One year anniversary. I'm in a rut

Wow everyone thank you for all the encouragement. I’ll come back with some individual responses soon.

Its always a relief to know I’m in a normal part of the process, and that others have gone through it or are currentky going through it. I kind of wish there were more complain-y people like me posting their every learning struggle haha,
Just kidding, I know not everyone finds benefit from declaring their every complaint. But I do! Anyways, lots of great advice here that I will definitely take to heart.

A couple of other points I want to make so we can discuss them-

Having to do with moving on versus not moving on. I do see the reasoning in both methods. One particular struggle for me (which I know plenty of others share the sentiment) is that by not moving on, there’s a fear of practicing in bad technique for so long. Now I know we can’t learn advanced stuff first, so naturally we have to build, but I won’t lie, it’s a confusing piece of learning to consider about how much time to spend doing things with low-skill ability i.e. the tendency to do things in bad form.

And I want to iterate that it’s not that Justin’s instructions on what to practice are unclear. I love love love his suggested routines and will miss them when they’re gone. I follow them pretty closely but do make substitutions as needed, as he advises. I do highly benefit from his structured exercises. It’s more that I feel so novice at all the techniques, and again, there’s the fear that I’ll get good at being bad at them. So I tend to follow the mantra that moving to the next skill is a good thing because mentally I know I’m not going to master anything this early…and so, the hope is that the lessons will come back around to those skills with more advanced practice exercises. But it means these low level abilities pile up, and it gets worrisome, and then I get a little paralyzed knowing what to prioritize.


I’m not good at them either & couldn’t really find a song that I like. I have parked these for the time being, and will no doubt come back to them at some point!

Oh, you haven’t seen my woe-is-me singing thread from last year then :rofl:

The reality is there’s all sorts of people here and the lens they look at themselves with is different. Some are rose-tinted and others dark glasses.

I think you should not move on, and instead should keep learning & practicing songs until you feel you’re good at the Grade 2 stuff. The jump from Grade 2 to 3 is much bigger than 1 to 2 - and far less direction, it’s much more set-your-own-practice, I think your feelings would get worse.

As long as you’re trying to play the way Justin teaches, you won’t be practicing bad technique. I haven’t encountered anything in the higher grades that contradicts the earlier ones.

And if you’re getting something wrong, you’ll be able to fix it later anyway. Just think of kids learning sports, does a kid in their first year of soccer use the right technique? Nope, but if they stick with it for 10 years and pay attention to the coach they eventually will.

Oh, also - have you thought about doing another AVOYP, if you wanted feedback on your playing?


Been there, done that. I stopped doing the lessons and have been looking at blues separately, although that also has been parked and am learning all the bits of Wish You Were Here. I’ll come back to the lessons at some point.

There’s a guy called François Chollet who’s a software engineer working in AI and machine learning. A while back he wrote something which I actually saved and remind myself of from time to time. He said:

“The main difficulty with learning something new, is that most things are boring when you’re bad at them & only approaching them at an elementary level (e.g. math).You need to stay motivated until you’re good enough that the fun of deep practice becomes self-sustaining.”

So I guess the crux of the matter is to trust the process. If you keep practicing, you will get better. BUT, you should probably expect to never really be entirely satisfied with your playing (I know I’m not), which is normal. Because the same guy said something else that I saved.

“Artistic taste develops much faster than artistic skills. So there’s always this massive gap between your current output and what you wish it were. As a result, many artists struggle with self-loathing. Arguably that’s precisely what makes them good – it’s a drive to progress.”

Keep at it and good luck!


Hi Stacy

Have a look at this thread and see if it helps you with any ideas.



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We are all different. Some have goals, some maybe not. Sometimes goals come and go. Sometimes we are determined, sometimes like a feather in the wind.

If I had to follow the common advices, I would have given up playing guitar long time ago.
Should I stay only do grade 2 stuff until I felt I was good enough, I would have stopped before even starting.

None of you will become Steve Vai, Bob Dylan, Lee Ritenour, Marcel Dadi, Antonio Rey, Jeff Beck, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton etc etc etc, by playing their songs.

