Michael’s Learning Log

Part 8 - December 22

I thought it was appropriate today to post my latest update as it is the first anniversary of joining the community, which also coincides with about when started as a beginner on Module 0. Although to be fair I had played a little bit, more than 50 years ago, which helped me at the start.

What a year it has been, having gone from the very basics to having learned enough to be in my first gig playing with the local acoustic guitar club, unbelievable. I think I realised early on that one ambition would be to play in front of a live audience but getting the chance to do that in less than 12 months was well beyond my expectations.

So, what has happened since my last update in October. Well not really much progress in Grade 2 as I have spent the last few months learning the songs for the gig, which meant learning new chords and cherry-picking things from later lessons that I needed. I used F chord cheats but did play Bm as a barre chord, which was an achievement. Playing with other guitarists is completely different to just playing along by yourself. You must be so conscious of the tempo set by others, not easy when everything else is going on.

So, what did I get and learn from the experience of my first gig, see also my separate post. Michael's first gig Strumming is the issue for me and needs a lot of work, Justin’s Strumming SOS Course has come along at the right time. I have signed up for this and I think I can already see some improvement. I had not really played with Capo before, so playing even the basic open chords in a different part of the fretboard took some getting used to. Need to practice playing standing up, gave it brief try but it was going to be too much of challenge in the limited time I had to prepare, so that is something else I need to work on.

As a result of my exploits at the gig I have received a gentle nudge from some prominent members or the community to perform at an OM, sounds like a good goal to do this in 2023. I am sure playing solo in front of an audience even if it is over zoom is quite another challenge. With that in mind I think I already know the song I want to learn and play, but in the short term need to get some of my Grade 1 songs posted on AVOYP, I had promised to do this before now but learning for the gig took over.

Have now restarted on Grade 2 lessons but not done a lot of Theory or Ear Training in the last few months, so I must get back onto that. F chord is coming on very slowly, but I feel it is starting to get there. The Strumming Course is getting a lot of my attention at present.

Finally, thanks to Justin and his team, all the mods and the members of community for all their help, support and valuable assistance over the last 12 months and wish everybody the best for 2023.

PS Just got a badge for the anniversary as I am typing this, nice touch :+1:


Hi Michael,
Nice one year anniversary :partying_face: :sunglasses: :bouquet:

Great to see you growing as a player :sunglasses: :clap:


1 Like

Hi Michael. A good log for your one year anniversary, we’ll done.
I have also found myself playing along in a guitar club and already I can see the benefits of playing with other guitarists of a higher standard and being pushed beyond your perceived limits.

1 Like

Roger @roger_holland
Yes an amazing year, never expected anything like it turned out and a little surprised to be honest. I am fortunate that I am able to put in the practice time
which makes the difference.

Peter @prbushe
You are right being part of group of fellow guitarist is great fun and you soon realise how much you still have to learn. Must say they have all been very friendly and supportive.

1 Like

Part 9 – March 23

Time for another quick and short update


Sort of mid-way through Grade 2. Consolidating Modules 8 -10 and working through 11 to 14 in a sort of piecemeal fashion, needed the blues lessons, see below.

Presently struggling through Happy Birthday Finger Style, real challenge to coordinate fingers on both hands, much more difficult than expected.

Barre chords, coming on but changing them fast enough for a song and making them sound reasonable is difficult.

Completed Grade 1 Strumming Course and moving onto Grade 2, but already done the Blues lessons.


After promising for a while I eventually posted my first Grade 1 Song – Brown Eyed Girl. Lots of helpful comments – basically I played it a bit fast. Hoping to be good enough later this year to take part in a Community OM, well at least that is a nice target to aim for.


Made good progress and just about to start Module 4.3, all starting to make sense.

Ear Training

Not going well at all, still working on 4th and 5th intervals, testing myself with app. I start off ok then I get a couple wrong and it all goes to pot, if I guessed every one, I am sure I would get a better score. Giving it a rest at present and need to reconsider my reference songs.

