Steve L’s Learning Log

@dobleA Andres, Thanks. I am able to tolerate the length of time (but impatient to finish) for this module, but I have read comments from others that had problems. They get discouraged and quit. I thought that my detailed example might provide encouragement to continue.


05April2023 - I finally finished Module 16 of Grade 3 and starting Module 17 today. I was so happy to finish Module 16 at the end that it reminded me of the story of the person observing someone beating their head against the wall. They ask “Why are you beating your head against the wall?”. The other replies - “Because it feels so good when I stop!”. Not that I approve of head-banging behavior, except for the musical variety, but the story seems to apply here.

When you split a 1 hour practice routine over 2 days and include a free day between 2 day practice sets, then you only finish 2 days of practice routine each week. For a 2 week minimum as Justin suggests, that means it will take a minimum of 6 weeks to finish, assuming 6 days of practice/week. I also used several days to prepare for recordings,so I ended up spending 8 weeks or 2 months on Module 16, which made it seem to drag on and on. What has kept me going is looking forward to working on blues again in module 18, so I have started adding blues practice to my routine in the form of practicing one of the blues licks from Grade 4.

I carefully considered my goals in the first Module 17 lesson and can say that my goals include playing all of James Taylor songs with the exact fingerstyle arrangements. But my big goal which started in 1999 is to be able to play many of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s music like Texas Flood. After my last recording, I realized to reach that goal, I need to spend more time practicing on the electric guitar. Most of my practice has been with my acoustic guitar so I will go back and record some of the Grade 1 and 2 songs for electric guitar and work on staying in the groove with a metronome and playing with the original music. This will be my Grade 2 consolidation for electric guitar to add to the acoustic guitar consolidation.


8April2023 - I had looked at the Module 17 lesson videos more than a month ago, so I now have actively played along with the lessons that demonstrate a technique on the guitar. I am copying my iPad notes to remind me of when I did this:

Module 17 - play guitar along with lessons

 C Chord Shape Explorer - 13:12. 05Apr2023


 THUMB & FINGER STRUMS - 12:44   07Apr2023


I also modified the suggested Module 17 practice routine to include my electric guitar consolidation and organized the practice elements into electric and acoustic guitar specific elements so that I focus on one guitar each day of practice.

Here is the practice routine I will use starting Monday:

For the blues lead studies, I am using the Beginning Blues Guitar by David Hamburger which has a DVD and the National Guitar Workshop Blues Guitar Lessons volume 1 book (with 50 tabbed lessons and CD) both by Alfred Music press. I’ll also incorporate some studies from the book Total Rock Guitar by Troy Stetina as I complete the electric guitar consolidation. These are all old books that I have collected over the years. This should help keep me from getting bored.

I also have the books Fingerstyle Guitar from Scratch and Blues Guitar from Scratch by Bruce Emory for Acoustic Guitar supplemental material which I may add gradually. The truth is that I have accumulated more guitar books in the last 25 years than I can play through in a lifetime with over 3 feet of shelf space with guitar method books (and that was after I gave away about 30 method books I could purchase on Kindle that I view on my iPad Pro), as well as 5 guitar mags on my iPad with archived issues going back to 2009, a lot of DVDs and of course YouTube, so I have to be selective and stay focused on Justin’s website or I could lose my way again :slight_smile:

I was going to wait to start Grade 4 theory, but since it is all about triads, I can watch the videos outside of my regular practice time.

Also, if I finish learning the thumb and finger technique, I will start on the Strumming Techniques 2 course.


22April2023 - I added my April 2023 AVOYP - playing California Dreamin transcribed intro and solo. Eventually I will add the complete song with singing.

California Dreamin - playing transcribed intro and solo

I also added the Strumming Techniques 2 to my practice routine.