Also none of them mastered it all. So thinking we can master everything is doomed to fail. Simply not going to happen.

Legendary guitarist David Russell sits down with Prof. Steve Goss to discuss how to master the complex repertoire that inspires us all. Learn how recording yourself, stretching the boundaries of taste, and even taking a note out in strategic passages places can help you bring out the “big picture” of a piece, the essence that makes guitar music so magical:

My approach is different, as I don’t have to master techniques within a piece other people have made. In many ways, it makes my guitar journey a lot more easy.

I extract key points from Justin teachings and apply them to my own music, if I feel inspired or it could be a good idea. Also I consolidate while moving along. I never get stuck at a certain point or at a certain grade this way.

My ear decide the direction I want to go today and maybe tomorrow is different. If I feel I should train certain chords, I will try make a melody, combine it with different ways of strumming, train different fingerstyle etc etc.

Being captain of your ship and all crew members give you different direction, or direction you really don’t fancy that much, will get you stuck or sail into waters you actually prefer not to sail in, unless you actually take the wheel and decide on your own.

After I got Guitar Pro and are able to make my own drum beats, I enjoy training rhythm way more. The metronome quickly became annoying for me. I continuously find ways to keep the fun and enjoyment.
Learning is especially fast, when having fun and enjoying what have to be learned, compared to being bored or overwhelmed.

I can not encourage people enough, especially those feeling stuck, to find some chords that sound good in their ear and make a little melody and maybe write some words to it also.

As example, I felt I needed to train some of the normal beginner chords and found this little loop the other day: G - D - Am - Em and then back from there via C - Am - D - G. That makes two verses which I came up with yesterday morning while training that loop.

You simply don’t find these things, unless you leave the schedule for a bit and go exploring. Justin keep encourage people to explore and have fun. Freetime. Freestyle. But sometimes it seem people didn’t pick up those words from Justin. The frequency in the forum of that, is far less than Justin mention in his videos. Which is somewhat strange, because that was one of the main reasons I decide to follow Justin. :joy: :rofl:

A month or two is nothing on the guitar journey. So maybe take a month or two and just explore and have fun. Start develop your own sound and approach. You explore yourself at the same time. You might discover some sides and likes, you never thought about.

Music is art. Art is never a grind or boring. Have fun and enjoy every moment while at it with the guitar. Most important. Have fun and enjoy every single moment you have with the guitar. Sending my very best wishes. Cheers :sunglasses: :pray:


I actually feel the same! Yeah the barre chords are not a cakewalk but for some reason I just don’t struggle, whereas with power chords, its like all the strings block my view of what fret I’m going for, and the 5th string root ones just never sound as good as the 6th string ones, even though I’m muting the 6th string. It just seems to fall apart quite easily when practicing power chords.

This is always a relief, I think a lot of my anxieties are relieved when learning others have gone through the same things.

I don’t disagree. I was/am just so eager to get to the point of making something that sounds music come out of the guitar that I was really struggling to give the modules a good few weeks each. I will say this- I would get to the end of a module and feel like I had completely grasped the lessons, and memorized the chords, and the strum patterns (and for the most part, I really had). But then so many chords got introduced with Stuck 3&4 and then sus chords, then 7th chords, and power chords, and slash chords, it was like WHOA. Too many chords too fast. I sort of thought, well, I’ll learn them all really good as I learn songs, so I just kept moving on with general knowledge of those chords and I still know most of them now still, just haven’t memorized songs with them in it. But its also been a problem that I can’t really memorize songs for some reason, and that really kind of surprised me. It also surprises me that I’ve forgotten some of the things (one example: theory tricks to recognize patterns) that I’ve not worked on for a couple of months and I’m having to go back and re-learn a few times over.

I didn’t think about it this way, but you may be exactly right. I’ll keep this in mind.

You said it! It is surprising how much there is to learn, and I’ve been a little dumbfounded this whole year about how much goes into just playing a simple chord progression song- you need accuracy in both hands doing different things, accurate timing, consistent strum patterning, smooth strumming, know the lyrics if you want to sing or even know when the chorus is coming, remember to breath, to use good posture, keep the wrist straight, try not to look at the fretboard, maybe palm mute, maybe thumb mute, proper chord shape without muting…I could keep going. And lets face it, a beginner can’t do any one of those things correctly when trying to do more than one at a time. The only thing I did that was this hard, with this several things to do concurrently, was horseback riding!

