Michael’s Learning Log

Thanks Phil @philsmith
I am looking forward to Grade 3.

Yes it was a bit long but I felt it was an important milestone along the journey.
You mention we seem to be diverging I think that in comparison to somebody else that is almost inevitable and I think Justin sort of indicates that at this stage, people go off in different directions. Playing but perhaps more in singing I have done songs that I never thought I would be interesting to do in a million years, and have enjoyed them, so it has opened up my horizons.
The guitar club influence is interesting that you mention that, as a junior member there are far more experienced players who tend to suggest the theme for the next round of performances. When I look back you would be surprised at the range of genres done, Beatles, CCR, The seekers, Irish Folk Songs, Country, Blues, Christmas Traditional and contemporary, quite range. That’s what I mean about what is thrown at me, having said the last time we came up with a playlist for the group I was in some of my suggestions made the Final Cut.
I think my disappointment with my last AVOYP was more about the quality of the vocals, I had recorded singing with just a backing track Karaoke style and it was so much better, the challenge is to do that when I am playing as well, together with the putting right other faults indicated. If you don’t know what is wrong you don’t know what needs putting right, and I am not put off in anyway I realise I still have an awful lot to learn and improve on.
Thanks, Yes and looking forward to a holiday.

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Hello Michael, I enjoyed very much reading your update…you’ve been quite precise in describing where you are and where you’re going. I think that being more structured will help you a lot, often 5 minutes of focused practice are more effective than 1 hour if you can identify what the short term goal is.
You’re so lucky with your Guitar Club :star_struck:
I’m very happy to read you’re starting to feel a connection between your ear and musical mind! That happened to me too, after a lot of frustration with Happy Birthday and other little “easy” tunes that seemed impossible. Things also get better along the way as you get more self-confidence.

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Silvia @SILVIA
Thanks for taking the time to read my LL, it was a bit long. I know what you mean about short 5 min or so practice. I did this when learning the F chord, I would pick the guitar up quite a few times during the day and did OMC or PFC, it definitely helped.

I am beginning to realise how lucky I am to have a local guitar club.

I hope that bit of transcribing means there is starting to be a connection, I see there is some transcribing in Grade 3 so might not approach it with dread.

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Hello Michael, that’s a very interesting LL entry. You’ve made great progress. I can remember, that by the beginning of this year, we were more or less at the same stage in our journey. But meanwhile, you’re already far ahead of me :slightly_smiling_face:. I guess, retirement is quite a helpful time in life to learn new things :thinking::grin:.

And I think it’s great that you’re not only focussing on playing and singing (a quite challenging combination sometimes), but also on theory and ear training.

I wish you a great start at grade 3, and look forward to hearing more about your progress :blush:.

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Nicole @NicoleKKB


You are too modest you are a much better player and singer than I am.

You mention time availability when you are retired, it is obviously helpful, but the danger is that you do little bit here and there rather than a concentrated structured session, which is why I am planning that for Grade 3. Of course if you need to concentrate on say a chord change you can do that, a number times a day.

As far as being ahead of you I am not sure, I may be about to start Grade 3, but am I totally on top of everything in grade 2, probably not, but I got to the stage where I was just learning songs rather than doing a lot of consolidating and needed another challenge. Not that learning songs is a bad thing it certainly is not, which why I have decided it has to be a separate session to the Grade 3 lessons.


Hi Michael, I just read your learning log update.

Sounds like you have a lot of guitar on the go, and really making some progress. That’s great!

One tip on Grade 3. I found it a big step up from Grade 2. I think it took me longer to get through Grade 3 than 1 & 2 combined. At times some lessons are just informational, others took a LOT of practice to get under my fingers. Many times I doubted it would even happen. But it did.

So, get into Grade 3, take your time and most of all, keep the practice up. :grinning:

JK @jkahn
Yes I do seem to have a lot of guitar related things on the go at present, that’s how I like it.
Your comment about Grade 3 I have heard before, I am not setting any target to complete it and will take my time.

Hey Michael,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your journey back to music and your amazing progress on the journey!

I also admire how you’re learning and immersing yourself in music from so many different angles. Guitar, Theory, Singing, & Ear Training is impressive!

I’m actually going to check if there are any sort of guitar meetups in my area. Probably more difficult now that I moved out of the major cities. But I never thought of it. I have a lot of friends who play, but they’re scattered all around the world and nowhere near me.

The first scales here can be a bit boring (especially C Maj)… my experience has been, once you get to some of the other scales - like the pentatonic/minor pentatonics, blues, and every other flavor “, etc (I like to ascend a minor pentatonic scale, then come back down adding the extra few notes for the blues - it starts to sound really cool… then when the dots connects with the theory side and it all starts to come together in a lightbulb moment… it becomes really interesting and helps understand the fretboard/chords/all those great solos and riffs in songs, etc… the c maj is def a bit of a dull one though at first. I started learning scales on the theory/applied theory side before I came across them in Justin’s module… haven’t done Justin’s theory course, I’ve been learning on my own with books and research. I learned with the triads first (I still do these exercises daily, but I’m almost at a point where I instinctively know where the 3rds & 5ths are anywhere anywhere on the fretboard in relation to the root note… maybe you’ll connect more on the scales side when it either starts coming together, or when you start getting to the scales that some of your favorite songs use or maybe it’s not really your thing and rhythm guitar/chords are what sound good to you. Whatever fulfills you on this journey!

I admired that you started singing. That’s something I want to get back into. If you can hear, you can learn. I started singing with my old churches choir about 7 years ago. It was a larger church in NYC, so they actually had vocal coaches who worked with us regularly. It’s fun to see the results as you build up your vocal muscles. I stopped several years ago (and my small talent disappeared with it, since I’m not a natural), but really enjoyed it and found myself singing everywhere I went during that period of my life… just walking through NYC with my headphones in singing. I can’t wait to see how that part of your journey progresses.

Really looking forward to reading your future updates! Also, did you figure out the virtual cable for OBS → Zoom? If not, let me know. I’ve set it up quite a few times on my own laptops… I use it for all my meetings and for some fun stuff with friends too (I also work in tech, granted I left the desktop support part behind over a decade ago, somehow I’m still the free helpdesk for all my family and friends). Anyways, if you need a hand/help with that, let me know!


Thanks Bryan @bnicholson85
Such a long post where to start.
I do wonder if I have too many musical things going on but not in my case I have an inquisitive mind. I think the theory side is bringing it all together, I was puzzled early on about what the capo was doing in changing key and transposing, chords in the key, circle of fifths, so I spent time on that which was way beyond Justin’s lessons at the time, but has been invaluable when step out of the safe space of Justin’s Tabs and start on songs that he has not covered from say, UG.
The Guitar club was a great find, at least 10 mins !!! from home. Meet every couple of weeks. The club is all about performing to an audience, we of course do a bit of learning and going through a few songs in small groups and perform them at the end of the evening, quite a challenge for a beginner like me. We do two or three concerts a year, “entry is free but donations welcome” so a lot of meetings running up to them is practice. Playing in a group in front of an audience is challenge and a completely different experience to playing by yourself.
Scales, I am sure I will.get into them in more detail in the future. As regards singing, my teacher says I have made good progress, but I did start from a very low point.
Not tried to set up virtual cables to Zoom yet still trying to get at home with the settings on my guitar, 2i2 and OBS for recording. Going to tackle Ableton, next. Thanks for the offer of help if I need it.

Sorry for the long post! I tend to speak/write a lot about things I’m passionate about, to begin with, and there was a lot of great stuff in your log. I didn’t realize when I started reading your learning log that it went back over a year, and once I started, I was fascinated by the entire journey!

Out of curiosity, are you planning on using Ableton for recording or live jamming in a home studio?

Bryan @bnicholson85

Not done much on Ableton yet other than a few test recordings.

Taking things slowly but planning to record my singing only with a backing track, Karoake style.


Part 13 – December 23


It is two years since I stated to learn with Justin as my guide, and also as it’s the end of the year, I think it is a good time to time to ask the question of myself, have I progressed more than expected? The answer is way way beyond what I ever thought I was capable of doing, thanks to Justin.

I think I could class myself, without being big headed, as an ‘Advancing Beginner’, which seems to be the title now used for somebody working their way through Grade 3. There are things in Grades 1 to 3 and some beyond Grade 3, that are not as good as would like, which is inevitable, but I know what they are, and it just needs more practice.

Being able to play and sing songs for me is a good guide on how I am doing, so just had a count up, if you exclude the 24 I had to learn for the Guitar Club Concerts then of my own choice I have 16, I can play some of them from memory and another 6 I am working. As a repertoire, that does not sound too bad to me for somebody who has only been playing for two years.

I delved into all sorts of areas in the past year in a bit of a scatter gun approach at times for things that I needed for other reasons, like A shaped barre chords. Perhaps spread a bit thin covering on a lot of different aspects but has suited me and kept me well and truly motivated.


I have now moved onto Grade 3 but not made a lot of progress in the last couple of months with having to learn songs for the Guitar Club Christmas Concert, but if the mantra is “learn songs. learn songs” then I have certainly been doing that.

I have now set up a structured practice process which I suggested last time and I think you need this at this stage.

Been working on my strumming to try and correct the lack of arm movement and that seems to be coming together but need to keep an eye on myself to make sure I don’t drop back into the bad habit.

