With a background of being a self taught, perpetual beginner it felt like a better foundation was needed. So January was all about scorched earth, starting in module 1. I’m so, so, glad to have taken the time to do this, as I’ve learnt a lot.
It’s taken just shy of 3 months to get to the end of Grade 1. Here, are my biggest lessons -
Have the right guitar (for me), setup well - A change to smaller body guitar with lighter strings has been fantastic.
Good posture - I had been holding the guitar all flavours of wrong. It was causing shoulder pain and limiting hand coordination. I’ll remind myself occasionally to do a body scan to see if/where I’m holding tension.
The importance of striving to maintain clean strumming rhythm over clean chord changes. I used to be the person that would pause to do a difficult chord change.
Clean rhythm - practice with a metronome. Start on a slow tempo and only increase the rpm in line with what I can play consistently.
Chord change speed - if any of them are slowing a song down, take them out to 1 minute changes for focussed practice. Learning C with a muted 6th string, A with new finger position and DM were my hardest ones.
Perfect chord practice - pay attention to which strings are silent. I previously didn’t know how to mute strings and had a fairly hit and miss success rate of whether I was avoiding the 6th string if needed, or conversely not playing a full rounded chord if all 6 strings should be sounding.
The beat & the strumming arm - keep it sync’d and moving - this one I still slip up on as it’s been a hard habit to break only strumming on a note.
Strumming - did I mention it? It deserves repeating. Learning Old Faithful and then all the different ways of mixing and matching strumming against 4/4 and 6/8 timing has been a slow burn to take on board from my previous ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Ear training - I’d not realised this was something that could be trained and have found it surprisingly enjoyable and it’s really helped with understanding the fretboard differently
This is fun! - No matter how much practical stuff I’m learning, to make time and space for enjoying the guitar outside of lessons. In the past I became too detached from what was enjoyable and could not see a dotted line to where I would like to be. This is the spark that I’m going to nurture more closely this time round.
So there it is, a reminder of what to keep in check as I move into Grade 2. For now, onwards!
Thanks Alex. and thanks for sharing your progress working through the Rock Songbook Studies. I’m liking being able to track the progress and what you’ve learnt from picking off each song. Great approach.
Ha, I do relate! The first time round I was very scattered and focussed more on learning parts of campfire songs to sing to, but the lack of foundation eventually caught up. The second time round I tried to follow a program but found it far far too dry. So here we are third time lucky but with a greater sense of the balance I need to keep it fun and interesting. (Btw - I had a read of your learning log - it’s fantastic.)
Glad you enjoyed the log. The big takeaway for me from sticking it out and actually learning is how much pleasure playing the guitar gives back. Yeah, it’s hard at the first and it’s even hard now after 11 years at times, but I can sit and play sometimes for an hour or more and its just plain good old darned fun. Good for the soul and rewarding. And it’s all within the grasp of just about anyone.
Many a time I’ve had the good fortune to have others compliment my playing (believe me, I’m just a campfire hack) and they comment they’d love to do the same but just don’t have the talent that I do.
That cracks me up because I recall when learning I was frustrated with how hard everythign was, how little ability / talent I had. It’s like I was all thumbs. It’s all learnable.
Thank you. Already I’m feeling a notable difference, it’s exciting what this may lead to for all of us. Btw, there’s quite some detail in your own learning log, it gives pause for thought. How are you finding your approach has evolved from first starting?
Hi South_Bound. I think there is not a one size fits all for the learning logs. The learning logs are about you and for you. I enjoy doing detailed plans but some people are very organized and efficient without needing to go through formal planning. In their minds they may think that they’re not planning ever but in fact they may be planning all the time just they do not spend time writing down their plans. Although I’m thinking going deeper and more specific on this on my one year assessment since I started my learning log, I think that having a plan doesn’t hurt and can be very helpful to organize the guitar learning process and practice, but meeting every goal is not the ultimate assessment. This is not about how to put the man on the moon. This is about having fun playing the guitar. I am going through the lessons to learn how to play better the guitar, to play the guitar in ways I am not still capable of doing, to play new songs, and to play songs I know in a different way that I already know. After almost one year the goals are the same but I am now more aware that some things are taking me more time and I should account for that to manage my expectations. That means I’ll probably have to narrow my scope of work for some things now and leave them for later.
Hi @DobleA - It’s great to see you’re making steady progress over the last year. I’d definitely agree there is no one size fits all to the learning logs. One of the joys of this community is that so many different tastes and styles are brought together.
We’re definitely not putting a man on the moon (!) but you’ve reminded me of the expression of a moonshot - having stretch goals allows us to believe that we can make the unlikely possible. Sometimes we can surprise ourselves with what happens along the way.
I’m fast approaching a month of trying to play Em7 in the stuck 3 & 4 chords in module 8. My chord progression is still holding me back from playing Wonderwall and Wish You Were Here.
The idea then occurred to take a sideways approach - to find a different way of being playful with Em7 using a looper:
Practising the stop/start on my looper
Creating a beat and practicing Em7 to it
Learning to use a reverb/delay and whammy pedal for the first time
Creating a mini ambient soundscape for the first time, doing overdubs that sounded good with Em7
Learn how to export in a DAW for the first time - replicate the loop 3 times and put a fade out at the end of each bar.
Get over fear of sharing guitar playing online
That was a lot of firsts.
It’s been a huge amount of fun.
Though it is not an AVOYP against approved songs on the course, this is a big step forward for me to try to create something original and share it online. Creating that little 10 second loop has given me a real thirst for expanding on this.
A big thank you for the inspiration from -
@richard_close2u - who reinforced the importance of backing tracks / rhythm practice
@JasonBuk - for connecting over a shared interest in ambient soundscapes
@kimlodrodawa Ha ha. Less of a shyness and more not being keen posting into forums that are public instead of closed. Slowly working through that though. (Thanks for nudge that the link was broken hopefully working now.)
Thank you! It’s great fun on the looper to play over. So far my loops have all been super short but will try and build up longer ones, especially once my Em7 is stronger. Think maybe the fadeout is a bit abrupt, so will brush up on how to more smoothly line up repeats of the bar in the DAW.