Yeah what is the deal? It just all falls apart not very far into a song with power chords. I might try taking the note out that isn’t the octave and just do 2 finger power chords, that might be easier. And why I can’t seem to memorize songs baffles me a little bit.

So nice to not be alone, even though it feels like it because I don’t have anyone to really help me with my practice struggles in my day to day life, so it always helps to hear this. It literally never gets old.

I certainly have been trying to trust the process. I try really hard not to get bogged down with my concerns, and just trust Justin’s teachings, and that the practice will make the difference. It just gets rough sometimes!

How interesting! I find many of those posts inspiring. I’m going to write down several things from that thread and put it near my practice chair.

This might be a good idea for me. Thank you for the suggestion!

Your whole reply is very thoughtful and full of good info. I just don’t know if I can do this type of exploration you mention. I struggle with creativity, I struggle with thinking outside of the box, and I struggle with expression in the form of art. Maybe further down the line when I’ve got a good fundamental foundation I can sort of start venturing off the side of the path, but for now, I feel like its going to take a loooong time to feel like I can walk without looking down.


Oh boy, here I cannot tell a lie. I haven’t learned any. I immediately think back to your super helpful response to me previously when I expressed frustration and you suggested a bunch of good songs, targeted at building skill. I don’t know, something just happens when I sit down in my practice space. Its like all of the things I’d been thinking about all day that I was going to do at my very next session all go out the window and I draw a complete blank. Or I might remember one song I wanted to try, and boom 45 minutes has gone by and I’ve barely strummed a string. Practice has started to become less fun, but not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I can really enjoy it and I am so pressed for time, and 30 to 45 minutes seems to not be enough for any one sitting. But when my back starts to hurt, then I become aware of the 45 minute mark.

This is likely a big factor. I can’t hone in on what songs I want to learn, there’s so many out there. I get bored with a song after playing it a couple of times, especially if its a very simplified chord progression, its like the simplicity of it sort of ruins the magic complexity that I loved about the song and then suddenly I feel a tinge of disappointment in that song. It was kind of disappointing when I realized I can only ever play one guitar part of any given song, so it will never sound like the whole song. Even if I were to play the lead, the rhythm chords would be missing.

I definitely need to work on this but I think Ive been needing someone else to say it, to tell me to do it. It was just the other day in Mod 14 where Justin had a lesson on reiterating building a repertoire. I needed to be told so bad to Do It!

I described a little above, but it changes depending on the day. Most of the time I try to stick to the routine of 2 mins of this, 3 mins of that, etc with the 10 mins of song work. After your last bit of song suggestions, I realized I should try to just do song work for the whole practice for several weeks. So lately, I’ll open the app and scroll through and just play whatever looks interesting, maybe challenge my barre chords, power chords, or whatever. It just seems like very little is accomplished during this relatively short period of time. Yes I regularly devote an hour or a little over. Almost every day, yes. At least 5 days a week. Yes, will include video if I’m researching something in particular, or if I’m wanting to refresh Justin’s advice, or a technique. Sometimes playing the whole time, sometimes not, just depending on what I decided to do that day. For awhile I thought I need to just set a rotation schedule so that one day Im doing only scales, one day Im doing only a couple of techniques, one day im only doing songs, etc to get everything in over the course of a week. But mostly I get a little overwhelmed and when that happens, I just do songs.

Good questions. Im not sure. I don’t feel ready to pick a direction yet. I just know I like most styles of rock, and want to eventually learn to use gain and distortion. But at the same time I love the folk style and fingerstyle, and I just want to be able to do a handful of different things in different genres fairly well…not trying to be a rock star at any one thing right now.


OK I’ll shift my mindset at this point and focus more on training, and maybe knowing this will help me feel I’m where i belong versus the tendency to get bored because I know something cool is in the next module. Its a psychological thing, I think. I don’t know, I just do yearn for the next skill a lot. Or maybe its that I get bored with not being satisfied with my skill level, so maybe I’m yearning for more skill, not necessarily another skill, and maybe its easier to learn a new one than it is to perfect the previous one.

