Steve L’s Learning Log

Enjoyed listening to these Steve, as they are similar to some of the folk finger style patterns I have been working on. Good advice from David but I would add for the buzzing in the 2nd recording, I think it is due to your fingers being a distance from the fret, especially when fretting in both 3rd and 1st. The teacher of the Blues Acoustic course I have been doing this year often shows the fingering using the pinkie instead of the ring finger for those shapes. Also allow for bass runs to be played on the 6th and 5th while the 3rd string rings out. Took me a while to get used to it but not having to finger full chords for this type of playing gives you options. You may find it useful.


@DavidP David, thanks for taking the time to look at my learning log videos. Your comment about my thumb was interesting, since it was pointed out to me early in my Justin Guitar journey by @Tbushell that I had a “hitchhikers” thumb. Here is my picture from Module 0, How to Hold a Pick that illustrates the point (first picture):

I appreciate your observations and advice. I’ll probably avoid trying to fingerpick harder, especially when I get my Rode NT1 condenser microphone set up.

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27Nov2023 - I started review of Grade 2 videos on the JG app today. I will alternate between Grade 2 review and continuing with Grade 3 on alternate weeks. As i come to items that are on my Grade 2 consolidation list I can record and close out that item if I think the progress is sufficient. This is my big push to finish Grade 2 consolidation. Hopefully when I finish Grade 3 in about 6 to 7 more months, then I will have finished Grade 2 consolidation and be ready to focus on Grade 4, with eventual review of Grade 3 material. My grade 2 consolidation will also include memorizing and recording 6 to 7 Grade 2 songs, with 3 songs that use electric guitar, something I haven’t done in the past. I also plan to record the Rockschool Debut and Grade 1 electric guitar exam pieces (5 to 6 each), since Rockschool Grade 1 roughly corresponds to JG Grade 2. If I finish Grade 2 consolidation before finishing Grade 3, then I will start learning a few songs from Grade 4 so that i will have 3 levels of song from Grades 2, 3 and 4.

Toby, thanks for the advice. I will give your suggestion a try next time.

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28Nov2023 - I realized while rewatching the Muting Strings Deliberately lesson in Module 8, that I had completely forgotten the intent and content of this lesson. I thought it was about muting strings while playing chords. Wrong! This is about deliberate string muting while playing scales and single note riffs and phrases. I will have to rewatch this a few more times and get it fixed in memory and try to practice. I remember SRV saying that part of his signature tone was due to lots of deliberate string muting while playing his blues solos. I found that with my fat stubby fingers string muting comes easily with my fretting hand, but pick hand muting will take some time. At least I only have to use pick hand muting on ascending lines or phrases or playing from to 6th to the 1st string.

4Dec2023 - I am finishing up Module 19 this week with intro to singing. In all of my other videos I haven’t focused as much on my singing, but more on my guitar playing, but thought that it was appropriate at this time to add some of my notes on my vocal practice as a video of tips for singing since I have had university vocal training and a year of private voice coaching. I also I made a short video of a vocalization exercise using the electric guitar to play a short movable major scale pattern on the electric guitar. I don’t have the training to teach voice, so this is like the advice from a more experience amateur.

Tips for singing video:

Video of some of my tips for singing

Video of guitar/vocal exercise:

Since it is in the holiday season, I wanted to post a soundcloud clip of my singing from the my younger days. This is the only time I will do this and only because I am studying the module on singing. This is my solo of O Holy Night, done 35 years ago at a Christmas cantata in a large church in front of hundreds of people backed by a professional orchestra and church choir.
This was back when I had more power and projection to my voice. Now, at 68 years of age, I have to work more on getting tone and expression in my voice…
Here is the clip. I’m no Andrea Bocelli or Josh Groban but I sounded OK back then. Also this was digitized from a cassette tape 20 years later:

SteveL Solo of O Holy Night 35 years ago in 1988


Good suggestion for those who sing and play to warm up with the vocalisations, Steve, which also delivers some guitar practice.

Your tips video is also helpful. My singing learning has all been via Chris Liepe’s programmes, first the free intro and then the Discover Your Voice course. Made a huge difference to my ‘singing’.

You certainly did sound OK to me back in '88, though I am not a listener to Bocelli or Groban, not my thing.

