Socio's Learning Log

Hi James ,
Great job,…and how good that you are now recording it in short clips,…really, you will look back on this with great pleasure in a few months, because you are making really good progress ,and for sure you keep doing that,…:sunglasses:

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I’m glad to read this, you’re so lucky you can memorise easily…it takes me so much time, but it’s all worth it.

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This bit of advice really struck a chord with me and after some consideration I have spent some time prioritizing my practice activities and ensure that I am not taking on too much.

Exploring the blues is my first priority. The three core interests that I will be focusing on are rhythm playing, soloing and fingerstyle.

To ensure that I do not end up bouncing around too much I have structured my approach to working on them with a list of practice objectives that I can check off once I have nailed them.

With the rhythm playing and soloing I’m planning on practicing each practice session objective with a metronome first and then to a jam track to work on locking in with the rhythm section.

With the fingerstyle I am on the final module ‘the blues’ so it ties in quite nicely with the blues theme for the months ahead. After that modules it’s learn songs, learn songs, learn songs.

At the same time I will likely complete one module at a time from the Beginner’s Grade 3 Course excluding the transcribe modules.

I will probably leave the transcribe modules for later and create a playlist to familiarize myself with the songs listed to be transcribed.


Hi Rogier,
Thanks, I thought short clips would be great for picking up any issues earlier whilst setting down a progress marker whilst getting some feedback on the techniques as I learn the full pieces i.e. don’t practice bad habits. I did record a short simple fingerstyle blues piece the other day but I was not very happy with my positive finger placement. So I might record that one again later at the end of the week.

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February 2023

What am I working on this month:

This section of my practice sessions is focused on alternate picking and string skipping with an emphasis on precision, timing, endurance and speed.

This section of my practice sessions is focused on completing the chord explorer lessons and learning melodic phrases using the minor pentatonic scale.

This section of my practice sessions is focused on completing the last stages of the master fingerstyle beginners course.

This section of my practice sessions is focused on learning to improvise with the boogie woogie blues riff against a backing track.

This section of my practice sessions is focused on learning root position phrases incorporating string bending and inflection with practice against a backing track.

This section of my practice sessions is focused on learning and polishing up songs.

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March 2023

Time for a recap of where am on the learning journey and plan for the next couple of months.

Beginner Grade 3

Module 15
  1. 6 Guitar Areas You Should Practice - Completed
  2. D Chord Shape Explorer - Completed
  3. Play Better Guitar: The Finger Gym Exercise - Completed
  4. How to Link Guitar Chords using Scales - Completed
  5. A Capo for Two: Jamming for Beginners - Completed
  6. Mindful Listening for Guitar Players - Completed
  7. Great Tone Starts Here! - Completed
  8. 4 Easy Steps to Transcribing - Not Started
Module 16
  1. Supercharge Your Guitar Practice with Timeboxing! - Completed
  2. How to Play Easy Chord Shapes Up The Neck - Not Started
  3. Rolling Chords to Spice Up Your Fingerstyle - Not Started
  4. How to Play Greensleeves on the Guitar - Not Started
  5. How to Play a Melody on Guitar - Not Started
  6. Flexing Time: The Falling Leaf - Not Started
  7. Learn Your Guitar Amp & Settings - Completed
Module 17
  1. Goals & Destinations - Completed
  2. C Chord Shape Explorer - Completed
  3. How to Pick Individual Strings While Strumming - Not Started
  4. How To: Thumb & Finger Strums - Not Started
  5. How to Use Easy Triads on Guitar - Not Started
  6. Meet The Musician In You! - Completed
  7. Your Ultimate Guide to Reverb - Not Started
  8. Transcribing Easy Riffs - Not Started
  • Note: Item 4 I have covered in the Master Fingerstyle Beginner course.
Module 18
  1. Perfectly Starts Slowly- Completed
  2. Open Tuning Basics - Not Started
  3. Legato Pentatonics - Not Started
  4. Solo Blues 1 Lick-in’ Riff - Not Started
  5. Triad Chips Basics - Not Started
  6. Neuroplasticity to Learn Guitar Faster- Completed
  7. Transcribing Open Chords - Not Started
Module 19
  1. 3 Types of Songs You Should Practice - Completed
  2. G Chord Explorer: Tasty Variations! - Completed
  3. Learning to Sing - Not Started
  4. 4:4 Fingerstyle Patterns - Completed
  5. Guitar Pro Experiments - Not Started
    6.Transcribing Power Chords: Be a Detective! - Not Started
Module 20
  1. The Spacing Effect - Not Started
  2. The Lifted Barre Trick - Not Started
  3. Singing & Playing At The Same Time - Not Started
  4. Chords In Keys (super easy!) - Not Started
  5. How to co-write a song - Not Started
  6. Record Yourself & Production Basics - Not Started
  7. Transcribing (Not So Easy) Riffs - Not Started
Module 21
  1. Exploring the A Shape - Completed
  2. Introduction to Vibrato Techniques - Not Started
  3. Framing: The Double Strumming Technique - Not Started
  4. Feeling Stuck? Here Are My Top 10 Rutbusters! - Not Started
  5. Transcribing: What about the guitar capo? - Not Started
Module 22
  1. Exploring the E Shape - Completed
  2. Transcribing Difficult Riffs - Not Started
  3. Easy Barre Chords For Beginners - Not Started


For this section of my practice sessions I have been focusing on development of power chords, alternate picking, string skipping and hybrid picking with an emphasis on precision, timing, endurance and speed. I have been making steady progress with these techniques and starting to see some rewards. I will continue to focus on them as I work on applying them to songs, riffs, solos etc.


For this section of my practice sessions I have been focusing on learning melodic phrases using the minor pentatonic scale and learning new chord grips for songs that I am working on. As part of the blues studies I have also been furthering my knowledge in essential blues foundations. With the updated practical music theory course interactive tests being released, I’ve delved back into Grades 1 and 2 for a recap before progressing with Grade 3.


For this section of my practice sessions I have been focusing on completing the Master Fingerstyle Beginners Course. I have now completed all lessons and have entered the consolidation period which involves learning songs, songs, songs :smiley: I’m not going to name the songs that I have chosen as I may do a compilation and see if anyone can guess all the songs played :wink: If no one can guess any then I will need to find a new hobby :roll_eyes: Whilst I am learning songs I have decided to commence and gradually progress through the Complete Guide to Fingerstyle Blues Volume 1 Course to maintain the steady progress that I have been making in my blues study.


For this section of my practice sessions I have been focusing on developing my acoustic and blues rhythm playing. I feel that I have been making steady progress and plan on continuing along this path in developing my rhythm chops. For the blues rhythm studies I am currently working on turnarounds using the pick and fingers which ties in quite nicely to the development of the hybrid picking technique.


For this section of my practice sessions I have been focusing on learning basic vocabulary, musical concepts and approaches, and the essential techniques to be able to solo over a blues. I also plan on starting to learn solos for the songs I am working on to develop my lead play.

Ear Training

Well I finally got around to incorporating ear training into my practice routines. So far I have been working on identifying single and two bass notes. Surprisingly, I’ve been quite successful in identifying the notes played and have a rough idea where the pitch is located on the fretboard.


For this section of my practice sessions I have been focusing on learning campfire versions and then the various parts proper versions for a number of songs including:

  • Wonderful Tonight - Rhythm Guitar - this has been a good for practicing and developing hybrid picking. I’ve almost got this guitar part memorized and looking forward to learning the guitar part played by EC. For some reason I think having played with a pick since the start of this learning journey along with the time that I have spent on learning fingerstyle that has eased the transition to learning hybrid picking.

  • Sitting at the Dock of the Bay - Acoustic Guitar Part - this has been a good for practicing for development of the E shaped barre chords. It’s has it’s positives and negatives. On the positive side its only one chord shape; on the negative side its the same chord shape throughout the song. Therefore, each practice session seems to be more about building up my endurance in order to play the song from start to finish. I was going to wait until I learned the acoustic guitar part first before learning the electric guitar part but the time is taking to build up my endurance levels I may start learning that part concurrently.

  • Maggie May - Acoustic Guitar Part- this one is a bit of a strange one as the song was recorded on a 12 string guitar but since I don’t have one I am learning it on a 6 string guitar. This has been a good song for working on my acoustic rhythm along with some stretchy chords. There are a couple of solos in the song, two of which are played with Mandolins. Since, I have no plans to purchase a mandolin, I will leave those two parts for the backing track and focus on the electric guitar part which looks achievable with practice.

In addition to learning songs by the book per say I’ve also been experimenting with the Oasis song Supersonic to find the musician in me. Forgetting about specific strumming patterns used by NG when he plays it on the accoustic and seeing what sounds good to me. In saying that what sounds good to me may not sound good to anyone else. Hey, it’s all part of the learning and development experience.


Since my last update I’ve posted a couple of recordings to track my progress:

Humpty Dumpty Love Song
Blues Fingerstyle Piece #3
Blues Rhythm Piece #1
Blues Fingerstyle Piece #4

Next recording on the list to do is Kindergarten Blues in E. The first piece from the Fingerstyle Blues Volume 1 Course.


Hello James, your practice seems to be very structured and I think this is good as I’m experiencing myself how much structure can help. Also you’re working and progressing in different areas, and I think this is also good…well it’ s only my humble opinion, take it with a pinch of salt, but if you’re perceiving yourself as progressing then it is surely good!

Is it Mike Dawes’ course? After Justin’s video on how he arranged Jump I’m very much inspired to start his Course.

I think this is a very good idea, one needs to experiment and risk.

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Hi Silvia,

Yes, I find that practice has to be structured otherwise I would end up going around in circles and get no where. The one thing I’m finding is practicing in different areas is helping in the other areas, if that makes any sense.

No, it’s a six strings fingerpicking course. It’s a very systematic course with the same ethos of practice perfectly and builds you up gradually from the ground up.

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Hi James, I’ve found also that alternating the areas I am practicing benefit all the areas although initially I may see a slowdown in my progress with a specific area.


