WM's Tales of Woe, and Guitar

Hello! I’ve already made an intro post, so I thought I’d come over here and start my progress (or attempts) log.

Intro: WM’s Intro

As I’ve stated in my intro, I recently had surgery on my hand to take care of why I stopped playing some years back. I’m going to do what I can without using my fretting hand for a bit. Tomorrow I get in front of my therapist (hand … for the hand) and will make sure it’s ok to start fretting “as I can”.

So … onward.

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Since I’m not playing right now I figured a good place to go is Theory. I have SOME knowledge in that area so I’m not starting from zero, but I’m also not “that far along”. I know the musical alphabet, the concept of Tone/Semi-Tine (whole/half step), scale formulas, etc. I can take a scale formula and apply it and get it right … on paper. I am refreshing myself starting at the beginning in Justin’s Music Theory course, and am currently on Module 3. I’ve had a few “Ohhhh” moments that I had not had previously so it’s going to be good.

I’m committed to slowing down and nailing the fundamentals before pressing forward. I’ve been given this chance (through surgery) so I don’t want to fall down a frustrating trap.


In the Major Scale section, it was stated to look out for patterns. I’m noticing that as I’m working through C, G, D, A, E, etc. there is one more sharp on each line. Since the lines are not in the musical alphabet order, I can only imagine that there is some sinister reasoning for this. If it was A, B, C, D, etc. and each row had one more sharp, I’d go “Oh, interesting” but for now I’m noticing it but not getting why the rows are ordered the way they are. I suspect down the page that there will be an increasing number of flats.

The order is in 5ths. You’ll come across the circle of 5th in the theory course and it will all make sense. The short theory is G is the 5th of C and D is the 5th of G and so on. If you go the other way it works in 4ths.


Aha! I had JUST started to read about the circle of 5ths when I stopped playing. Due to noticing what I did on this worksheet, and what you just said, I think when I get to that it will make more sense. More things to print out and hang on my wall?

Here is some food for thought about what I was saying in your intro:

Tonic, subdominant, and dominant are the first, fourth, and fifth degrees in any scale. They are the key elements to building a song. The tonic is often referred to as “home”, while subdominant moves you to the next note, and dominant makes you want to return back home to resolve the sound. Why do we care? Because the majority of music that you will ever listen to or play, bases the entire song off of these chords. You can create, or recreate most songs when you understand tonic, dominant, and subdominant chords.

The tonic chord, is always the easiest to find. The tonic is found by the first degree in a scale. If you are looking at the C major scale, the tonic is C

The subdominant is the fourth degree of a scale, or can be found 4 tones, or notes above the tonic. If you are looking at the C major scale, the subdominant is F

The dominant is the fifth degree of a scale, or can be found 5 tones, or notes above the tonic. If you are looking at the C major scale, the dominant is G

For the music to sound complete you would go back to C. Justin has some lessons like this, but not sure if it is explained the same way. I am still learning this myself so I am no expert.


I have done some reading on this, and listened to Rick Beato talk about it. I’m a ways away from applying it, however. I tend to focus too much on the “how” and not enough on the “doing” so I’m going to have to be careful and not be 6 months down the road and could teach a community college music theory course and can’t play one song.

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Great point. You have to pick what you are learning at the right time. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Good idea to start a Learning Log, Michael, and theory study a good use of time while your fretting hand heals up.

Something else you may be able to do is to work on strumming. Justin often recommends muting the strings to work on strumming patterns. Not sure if you’d be able to mute the strings with your recovering hand and if not sure there are other ways.

Try an elastic band, tight but not too tight.

Or if you’re into fingerstyle you could practice various fingerstyle patterns on open strings to a metronome to build speed, strength and dexterity on your picking hand until your fretting hand is healed up.

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Using an open tuning will make sound musical, too.


I wanted to make sure that I said “thanks” for the information and you didn’t think I was blowing past your thoughts. I will be paying attention to what you typed out for me, for sure.

I will be doing this, good suggestion by yourself and one other.

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That’s a good idea.

I just came back from my therapy and I asked if I could start playing guitar and they said “Yes, but …” and it revolved around pain, starting small and working up, etc. So, good news!

Since my fingers are not calloused, I would start small anyways, so off I go!


Finished the Major Scale Worksheet. I’m going to remove the two rows that Justin has completed on it as I don’t need the examples anymore.

I did look at each successive row being the 5th of the previous row as @stitch said, and he’s right!

I do have a question, though. We know we can just go ahead and fill out the musical alphabet in the squares and then figure out if it’s sharp, flat, or natural. However, why force that? Why can’t we always go clockwise on the wheel and use sharps? Why not go counter-clockwise and always use flats? Why one or the other? Is it because using A → G and applying the flat or sharp is easier to remember as it’s always in order? I know I could say whatever I want as long as it’s theoretically correct, but why was this convention chosen?

@WonderMonkey the simple answer is
You can only use each letter once per scale ie Bb is Bb C D Eb F G A Bb
If it was A# the notes would be A# B# C## D# E# F## G## A# so the Key of Bb makes more sense. There is a lot more theory behind it that this but I don’t want to spoil the ending for you. :grin:

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That does make more sense. I had not worked through forcing the use of only one or the other. Thanks for not spoiling the end and telling me who was Luke’s father!

Hi Mike,

Have you been to a medical specialist or just to a guitar teacher, :smirk::joy:…because this applies to everyone in the beginning, …and often a little later with a number of things still, :grin:… …But super nice for you :partying_face: :sunglasses: