Thomas' Learning Log

June 2020 - So I first bought a guitar around this time and casually went through grade 1 of Justin guitar, however, I didn’t actually play any songs. I just learned chords at this time because many of the songs did not interest me, at least the ones easy enough to play.

Up to Early 2022 - I was not consistent with my guitar practice and took months off at a time, with about a year off in total. Oddly enough, I did ‘complete’ grade 1 even though I never made an account. I can play all the chords okay with 40+ changes a minute and also learned a scale with some barre chords, however, I had VERY low song-playing ability.

Leading up to Late 2022 - It’s not like I didn’t have an interest in playing songs, but just the ones I wanted to play were very difficult. For a long while, I did try for months at a time at certain songs, but it was just so far out of my ability that I couldn’t make it happen, especially since although I could play chords, my rhythm, timing, and just general sense of playing were and are severely under-developed.

This led to frustration and ultimately a realization.

Now - I’ve made an account, decided to join this community, and will be going through all of grade 1, but I will not move on until I can play 5+ songs from each module and record them here as proof no matter how basic. That’s over well over 30 songs.

From my mistakes and experience, I’ve come to the understanding that I need to humble myself and not think I am above a seemingly simple song, because in order to play the more complex music I want, I need to take it in steps and use these beginner songs as those steps.

Knowing my pickiness and to ever increase the fun factor, I will also view this as a way to discover music from now on through playing and will include thoughts on these songs as a sort of side music appreciation blog.

Some basic info about me - My name is Thomas and I’m 25 years-old in the U.S working as Nurse Assistant and studying to be EMT (Lower-tier Ambulance Medic)


Good stuff Thomas, thanks for the detail and the honesty. For me, it was all about playing songs that made a difference, gave me the incentive to push further in my learning. When I look back on the simple songs that I first learned I’m a bit blown away by how basic and simple they were but they teach SO much.

It’s not just the chords, it’s the whole song. You gotta make a start with the intro, you gotta finish with the outro, you gotta keep a groove, a flow, etc. It’s going through that with a simple song that makes the harder songs very achievable for you. The price of admission. :slight_smile:


Welcome, Thomas! And thanks for sharing that great story. Sounds like you’ll be on the path to those tougher songs in no time. I am very much the same, always want to play songs well above my level! :joy:Doesn’t hurt to have high aspirations though I guess?! :sweat_smile: Looking forward to seeing how you get on with your future updates. All the best! :metal:

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Hello and welcome Thomas.
Thank you for sharing your story and you have a good plan, however I think 5 songs per module is a difficult target to reach and it would be better to set the target at 5-10 songs per grade.
I wish you luck on guitar journey and look forward to seeing your progress.


Hi Thomas, good decision to join the community as it will give you a lot of support and motivation. There’s a mantra going on here: " Learn songs, learn songs, learn songs!" Why is it helpful? The Songs Justin recommends are selected to help you building up certain skills and abilities. Wether you like the songs or not, try to give them a chance, because they will help you to progress. And sometimes a song that first tells you nothing is surprisingly fun to play. Sometimes you’ll become more familiar with songs you didn’t even know. It’s also a chance to explore maybe some different kinds of music. We all would like to play the most complicated riffs and solos straight away, but we’ll never get there without basic practice. So, wish you a lot of motivation for your further songwork!

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Hi Thomas,
Welcome, and I wish you a lot of perseverance and above all a lot of fun :sunglasses:

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Welcome Thomas

Helen0609 said it perfectly. Just stick with it. I highly recommend the exercises Justin suggests. I jumped into learning songs then I realized I needed to go back to the basics. Keeping a log I am able to really see my improvements which does give me motivation.
Good luck

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Great point. I think the community will really help. And I’ll definitely be building skills through songs from now on. Working Dance the Night Away by the Mavericks currently. :slight_smile:

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We all want it instantly, haha. And thanks!

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I think you’re absolutely right! Appreciate it. :slight_smile:

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@Tomc12 Welcome to the Justin Guitar community. It sounds like you are finally on the right path to success. It took me a long time to discover what you had recently discovered. Putting in the time playing simple songs will give you the base of skills to confidently learn songs at a higher grade. I was also impatient to get to more interesting songs, then giving up and not practicing for a long time and then having to start over. Good luck with your Grade 1 song practice and advancing to Grade 2.

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Hi Thomas, welcome. It’s easy for a person to overestimate his or her ability to play certain songs with the skills he or she already has. To avoid that type of frustration, Justin has very kindly selected songs that can be appropriate for each learning level. In my personal view, it does not hurt once in a while trying something out of the comfort zone, as far as the person is aware of that, and keeps doing his or her homework, practicing songs appropriate to his or her level and building the foundations he or she needs to delve later into the genres or songs he or she feels more drawn to.

If you haven’t so, you can watch this lesson:


Thank you. I totally agree, though right now I just want to learn any songs at all. Currently working on it and will start with easier/campfire songs for sure. I definitely liked the video and think the same song could be all three of those types - a grower, depending on how complex a person wants to make it. Appreciate the link.

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I agree. There are quite a few songs that I’ve learned in a simple form and then refine them over time as my skills and my understanding of the song grow. More accurate strum patterns, note picking, highlights, lead lines. For songs that I like, its motivating to come back to them and apply new skills.

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Okay, so it’s been a minute. I posted way back in late November and now it’s February. So here’s an update on how it’s been.

