Vintage Club #4 with Richard | Practice (who, when, what, where why)

Please use this topic to ask questions and join the discussion.

Tag using the @ function to Richard_close2u @Richard_close2u if you wish to ask a direct question or make a direct comment.

You can view the archive page and download all lesson notes and resources here:

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Resources now available - free to download:


Thank you so much for the link to download the printouts @Richard_close2u. I love having printable resources -it’s very helpful for me as I’m not too good at taking notes.

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Here’s a summary of the unanswered questions from the Q&A session Vintage Club with Richard #4. Thanks for bearing with us during our technical issue! Please feel free to answer what you can, share your thoughts and tips, and chat with others.

  1. Difficulty with Picking Technique:
  • Seeking advice or exercises to improve picking technique and feel more comfortable.
  1. Learning Music Theory at 64:
  • Inquiring about the importance of learning music theory at the age of 60+.
  1. Tips for Prioritization and Practice:
  • Seeking tips on how to prioritize and structure practice sessions effectively.
  1. Transcribing Skill Section:
  • Asking for suggestions on how to approach the transcribing skill section in Justin’s practice routine template.
  1. Struggling with Difficult Song Parts:
  • Dealing with challenging parts in songs that can lead to losing interest. Seeking advice on how to overcome this.
  1. JG Tabs App vs. Musopia Karaoke App:
  • Comparing the formatting differences between the JG Tabs app and the Musopia karaoke app.
  1. Short Technique Practice:
  • Wondering if dedicating 2-3 minutes a day to a specific technique is enough for mastery within a reasonable time frame.
  1. Recommended Scales:
  • Inquiring about recommended scales to focus on, such as Blues, Major, Minor, or Pentatonic.

Feel free to provide any answers or share thoughts and tips on these topics!


#6 is my question, I’m asking if the Justin Tabs app will lay out the full structure of the song so we can see the patterns in the format Richard showed with his recommended example to address the “one chord at a time” issue inherent with the Musopia karaoke app.


62 year-old here; learn about chord structures (e.g. major chord=1st,3rd,5th scale notes, flattened 3rd makes it minor etc.etc) means you can work out how to play chords you’ve never been taught, knowing scale patterns leads to being able to transpose progressions into different keys and so on. You don’t have to know any theory to follow video lessons, play songs from chord sheets or tab, or even pick up songs by ear if you’re very lucky, but knowing some basic theory that you can relate to what you’re playing, helps your playing improve, and increases your enjoyment because you understand what you’re doing (IMHO)

It’s a lot easier to understand basic theory if you learn a little bit of piano, once you’ve learned where the notes on at least the first 5 frets of the guitar are (which tbh is probably the hardest thing to learn), If you have access to a piano or keyboard, this piano theory video teaches you in 16 minutes more or less everything you need to know to play almost any pop song.


Personally I think this depends on your goals. At the moment playing songs written by other people is all I want to achieve. I don’t need music theory to do this, so my time is better spent playing rather than studying


I practice new techniques for only a few minutes at a time (although sometimes more than once in a day). I find that in any given session I don’t really gain anything after maybe 5 minutes or so of wrestling with a new chord shape or technique. I’m sure I progress faster by practicing a technique 3 minutes a day, EVERY DAY than I would in a single 20-25 minute session.

@TGFNM14 I have the songs app and I did struggle in the way described at first but it’s not difficult to slow down the playback and write down the chords yourself and look for the sections and repeating patterns. That takes a few minutes per song. It’s not going to be easier taking a guitar tab and trying to match that up to a separate recording of a song.

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The Short Technique Practice was my question, and the answer kind of makes sense. Short practices every day would be more effective than longer more infrequent practices. I do kind of get burned out after working on a new technique for more than 5 minutes or so myself. Perhaps I should try 2-3 minute stretches 1-3 X per day. Thanks.


Well, I played trombone in high school and piano as a young adult (Mom was a music teacher) but I feel that understanding music theory is just part of the journey. You don’t need to understand music theory to play covers but if you start playing with others and the singer (or piano guy…) says “No, change the key to G”, it helps to understand what that means from a guitarist perspective.

For me, I focus on guitar first (technique, skills, chords, covers) and then try to learn some of the theory i.e. chord structure, scales, time signatures, etc.

Good luck!


My view on music theory is a little different to others who have commented. I think it is worth doing music theory even if you are just playing covers. I have played on and off for a while and never really learnt music theory until Justin told me to do it.

I have to say it has made me a better player.

Remember this website has it mapped out for you. For Grade 1 it is just learning the names of strings and the notes on the guitar. For grade 2 it is learning to read tabs and knowing the difference between chords, scales, and arpeggios. Grade 3 and you get into the theory of scales and a few other things. It is never anything beyond the grade you are at and compliments the courses well.


