Scratch's Learning Log

So I thought I’d have a go at posting a learning log, and I guess I should go back to where it all started - 50 years ago. When I was a child there was always a piano in the house, my Mum had played the piano professionally at the long since gone Mermaid Theatre in Blackfriers, London, my parents met there on the set of Treasure Island, my Dad having been a carpenter there had been pulled into playing the part of an ‘extra’. I hated that old piano we had, I didn’t understand it and couldn’t play it, despite frustrated attempts at instruction from Mum. Then one day when I was about 10 it came to me…………I could learn to play the guitar. Why this thought dawned on me I have no idea, but after a great deal of pestering my parents, one birthday a good looking classic acoustic guitar appeared for my Birthday. We didn’t have much money back in those days, no one did, so the guitar soon became my most treasured possession. It seemed as tall as I was and I could barely carry the bag it was in to school. Instruction at Primary School was a bit sporadic, so the move to a Secondary Comprehensive was a great adventure as it brought with it ‘proper’ music lessons. Now I must say at this point I wasn’t every good, I was unable to grasp the principles of reading music and I appeared to be tone deaf, but I enjoyed it. Working through Ulf Goran’s ‘Learn Guitar’ was not a pleasant experience for the school guitar tutor who at various stages suggested quite firmly that perhaps I ought to learn to play the ‘recorder or harmonica (as it happens my Dad played this with great aplomb and taught me to do so over the years). As the years went by Ulf Goran and I just didn’t get on and the music teacher despaired😬. I managed to learn enough to earn myself a spot playing in the local Pavilion at the concert schools gave each year, but I wasn’t that good.

Suddenly in my last year at school I had an epiphany - if I could just get my act together I could be the next Bruce Springsteen…………or not as the case may be!! Suddenly some of my friends had electric guitars and their enthusiasm and efforts inspired me to practice more and I started doing OK…………thank you Jo Nethercoat and Simon Wynn. Just as I was starting to get somewhere however, Amanda Cox appeared on the horizon and my interest wained as I discovered girls. As the years rolled by quickly, I also found other interests - motorcycling, shooting, running and I’ve always liked a good book, so the guitar practice fell by the wayside for months at a time, although I always kept both an electric and acoustic guitar. Long term Military service arrived and it was impossible packing a guitar into my bergan as a leapt from a perfectly serviceable aircraft at 800 feet while wearing a parachute. I picked up a guitar at times when I was on leave but the urge to be a rock star completely disappeared………in favour of travelling the World in my rather splendid looking uniform.

The years passed and once out of the Armed Forces, I had more time and irregular practice with a guitar crept in, but I didn’t do enough to accomplish much. I played here and there and although I managed to learn chords and play along with many of the popular songs of the day, I wasn’t very accomplished. A few years ago I was lucky enough to acquire an American made Fender Stratocaster and to be honest I’ve picked it up many times over the years and half heartedly attempted to rekindle my long lost guitar skills, which weren’t that good when I had a great deal more dexterity in my hands than I have nowadays on the cusp of being 60 years of age. On the occasions I do pick it up, my neighbours tell me I’m the worst guitar player in the world, several are considering moving home - so to give them a bit of respite and improve their ear drums, I’m starting from scratch and have signed up to Justin Guitar. I’m hoping a vast improvement in my skills will result in at least one invite to a neighbouring bbq next year - as long as I leave my Stratocaster at home😳.

The past few years have been an extremely difficult time: I’m a Veteran suffering with both PTSD and OCD as a result of over 35 years service to my Country in various roles, so having something to concentrate on is good for me. I have no family for support, so learning to play isn’t the only thing I’m starting from scratch. Learning to play is great for self discipline, mental health, a bit of enjoyment and giving my mind something to work on daily, so I’ve started at the very beginning with the guitar, perhaps I should have stuck with it over the last 50 years since mum and dad gave me that first acoustic, but I have more patience now than I did as a young man and have slowly worked through Beginners Module’s 0 and 1, I’ve just started module 2. Re-learning what I did 50 years ago isn’t as easy as I thought it might be, but I’m enjoying it. Getting to grips with the ‘A‘ chord was difficult as it was taught differently all those years ago. The neighbours still think my guitar playing is awful, but one day I may just surprise them. So here’s to an ‘old dog learning new tricks’ and going forward with module 2.

Further updates to come once the neighbour stops banging on the wall………………


Hey Scratch, thanks for all the detail in your log. The guitar certainly is a challenging instrument to learn, yet also very rewarding. I suffer from depression and ptsd and the guitar is my very own form of meditation, if I feel mood descending on me and I pick up the guitar, invariably within a short time I am almost always feeling better. For me it’s songs, singing and playing. I can do it for several hours at a time.

I dreamed of playing guitar for many years, when I finally picked it up over 10 years ago at the age of 53, the beginner lessons of Justin’s really helped me along. Keep at it and enjoy the rewards and the healing value of music as you progress.

I also follow Tony Polecastro’s weekly video blog (vlog) and while I’m not at all a fan of his Tony’s Acoustic Challenge, he mentions a program called Guitars for Vets that he donates the profits from his merchandise to.

1 Like

Hi Paul,
I wish you a lot of perseverance and you are here in good company with many who use the guitar in one way or another as therapy,…good luck and above all have fun,… :guitar: :notes:

1 Like

Sounds like your neighbour needs to buy you an electric guitar and some headphones! Good luck this time round!

1 Like

Hi Paul, that’s a really interesting read, thank you for such a candid glimpse into your past, present and future and thank you for what you have done, especially at this time of year.

What a way to kick off your learning log, all of those elements you say re-learning the guitar is bringing to you, discipline, mental health and enjoyment I can completely relate to, as I’m sure we all can.

Only advice, you can drown out the neighbours banging on the wall by turning the volume up on your amp :wink:

All the best!

1 Like

I wish you every joy, deep peace and tuneful tones Paul.

Hi Paul, welcome. Justin Guitar will give you a proven path to improve you guitar skills at you own pace. No despaired music teacher this time. Despaired neighbours for no reason should calm down.

1 Like