Update: So I’ve been practicing every other day consistently for about an hour or so. I found that an hour was just enough for me to get the metronome work, song playing, and ear training I needed. My fingers were sore at the end, but that’s what tomorrow’s rest day was for. That rest day also left me excited to play guitar the next day.

So in terms of practice, I didn’t do any chord changes. I can already do about 40-60 OMC between most of the chords and can do 19 between the F and C chord. I’m still on grade 1, so I did not try to improve something that was already very solid.

Instead, I did strumming and found I couldn’t strum 60 BPM without dropping the thinnest pick. This was very disheartening and felt somewhat embarrassing for me. For a month I spent that hour ONLY on the metronome between A and D chord. Those are also the only chords I’ve been using, to help me focus on strumming and to complete module 1 based on my criteria.

In terms of results, my strumming has improved dramatically. I’ve been doing ear training and can match my voice to the A chord while playing and singing as you’ll see/hear. D chord is a different story, but I’m working on it. And as of this writing, I have played my first song on the guitar as well as sang it, too. I recorded it below, but more on that

So that’s 1 song down, 4 more to go for module one, and 34 more to go for grade 1 based on my criteria, then it’s on to grade 2 after. I suspect progress will go much quicker now after spending so much time on the metronome building up my strumming. Also, the reason I’m singing is so I can develop my voice and guitar playing at a similar rate.

I’m always someone who likes to show their work and fear no criticism.

So, I’ve recorded my first song below. It’s Feelin’ Alright by Joe Cocker I messed up the lyrics on this 2nd video take of playing the song, but overall I am happy with this first installment of course songs I can play. Future recordings, including the next one, will have better singing of lyrics, as I’m giving myself a little leniency with the first one and partly because I like it so much. (I was sort of reading the lyrics while playing, a not so good habit.)

I played the first 2/3s of the song like the songbook said, but then I got really into it and improvised a different pattern completely unplanned and spontaneously. I really started to connect with this song emotionally and got really into it at this point.

So here it is on youtube, friends.

Feelin’ Alright by Joe Cocker - Grade 1 Module 1 Song 1 of 35

Thanks to everyone on here for posting and commenting on learning logs. Even though I don’t post often yet, it really is encouraging and nice to see so much positivity. :slight_smile:


Hi Thomas. I just heard two versions of Feelin’ Alright to be able to comment. You kept a steady rhythm for the first part and used a different strumming in the second part to reflect the different dynamics of the song. With the second strumming pattern you looked a bit doubtful but with practice you should get better in the groove with that one too. Chord changes looked clean to me. Talking the song is perfectly good; at some point you can start getting more adventurous with the voice on the parts you feel more confident. Memorizing the song is good for performance but if you need to take a look to your lyrics and chords it works too.

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Thank you, I definitely need to work on that other strumming pattern as well. I feel when I transition from one strumming pattern to another that’s at a different BPM it adds an additional challenge, but I will work on that, too.
Well, I don’t feel so bad for talking the song now. I think I’m going to make more of an effort to sort of work out how I sing the song, after the strumming of course!

Sounds like you have settled into an effective routine and have a sound plan, Tom.

Look forward to following your updates

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Update After doing a cover on Feelin Alright by Joe Cocker, I learned a lot and went further in my training and preparation for song 2 based on everyone’s feedback.

I would start off with 5 min to a metronome to the song’s strumming pattern, then play it to the song, guitar only, and did that about 15+ times. After that when I was comfortable, I sung and played it to the recording at the same time about 12+ times.

Then when I was ready I sung and played it along about 7-8 times total. I think I listened to it about 30+ times. I can even hear EXACTLY when the chord changes are made in the recording now and on which word.

Overall, my final recording still isn’t perfect, but its a significant improvement in terms of singing and playing in rhythm than the last song. However, I do make a mistake in the beginning of almost dropping the pick and the rhythm is off for a moment, but I recover quickly and it isn’t so bad. I’m getting better at adjusting the pick while I play but this is a work in progress.

This song, You Sound Good to Me by Lucy Hale, was a lot trickier than the last with some of its lyrics that are sort of like rapping (but for country I guess).

All things considered, I feel I improved on keeping the strumming pattern going, singing and playing in sync, as well as a little palm muting in one of the choruses, which I had never done before but it just felt right for that section. Singing in this definitely came easier after practicing it so much, especially for a song like this.

What I can improve on more going forward is singing in note, making the strumming more dynamic throughout than it is, I think I may have hit a few extra strings on some of the chord changes, I feel its minor, but still, and not almost dropping the pick near the beginning, haha.

This was enjoyable and challenging.

Well, 2 songs down, 33 more to go for grade 1. :slight_smile:

Here’s You Sound Good to Me by Lucy Hale.

If anyone has any feedback, I would love to hear it. Thank you!

You Sound Good to Me by Lucy Hale - Grade 1: Song 2/35


Coming along, Thomas, keep doing what you are doing, you’ll keep on improving.

I think I noticed a little pick adjusting/re-controlling early on … well done (if I did). An important skill to develop, to be able to handle the pick without breaking your strumming rhythm when necessary.

I also noticed you kept your hand moving in a part without guitar.

And you sang into the camera at one point.

Plenty high points, good progress, keep rocking!

On the video, while it makes no real difference, is minor, I suggest closing the cupboard doors when recording.

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