My view on music theory has changed dramatically since I started playing. I hated music theory in school as I had no connection to it at all. I was never interested in learning any theoretical aspects of music.
No I know, thanks to Justin and @Richard_close2u WHY I‘m learning music theory and that makes all the difference. The PMT is a great door opener to this secret world for me. I‘m sure I‘ll profit in the long run and get a better understanding of the instrument. My focus is still on learning how to play, on expanding my technical skills on the instrument, but I try to do at least the PMT course according to the lessons and my interest is growing….
On top, the Club classes make theory even more understandable and I‘m very greatful being able to join.


I think the question, whether or not to invest in learning music theory is not so much a question of age, but rather a question of one’s short term, mid term and long term goals.

In addition the question why someone is playing guitar is very important. Finally the question how (yes, @Richard_close2u , I still think that’s relevant :slightly_smiling_face:) is important as well: How do you want to reach your short term, mid term and long term goals? What are the methods resonating with you that will help you reach your goals and stay motivated?

One of these “hows” can very well be integrating theory studies in practice routines, but there are surely many other ways as well depending on the “why” and set goals in every individual case.

In my case it’s easy: To me, music theory has a similar function for music as grammar has for languages. I want to understand the language of music or better, various musical styles better. I want to know, why things work as they work. I want to know what happens when certain “grammar rules” are broken and how and why it can occasionally be perfectly feasible to break established rules.

I believe that in the long run, i.e. in many, many, many years to come this approach will have helped to make me a better guitar player. Accordingly learning more about music theory is an Integral part of my guitar learning adventure, simply because I want it to be and because I know that it is an important part of my “how”.


That’s fine, and if you are using original sheet music/tabs published by the artist/group you might get away without knowing any theory… however, if you are using one of the thousand of Tabs Of Unknown ProvEnancE (‘Toupee’) that are scattered over the internet, how can you tell if they are right, close, or miles away from what they should be, just by looking at them if you don’t understand some music theory? If you get one that’s close enough, how will you know what might need to be changed to get it right withouth knowing some music theory?

The moral of the story: Don’t get stuck with a bad Toupee, learn a little bit of theory :wink:


I suppose in my case I’d say I’m aware of music theory just not actively doing anything with it. I know of the major scale and how other scales derive from it but I’d have to refer to notes to remind me of the specific details. I also understand how chords work and could form basic chords from the circle of notes if I had the need to.
The thing is I could commit a load of time into memorising all of the details of the above but as my current goals are what they are, I’ll have forgotten it all when I do need it. We all have our own time constraints on learning guitar and diving into theory right now is not a good use of my available time.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t learn theory, or I will never learn theory but if you just want to strum along to some popular songs then I stand by what I said that it’s not essential.


Q1 - Picking
You might want to check out this lesson if you have not already:
How to Pick Individual Strings While Strumming |

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Here are some graphics.
I have jumbled the chords and deleted the lyrics to maintain anonymity and preserve copyright.

A side by side layout of what you might see in the App (where the graphics appear in time, not all at once in a row).

Here is a similar view of a non-specific song as chords.

The TABs will vary. Sometimes they show the main sections of the song with chords, bars, strumming pattern etc.
Sometimes they are much more lengthy and complex with pages and pages including TAB for perhaps multiple guitar parts, lead solos and chords and everything.

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Thank you, Richard

Simply practicing scales ascending and descending helps with finger dexterity and strength plus right and left hand coordination for picking individual notes on single strings.

Justin introduces two scale types quite early on in the beginners course.
Major scale.
First, open position C major scale. This is good for many reasons and the benefits are short and long term. Knowledge wise it can help with learning notes names of the open strings and on the first three frets. The major scale naturally leads to melodic playing if that interests you.

In time the G major scale E-shape pattern is introduced and this extends your major scale options plus takes you through a doorway to understanding how chords and scales and more connect on a guitar.

Theoretically, learning and understanding the major scale is vital as it is the bedrock upon which our music is built.


Justin first introduces the E minor pentatonic in open position and later the corresponding scale pattern along the fretboard as the A minor pentatonic.

The character of this scale is not so melodic like the major scale but is more conducive to learning and playing riffs and licks and eventually lead guitar parts such as you would hear in blues or rock etc.

In terms of a quick-win, user-friendly, dive-in-for-fun perspective the pentatonic would be a good choice.
For complete development as a musician and to make progress with more melodic playing the major scale is a better choice.

That said, workibg through the beginner course in a structured way means it is not either or, but both.

As for the blues scale … it is an off-shoot of the pentatonic and isn’t really a scale to practice and learn in its own right.

The minor scale is a mode of the major scale. Some musical styles make use of it but it isn’t a first port of call.