Older student here (late 50s). I’ve been following Justin’s online lessons and using the Justin Guitar app for about two years now (COVID project ). I would describe my practice routine as “haphazard”.
Recently I started getting into the theory and practice of blues improvising. I’d been noodling around with the A and B minor pentatonic extended patterns- playing them over a couple of Justin’s backing tracks. I’d been learning a few licks from one of Justin’s lessons and trying to incorporate them into my improv. Also focussing on bending a full tone, rather than just randomly. I thought I was doing OK.
So it was time to bite the bullet and get myself a looper, so I could improvise over my own chord progressions. I bought a Boss RC-5 (more capable than I need), read the manual, watched a few how-to videos and plugged it in. I tapped the pedal, recorded a loop and was treated to the full horror of my own uneven strumming and messy chord changes.
Eventually it dawned on me that the backing tracks on Justin’s app that I had been playing along with were actually masking my poor strumming technique. I think the app is awesome and playing along with your favourite songs is a blast. It’s brilliant for helping learn strumming patterns and speeding up your chord changes. It’s definitely a great learning tool, but I think it needs to be part of your strumming practice. I had allowed it to become my only strumming practice.
Over the past few days I’ve been re-watching some of Justin’s beginner course lessons. I had developed a habit of strumming from the wrist, rather than the elbow. That resulted in the pick sweeping across the strings in an arc. My fretting hand is guilty too. I’m getting muted strings and buzzing due to lazy finger placement.
I’ve now compiled a practice routine that includes strumming to the looper’s metronome, 5 minutes of “quality control” practice (from one of Justin’s videos) and learning all the scale shapes. I’ll put a lot more work into barre chords this time around too. I still want to practice licks, vibrato, bending, etc, because I don’t want to lose what I’ve already learned about that stuff.
I feel like it’s been two steps forward and one step backwards. Maybe even two steps backwards! It’s my fault of course, because I didn’t nail down the basics before moving to the next stage.
Is anyone else here guilty of getting ahead of themself and trying to learn advanced stuff before really mastering the basics? If so, how did you go about rectifying your mistake? Did you keep practicing the advanced stuff while fixing the basics? Or did you go “back to the drawing board”?