I agree, that too many techniques, even giving each one several weeks of practice, piled up. I’ll try to let go of the fear of practicing in bad technique and do maybe 8 weeks to each module. Urgh, that seems like a long time but I’m sure its better in the long run.

Nope. This is real area of struggle. I can’t seem to learn songs. There’s either too many to choose from or not enough, I can’t figure it out. But I do think not having much time to practice (only an hour a day) doesn’t seem like enough time to learn one. I know I’m wrong, I’m just saying that’s how it feels. And as I described to JKahn above, I find myself being disappointed in simple rhythm playing when I attempt to learn my favorites.

I think I don’t remind myself of this often enough.

Gotcha. I have not been doing stretching exercises. Admittedly, like scales, this type of exercise gets a back seat to playing songs or technique building. Aaaah so many things to practice!

Thank you for your dedicated response. I know this kind of post takes up a lot of precious time. But I am sooooo thankful for the support and encouragement in this forum and all the fantastic guidance and suggestions. I truly couldn’t do this without it.

And thanks to all the posters as well.


Thank you for these reminders. So easily forgotten in the midst of frustration when we don’t know which direction to step. Yes I worry about Gr 3 from all the things I’ve heard, its part of the reason I’m having hesitation right now. I do like hearing that everything is still very cohesive, so yes I try to trust Justin, even in the most difficult times! You’re very right with the kids sports analogy, that’s a good illustration.

Another AVOYP? Haha… I don’t feel any particular skill is worth showcasing at this point, so not really! I’d expect plenty of positive feedback, but also plenty of suggestions for improvement, which I know is the best thing ever, but I’m not ready to know how bad I am!

I am like this as well. Don’t worry about creativity, though. Some of us may never write our own music, but then, that is not my goal. I understand this about my self and don’t pressure myself about it.

However, that doesn’t mean I can’t explore the sounds I can coax out of my guitar as I play pre-composed music. Just try things out. If it sounds good it is good and it bonds you with your instrument.


I’ve been reading this thread with interest. I think JK and Richard have given lots of good advice, I don’t have much to add, except to say that if I were in your shoes, I would choose 3 songs that I want to learn to play all the way through. Just have a look at the songs page and choose 3 songs that you like that are Grade 2 (or Grade 1, even). Write down the names of the songs, so you needn’t worry about choosing again. Put them in the Songbook (on the website), so you can find them easily. Then learn how to play them from start to finish. I have never used the app, but in any case, I would suggest you learn the songs from Justin’s song tutorials. You could focus on one song at a time or all 3 on alternate days, whatever. Learn the lyrics, too, and sing along (if you don’t sing, at least sing along in your mind). When you feel you’ve learned a song, try to play along with the original recording. After all that, record yourself playing each song. This is helpful for self-assessment, but it also gives you a sense of closure, of achievement. You needn’t show the recordings to anyone, if you don’t want.

To be honest, I would dedicate all (or most) of my practice time to repertoire. Get a few songs under your belt, then go back to techniques.

You should really do this. If you get bored, just power through the boredom until you learn the songs. After you’ve gotten 3 learned, you should play them every day or two, to keep them in your mind. As you learn new songs, add them to your setlist, keep them in your standard rotation.

After all that, you’re on your way! 3 more songs :grinning:


Hehehe… i dont play songs with power chords :rofl: or… i swap it out for other chords if needed…
as someone has mentioned before in this thread… you need to play a song a lot to have it memorized. And then i mean a lot! A couple of times and move on is not enough :rofl: i have played the few i know by heart a countless times. And even if i stop playing them for some time they are gone. It needs to be done quite regulary… for me at least. I dont see it as a struggle or get bored by them though. But i do play a few selected countless amount. And when you that that. You can build layers to them. A hammer on there,a pull off here, a small lick there… but it takes a lot of time…

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I’ve been following this thread myself for all the useful pearls other users have offered - lots of good advice here!

