Serhat's Learning Log


These learning logs are a great idea so I thought I’d share mine and hopefully keep it updated to log my progress.

How it started

About 3 years ago, just before covid, I got a Slack message from the company I was working for. It said they were forming a band and looking for people who sang or played any instrument. The plan was to play a Christmas gig in 8 weeks.

Now, I had a guitar, but I did not play the guitar. It was a gift from my friends almost 20 years ago (I took some lessons then but learned almost nothing and forgot what little I knew) and was sitting there untouched.

I do not know what made me reply to the message but two weeks later I had 12 songs to learn in my hands, to play live in 6 weeks’ time, without knowing how to play the guitar. Hmm. :thinking:

I practised like 6 hours a day until the gig. We had a few rehearsals at a proper rehearsal studio prior. Although I sucked in every single one of them, it was OK, because the drummer, the bass player, and the singer were gigging/touring professionals (who happened to be working at the same company by coincidence, yes). There was one other guitar player who was somewhat experienced. But the pros were sounding so good that we did not matter much. There is a lesson to learn here but I did not understand it by then.

The gig was a resounding success, I felt like I played well (I was wrong, I have video evidence) and it boosted my confidence a lot. Then I decided I won’t stop and promised to practice every single day, with no exceptions, which I have kept. This is where the Justin Guitar came in.

We did the gig two times more in consequent years and although each time I got better, I felt I sounded worse. I think that’s because my taste and expectations of myself grew faster than my ability.

How it is going

In 2022, I discovered the “Rock and Pop Band” course at Morley College in London. It is a course but they do not teach anything. Instead, they form bands from students, each lesson is a rehearsal and at the end of the term, the bands play a gig at a pub. It is a great entry point to playing live with other people.

We did the gig, and boy was it a wake-up call. Before, since the others were professionals, I sounded a lot better among them than how good I actually was. This time, I sounded like myself, and that was a lot worse than how I thought I sound.

In parallel, I discovered how much more practical knowledge I had before doing the course as opposed to other students, who tended to be better at their instruments and had more knowledge but were lacking in practical elements.


I love playing live. I do not intend to make money from music ever, but I love when I’m on stage. I want to be on stage.


I completed Justin’s Course until about mid-intermediate level but this was before he revamped the website and renewed the videos. I no longer follow the site in structure but I pick and choose lessons.


Problems, more accurately:

  • I have a full-time job which greatly limits my practice time.
  • I can’t make good noises. This is hard to express. I feel confident that I can learn and play many songs that are commonly played around as long as they do not have virtuosic parts. But I can’t make them sound good. Either my rhythm is off at times, or I can’t quite play smoothly, or I can’t jump onto that further note seamlessly, etc. etc. And this is not changing easily with practice. For e.g. I played a solo in one of the gigs, I practised it for 2 months, every single day, and although I could play it without mistakes, it did not sound good and I’m not quite sure how much more I would need to practice to get it to a decent level, neither I know how and what exactly to practice for it.
  • I’m living in London and London is already full of incredible guitarists who have many, many years of practice and much more free time on their hands. A few weeks ago, someone posted on a local Facebook group that they were looking for a replacement guitarist for a gig that night with a list of 28 songs, each in a particular key. In like 1 hour, there were more than 20 guitarists who signed up for it! No band ever looks for a guitarist here, great guitarists are dime a dozen, and realistically, I will never be as good as those players. That makes it very tricky to find a band to play live gigs as a guitarist. Why would a band pick me when there are so many people with so much more talent, looking for an opportunity? This does not discourage me from practising and improving, but it is a puzzle I did not quite solve yet.

What’s Next

Next is blues jams. I did not really listen to blues before I picked up the guitar. But I discovered these jams, where players showed up and signed up to play, just like that. And that was possible thanks to the nature of blues music, where it is possible to play a song without necessarily knowing how exactly to play it in advance, I learned. I did not quite understand how it was possible at the start but I listened to a ton of blues music (and I love it), and have been practising. Now I understand.

I’ve also been going to listen to these jams to see what they are like. I quickly figured out, it is not as easy as people on the internet are making it out to be. I never saw a beginner or even an intermediate (whatever that means) player there. The average level of talent is astonishing and although I’m sure they will be welcoming to new players, it is quite intimidating and I could not quite build up the courage to bring my guitar to one yet.

Thank you

Thank you so much if you read this far. This has been my journey and I’m hoping to share a few videos of me playing and join the next open mic to hear what people think and hopefully get some feedback which I’m sure would be very useful.


Hello Serhat, what an interesting story. I admire your courage for signing up for the Christmas gig without knowing how to play. Even if your playing wasn’t perfect, chapeau for getting on stage.

It seems that you really love playing live. So, I do not doubt that you’ll find the right band to play with. It will all fall into place :slightly_smiling_face:.

I’m looking forward to hearing more from you and your progress :smiley:.

Great stuff Serhat, thanks for sharing your story. Look forward to hearing more. Recording just yourself could be useful to track your progress.

Welcome, Serhat. That is quite a story.

I think in a nutshell, you have discovered that there are no shortcuts to becoming a guitar player. All those players paid their dues, learning the basics.

You mention picking and choosing lessons from Justin. This may not be helping you to achieve your aspirations. It may be a good idea to step back, revise the new system from Grade 1. You can power through that as fast as is appropriate but ensures you have solid foundation. You may find the new Grade 3 quite an effective way to consolidate and continue to develop skills. You can then also decide on a point of focus. You mention jams and solos, perhaps work through the appropriate programmes in a structured way.

It will also be helpful to post some videos as you say. You are sure to get good feedback. You can also watch and engage with other members who are also learning, which may help give you additional perspective on your own journey.

Wish you well!


Hi Serhat. Any of the issues with your guitar playing you have identified could be fixed wit a bit of focused practice. If the playing level you expect after completing the modules you have done is not there, it may be because you did not spend enough time with some of them, or the guitar skills you are aiming for are introduced at a later stage in Justin Guitar courses (when you have consolidated your foundations). Revisit the material (this time can be with the reavamped version of the courses) and get ready for that band opportunity. You’ll be there because you are going to be the right member of that band. Making good noises come with time when you can listen what you play and can decide what to do differently to play it the way you want it to be. Recording even for yourself can help to listen better what you play.

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I have practised a lot of rhythm lately and developed pain in my left wrist. So I decided to focus on my posture and technique to make sure I’m practising healthily.

@DavidP kindly pointed out above that picking and choosing lessons might not be the most efficient use of Justin guitar so I decided to go back to following the structure on the new course.

With that aim, I did Grade 1 - Module 1 yesterday. While going through the material, I paid particular attention to the parts about posture, how to hold the guitar, and how to fret a note. I was doing the exercise where you press a string and slowly release the tension until buzzing to find the optimum pressure. Although I knew how you are supposed to do it and have done it a few times in the past, I realised I am still putting pressure on strings more than I need to and that may very well be contributing to my wrist pain, not to mention hampering my technique. That was great to discover, then I spent the rest of my practice time to try playing as lightly as I could.

For now, I will probably do a module a day until I feel I need some quality practice time with that module (which I think will be somewhere around Beginner Grade 3) and try to uncover gaps in my foundation and add them to my practices.

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