher, be dilligent, persistent, patient and I am sure you’ll make progress. You may never become just like <insert favourite singer’s name here> but can develop some basics and be able to sing in public without fear. This is all based on my own personal experience.
Check out Chris Liepe. He’s worked for many of us and will be cheaper than private lessons and you’ll keep a shed load of reference material for whenever you need it.
Good luck. For me what made the difference was getting proficient enough with my playing of the first song I sang that I wasn’t thinking about the playing and the singing happened accidentally. What also helps is the timing of the lyrics of the song. Some lyrics are fairly straight forward and each phrase aligns with the chord changes. Other lyrics, at least for me, are quite a challenge when they are offset / syncopated from the chord changes.
Justin also has a lesson on singing and playing. He breaks it down in great detail. For me it was easier than he explained in the lesson, yet the concepts still applied.
You’ll have a great time with all us other “returners” here.
The most exciting bit is, that with the help of the great lessons on this site, we’ve all got a pretty good chance of more than making up for the missing decades in our ability,
Certainly true for me - I’ve learned infinitely more here in the 18 months I’ve been playing since lockdown, than I ever did on my own.
Part 4 April 22
Thought it was about time to give an update, apologies for the length but in preparing this it has given me a good picture of what I have achieved so far (which is beyond my expectations thanks to Justin) and what I need to address in the next stage of the journey.
Moved onto Module 5 but have sort of got a bit side-tracked and have not been doing a lot of Justin’s Module Practices, having said that I think for me it has been very beneficial indeed, see below, as have been working on strumming and songs.
- Jumped ahead a bit and learnt G Chord as I needed it for some of the songs I am working on.
- Speed with OMC is well up to standard but don’t always sound great so going to try PFC which I came across in a later module.
- For Dm using fingers 123 could not get away with using my little finger and with G chord again using 123 which is what I was used to from way back.
- Finger pain has gone but did get similar sensation in my thumb for a couple of weeks which I put down to pressing too hard, thankfully that has gone away now.
- So, in terms of chords, I am comfortable with where I am but obviously still room for improvement.
- I was expecting strumming to be more of a challenge rather than the chords based on past experience and it was.
- Apart from 4xD I was really struggling with the ‘Old Faithfull’ strumming pattern, missing the down strum and timing with the metronome. So, I decided to take some time out, from formal daily practices and I got a copy of Strumming Techniques 1 & 2 to concentrate on this and get it to a reasonable standard. I pleased to say it has worked, not perfect but certainly able to play along with some of the songs on the App at their intended BPM.
- Also, I didn’t want to be in a position at this stage of just having two patterns, so working on DUDUDUDU and DDDUDU and these have improved considerably and much more confident with them when changing chords.
- Still occasionally the up strums only catch the first, or first and second strings so doesn’t sound great but just more practice, I guess.
- Have quite enjoyed learning these and they have come easy which made me try the intro riff for Brown Eyed Girl, see link to another post.
- The problem I have is that I don’t have a cutaway guitar so can’t get to 12th to 15th frets is not possible but tried to make the best of it by repeating the sequence from an earlier bar.
Passed Module 1 will move onto Module 2 in a couple of weeks.
- The other thing I have been working on when I have been side-tracked are songs for Grade 1 Pass and have picked three songs so far
- Dance the Night Away – The Mavericks
- Bad Moon Arising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
- They are ones I know whereas some of the more recent ones on the App I have never come across, might be showing my age at this point.
- I have been creating my own sheets with the lyrics and chord changes using the App and the Song Book. I expect I could have got this from Justin’s Chords and Tabs, and will get this in due course but thought it essential for future reference that I spend some time understand how the songs are put together, rather than just have it given to me.
- I am practicing the chord changes and singing separately not tried to put them together yet, following Justin’s guide to singing and playing, about at step 8.
- They actual have a limited range of Chords, not really using minor chords so been trying to play along with songs on the App which incorporate these chords
- What I have done so far has convinced me that I need to do the Ear Training Course which I am sure is going to be a challenge for me.
- Including this in Leering Log which might be unusual, but this is my first venture into social media, and this may be surprise to some of you in the community.
- Some will say how did you get to your late sixties and not have got involved, but it has been a deliberate decision up until now.
- Let me explain, it not as though I am not used to computers, the opposite is the case. I first had a home computer since the early 1980’s (saving your data to a cassette tape – that was an experience). I organised the firms first computer system and looked after it for a while until it got in the way of my real job and we took on IT Specialist. Since then I have had management responsible for the IT until I retired a few years ago.
- I am trying to contribute the community from a beginner’s perspective, sometimes with perhaps naive post, but also trying to post some general ones to get a discussion going, some have gone down well others not, but that is the way it goes.
- Thanks to @DavidP assistance managed to get Discobot to send me an email to allow me to take the New User Tutorial, so I am certified (just waiting for the knock on the door with people in white coats and a straight jacket to take me away– that would make playing the guitar difficult). Also did the Advanced Tutorial, so I am Licenced (don’t know whether this allows me to sell alcohol in the UK).
- I started these about five weeks ago and was not sure how it was going to work out, given that I have never sung in my life.
- The teacher has been very patient with me and says I am improving and I wasn’t convinced at the start but I think she might be right but there is a long way to go to make it suitable to exposing to other people.
- She is very cooperative and have started to use the three songs that I am doing for Grade 1 which is a big help.
SHOTER TERM GOALS
- I suppose it is first to complete Grade 1 and get to the stage when I am happy with five songs to post them AVOPY and so pass Grade 1.
- A little way off yet but getting there, I hope to do this by the Autumn but not putting any pressure on me for this at present.
- Part of Justin’s recommendation for passing Grade 1 is to play a song in front of someone which I have taken to be not family.
- As it turns out I have come across the Sunderland Acoustic Guitar Club that meet in a Church Hall about 5 miles from where I live. When I make a bit more progress, I intend to make contact and see if they are taking on new members. That might give me chance to play one of the songs in front of people I don’t know.
Apologies again for the length of this update.