Questio-rant about learning

Hello party people!
Glad to be here, tho my questio-rant might seem less enthusiastic.
Picked up a guitar about 6 months ago, for the second time that is (first try many moons ago ended poorly). After watching countless videos on YouTube about people making guitars I gave up - I just had to get one. Now I have 5…
Next step - to actually learn. Thing is I’m 40, and you could say even 20 years ago I was past my prime. But again some knowing people on YouTube told me it’s never too late. Naturally, if you search how to learn guitar online, you’ll end up here, so here I am. Admittedly, did buy Rocksmith and Yousician too, but can’t say they were of any use for me as a begginer.
I practiced for the last 5-6 months for 1-2 hrs a day (sometimes even more - almost all my free time) and “finished” the begginer 2nd grade so to say. The only problem is I feel I learned absolutely nothing. In some way I feel even further from my goal then before I began. Yes, I did manage to make 150 Em do D chord changes in a minute once, but I feel it has nothing to do with actually getting better at guitar. Although guitar exercises do sometimes seem boring and repetitive, I don’t mind doing those (I plow through much more boring and mundane stuff daily) as long as I can convince myself it will benefit my end goal. And for the most part I could (at least for now). The bad part is learning songs, which, as you might imagine, mostly sound as an amateur butcher slaughtering a pig with a dull knife, and it drives me absolutely insane, not to the point of quitting guitar, but to the point of smashing it on the wall. Not sure what kind of advice I’m seeking for…
Am I not practicing enough? Am I practicing wrong? Am I too old to learn? Or this guitar thing is just not for me?
Any thoughts are highly appreciated…

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Assuming you are following Justins course and doing everything in it…including practicing songs…then at 6 months you should have started to get some fluency to your strumming and moving between chords. There should be a big difference between when started ( at zero) to where you are now. You should know most open chords (and more) and be able to do some simple strumming patterns including old faithful. If you can’t move between chords at a reasonable speed (and 150 is probably over doing it) then it’s difficult to play songs hence the focus on this.

At six months though you are probably still a beginner so therefore your expectations of where you might be after six months might not be realistic. You are not going to be strumming along like a pro (or even an accomplished player) at this point. It takes time measured in years BUT that said you should be able to see progress and realise you are getting there.

Have you taken a look at the audio video of your playing part of the forum and seen where others have got in similar timeframes? It might be an idea to record yourself and share here so you get some feedback on where you are (you’re almost certainly better than you think). Share how your songs sound on here and then people can provide some feedback and help.

You talk about achieving your goal…what was your goal when you started?

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Gordon, I wouldn’t consider you too old. There are many people older.

This struck me reading your post. It seems pretty quick to work through from Grade 1 to end of Grade 2.

And this is not ideal. Sure songs may not sound just like the original, but by the time you reach the end of Grade 2 I would expect your playing of songs to be sounding OK.

Perhaps make a quick recording on your phone of you playing and post here. It’ll give us a view as to where you are in the learning.

But I’d suggest slowing down and working on some songs to put into practice all the theory and technique taught through those grades.

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To me, exercises are valuable, but they’re only valuable because they help out with the ultimate goal, which is playing music. Music is most often expressed through songs. To, me, making music expressed through song is the primary goal.

My general advice is:

  • Keep working the course, but give a lot of focus to learning some songs. They can be very basic, two or three chord songs. If you get to a point where you can play even a simple song reasonably well, you’ll feel like you’re “making music” in a way that success with exercises doesn’t provide.
  • Block out some time to “just have fun” with the guitar, outside of formal practice. Play and experiment and explore without worry during that time. It’s supposed to be fun.
  • Post some recordings in the audio/video of you playing section of the community. Don’t worry if it doesn’t sound as good as you’d like. The people here are understanding of beginners’ struggles, and encouraging and supportive. If you want constructive feedback, be sure to mention that when you post a recording. We might be able to offer you some advice and tips based on what we see and/or hear in the recordings.
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Some good points raised by Jason @Rossco01 and David @DavidP and I would also suggest Jason 2’s advice @J.W.C but would also ask

What approach have you taken to leaning songs ? Have you played songs from end to end ? Have you looked to play along with the originals or over a backing track ? Are you having specific problems with songs ? Chord changes ? Strumming ? Following a progression ? Timing ? Have you been more focused in exercises ?