Guitar Club

Being doing Blues songs and techniques this year and we are just starting to plan the songs for the Summer concert, a mixture of Blues and Johnny Cash songs. Looks as though the group I am in means I will have to learn 8 or 9 songs by the end of May. That is going to be challenge especially as most of the songs we have consider so far I have never heard of before, to add to that I have decided that I will play standing up so that is another skill I am going to have to learn very quickly, wish me luck.



Part 10 – June 23

Here is another update, I spent the last couple of months concentrating on learning songs for the Guitar Club summer concert, more of this later, which left me only a limited amount of time on other guitar matters, but that is now over so I can get back to some serious learning.

Did managed to work through all the Grade 2 lesson, so I am really at the consolidation stage and looking back through some the lessons again. There are some that perhaps did not get the attention they deserve, such as Sus Chords and Power chords. Palm muting, I think I am going to leave until Grade 2 of the Strumming course. I have done Grade 1 strumming, but I am going to revisit it again to practice the patterns with the new excellent strumming machine.

In terms of songs the list I want to learn seems to get longer and longer, bearing in mind I am playing and singing. I have decided to split them into, ones I want to learn to play from memory and those from a chord sheet. I have then subdivided them into Reprise/WIP/Learn. Not quite Justin split but works for me. Those in the chord sheet are ones where the chord sequence is complicated, and/or the lyrics are quite involved. Hopefully some of these will find their way into the memory category at some point.

I did post up one song in May, Crazy Mama by JJ Cale. I Intend to post up another song this month.
Still hoping to do an open mic later this year if things go well.

Made good progress and I am about to do consolidation for module 4, have done some of the tests but not all yet.

Ear Training
Have taken a break from this over the last couple of months as I was getting nowhere but intend to have another go shortly.

Guitar Club Summer Concert
Took place last week and the group I am in eventually settled on the following eight songs but did work through a lot more before deciding on these.

Crazy Mama - JJ Cale / Eric Clapton
Call me the Breeze – JJ Cale / Eric Clapton / Johnny Cash
Wishing Well - Free
Devil in disguise - JJ Cale
Tennessee Flat Top Box – Johnny Cash / Rosanne Cash
Ride the river - JJ Cale / Eric Clapton
Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
Lay Down Sally – Eric Clapton

Being blues and country songs there are a limited number of chords all of which I knew so it gave me chance to use a number of strumming patterns.

Unfortunately, not aware of any video but here are some photo’s that Dorothy, my wife, took.

This is only my second gig and there are a couple of things different, you may notice from my first gig. Firstly, I am standing up, something I was determined to do. Secondly and most surprising is that I have a microphone in front of me.

Although I had been learning some of the songs with my singing teacher, I had not planned to sing but when we did the sound check the day before there was microphone where I was going to stand, so I took a deep breath and thought if I don’t do it now I might never do it. Fortunately, there were two other proper singers in the group, so I don’t think I spoiled things.

I did ask Dorothy what she thought of the performance and she said we all looked too serious and we needed to lighten up. Good advice I think, but not easy to do when you are concentration so hard.



Hi Michael.

Good update, thorough as ever!
Congratulations on your second guitar club gig!
Sounds like your wife is a good critique for you. Mind you, she did say that you all need to lighten up a bit and I think you’ve previously said that the others have more experience than you. Maybe you can take the lead on this aspect next time! :wink::guitar:

1 Like

David @BurnsRhythm
The point of lightening up is a good one. The chap who organises things at the guitar club is I would say an advanced guitarist and a very competent singer. He keeps saying smile when you are on stage and convince the audience you are relaxed and enjoying it. However, the day before the concert the bass guitarist of the group that was on after us could not make it and he volunteered to play bass. He had only one practice with the other members and he admitted afterwards he found it difficult to relax during the performance, touché.


1 Like

Good on you Michael, getting out there and doing more gigs than many of us here!

