When to move from grade 1

Hi… I have been on grade 1 for 3 months. I practice for at least an hour every day in 20 minute segments. I know all the chords and can play them perfect except sometimes have trouble with c chord. I can do chord changes about 30-40 per minute.
I can play 3 or 4 songs along with the music in the app for module 7. My strumming is just the basic.
How do I know when to move on?

1 Like

Hi Debra,

I Followed Justin’s recommendations in the “How to Pass Grade 1” video to the letter. I would just go off of that:
#1 You should be able to tune your guitar with a tuner.
#2 Memorize and play the 8 essential beginner chords on the guitar.
#3 Play 30 chord changes in 1 minute.
#4 Play The Old Faithful strumming pattern consistently at 80 beats per minute.
#5 Memorize 5 easy songs.

It’s as simple as that I think. Did you finish the modules in those 3 months or did you finish earlier and spent some time consolidating?


Wow, you got through grade 1 in 3 months? That’s great, congratulations! Did you have any previous experience playing guitar? (I didn’t.)
So far it took me 1 month per module just to get through modules 1 and 2. I think this weekend I will start with module 3.

1 Like

I’m perfecting now. I can easily do everything except I haven’t memorized any songs… just play the at 80%

I never touched the guitar in my life but I practice a lot. I don’t want to move on until I am sure I’m ready. I guess I need to pick 5 songs to memorize…. Very hard for me

1 Like

Songs are what’s it’s all about so I suggest focusing your efforts on memorizing those songs. There are a ton of easy songs at grade 1 that are only a few chords repeated over and over. These are some of the songs I used:

What’s up by 4 non blondes - G, Am, C, G for the whole song
Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix - C, G, D, A, E, E whole song
Mad world by Gary Jules - Em, G, D, A for most of the song, there are parts with just Em to A
Stand by Me by Ben King - G G G G Em Em C D whole song

1 Like

You are doing fantastic. I’m super impressed with your practice time and progress.
I’m not an expert, but if you are bored with your practice and want to learn more than I would move on to new material. There is some cool stuff in grade 2, and it sounds like your ready to learn it.

Hi @Hhbt, you don’t need to memorise all the lyrics. Just the chords and patterns so you can play it. You don’t have to sing at the same time either! The ones @alexisduprey mentioned are great ones to do it with. I’d add to that For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield.

If you play them every day for a while, you’ll remember them :slight_smile:.

You could have a look at the Nitsuj videos and compare, I did that before moving on. Currently module 9, still ropey with the C chord. Strangely trying not to look seems to have improved that a bit. Playing Brown Eyed Girl.
Still have the C chord on my carried forward list and it was in my practice schedule till I started grade 9. Also had strummin on the “Carried forward” list. Could do a few patterns, but my time keeping was erratic.

1 Like

Don’t be afraid of marching ahead, if down the line you feel like you’ve skipped over things a bit fast you can always return to any module to consolidate.

It’s a personal thing I guess, I get impatient and always want to know what’s next (so am always revisiting). But I can understand the desire to follow the lessons to the letter. That is probably the best attitude for the early courses as this will give you a strong foundation. As you progress though, you will learn in which direction you would like to head and some lessons/modules will become more relevant than others.

1 Like

Debra, congrats on working through Grade 1.

Lots of good advice already given.

To add … if the only thing worrying you about moving on is the 5 songs, then I’d suggest moving on, but that statement comes with a ‘but’.

We all have different long terms aspirations. Generally speaking for many, it is to be able to play a song so family and friends will recognise it. For some that includes singing. For others it goes beyond to wanting to play for an audience at an Open Mic, produce their own songs, join a band.

But unless your aspiration lies in playing classical or other instrumental pieces from a score then it all revolves around playing songs and being able to play them if somebody says ‘hey, you can play guitar’ and puts an instrument in your hands and asks for a song.

At that moment, one typically has no aids, such as the App or a song-sheet. And what Justin is encouraging early in the learning is to work towards being able to play a few songs in such a situation.

So by all means move on and begin Grade 2 lessons, while you continue to include song rehearsal in your routine. You have the time opportunity and could dedicate one of your slots to the playing of songs that make use of the chords learned in Grade 1 (as suggested). I’d encourage being able to wean yourself away from the App but continue to use it as you progress. Perhaps a next step is to make hand-written song sheets with the structure and progressions of the songs to play from. And then slowly slowly wean yourself off that.

Meanwhile, bravo, and keep on keeping on, ever onward!

1 Like

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I think I’ll pick a few songs I really like first and try to memorize them. At least l’ll be able to play for people and that will boost my confidence.

1 Like

Thanks so much to all of your for your help. This is a great group!! I am taking all of your suggestions and encouragement seriously.
I think, for now, I want to learn a few songs so I can play for friends to sing along.
Yesterday I picked 3 songs that people will know and I’m going to practice them until I feel comfortable playing them.
I will probably move on and keep practicing them.
I love playing the guitar and love practicing and seeing improvement.
Thanks again


Sounds like you’re doing great Debra and you’ve been given the best advice already, song memory builds up quickly once you’ve landed on ones you like so you’ll naturally have them in your head and hands.
If you’re following Justin’s practice routines then your practice always begins with song revision to build your repertoire.
Good luck! :+1:

I’m also at the end of grade 1; though I could start on grade 2, I’m using this time to really consolidate what I’ve learned so far by focussing on practicing strumming patterns (using a metronome and upping the tempo), playing the chords blind rather than staring at my fretboard, going out my comfort zone and trying new songs, etc.

I satisfied my craving for learning new stuff by following the music theory grade 1 to 3 and doing the ear training course grade 1.

1 Like

Sounds like you’re laying a good foundation for moving on. I’m very interested in the ear training course. How do you like it? Did you need to pay for it?

I think the ear training course is free. The app is €2 or something. I like it, personally. One of the excercises is trying to match your singing to the guitar notes. For me, it’s yet another way into building a solid base and connecting stuff.

The music theory course gave me an early start on power chords, which is pretty awesome. :grin:

Thanks I will check them out.

#klimperer42. I am very much like you and taking about 4 weeks to complete each module. I am currently at module 4 and still pushing onwards. Getting lots of encouragement from everyone getting to the end of Grade 1

Decided to move on to grade 2 because I was getting bored. The first module of grade 2 through me for a loop. Justin introduces 6 new chords!
I am trying them and did the next 2 modules and I really liked them. I enjoy practicing the e minor pentonic scale.
I still practice all my chord changes everyday because I need to increase my speed and accuracy.
Keep practicing and have fun.