05May2023 - I dropped some of the elements from my acoustic guitar half of the Module 16 practrice routine and added acoustic blues lessons to my practice routine today because of my increased interest in this and because I have located some extra beginner practice material. I purchased on Kindle via Amazon : Rainer’s Acoustic Blues Guitar Picking School: Learn to Play Authentic Fingerstyle Blues Guitar! [Print Replica] Kindle Edition, which also has about 55 downloadable video lessons from the Hal Leonard publishing website. The focus is Piedmont Blues, which is entirely appropriate for me since this blues style was developed in the Peidmont region (elevated region between the mountains and the coast) of southeastern US including my home state of North Carolina and is distinguished by a steady thumb bass alternate picking between 2 lower note strings (strings 6 to 4) and a sychopated melodic picking part which may have been derived from Ragtime piano. When I get more experience and practice I will start posting some of my playing,. I tried to access Justin’s blues solo course which also has acoustic blues, but so far I haven’t been able to work out the payment (my bank card doesn’t like international currency conversion for some reason). I guess I will eventually have to transcribe Justin’s acoustic blues demos on YouTube. As least it will be good practice for me.

I attended a concert by Stefan Grossman, a modern master of Piedmont Blues in 1985 and still have an album he signed for me. He was in concert paired with English folk guitarist John Renbourn (who I didn’t realize until I looked at his wiki page that he was one of the original guitarists and founder of the British folk band Pentangle in the late 1960s) so that concert was one of the highlights of my guitar concert lifetime. I also have a signed album that was their collaboration.


Wow. Just looked at the Piedmont Blues style. Found some videos about it. Very interesting. Few days ago, I discovered this pumping effect with the fretting hand, while just doing normal strumming on different chords. It can be applied to different things. - Luv that Piedmont Blues style. Really cool! ------ Did you watch these lessons by Justin: Folk-fingerstyle and Intro to Travis ? ---- Really looking forward to some videos where you play this stuff. Seriously cool. :+1: :sunglasses:

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Kim, Happy that I was able to introduce you to this blues style. I haven’t looked at the folk guitar lessons from Justin Grade 5 since I am still slowly working through Grade 3. I have some finger style experience though, so I will probably look ahead at some of these fingerstyle lessons. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

P.S. The beginner lessons from Hal Leonard/Homerspun are by Rainer Brunn who is a German guitar teacher and blues guitarist on YouTube. You can see him demonstrate the Piedmont Blues of Missippi John Hurt at Rainer Brunn teaches 4 songs by Mississippi John Hurt

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I look every where. Despite being a beginner :wink: No harm doing that. No need to shy :slight_smile: - But it’s really great lessons for us going the fingerstyle route, Justin is pretty darn good at that stuff!!! . If we know ourself, we also know our limits, but no harm is done to see what is up ahead. As long as we keep practicing the basics, else easy end up not being able to do anything at all. :joy: :joy: But sure, also depends on how much time we have available for training. ---- It was this dude I watched How to get started playing Piedmont Blues ------ Thanks, will check out Rainer Brunn. Cool :slight_smile: :+1: :sunglasses:

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10June2023 - Celebration!! I finally finished module 17 of Grade 3, that I started on April 5. Of course, I’ve included other guitar activities during that time, such as starting acoustic blues and 16 note strumming, although I haven’t done much on that yet. I have been trying to record once a month, so have had posted 2 recordings during this time:

California Dreamin’ intro and solo transcription

California Dreamin intro and transcribed solo - SteveL

Venus by Shocking Blue on electric guitar.

Venus by Shocking Blue - SteveL - 29May2023

I’ll start Module 18 on Monday, June 12 and can focus more on playing blues guitar.

I have learned from my recordings of playing and singing on the acoustic guitar and recording playing on the electric that while I might be a grade 3+ on the acoustic, I am just a grade 2+ on the electric guitar. I’ve also learned that while I enjoy playing riffs on the electric guitar, members of the community are going to enjoy listening to my playing much more if I use a backing track, especially if I don’t sing.


16Jun2023 - I had looked at the Module 18 lesson videos more than 2 months ago, so I now have actively played along with the lessons that demonstrate a technique on the guitar. I am copying my iPad notes to remind me of when I did this.

note: Transcribing open chords did not require active playing along with the lesson, but I wanted to review the lesson and I am being easy on myself this week since I tested positive for Covid this week. I’ve had all my vaccinations and boosters and taking Pavlovic so am rapidly recovering. Here is what I have done to start on Module 18:

Module 18 - playing with guitar while watch video lessons

  OPEN TUNING BASICS - 27:05 - 12Jun2023

  LEGATO PENTATONICS - 13:08 - 13Jun2023

   SOLO BLUES 1 LICK-IN' RIFF - 30:00 - 16Jun2023

  TRIAD CHIPS BASICS - 14:23 - 14Jun2023

  TRANSCRIBING OPEN CHORDS - 12:08 - 15Jun2023

I really enjoyed the Solo blues lesson on seamlessly combining blues rhythm and lead. That is my favorite type of guitar playing as done by Clapton, Hendrix, SRV and others.