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Hi Steve,
I saved (bookmarked ) this post for when I start singing in ???months…

And how wonderfully sung. :man_bowing:… your qualities can also be heard in some of your current songs :sunglasses:


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David, thanks for listening. I should have included the late Freddy Mercury of Queen in the list, since he would be recognizable, but I was focusing on male singers from the last 20 years who are also known for Christmas albums. Josh Groban was the most popular 10 years ago in the US where he has multi platinum albums including Christmas albums. Andrea Bocelli, the Italian tenor, is also popular in the US, but has been popular all over the world. I saw in his wiki page “ As part of the 2010 leg of the My Christmas Tour, Bocelli gave two concerts in The O2 Arena in London, and the Manchester Arena in Manchester and a concert at The O2 in Dublin. His sold-out concert at the O2 in London, was the most attended show in the venue’s history, with 16,500 people attending the event.” As a singer, I tend to remember singers. You may not know their names but you have probably heard them sing for events like the televised Grammy awards ceremonies, the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics or perhaps in the annoying holiday music that stores like to play to put you in the holiday shopping mood. :slight_smile:

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Hi Rogier. Thank you for listening to my videos and sound clip and for your kind words. I hope my tips are helpful when you focus on singing in a few months.

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11Dec2023 - I finally started on Grade 3 Module 20 today. As I stated in my post on the 19th of Nov., I started Module 19 on the 21st of August, but I did a lot of consolidation activity along the way which spread out the completion time for my 12 days of Module 19 practice. (I sense a holiday theme in that sentence :slight_smile: ). I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for Grade 3, but it will be 6 months away, at the minimum. At the end of this though, I will be able to confidently say that I have finished beginner grades (1 and 2) consolidation and move on to Intermediate studies.

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31Jan2024 - I am still on Module 20 in Grade 3 and decided to create my own lesson on chords in keys so I can use more barre chords in my practice. This is just a lesson going one step beyond what has been taught in Grades 1 and 2, which gives the chords in the key of C, and finding the rest of the minor chords for the keys G, D, A and E. I had to edit and remove the first 1 1/2 minutes of intro to keep the length under 15 minutes. I edited on my iPhone not too precisely, so the video starts with a sentence fragment.

My chords in keys for CAGED keys lesson:

I don’t want detract from Justin’s content and I have lifetime access to the PMT lessons. This is just practical information and not much theory, so for more info go to Justin’s theory lessons. This just a small step beyond what was taught in Grades 1 and 2, but certainly not as advanced as the material in the Grade 3 Module 20 lesson. I am not a guitar teacher and don’t intend to put this on any other public website, so I am just putting this out here for myself, since I have been thinking about it for the last year and for anyone else who might find it useful. It is like when you play something for a year and just want to put it in a recording so you can put it behind you and move on. I don’t plan to create a long (almost 15 minutes) video again. I really takes too long to upload to YouTube. From now on I am sticking to shorter videos of me playing.

@Richard_close2u Richard, this was the easy lesson on chords in keys that I had requested a year ago in my post Suggestion for songs and lessons for Grade 3.

I decided to also include my original video lesson. It is a little more unpolished with hand written notes, but in this version I actually had a little arts and crafts project and created a spinning note circle to demonstrate the concepts.

My first attempt at the chords in keys lesson - spinning note circle

I even unintentionally added some sound effects to the process of spinning the note circle, so I am keeping this for my own amusement. It made me remember the song “Spinning Wheels” by the group Blood, Sweat and Tears. :slight_smile:

5Feb2024 - New guitar amp day - I got a Positive Grid
Spark GO miniature amp this past week I like the portable size and the volume is all I need for practice.
I can store behind my computer monitor and grab and plug in when I practice:

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9Feb2024 - I made my first good recording from my Strat though the Spark Go clean (rhythm) channel preset into Garage Band. I made some earlier recordings and forgot to turn off the internal microphone in the laptop. This is the Wish You Were Here intro from my Grade 2 consolidation. It is not up to tempo (just 70 bpm) and had a few minor mistakes, but overall I was pleased with mostly playing on tempo with the click track and the tone of the chords with the guitar-amp combination:

(Stream episode Wish You Were Here - Spark Go - Strat - SteveL - 9Feb2024 - 2:9:24, 6.38 AM by Sbguitar podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud)

I also played on acoustic guitar and recorded on my iPhone with Justin’s metronome app running:
in background:

There are a few mistakes and I got off the tempo a few times but this is a good start to build on and hopefully I can record a better version in a few months

12Feb2024 - I am starting Module 21 today from Grade 3. I realized when looking at Justin’s practice routine description again that I have not tried to learn any Dreamer Songs in my practice routine. I probably am just staying away from the more advanced songs because I had gotten discouraged and given up. I have been practicing Campfire Songs and Developer Songs, which I will define as songs from grades I have completed and songs from the grade that I am currently practicing. So Dreamer Songs would be songs from grades ahead of me. It is time to attempt a few grade 4 songs in my practice routine.

To give me more time to practice songs, I have decided to change my practice schedule of alternating weeks of grade 3 practice and grade 2 consolidation and add a 3rd week of repertoire development with addition of practice material from videos and books outside of Justin. This will prepare me for Grade 4, since I have decided that is how I will structure the practice in Grade 4. The extra week will allow some flexibility in recording the final grade 2 repertoire and finally spending some time playing along with the original recording as I had resolved to do in January but sadly did not follow up on.