Have you met the criteria for song learning at the end of each module before moving on ?

When Justin recommends 60 changes per minute, at a point they can be applied effectively to songs, what drove you to continue the exercise to 150 changes per minute ? Was there a particular song with Em and D at that tempo ? If so what was it ?

Sorry for lots of question but beyond the general advice given, I’m interested in your rationale in order to try and help further.

So for now, slow down and revisit some of those early songs, go right back to the beginning and assess how far you have come. If you don’t return and replay you won’t be applying all the news skills you have learnt, which may have a big impact on how those songs sound now.

I know my early songs sucked and sounded terrible, jeez they are still on my Soundcloud :scream: but going back and applying new skills made them sound a whole lot better.

Keep at it and to coin a phrase re-learn songs.

Cheers

Toby
:sunglasses:

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Finally, after 13 months and working on some songs for more than half that time, my family is starting to give compliments to my playing and the dog no longer leaves the room!

I think there is a lot of good advise here and elsewhere in the community. There are also a whole lot of us who want you to succeed, so use the support offered here.

Pick a few songs form the grade 1-2 on Justin’s website, not just the app. Start them slowly and easily and I suspect you will find you are doing better than you think!

Anyway, I think most heavy metal sounds like someone slaughtering pigs, so clearly some people like that. Maybe you are playing it right!

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Hey stahlhammer,
Just my 2 cents worth but you seem to be well motivated and dedicated to the exercises so this may be something to try.
For this exercise set your metronome to a comfortable speed, then to the beat try playing the following: 8 strums on G, 8 strums on Em, 4 strums on C, 4 strums on D, then 8 more on G again. Keep playing this sequence without stopping untill you go through it 4-5 times. Just focus on playing on time with the metronome. Work on this gradually increasing the tempo until you can play it cleanly and consistently at about 120 BPM. Once you can do that, dial back the metronome and do the same thing only this time use Old Faithful instead of just the down strums. Again, gradually increasing the tempo until you can get it to the 120 mark. Remember this is just one more exercise to work through (just like your one-minute changes.)

I think this will probably be better long term than taking the Em-D OMC up to 150. And as a side benefit you have also learned how to play Stand By Me by Ben E. King, you’ll be making music.

Glen

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If it is of any help, I’ve been playing for 1,5 years and didn’t finished grade 2 yet. Now I feel slow :sweat_smile:

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Hi Gordon, it might help you to know that most, if not all of us here have had the same struggles, questions and doubts.

In some ways what you’ve done is reviewed your progress and identified what’s not working for you and what you’re unhappy about.

Sure you could give up, but I wonder how you’d feel about that in 12 months time?

You’ve been given excellent advise and suggestions from people who really do understand and care. I agree with what’s been said. Use these comments and suggestions to help you set NEW GOALS and with that will come a changed approach, including mindset, to learning. Go back through the lessons that give you the best opportunity to reach your new goals. This will help you feel like you’re progressing and winning.

Now go get rockin’ :smiley:

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It takes years to git gud. Don’t stress it.

Remember to play as well as practice, screw around, try things see what sounds good smash out some pure noise it’s about having fun in the moment with the sound too.

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Five guitars, a couple of hours a day practice for half a year, 150 chord changes per minute, but can’t play songs and feel you have learned nothing? You don’t mind if it’s boring and repetitive?
My Spidey-senses are bouncing off the scale!
You need a complete reset, my friend.
The only reason to learn to play the guitar is for enjoyment.
I hear none of that in the experience you describe.
Read all the suggestions above carefully and ask yourself if you can see yourself enjoying the learning process. We all go through peaks and troughs and there is no limit of support for those engaged in learning, but you will have to do all the hard work yourself.
There are no magic bullets here, but plenty of magic :smiley:

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Hello @stahlhammer amd welcome to the Community.

Where to begin.

Please excuse my extensive quoting on many comments you make.