19June2023 - I was posting a plan of study for Grade 4 in the practice discussion area and realized that I should post this locally and provide a link since it took up too much space in the discussion. Also, I will need to edit in the future and I might lose that in that location. So here is the Grade 4 plan:

I have included all of the Grade 4 video lessons (except for the Blues Licks, which I will include as bonus as I have time since there are 56 blues licks video lessons) and in some cases there are duplicate old (classic) and new videos. NOTE: If you start up each of the videos in the module ahead of time, they will be available in the Resume window of your Dashboard when you start your lesson (or at least the last 6 videos) or even better, I can put the website URL link for each of the lessons beside the lesson titles in the Grade 4 Lesson Plan note in my iPad.


(F1 = Classic INTERMEDIATE FOUNDATION 1 lesson videos)
(F2 = Classic INTERMEDIATE FOUNDATION 2 lesson videos)

      Module 4-1:

Major Scale Pattern 1 (F1) - optional duplicate

Major Scale Pattern 1. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

E Shape Barre Chord Grips (F1) - optional duplicate


Barre Chord One Minute Changes (F1)

Rhythm Essentials (Theory duplication?). [ RHYTHM MAESTRO]

Introducing 16th Note Strumming (F1)

Vari-Shuffle Climb. [ BLUES GUITAR STUDIES]


Play Song for Foundation 1 (F1)

      Module 4-2:

How and why to practice scales. [FOR SKILLS: TECHNIQUE]

Minimum Movement Exercise (F1)

Major Scale Basic Improvisation (F2)

Chords In Keys - For Jamming. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

E Shape Minor Barre Chords. [ E SHAPE BARRE CHORDS]

Understanding Music Ties & Strumming Patterns (Duplicate info from Theory lessons?). [


Minor Pentatonic Pattern 1 [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

Play Song for Foundation 1 (F1)

      Module 4-3:

One Finger Solos. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

Re-Active Listening ™ (duplicate lesson from Grade 3?). [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

E Shape 7 Chords. [ E SHAPE BARRE CHORDS]

Understanding Rests (Theory duplication?). [ RHYTHM MAESTRO]


Bending Technique In Blues. [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

5 Blues Licks from Pattern 1. [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

Play Song for Foundation 1 (F1)

      Module 4-4:

Major Scale Pattern 2. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

Moving Between Scale Patterns. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

Note Function 1. [ E SHAPE BARRE CHORDS]



Using Blues Licks Effectively. [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

Barre Chord Ear Training Exercises (F1)

Play Song for Foundation 1 (F1)

      Module 4-5:

Major Scale In 3rds. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

Using Octaves To Find Notes (F1)

Intermediate Rhythm Guitar 2 (F2)

E Shape Barre Chord Grips: 7 & Min7 (F2)

First Triads! (Could be duplicate info from Grade 3). [ E SHAPE BARRE CHORDS\

Minor Pentatonic Pattern 2. [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

5 Blues Licks from Pattern 2. [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

Play Song for Foundation 1 (F1)

      Module 4-6:

Motif Development. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

Playing Scales With A Metronome (F2)

Barre Chord One Minute Changes (F2)

Open Position Note Reading (F2)

The Blues Curl on the Flat 3rd. [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

Introducing The Blues Scale. [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

Play Song for Foundation 1 (F1)

      Module 4-7:

Major Scale Pattern 3. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]

Five Licks Using The Blue Note. [ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

Blues Licks Linking Patterns 1 & 2. [ ESSENTIAL BLUES LEAD GUITAR]

Ear Training Exercises (F2)

Play Song for Foundation 1 (F1)

      Module 4-8:

Fretboard Framework. [ MAJOR SCALE MAESTRO 1]


Play Song for Foundation 1 (F1)

I’ve also looked ahead to Grades 5 and 6. I would need move the Foundation 5 lessons to Grade 6 and move the Blues lessons from Grade 6 to Grade 5 to have a better balance of technique and style lessons. That would be over one and a half years from now, so maybe more style module lessons will be added to Grade 5 before then. Funny, I thought that I remember a Rock style module in Grade 5 in the Classic Intermediate course.