You’ve said yourself that you need structure and from these two quotes, it sounds like you aren’t setting yourself up well for successful practice.

Jot down the things you think of during the day that you want to practice (note on your phone, back of an envelope, paper to-do list…whatever works for you) and add them to your JG Practice Assistant or whatever you use as your practice to-do list. We all have so many thoughts and ideas flit through our heads throughout the day - for guitar and literally everything else in my life, if I don’t write it down, it’s probably not going to get remembered, much less get done.

Similarly, scrolling through the app and playing whatever looks good at the moment isn’t giving yourself structure. I have a 5 minute (sometimes repeated) block of “Play along with songs in app” block at the end, which I use as sort of a free choice play item at the end of practice, but the songs I trying to learn are saved as favorites and have their own dedicated 5-minute practice items.

I think this is probably the biggest reason you are having difficulty memorizing songs. Repetition is what gets you there. In grade 1, I completely sympathize that what you’re playing hardly resembles the original, but with so many skills introduced in grade 2, I think you should be able to add some of the “magic” of the song. But ultimately, I think you need to be able to play the “boring” version of a song before you can add the fun embellishments, dynamics, etc. I’d consider pretty much all of my grade 1 (and grade 2, for that matter) songs as “developers” - starting out with the easy version so I can play along the right chords with the lyrics by memory, then as I learn new techniques and embellishments in later modules, adding them to a suitable song in my repertoire.

You sound like you’re pretty hard on yourself - I’d be willing to bet that folks in this forum would give you useful feedback and do so more kindly than you probably mentally speak to yourself. You don’t have to “showcase” anything - just play something representative of where you are now, take in the constructive feedback, and use it in your practice sessions (even the little things that will make you 1% better).


Hey Stacy,
Thanks for asking this question. I think we all go through this.
I am working through a rut now. This is what I’m doing that has helped me which is probably summarizes most of the above:

  1. relax - this should be fun.
  2. consolidate - You learned alot. Now pick a few things and put them to use playing songs.
  3. practing lessons vs playing - Some of us(including me) think that if you just go through all the lessons that you become a good player. You may learn alot but that doesn’t mean you play well. Your playing gets better the more you play.
  4. focus - I did Justin’s strumming course(SOS2). That got me to focus on 10 songs that i wanted to improve on. My strumming has improved and I can play those songs better. I started this 3 months ago and I am still at it. Adding some flair to the strumming keeps it from getting boring.
  5. next steps - figure out where you want to go and practice that. Don’t go and redo everything you already learned. Review those lessons that help you move to where you want to go. Why go back and do finger picking if you want to play blues or learn blues if you want to do fingering picking.
  6. make a plan. I posted this recently on another thread. Curious what you’re working on lately - #30 by pc429guitar
  7. Have a goal but not an end date.
  8. see #1 above
  9. sometimes if you want to go faster you have to slow down.

Wow, great thread! So many excellent comments. I am at a similar stage, finishing year one and grade 2.

One thing I did several months ago that I said I would not do was study theory. I took a course at the local community college and studied Justin’s course in parallel.

I’m recently retired so I now have time. I’m trying to get 500 hours in per year, so most days I practice 2 hours.

I find that spending 45 minutes per day working scales and rehearsing chords is actually relaxing.

If you are a beginner and don’t have Justin’s app you should get it. playing with the app helps your timing and forces you to make the chord changes. The app has help me to improve more than anything else.


This is totally why you feel you’ve plateaued then. Technique by itself is boring, and doesn’t really make you a guitar player.

Oh, this. This is holding you back.

Our brains are inherently lazy, and won’t remember stuff that’s too easy. Chords popping up and follow the bar is fine for beginners that need to learn to play on time. You’re beyond the app now if you want to progress. When I used the app I couldn’t remember any of the songs. Pick a song, watch the video lesson, and play it for yourself, properly. Proper strumming pattern. Listen intently to the song on spotify to get the song structure.

Drop the app - if you want to support Justin & team use the donation feature on the website, he gets more of it anyway. Oh, and the website lessons have way more info in the text including example songs.


I have considered dropping the app but have come up with different ways to incorporate it into my routine. Tab or App? - #4 by pc429guitar