My grade 4 dreamer or challenge songs will all be acoustic guitar based songs. My electric guitar playing still lags my acoustic by at least a grade level since I have spent most of my life just playing acoustic. I am focusing on electric guitar in my grade 2 consolidation and continuing to record RockSchool Debut (Grade 1 level songs) with backing track.

25Feb2024 - I have decided to learn The Rolling Stones song “Angie” for my first dreamer song. It has been on my list for a LONG time. When I got interested electric blues guitar in 1999 and started buying everything on the blues I could find, I got this issue of Guitar Techniques:

Notice the featured song is Angie. I tried to learn a few times but didn’t have the patience or the good practice routines and learning practices that I needed. Hopefully from what I have learned from Justin so far and from pages 96-99 in the Vintage Songbook, I can master the intro some day.

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28Feb2024 - I have recorded a practice piece that I wrote with a simple chord progression of D to Dsus4, A7sus4 to A7, C9 without and with high G, and big G with module 11 fingerstyle pattern. I recorded first on my acoustic guitar:

Then I recorded playing on my classical guitar for comparison:

This is the first thing that I have played and recorded on my classical guitar. Notice I used a foot stool and positioned on my left leg. I haven’t played the classical in years. I did change the strings on my classical back in August, but the strings 1 and 2 (E and B) had gone out of tune enough to require turning the tuning pegs a full turn. I developed this while working on Grade 2 consolidation with Module 11 with sus chords and fingerstyle. Since, I am the strongest in this skill I decide to make a first stab at songwriting. This is just a short segment, but I could work it into a song later. I just practiced each for 10 minutes before recording, so it is not perfect.

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Given the different necks and spacings on the two guitars you’ve done a really good job. The classical was maybe a little cleaner performance wise but the steel strung sounds livelier, brighter, better.


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Brian, thanks for watching and for your positive feedback. I had to try the classical because I thought that the wider neck and spacing between the strings would help me get a cleaner sound. The acoustic could be cleaner with a lot more practice. They would both sound better with a better microphone.

07April2024 - I am continuing to progress in Grade 3 Module 21 and consolidate Grade 2 skills. I practice Justin 6 days a week. On Sundays I decided last year to use the church guitar (contemporary music) training DVDs from Musicademy (of the UK) since I had it laying around unused from 2007. I had already finished the 3 beginning DVDs and now going through the 3 song lesson DVDs, which just have chords and strums for songs and no lyrics, so they provide additional guitar practice. Here are a couple of examples. I had to transcribe the chord chards, strum patterns and finger style pattern by hand since I didn’t have any TAB or chord charts to use, so I guess that is also good practice. I only practice 20 to 30 minutes on Sunday so it takes a long time to transcribe and practice the short song segment but I am in no hurry on my “day off”.
Here is my 1st hand written chord chart:

Here is the practice song piece (I left out the F#m and G#m repeat segment):

Here is the other chord chart (I would have used GuitarPro but I haven’t learned how to put chord diagrams anywhere on the page):

and the other song lesson played from the transcribed page:

I didn’t include the song titles for 3 reasons:
1 - to reduce the chance of copyright issues
2 - to reduce the appearance of promoting religious songs
3 - mainly because I haven’t actually heard the original songs and don’t know them, so it is mostly irrelevant.

I am just including this two videos to show what I have worked on on my extra days for the last few months (e.g. I worked on the second song for 7 Sundays in Jan and Feb)…

I have also added some exercises from the Blues Guitar from Scratch book by Bruce Emory to my Module 21 practice routine to keep it interesting. Here is a recording I made of one of my favorite exercises where you play a harmonized version of the blues shuffle for E and A chords with thumb and one finger. It sounds a little like the intro to Clapton’s Change the World

GRADE 2 Consolidation demonstrations

For Grade 2 consolidation progress I have made records of my playing the E minor pentatonic, C major and A minor pentatonic scales and a shord demo of there power chords with an intro showing the master of proper string muting.

Playing the E minor pentatonic scale at 80, 100 and 120 BPM with all down picking

E minor pentatonic scale demonstration

Playing the C major scale at 80, 100 and 120 BPM and alternate picking:

C major scale demonstration

Playing the A minor pentatonic scale at 80, 100 and 120 BPM. I started with alternate picking and then at faster speeds I switched to all down picking without thinking since that is how I had learned in the past. I added a demo of the more complicated 3 ascending and descending pattern at 100 BPM since I have practiced that in the past, even before learning via Justin guitar.

A minor pentatonic scale demonstration

I played a demo of power chords with an intro showing the proper muting technique while picking individual notes for 6 and 5 string power chords:

Power Chords demonstration

I recorded all the grade 2 skill demos in one sitting. I wasn’t playing any song in the power chord video, I was just improvising a progression to show the different power chord movements.