Great update James. You maintain your log with the same dedication as your practice. Look forward to more blues and the songs in due course.

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A very comprehensive update James. Well done, I wish I had your organisational focus!:grinning:

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Wow, I had to read a 150+ posts since yesterday to keep up with your log. Very well structured and written. A lot of helpful information for fellow students. Great. You are very, very focused and that serves you well as one can see your progress very clearly. Already curious to read about the next steps!

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Hi Andrés. Yes, alternating practice routines keeps things fresh and allows time for the things practice to sink in properly.

Hi David, i find it helps to keep me from straying away and ensure I know why I’m practicing something. You won’t have to wait long for some more blues, latest offering posted in my blues study.

Hi Gordon, I find that it helps me make the most of the time I have available. And it’s satisfying seeing an item ticked off. Though some days I will end up just playing and having fun.

Hi Andrea, wow, that some reading, 150+ posts. I’ve actually been thinking whether to do a write up of the 12BB fingerstyle studies and the basis of creating similar pieces from a beginner perspective. It’s encouraging to read that you can see the progress being made through the posts. Next steps on the fingerstyle blues has now been posted, I’ve graduated to kindergarten.

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July 2023

It’s been a few months now since my last update. The last couple of months the balance between practice and play has swung towards the latter.

Rather than continue with a structured practice routine and working towards short term goals, I decided to ride the wave for a while a see where it would take me.

So where did that wave take me? It took me to the crossroads and exposed me more blues, songs that I want to learn and then down a path leading to the land of song writing.

It was quite an enlightening experience as it showed me things that I still need to work on. So it’s back to a more structured practice routine if I want to make any meaningful improvement.

Beginners Grades
I’m going to go back to focusing on one Grade 3 lesson at a time whilst consolidating some of the things learned in the previous grades that have fallen by the wayside and need to be improved

Blues Guitar
As I’m taking Grade 3 lessons one at a time in preparation for reaching Justin’s Intermediate Blues Course I am slowly going to work my way through the additional material in these books:

They are not the same level of teaching as Justin’s lessons but the examples given have been good so far and build up gradually in difficulty.

I’m hoping to record a couple of acoustic blues pieces on my learning log soon. Just some boogie woogie patterns.

Following completion of the Beginner Fingerstyle I feel it is best to just focus on learning songs to really consolidate everything that I have learned.

Original Songs
I penned my first two original songs. The first of which I have shared a first take with the community:

Living Your Life In Your Head

I have been thinking recently of producing full band versions with drums and bass which I feel could be a good learning experience.

Over the past few weeks I’ve came to the conclusion that I don’t know enough songs from start to finish. So that is something that I plan on remedying whilst re-consolidating. So to kick things off I decided to start with a Beatles song:

I Should Have Known Better


All good stuff James, like your strategy sir !

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James, I like your strategies for practice. I’ve had to add more unstructured time to keep it interesting. I got the Complete Blues Method also, but put off starting when I found the first video used barre chords for the 12 barre blues intro example. I’m also trying to complete my consolidation and learn some songs while working on Grade 3. I’m looking forward to hear more of your progress videos.

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Read your update with interest. You are well on your way, James, thanks for posting the book titles, I always appreciate some tips concerning the blues stuff, as I plan to hopefully go down this route too (if I ever finish Grade 2 consolidation, which is an endless loop of practice items, I want to improve a bit more).

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Let’s hope my strategy works better than one of Baldrick’s cunning plans.

Steve, try to think of it as still structured time, the only difference is that you have set the structure yourself following Justin’s holistic practice guide. With regards to the Complete Electric Blues Method, the moveable shuffle patterns can be a bit off putting but remember you have learned the shuffle riff (and variations in the classic course) and power chords in Grade 2. It is not easy at first but with finger stretching practice holding down 6th string at the 3rd fret with your index finger and fretting the 5th string at the 5th/7th fret with your pinky is achievable over time. The variation that I had to put a side was the stretch to the 8th fret as there was no way I could achieve that stretch. I’m still working on the other variations to build up endurance whilst learning about stop time as it will let me play them in any key. I would say that the acoustic blues book is certainly easier but no videos with it, just audio.

Hi Andrea - I would say take your time with Grade 2 Consolidation but keep your practice sessions interesting and fun. There is no harm in dipping your toes into particular lessons in Grade 3 or other beginner friendly material if it keeps your interests up and inspires your practice sessions. I’m actually going back over some Grade 2 stuff like the weak finger G chord and F chord cheats as learning some new material which required them exposed my weaknesses.


July 2023 Update

Recorded and posted my second original song:

Shadows Of Our Former Selves

First time I have recorded a song using the Zoom H5 connected to my phone. I got it primarily for prompt audio or video recordings rather than setting up the laptop and DAW every time I want to record as I don’t have the space at the moment for a dedicated studio.

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James, thanks for bringing the Complete Acoustic Blues course to my attention again. I had dismissed it earlier because it lacked any video lessons, but after reading the reviews I decided to order and just finished looking through the material. I think the beginning section will provide some additional practice in acoustic blues topics covered in Grade 2 and 3 in Justin’s course, but provide some interesting variation.

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