You’re a very new beginner then. Take that perspective. 6 months is not very long at all.

Forget countless YT videos and those gimmicky learning tools.
Everything, absolutely everything you need to learn and succeed with online learning starts with Justin’s beginner course on the website. Thousands have learned using it and it only. It works.

That’s a lot of time but sometimes it is about quality of practice, not quantity.

Beginner Grade 1 has 75 lessons plus essential consolidation.
Each lesson requires at least one day of practice time but by the end of Grade 1, in Modules 5, 6 and 7, I would say that to do the learning justice and really get solid in the basics, each lesson should respectfully be given several days or a week or more, each of the seven modules probably starting at one week for module 1 up to several weeks for module 7. I would even go so far as to suggest treating each module number as a guide to the weeks required.
Modules 1 to 7 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = 28 weeks. That is more than six months just there.

Grade 2 has 68 lessons. And as the learning ramps up the technical challenge and skill, each lesson and each module will require extended time to really get to grips with. I would suggest a similar approach.
Modules 8 to 14 = 8 + 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 + 13 + 14 = 77 weeks. That is more than a year.
Okay - those cumulative totals are on the high side. But I would rather encourage that over the opposite of not taking enough time and hitting a brick wall of frustration. As many have done. As you have done.

WHAT?
You what?
That is insane, unnecessary and the opposite of learning to play guitar and make music.
The one-minute changes have a specific purpose and are given just a 3-5 minute time slot in a designed practice routine. Justin clearly says aim for 60m begin to learn to play songs with many fewer than 60 and do not be inhibited from progressing to another lesson if 60 is a barrier. You must have devoted hours of practice time to one-minute changes. Needlessly. No fun, no progress, no songs. Stop doing that right now, today. Desist.

ALARM BELLS ARE RINGING.

How many songs can you play if you limit yourself to one strum per bar?
How many songs have you attempted to learn and play in this manner?
If you go here and filter by Grade 1 there are 98 songs. If you really restrict yourself to just the three chords A, D and E there are 39 songs. Please, please, please go there right now and select songs to learn and play. Right now.

Learn songs, learn songs, learn songs.

One strum per bar. That is enough. Just do that. Do it for a week or two.
Then report back.

Hope that helps.
Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide

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As someone who quit guitar and has started again I would say be patient with yourself and don’t expect to master complicated pieces within 6 months. If you really can’t play a basic song I suggest going to Justin’s Level 1 module. I’m already making progress just by practicing chord changes and practicing simple strumming on the beat and I have been practicing for about a week. Speed should come with time and shouldn’t be your immediate focus. I totally get wanting to really rock out and be able to play rock and heavy metal but you will need a lot of practice/experience before you build up the speed, accuracy, and techniques they have. Good luck! I hope you continue on here. You can do it! :smiley: :+1:

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Lots of good advice so far. I suggest you heed Richard’s comment and don’t rush the lessons. Also, you can always go back to a topic and keep on perfecting it, no need to get stuck at one lesson forever or to knock them off in no time at all.

What I would recommend to you based on your music routine so far is to take your guitar in hand and just start strumming with or without a pick or try fingerstyle and play for yourself for a couple of days, like, “freestyle”. Whatever your hands dictate. Try to play chords you don’t know, any random chord shapes and listen to how they sound like. Take a couple of days or weeks to really discover your instrument in your own way instead of sticking to prescribed practice sessions of x hours y times a week. That way you may stumble upon interesting chords or sounds that could inspire you to play / practice more deliberately and you could recharge your creative batteries. After all, music should not be a chore but a source of entertainment.

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@Rumil

There is neither fast nor slow, just progress, learning, playing, and enjoyment, Edgar.

If you continue to progress, learn, play, and enjoy then all is well in the world

Just my 2cs on philosophy and mindset for music and even life.

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Why is this nothing to do with getting better at guitar?