I made the executive decision a couple of months ago to move on from the JD Nylon 0.6 to the orange tortex pick which is also 0.6 but much stiffer. Had a few false starts with this in the past as the smooth pick just kept moving too much in my fingers. So, started to work on pick manipulation and now seem to be able to control it much better. Also started a few months ago strumming with my thumb, before just Grade 3 Strumming course came out, so a lot to go at in that. The main reason was so my singing teacher could critique my singing better with less noise from the guitar.

Finger picking – started to have a go at this initial with 6:8 Pattern in Grade 2 for House of the Rising Sun and now at the stage of playing the chord sequence, so just to get the right tempo and matching the singing. Also have started the 4:4 patterns in Grade 3 and sort of picked out Wonderful Tonight as the first song to apply it too.


Manage to post a version of White Christmas this month. So, hoping to try and do one a month in 2024.


Still having lesson but now generally playing the guitar as well, which makes things more difficult but finding it very helpful, it is a bit like an OM in that you have to be prepared and perform a songs in one go all the way through and keeping playing through any mistakes.


Still making good progress and passed Grade 4 and working on Grade 5.1


Must get back into this now I have a bit more time available.



Super learning log Michael. I think your making great progress. Really interesting to read your journey. Very impressed with your song repertoire and the performing skills/experience you’re getting with the guitar club. Good luck for the next year.
Best wishes,

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Congratulations on your 2nd year of guitar Michael!

Don’t worry about the scatter gun approach, you’ll find what you want and settle to it.

A definite yes to ear training. Don’t beat yourself up if you find it hard though, allow it the time for your ear to develop. It’s not just about identifying intervals in a test, it’s about….well….everything guitar and music.

Wishing you another successful year! :guitar:

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Enjoyed reading your write up Michael. You made some good progress over the last two years and its good to see you methodically taking your time. Some many folks seem to want to rush through the grades and tick the boxes off. Glad to see the Guitar Club exposure really kicked off, as I am sure playing with others has given both your playing and confidence a boost.

Wishing you continued progress for the coming year. I’ll be snapping at your heels, as I do my retrospective from ground zero.

JGC Open Mic appearance this coming year perhaps ?


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Bravo, Michael, well done on the progress made. I’ve been following along since you began and commend on how you’ve put yourself out there at the club, the rewards are there to enjoy.

Keep on keeping on.

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Michael congratulations on your two year guitar anniversary and all the best for 2024. I tend not to worry about classifications, I will always be an advancing beginner. What’s more important is that you are enjoying the learning adventure and from following your journey it is clear to see that you have certainly been having fun learning to play guitar and playing with others. It’s good to read that this year you will be setting up structured practices routines to keep the progression going strongly. Good luck for 2024 and keep having fun.


Just catching up with things after the holidays and all the best for the New Year to everybody

Alan @Alan_1970
How could I not be pleased with my progress as I said way beyond what I imagined when I started. I am fortunate with having a Local Guitar Club that do performances. Just got an email about tomorrows get together, two songs to learn both of which I have never heard before, and we will have perform them at the end of evening, keeps you on your toes.

David @BurnsRhythm

The scatter gun approaches sort of works when I need things in Grades beyond where I am at, but I do work through each Grade and lessons methodically.

Yes, ear training is a bit of an issue, beginning to think I am a bit too disheartened by the Ear Training App and not doing very well at it. I perhaps need a different approach of concentrating more on the intervals on the guitars and sorry for saying this but singing the intervals which I have not really done before.

Toby @TheMadman_tobyjenner

Yes, I am definitely pleased with progress and as you say not trying to run before you can walk although that is only partly true. The guitar club has meant that I do have to jump ahead, like A shaped barre chords.

You are right I do need to do a Community OM in 2024, and you can hold me to that. One of the slight issues is that I am often out on Saturday afternoon and do get back for a seat in the audience, but perhaps not in enough time for the sound check, but I am sure I will find a suitable slot.

David P @DavidP

Thanks for the kind words, I like you follow the progress of a lot of people and that is the nice thing about the Community to see how people develop.

The guitar club is great and absolutely no doubt it has improved my guitar playing and range of things I can to do, the support you get from other experienced members of club is great. Being able to have the opportunity to perform in front of an audience is a great experience and I recognise it is not easy for everybody to get that opportunity.

James @Socio

I know what you mean about being hung up on labels, but it does give you an indication of where you are at. As you say if it not fun then you might give up and I haver no intentions of doing that. Of course, like anything some things are difficult to learn.



Good on you Michael for having a positive attitude towards your learning journey. Be proud of everything you’ve learned so far, however small it may seem at times. Sometimes we tend to forget where we came from, but we shouldn’t take anything for granted. Making it to (and through) Grade 3 is a huge milestone. It’ll be interesting to see and hear how you get on with the advancing beginner stuff. Good luck!

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