1 Like

Thanks JK @jkahn

When I picked up a guitar 18 months ago I never thought I would play in front of an audience, but about 6 months in it sort of became a goal and to have achieved it!!!

Of course you don’t just turn up on the night there is a lot of preparation, what songs (some of my suggestions did make the final list), in which order and how they can be altered if necessary to suit the audience, extra chorus or shorter instrumental.sections. All a very interesting process in its own right.


1 Like

Hi Michael. Good you and the others members of the guitar club had a good performance. About the ear training I think that is one aspect that I’m not expecting to see immediate progress for me. Each time I do it probably some brain connections are being made and suddenly one day I’m sure I’ll start identifying some chords and notes, but for now I just have to keep dedicating some time to it and not sidelining it as I’ve done for some periods of time.

1 Like

Andres @dobleA
Thanks, we enjoyed it hopefully the audience, it was free entry so they could hardly ask for their money back :rofl::rofl:
Restarted ear training from the beginning again so hopefully it will go better this time.


1 Like

Part 11 - July 23

As you requested, by Nicole @NicoleKKB here is my progress, with the kit I got for my birthday Michael’s NGearD It may be of interest to others who are thinking about going down this path.

Will add an update on more general matters at a later date.

What I got was Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio which comes with condenser mic and headphones. Also got an external web cam, Logitech C920.

I knew the birthday presents were coming so I had done some research beforehand, watched quite a few videos on YouTube, as well as reading various posts in the community, so I think I was quite well prepared.

I had installed OBS beforehand, had a quick look at that but didn’t do very much than just look.

I intended to take things slowly and not rush so hoping I was understanding things as I went along. One of the issues that came up was that there was a whole lot of jargon that I didn’t have in my vocabulary so had to look things up.

First thing was to install the 2i2. If you do this through the Focusrite web page it takes you through registering the product, getting it connected to your PC, with necessary software, in my case it was to my Windows 10 laptop.

You also get to install a DAW and I went for Ableton. Again, Focusrite take you step by step through the process.

Connecting it all up to OBS was not particularly easy in the sense that the terms were all new to me and made a few false steps but when you do that you tend to learn a lot. Connecting up the sources at a basic level I managed.

Connected up mic and guitar and made a simple recording in the DAW and OBS just to make things were sort of working OK.

Did all of this over a couple days. Must say the videos from Focusrite are good and explain things very well. I had them on my iPad so was able to stop and do the task or rerun if I was not sure.

Last week I started to really get to play with making recordings in OBS. What I had in my original set up was the 2i2 as just one input. However, I had had seen Keith’s @Majik thread mentioning that you can split the inputs and control them separately. You need another bit of software installed in OBS to do that ASIO-OBS. There is an updated version from the original post which is mentioned in the later posts in that thread. Got it installed easily but getting the settings right took a bit of time as the is slightly different to the older version of the software. To be honest without Keith’s thread I don’t think I would have been aware you could do this as it had not been mentioned in any videos I had seen.

So, I did some recordings of parts of songs, so I had something to review. At the time I listened via the speaker on the laptop and it didn’t sound very good and I think I was a little disappointed. Then the penny dropped so I plugged in some ear buds and the sound was so much better. A beginners mistake I am sure. The quality of the sound is light years better than an iPad.

So, I am about to play around with the settings to get a decent recording balance between guitar and vocals so I can post up an AVOYP. Being realistic I don’t think this is going to be for a little while.

I have not set up OBS to go to Zoom yet but Keith’s thread gives you info on virtual cables etc. Think I will leave that for the present. Although I understand there may be some updated guidance coming that.

I am pleased with progress so far, but a long way to go yet.



Sounds like you are on track on the right road progressing in a sensible way, Michael.

And have you tried using the 2i2 as your audio output device on the laptop with the headphones? That should give you even better sound than the buds and (I think) more comfortable.

The only use case I have in mind would be to perform in a Zoom meeting while making use of OBS features. For example, using two input tracks to contribute to balancing sound levels. That said, you don’t need OBS to perform in Zoom.