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23June2023 - NAD - :slight_smile: I got a little bored while isolating in my Covid rebound phase (after taking Paxlovid), so I decided to order a decent Bluetooth speaker. Believe it or not, I haven’t had a decent speaker in my music area, other than my guitar amp. I was surprised to see that C/Net gave a good review to the Marshall Middleton speaker and after looking at a few reviews on YouTube I made the online purchase:
Here is a picture:

Notice the Bass and Treble EQ controls on top of the speaker.

I was also surprised at the power you can get now with small speakers. Marshall says it has two 20W class D amps for the two 3" woofers and two 10W class D amps for the two tweeters and it weighs about 4 pounds, part of which is probably the 20 hour rated lithium battery. For size comparison, here it is with my Fender Mustang GT-40 amp that has 20+20 W power in two 6.5" speakers:

Finally, I thought that it was a nice touch to add a cool startup and shutdown riff:

Marshall Middleton bluetooth speaker startup and shutdown riffs

I finally have something to listed to my recorded videos other than headphones. Since it is water resistant and dust proof I can use outside while I finish my Covid isolation, without worrying about rain and dust.


26June2023 - I tried out the new speaker on our outside porch and found that it has plenty of power. The volume indicator has 10 volume levels. I didn’t need to turn the volume to higher than level 3 for listening to music and can listened to my music at volume of level 1 for rock and louder pop. I briefly turned up to volume level 5, but worried about disturbing the neighbors. :slight_smile:

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28June2023 - having a new amp/modeling amp setup encourage you to find new sounds. I had previously only used my Fender Mustang Micro headphone amps with some cheap PC speakers, so I was interesting in how the amp models would sound with the new Marshall Middleton speaker. Also I wanted to see how the speaker handled bass notes on guitar. So I tuned the Strat to Drop D and just slapped to 3 lower strings with my fretting hand and recorded via my iPhone in my right hand. Was pleased to hear the resulting sounds I could get. I have attached to video. Sorry, it is not too musical but I can produce some interesting sounds, so indulge me this one time :slight_smile: .

New amp - some sound explorations - SteveL - 28June2023

I think the most interesting sounds are in the last minute of the video. BTW am using 90’s American (blue indicator light) model on Fender Mustang Micro which I think is hi-gain amp.

This experimenting with guitar and amp sounds is a little in the spirit of Jimi Hendrix, who probably spent hours experimenting with guitar sounds and tones. I find it enjoyable, so I will add a little of this each week to my electric guitar practice time.

01July2023 - Another NAD :slight_smile: It’s not much of a new amp. I purchased a Vox amPlug2 AC30 headphone amp when my Fender Mustang Micro headphone amp was dead when I tried to start practice. I had left it on again overnight, so I decided to buy a backup headphone amp for practice. The Vox amPlug2 headphone amps use batteries (2 x AAA) but they have an auto shutoff feature that is useful. Here is a couple of pictures of the new purchase:


The tone is not as good as the Fender Micro amp, but it has controls for gain and tone, which are not on the Fender Mustang Micro. It sounds a little thin in tone in small headphones, but the tone fattens up when played through a good bluetooth speaker. Here is a quick riff I played (Day Tripper, one of my favorite Beatles riffs) with the Vox amPlug2 AC30 into the new Marshall Middleton 50W bluetooth speaker via a 3.5mm audio cable:

Day Tripper riff with Vox amPlug2 AC30 and Marshall Middleton speaker

This was a quick one off video I made. I didn’t even bother to set up the tripod for the iPhone. Please pardon the imperfect riff, since it has been a few years since I played it. Also I need to do some experimenting to find the best tone for this riff. I think I need to increase both the gain and the tone. At least this is better than practicing on the electric guitar without any amplification.