Sounds like you aspire to be very good & you are comparing yourself to this objective. To get very good is going to take a very long time, you are going to have to enjoy the journey. I want to get really good as well and playing stuff badly or that I don’t like doesn’t inspire me. So I make sure I’m doing plenty of stuff in my practice that I like to listen to. When I’m on a roll I mix in more boring stuff, some times I can stand my entire routine being boring for months on end and other times I need most of the routine to be stuff I enjoy.

you have to accept that there will be long periods where you feel like you don’t progress, having some record of what you sound like every 3 to 6 months helps here. Even if you don’t hear a difference you have to keep the faith. There is a very high probability that if you keep doing quality practice you will get better and better.

A think getting great at guitar is mostly about staying power and as Justin says, to stick it out you gotta make sure you are having fun.

@stahlhammer

This whole reply is great advice, but I will point to this. I’m over a year in and am still in the very early stages of Grade 2.

I took the exit criterion for Grade 1 seriously which said, don’t move on until you know 5 songs. I was at a year before I even attempted Grade 2. However I was having FUN playing songs.

Here’s what I do which I get a lot of enjoyment. I bought a Justin beginning songbook and the app. I find the beginning songs that interest me. I memorize the cord progressions. Now here’s the fun part…I stream the song through my speakers and play with the band. Sure I’ve never had a perfect performance but it’s great fun.

You can do this with the app too, but the app is not perfect in my opinion. There are weird vocals sometimes, and other times it’s in a different key so when I do learn I can’t play with the real song. I prefer Justin’s books for that reason, but there are so many songs on the app.

Now for a challenge. I challenge you to look up on YouTube Justin’s lesson on A Horse With No Name by America or Free Falling from Tom Petty. Memorize it and play along with your stereo. I want to hear back!

Rock on!

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Blockquote
Thank you, @Richard_close2u, for this objective evaluation of how much time is needed to work on the Modules and Grades. This statement would be really helpful to be also postet in another section, concerning practice advice or progressing.
I think numerous beginners are very insecure how much time they should spend on each module and feel stressed and demotivated about being to slow, if they didn’t manage to finish a module within one or two weeks.
In the beginning, I payed too much attention to the type of posts saying: “I did all 3 Beginner Grades in 6 month”. I needed almost 5 month for Grade 1, by working on it really concentrated at least 1 1/2 hours a day, 6 days a week, before consolidation, which took another 4 weeks and is still in progress, while Iooking over the fence to Module 1, Grade 2.
First I felt like a snail. But I’m convinced, that the time is well spent on creating a solid base and not to run through the modules as if there was a competition to be the fastest. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to realize, that it takes much more effort to get along than I supposed, but I really enjoy every practice session, even if I don’t progress as fast as I hoped in the beginning. I admit, that I’m truly amused to read, that Justin recommends on the website, at the end of modul 8, to spend at least 2 weeks, better 4 weeks, on practicing contents of Module 8 with a practice routine of 30 minutes (10! Minutes on songs), before moving on.
WHAT? For me, question is, if I will need one or two month! So great to read in your counting of weeks, that this should be quite normal. Working on the songs takes a lot of time on top of the practice routine, to let them sound like a song, not as a progression of chords and this should be the target. So I will accept the challenge, but going step by step, by step, as far as I will get, with a smile on my face, incredibly thankful to be able to learn playing this instrument and thanks to this fantastic Justin-Method!

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Hi, sir, I would strongly suggest training with Justin. With a strong work ethic like you described, his sensible methodology will be extremely beneficial. He is a great teacher, truly. Keep plugging away, I am sure the reason you feel you haven’t learned much is due more to poor teaching–of which there is a great deal–than any lack on your part.

I am not sure about Justin’s methodology for beginners, but I know he is a fantastic teacher at other levels and has really developed beautiful materials, much of them FOC. The guy is an absolute star as a teacher as well as a player, and I am a professional teacher.

I also recommend Tommaso Zillio quite a lot for many many reasons.

But I would suggest, if you want to buy a course, you can’t go wrong with Justin and a strong work ethic.

Best of luck, mate, hang in there! It gets better …

Some would say, Justin’s Grade 1, 2 & 3 for absolute beginners are pretty unbeatable, with an extra bonus that all the lessons are freely available on the website with students have the option to make donations if they can afford it and feel so inclined.

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