Once you have the Zoom settings right (Original Sound) and select the 2i2 as your audio input device it will work fine. I have not done this so not 100% certain but I think when following that path the ASIO driver combines the two inputs. There may be some settings to get right, perhaps a mono/stereo setting. And onec working with a combined feed from the 2i2 then you can use the gain controls on the 2i2 to achieve the balance between the two inputs.

Look forward to the first recording in AVOYP.

Hello Michael, thanks so much for sharing your experience with the Scarlett 2i2. Your honest and detailed report is very interesting to me. But it also makes me quite insecure, whether I really want to get such a device due to my complete lack of technical understanding :see_no_evil:. All I want to do is play the guitar :innocent:.
I’ve got a better microphone now, and hope, this will do for the next time.

Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to hearing more about your progress with the 2i2, and of course a recording :smiley:.

Thank you, Michael :hugs:!

David @DavidP

Laptop replay – I see what you mean by using the 2i2 as the output device, when I first listened, I had disconnected the 2i2. When I record not sure if this is correct terminology, but the guitar sounds much fuller as it connected up, but the condenser mic is also picking up the guitar as well. My singing does sound better but that might just be wishful thinking.

OBS to Zoom – Keith’s post does deal with how to organise the two inputs from the 2i2. Not tried this yet, it is probably not going to be as straight forward as it seems.

AVOYP – Got a song in mind, would have posted it in July via my iPad but decided to wait and use the 2i2.

Nicole @NicoleKKB

Hope you are not put off by my comments. Connecting up the 2i2 to laptop was very straightforward, the Foucusrite videos are very good and take you step by step.

In terms of OBS there are plenty of videos out there on downloading and getting it installed then how to connect up the 2i2. OK the software to split the two inputs in OBS is a little more tricky but not impossible.

Don’t be put off.


Hello Michael, everything is totally fine :smiley:. I really thank you for sharing your experience. All this information was very valuable to me. I just feel, that it’s not the right moment for me to focus on the technical stuff. I just want to play guitar, work on new and improve already learnt techniques, and learn new songs :blush:. The right time to confront myself with tech things will come. But not yet :slightly_smiling_face:.


Part 12 – September 23

Another update, probably at one of those important points in the journey, as you will see under the guitar section.


Have been consolidating on Grade 2 for a quite a while and have reached the point where feel I really need to move onto Grade 3. We are on holiday in the near future so when I get back, I will make that the time to move on. I am making a list of Grade 2 lessons that I will want to keep visiting.

However, I will need to be more disciplined and structured in my learning process. During consolidation as I am at home and essentially retired with only household and family matters to deal with, I have tended to pick up the guitar at various times of the day and do a bit. This is not going to work well for Grade 3 so have already started to give this some thought, to a more structured schedule. I am going to have a separate session for learning and playing songs, as I have found in the past, I don’t spend enough time on what I should be learning as I want to get onto the songs.

So how did I could conclude that I was ready to move onto Grade 3, I used Justin’s list in Module14

No 1 – Chords

Really quite happy with this perhaps the only ones I am not using in songs are power chords, but I can play them. Also using E and A shaped chords in songs now, PFC are generally fine for them, but I still need to work on the speed and accuracy of change for songs as they don’t always come out well. I am using different fingerings for some chords depending what I am changing to or from, sometimes this is happening without me consciously thinking about it!

No 2 – Scales

Done the lessons but to be honest not a lot of interest in scales but have learnt C pattern 4 which is not in Grade 2, which apart from the highest and lowest notes fits my baritone range so is quite useful. However, in reviewing all the lessons came across C open scale that I had forgotten about and am going to learn that for two reason, it covers my vocal range and also has the notes used in Justin book on standard notation, see below

No 3 – Strumming and No 4 - Technique

I have probably into double figures the different patterns that I have learnt but have recently dropped back into the bad habit of not moving my arm, so in the process of correcting this. In terms of strumming perhaps looking more toward the new strumming courses as a way to develop this and currently about halfway through Grade 2.


