Song proficiency before moving to next module

I’m beginner at end of Level 2. All along I have been moving to the next module when I can achieve most of the technical skills. However, with songs, it’s another story. For a beginner it can takes months to really master a song. I usually do my best, watch Justin’s you tube lesson, and try to get it sounding sort of ok, but then move to the next module. For example, sliding power chords up and down the neck or across strings will take months to get really good at. Therefore Cocaine or Molly’s Lips Module 12 will take a long time to actually get good. What is recommended on Song skill level for a module before moving on?


Hi @mguiding

I did what you describe. I have been through grade 3 lessons, but not really MASTERED several of them, like the the triad lessons, barre chord fingering, and certainly not the transcribing. I now find myself working back through those to get a reasonable proficiency before starting the grade 4 lessons.

The popular method you are likely to hear is to go play songs to get proficient at the techniques you have learned. I can see that becoming more necessary now at the end of grade 3 and I am assuming more so going on.

So why did I move on without proficiency? Partly due to to curiosity about new things to learn and partly because I did not enjoy playing songs without them sounding reasonably “correct” and somewhat because I did not see a need to learn it. Over some recent months, I have spent some time thinking about what I need to learn, and I see many of the lessons I moved through quickly used in songs I want to play.

Here is what I recommend:

  1. Take some time to think through your goals. listen to songs you hope to play and ask yourself if you are able to play it or if you need to work on some lesson you already listened to. If so, add that technique to your daily practices.
  2. read through the next grade class descriptions and see if those sound like something you are ready for. Previous techniques are often needed to use new ones.
  3. Think about why you are moving on without much proficiency. Are you being patient enough with the process of learning to play?
  4. locate songs during step 1 to use as fun methods to complete steps 1 and 2

Hope that helps!


Hi Mark ,
Don’t hang on to those songs for too long… learn to play songs with that technique but not every song that is recommended will suit you, so feel free to choose another song that suits you better, but don’t stay here for weeks or even months :flushed: hanging because you can’t play one or two songs those are recommended… keep things flowing and fun :smiley: :sunglasses:

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I’m just finishing up Grade 1 and have found value in playing and memorizing songs. Not necessarily the recommended ones, I try one of the recommended at the end of every module practice but typically don’t find them I interesting. I then practice 2 or 3 songs that I picked that I do like (Mad World, Cover of the Rolling Stone, Horse with No Name, etc).

What I’ve found is it really helps when I go back to the technical skills. I can do chord shapes without looking, and my chord transitions become significantly quicker. Playing through a song multiple times is a lot of repetition for those chords and transitions. My rhythm has also significantly Improved and the strumming technique practice sessions are almost easy.

I agree that it might take months to learn some of the recommended songs, but I enjoy playing some of the easier songs and now have a few in my repertoire. I’m learning the guitar to play songs, not just learn the technical, although as an engineer I appreciate the technical and mastering a skill.

It’s been a positive for me. YMMV

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Whatever works for you, however personally I can’t see the point in learning technique without being able to play songs at the end. I mean no one is going to hand you a guitar at a party and ask you to ‘show us some technique’.

Have you really learnt power chords if you can’t apply them to songs. You are right that it can take months to learn to slide power chords up and down the neck but that is just the price of learning a new instrument.


I always pick at least one or two of Justin’s song recommendations and try to integrate the techniques taught in the particular module, because Justin’s song choice is matching his content of teaching.
What I have learned is, that a song, that’s more challenging, is a project and maybe takes weeks or even month to get to a certain level.
I keep the songs in my routine and try to get the techniques down within the song. That doesn’t necessarily mean, that the song is perfect, but at least at an appropriate level.
A toolbox full of instruments isn’t helpful without being able to use them. Being the “king of excercises” doesn’t lead me anywhere, when I’m not able to integrate this into songs. That’t what I tell myself.


I was literally asked this not too long ago :grin:… okay, but by friends who are older and have played guitar and / or other instruments all their lives and have seen my fiddling on the guitar 30 + years ago… And I’m sure a friend coming next Friday will also ask…
But you’re right :sunglasses:, maybe I should look for new friends :roll_eyes: :laughing:
Greetings ,Rogier


Throwing this out there for input from the more seasoned players.

I watched an interview with George Benson about how best to practice. He said when he started learning he would practice 10 things and would get good at only about 2 of the things he practiced.

He then decided to practice 100 things and get good at 10 of them and he said as he played more he would come across the things he practiced and did not learn and hone in on those items after he found a practical use for them.

QUESTION- Is more better? I tend to stick to items (and songs) I am working on before moving on to the next item.

hi @sticktothemuse

If you are considering me a “more seasoned player”, I may not be. I have been at this not quite 2-1/2 years.

My learning style tends more toward quicker proficiency for the things I want to learn. Part of this is the increased dedication. Maybe it is the vast majority of the benefit? I will spend more time in concentrated effort on the thing I want to learn. Playing a song I like is far better than one I do not because of this concentration. Actively trying to use a skill just after a little bit of dedicated slow and exact movements seems to work for me. I do need to build this up over days of sessions, it is not immediate.

So what is faster? Considered over a year’s time, it is simply spending more of that year in practice. The more hours you can dedicate, the more you see accomplished at the end of that year. Over a 30-minute session’s time it is hard for me to say, but I think it is enjoying the session due to doing something that is an obvious path to a goal. I like to add to that a mental session as well, going over how to improve deficiencies in my playing while I am waking from a night’s sleep or during a time I need to just sit and wait.

Mike, thanks for the input. You hit the obvious nail on the head and key is practice. I guess it doesn’t really matter what’s worked on as long as you spend the time and and keep expanding the knowledge base.

I’m 12 months on and I surprise myself sometimes at how much I have progressed but I have the guitar in my hand every day. Often it seems that I have stalled but all of a sudden something majical happens.

When my grand daughter was taking lessons I talked often to her instructor and one day we discussed proficiency and he told me it depends what day it is. Some days he struggles and some days the majic happens.

I love your last comments! On Justin’s site he has an interview with Stevie Vai and Justin asked him how often he practiced. He said whenever he was breathing because if he wasn’t physically playing the guitar he would be lying in bed thinking about how to play something he couldn’t play. He said he knew how it would sound he just had to figure out how to get the sound out of the guitar.

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Sounds like my kind of night time monkey mind. Wake at stupid o’clock and start trying to figure things out in my head ! :exploding_head: