Socio's Learning Log

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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The way I see it Justin provides you with really solid foundations. That’s why it never put me off with the book not including video lessons. Likewise with the electric blues book I tend to look at the videos more of as a demonstration of the example being played and rely on the skills that Justin has provided me. The thing with the beginner’s course is you can learn songs to further consolidate what you have learned but when it came to the blues I found there to be less examples at a beginners level building in difficulty so the books to me provide those additional examples to keep things fresh, interesting and challenging. Now that you have the book we can support each other as we work our way through the examples given.

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James, I’ve played through some of the Complete Acoustic Blues Guitar book this week. You are right in that it is easier than the electric blues book at the beginning. Here is a link to my learning log observations to avoid cluttering your learning log with too much of my text:
Complete Acoustic Blues Guitar book initial observations

I listened to your 2 original song single takes. They both sound great and better than my tenth take. You’ve included a variety of more advanced techniques in each of your songs and both are good to listen to as just melodic songs. I look forward to hearing your finished song videos.

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Feel free to post any questions/comments on my learning log that you have on the blues guitar books as could lead to some interesting discussions that may help both of us and other beginners thinking of exploring the blues. I’ve been in two minds of recording and sharing both the boogie woogie on my learning log once I have refreshed my memory on them.

Thank you very much for taking the time to listen to my first two original songs. I’m pleased to hear that you thought they sounded great. The overall goal will be to produce more of a band production but still have a lot to learn and a lot to practice.

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Hi James.

Seeing as how you don’t mind your log filling up with questions :grimacing: I have a question.
I’m just getting into the blues in m13 and I’m interested in keeping the blues going alongside the rest of the lessons. Those non-Justin books that you are using - as I only play electric, is the electric blues book a good follow on from m13 or would the acoustic one be more suitable?



Hi David, I would start off with the blues lessons in the Justin’s classic beginner’s course to keep the blues going following M13 in the new course. There is some nice variations to keep things fresh and Justin lays down solid foundations. With regards to the electric blues book if you know your limitations and park aside anything that seems beyond your level (i.e. when playing in the closed positions) there are some good examples to work on that build on what you have learned from Justin. Although, I think the acoustic blues book is more suitable and a better follow on from M13 for examples to work on to keep the blues interest flowing. Also I’m sure I heard an acoustic guitar calling your name :wink:


Thanks James.

I haven’t seen the old classic course and I don’t think there’s a link to it on the website. There was a thread about it recently - I’ll have a dig for it.
I somehow had a feeling that the acoustic book may start at a lower level although I’m not into fingerstyle. Well not yet anyway, there’s a good few decades of pick learning to keep me going!

And…erm…where was this alleged acoustic calling me? I didn’t hear it. :astonished:
I have a very old and very battered acoustic but it doesn’t have any strings on it. It’s more of a drum!:drum:

Your update shows that you are still working through the course methodically, the same as you always have. I think we could all do with some of your dedication.

Was going to say “keep going “…but I don’t need to!:wink:

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So far the book has not touched on fingerstyle blues. It’s more like this Basic Blues Improvisation | and there’s a link to the classic course to book mark.

I’m going through a stage of treating the guitar like a drum kit where you emulate the kick drum, snare drum and hi hat in your rhythm playing on guitar. Though I’m not very good at it .

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I finally found sometime to read your update James and it was a very interisting read. I think it’s good to combine periods of structured practice to periods one feels more loose and free, in your case it led to amazing results, as your original songs are very good and I could see how much engaged they kept you.

Oh…ooops…same over here :woman_facepalming: But I’m putting some remedy and focus on just one song on my acoustic strumming until I’ll nail it close to what I want it to be :muscle::muscle::muscle::muscle::muscle::blush::sweat_smile:

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