Trish's Learning Log

Hi All, Trish here (Stackpop on the old forum). I’m a 34 year old guitar beginner and life long rock n roll enthusiast from the USA. Here is a summary of my roadcase from the old forum/my journey:

2004-2009 I played in the '00s, from about 15-20. I probably put in 1000 hours or more. I tried to learn from random bits of Tab online. This was of course unstructured and I never learned fundamentals (like timing :sweat_smile:) - I was embarrassingly bad, but hey, at least I had fun. I eventually stopped playing because going to university/college and working took up all my time and energy.

March 2020 I tried to relearn during lockdown after more than a decade off. I decided to try Justin’s lessons… I did not decide to listen to his practice routines. So of course I didn’t make much progress then either - I kept jumping from lesson to lesson without really solidifying anything. I quit again in frustration. This had nothing to do with the quality of Justin’s lessons and everything to do with my own hubris thinking I didn’t need to use a metronome or practice chord changes before trying difficult songs.

May 2021 With fresh insight about why things didn’t go well the last two tries, I tried again. I’ve been following Justin’s lessons and practice routines and using the dreaded metronome. It’s slower than I’d like because I’ve had some time off due to injuries and trips for work, but I’m making a lot of progress. Sticking with the program and solidifying the fundamentals is key! After just two months I felt like I was already better than I was in my 5 years as a teen.

Where I’m at now: I have been using Justin’s lesson books and song books (the books are the old lessons, practicing in front of the computer just isn’t for me if I can help it, I can focus better and have more fun if I’m away from it). I’ve completed the material in both the beginner and intermediate books. If I flip to a random page in Justin’s beginner song book I can reasonably strum most songs either as open chords or as barre chords or power chords if I think it might sound cooler (some of the songs in the bonus section are tricky still). I’ve been playing ~7 months and I’m only now able to start strumming along with the original recordings - and that’s because I’ve put in hours of practice playing along to drum tracks and the metronome. If anyone has read this far and happens to be feeling discouraged about their own progress, don’t worry. Keep at it. We all get there at our own pace. Some things that are hard for others will be easy for you and vice versa.

What I need to be more accountable on 1) Actually memorizing songs/expanding my repertoire and not just absent mindedly strumming along with a chord sheet (no judgement on beginners doing this, I just want to move past that stage). I’ve really slacked on that, partially because of the time off and irregular practice schedule I’ve had due to work and injuries. 2) Using my looper pedal to practice playing along with someone (even if it’s me). 3) Recording myself playing more - I find it nerve wracking and embarrassing, but I recorded my practice session yesterday and was immediately able to identify and correct mistakes I was making. I may not have realized otherwise.

Short Term Goal Start playing songs from Justin’s rock song book well enough to share. To make this a SMART goal, I would like to record and post “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by the end of January and “Sunshine of Your Love” by the end of February. It might take a lot less time to learn those songs. I’ll readjust if necessary.

Longer Term Goal Play the lead guitar part on a rock song by the end of the summer.


Glad you brought this across, Trish. Lots of learning for us all from your experience, observations, and insights. Look forward to hearing you rock those songs.

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That’s a great, concise and focused log Trish!

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Hi Trish. It’s remarkable how similar many of our guitar roads are. You’ve summed it up very well there.

I was interested to read that as a 34 year old ‘youngster’ you prefer using books as opposed to sitting in front of a computer.
As an almost 68 year old ‘oldie’ I’m the same. I like hard copy in front of me. You can flick pages back and forth and write little notes here and there.

I’m currently working from Justin’s Intermediate Course Book. It now no longer links to his updated course video lessons as the structure has changed with different lesson numbering etc. but of course the key elements are exactly the same.

Well done and I look forward to hearing the results of your labours when you’re ready to share.


I think that you’ve done really well in recognising your problems with why you’ve failed before, I suspect that in your case it was wanting to run before you could walk! You’re on the right track now, it’s just a matter of sticking to it. Your aims sound good to me be patient with them and it will happen.


What an encouraging read for others Trish.

I hope many will not only read this but recognise themselves and see through your experience that it is possible to turn it around and start to make steady progress. Good that you are making goals but don’t beat yourself up if the timeline starts slipping, it takes as long as it takes and there no medals for crossing the line first but hey with what I have seen here so far you may get a badge !!



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Hello, Trish. I hear you about hard copy versus a computer screen. You might consider using the Practice Assistant part of the website as a means of pacing your learning. I use the books, the Beginner App and Justin’s videos for structure and pace. The Practice Assistant is very much like a timer with focus. Whether or not you incorporate the video lessons or text into the Practice Assistant is entirely up to you. I find the timer function a great way to pace myself and insure I cover all the structural learning in each module.
This, of course, is merely a suggestion. What works for me may not work for you but I wanted to put it out there.
Most importantly, have fun!


Don’t start me on the Practice Assistant! The amount of time I’ve spent trying to set things up there would have been better spent with my guitar in hand! Non-intuitive doesn’t even begin to describe it. (for me at any rate)
I’ll stop there as I’m going off topic. :woozy_face:

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Hi Tris a very nice summary you put in here. Your journey is somehow very similar to mine - thanks to Justin I got the fundamentals, I got the structure and I am enjoyong the journey. I am sure soon you will finish your first recording (and wow what a great song) and you will feel very accomplished about it :slight_smile: all the best.

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One of my favorite things about being in my 30s is how well I understand myself now - I know that if I’m sitting in front of a computer the temptation to mindlessly start looking up tabs or check email “real quick” instead of actually practicing is too great. :joy: Having just the book, metronome, and a practice checklist keeps me on track. And you’re absolutely right, if you need to peek back at a previous topic, it’s just a few page flips instead of opening another browser tab and loading another video.

I also think I may be one of the only people in my age group that prefers to keep a paper calendar instead of a digital but that’s another topic.


New milestone achieved (albeit accidentally) - I worked out my first riff by ear yesterday. I was messing around with a scale and I hit a few notes and said to myself “hey that sort of sounds like the opening to ‘Today’ by the Smashing Pumpkins I bet I can work out the rest of it” Checked it against a tab online and I was only off by one semitone! (pattern was correct, just needed to move it all one fret over). Maybe not something to write home about but I’ll take it as a win that my ear is developing.


Cool, well done Trish. Now get recording so we can all listen :sunglasses:


Definitely something to write home about, Trish. Good to celebrate and share every win, however small you may think it is.

Well done and thanks for sharing!

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You’ve got your goals clearly set, now go girl, shoot for the stars :rocket:

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