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03July2023 - Well, I am a slow learner, but it finally occurred to me that I will never finish the Grade 2 consolidation items I need to complete if I don’t set aside enough time. I have only had a couple of practices each week of unstructured practice and mostly practicing new songs for fun.
I have decided have 3 consecutive days of structured practice followed by 3 days of unscheduled practice time that I can use to finally set up my DAW, finish memorizing my songs from Grade 1, learn my songs for Grade 2 and finish my improvisations and transcriptions.

So I’ll have 3 days of timed Module 18 practice items on the electric guitar and 3 days of whatever, but only using my acoustic and the next week I will reverse with structured acoustic practice and doing different things with my electric guitar. I am the worlds worse at memorizing lyrics, but I think I can do it if I work on a song at least 3 days in a row. Of course adding the extra day each week of unstructured practice will mean it will take a minimum of 8 weeks or 2 months to finish each module, but like it has been said before - this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Steve, personally I think it’s a great idea. I am a big advocate for a mix of structured and unstructured. Its about finding that balance between learning and developing skills but also carving out some time to have fun and apply those skills.


11July2023 - I am adding some acoustic blues to my practice this week.
I’ve played through some of the Complete Acoustic Blues Guitar book this week. It follows closely with Justin’s acoustic blues lessons in Grade 2 at first. I finally had some challenge with the 5 6 flat7 shuffle patterns since my pinkie is still a little weak. Also I noticed on page 44 (Boogie Woogie in E), bottom line, 1st measure that there is an implied 2 fret hand position shift when the tab goes from 2nd fret played with first finger to 6th fret played with 3rd finger. I was puzzled for a while until I saw that the next note is on the 4th fret played with the first finger, where there has to be a hand position change. This exercise is challenging enough in the last line that I will have to slow down in Transcribe at first before I can “Boogie” at full speed. It only took 2 days at 10 minutes per day to play through the first 19 mp3 audio tracks that takes you to page 44 (Track 20 - Track 1 is tuning notes) since it is mostly review of Justin’s grade 2 blues course material, especially since I played the 12 bar blues in all 5 CAGED keys during my consolidation practice.

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12July2023 - one more day of playing examples in Complete Acoustic Blues Guitar. The chapter Blues Strums has different 12 bar blues strumming patterns but just as importantly has some alternative chord shapes. I found it challenging to play the F7 shape, since my pinkie is short. This chord shape is derived from the 4 finger E7 chord, but I. Find the F7 barre chord easier to play. The strumming in E on page 48 has all alternate forms of E7, A7 and B7 chords. I noticed that if you only play the highest pitch 3 strings, you are playing all triads. I started slowing down on the Blues Soloing chapter, which introduces several scales and has lots of audio tracks. The Em pentatonic exercises coordinate with the Grade 2 and 3 blues examples in Justin’s course, but then the movable major pentatonic scale is introduced which is an intermediate skill level exercise. I looked ahead and saw that the blues scale was also introduced, but there was only one short sole exercise for each scale, then all the scale are listed on the next page, along with extensions.So my thought is that the moveable major pentatonic scale and the blues scales are given as an introduction that will be more fully explored later.

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Hey Steve,

Good to see you are making progress with the Complete Acoustic Blues Guitar Book and enjoying it.

You would have first come across this in Justin’s Classic Course along with some other variations worth exploring. I think he may cover this in some of the blues lessons in the Grade 3. Always worth checking out Justin’s lesson for a refresher and keep working on that little finger as it is a wonderful digit for applying embellishments.

That is good that you are thinking about hand positioning. Just in case you get puzzled again the fingering is given below the tab :wink:

This is a good exercise, similar to the 5 6 flat 7 shuffle exercise, for getting used to moving and repositioning the hand including the thumb. It will also help to put into practice air changes on the B7 chord.

Once you feel comfortable at playing those two boogie woogie pieces at tempo. A good song to have a look at for the rhythm guitar is T-Bone Walker - Papa Ain’t Salty. Listen to the rhythm part being played. Can you here the two boogie woogie patterns played in the song?

I am just getting back into practice mode and the F7 is a chord I’m struggling with as well. So you are not alone. But like other chords we just have to practice and find a way of playing them to our anatomy plus lots of Justin’s finger stretching exercises.

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