In terms of songs the list I want to learn seems to get longer and longer, bearing in mind I am playing and singing. However, decided recently I need to concentrate only learning a small number at a time and get them to a reasonable standard before moving on to the next ones.

David @BurnsRhythm and I have been having a conversation about tractors, oh and also songs, and I promised in my LL to say what type of songs I was planning to learn.

Essentially, they fall into these categories

  • Pop songs from the 60’s to 90;’s that I like and are playable on the guitar. With possibly a very limited number of recent ones as I don’t really listen to contemporary music
  • Songs that go nicely when singing and playing on acoustic guitar be, they country or some blues
  • Whatever the guitar club throws at me which can be quite varied
  • I don’t see jazz coming into it at present.


Over the summer break we have had “Guitars on the Beach” weather permitting where some of us would turn up with chord sheets and just play along and sing to ourselves and anybody who was passing, see my post on this. Of course, the weather hasn’t all been good so on a couple of occasions we had to go indoors to our usual venue

Quite a challenge for a beginner to play along to a chord sheet without any practice but great fun and I am sure it has helped me develop as a guitar player

Starts again this week with our regular meetings but not sure yet what is planned for this year.


I did post up one song in August, Take Me Home County Roads, using my new kit, Scarlet 2i2. Got a lot of great feedback and in particular it highlighted my lack of arm movement during strumming. I don’t generally look back on these, but have on this occasion, must confess a little bit disappointed on my performance I am sure I have done it better, so there is plenty of room for improvement.


I have taken in my guitar to a singing lesson a few times in the past but recently the teacher has suggested I bring my guitar in each time. I think this is all about is my timing with the chords when you have nothing else to guide you. It’s like having an open mic every week needing to get it done in one go, and if I am honest, I like the challenge. Starting to move onto songs that I am playing from chord sheets and not from memory, but that is a skill in itself in my view.

Pitching, not really sure I am hitting the right pitches but apparently, I am mostly going up and down at the right time according to my teacher. I do listen to the original song many times, sing along with it and then move onto a karaoke version. I have started to mark up the lyric sheets as to where it goes up and down to sing with karaoke version. I then started to wonder how to check myself if I was right, so I got hold of sheet music and looked at the melody line. This then led onto, well what are the notes, never did music at school always science based so could not read standard notation. However recently got Justin’s book on Note Reading for Guitarists and working my way through that.


Made good progress and I am consolidation for Module 4, have just to do the test for Module 4.2 then move on. Although will keep on learning and working on playing triads


Still taking a break from after a couple of false and unsuccessful starts.

However, all might not be lost, and I hope Nicole @NicoleKKB won’t mind me mention this. I was listening to OM18 on my Air Pods and away from my iPad when Nicole played Luker, not a song I know. But in listening I thought I know those chords; they are all in the Key of G. Checked this out when the video came out and sure enough I was right, so there might be starting to get some connection between my ears and my musical mind. Nicole you played them well.

Apologies if this LL is too long, which is usually the case with me.



nice update Michael and lots of progress in all areas. Good to have a plan for Grade 3, as lots of directions seem to open up before you, all enticing you into different areas.

1 Like

Hi Michael
Yes it’s long, but no, it’s not too long. It’s a very comprehensive end of grade review.
I long since stopped comparing myself to others but I’ve always kept an eye on you because we started at the same time and from a very similar base. I can see now though that our paths will slowly diverge and that was what I was thinking when we were chatting on my log. There’s probably a big overlap in our taste of music but our way of playing it, or styles will become very different.
I was fully expecting you to say that your guitar club would influence the type of songs you learn. Well, okay, you’ve said that - but not to the extent I thought you might. You’re learning other songs as well.

Okay, so you are disappointed with Country Roads. Richard’s feedback was really quite something and you’ve shown in this update that you are taking it onboard and know what to work on. I’m sure you’ll improve it.

Have a good holiday and I look forward to your updates from Grade3.

1 Like