I have been learning to play guitar now for 2 months and have been recording my progress on YouTube and documenting my progress here on my blog.
Learning to play guitar isn’t easy and so many people give up learning in the first year, particularly those who are a bit older in life like myself. So I started this journey for two reasons really, the first was to keep myself accountable on my journey and the second is to inspire others to pick up the guitar and stick with it.
It would be great to have you along on the journey so if you would like to join me then please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here and sign up for my email updates here. I won’t spam you, I just want to keep in contact with like-minded people and provide you with some updates, tips and any recommendations that you will benefit from along your journey.
So let’s get into it.
What I Learned In My Second Month Of Playing Guitar
Below is what I have learned this month but my running total of hours learning to play guitar including this month is: 40 hours
Summary Of What I Learned / Did / Recommend This Month:
- Total of Hours of Guitar Practiced this month: 20 Hours
- Chords: A7, D7, E7, F (Barre), Power Chords, Asus4, Asus2, Dsus4, Dsus2, Esus4
- The A Minor Pentatonic scale
- How to use a capo
- Picking individual strings
- Various rhythm patterns (including 8th Note Strumming)
- Palm Muting
- Songs I have been learning:
- Before you accuse me – Eric Clapton
- Sail away – David Gray
- Dakota – Stereophonics
5 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 5 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
So I moved on from Stage last week and I seem to be moving quickly through the course at the moment, perhaps too quickly.
As I am not having lessons with a teacher it’s hard to gauge when I am ready to move on or learn something new. I am learning purely online through the Justin Guitar Beginner Course so I have to guide myself to some extent.
There are goals for each stage that Justin sets, so when you hit these you are ready to move on and I have done so to date. I find the question that I have as I progress and leave a stage behind is “Have I really understood and been able to implement what I have learned?”.
After constantly reflecting on this I have come to the conclusion that ‘No, I haven’t but that’s ok” and the reason I think its ok is that I shouldn’t expect myself to have learned everything perfectly.
The most important thing I believe is to build the habit and keep momentum as so many people quit early on. This is exactly what I have done and I am thoroughly enjoying the course so I am going to stick to this method for now!
What I Have Been Learning This Week
I have managed to practice for about 5 hours a week and 5 is usually my target so I was pretty happy with the time I put in. However when learning it isn’t about the amount of time it is about how you practice and what you learn, so what I did I learn this week?
Well, I learned how to play the chords A7, D7, and E7 and I have also been introduced to the note circle, my first real piece of music theory and I really enjoyed it. I am not sure I will be able to say this in the future about further music theory because I am not super technical or an academic but for now its fun.
If you don’t know what ‘air changes’ are (a term coined by Justin I think) then the point of the exercise is to form chords in the air before placing down your fingers. The whole aim of this is to speed up your chord changes and I have found this really difficult and have tended to skip it a bit and I realize that this is exactly the wrong thing to be doing.
We should focus on our weaknesses in order to turn them into a strength. The problem is when I try to form the chords in mid-air I look I look and feel like a newborn baby trying to construct a model ship from a box of matches.
Learning To Relax Whilst Playing Guitar
This week I have found that the top part of my back is really uncomfortable when practicing guitar. When I watched back my footage from over the week doing 60-second chord changes I noticed tension in my jaw, I kept clenching it, when doing the 60-second chord changes. Along with this, I have had some pain in my back.
I have been mainly learning to play while sitting on the sofa have decided to move to a more upright chair (dining chair) and it felt better straight away.
The pain also probably comes getting older and because I have two young children so I am often picking them up without squatting down and lifting through my legs.
This is a sure-fire way to cause some back strain which is definitely not a long term issue I want to develop. Because of this, I asked a couple of experts to create some articles on this topic.
Andrew, a professional musician, has written this article here Guitar Posture & Hand Position For Beginners [A Helpful Illustrated Guide] which breaks down the postures for positioning yourself in when learning to play, this has proved extremely useful for me.
The other is from Senior Physiotherapist, Best Stretching Exercises For Guitar Players – Illustrated Guide (Back, Neck, Hand, Elbow, Fingers) which is an all-purpose stretching regime.
It has stretches that you will do before you start playing as well as helping to deal with any existing issues. This a great guide and illustrated with photos he took which really help explain exactly what you should be doing.
Songs & Strumming
The songs that are associated with this stage have felt really difficult for some reason, perhaps its the new chords or the triplet rhythms that are part of this stage. Either way, it has really felt like a step up this week and is very challenging for me.
One song that you can choose to learn, Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash has a very fast strumming pattern and for the life of me, I just can’t get a handle on it. I have tried to loosen up my wrist movement and concentrate on speeding up my arm strumming from the elbow along with it. However, this doesn’t seem to have improved it, yet.
The other that I really struggled with was a blues shuffle that was within the song Before you accuse me by Eric Clapton.
So I ended up mainly working on finger exercises and the triplet rhythm along with the chord changes rather than the songs.
60 Second Chord Changes
These were my best results over the week:
|Dmin To C7||49|
|B7 to C7||47|
|FMaj7 to B7||54|
|G7 to C7||53|
So I was getting close toward hitting the 60 by the end of which was encouraging even though some of the strum patterns and air changes were not going my way.
What I am finding is that there is always a small win over a week period of learning and that is important to recognize these. By recognizing them you can take confidence in the fact that you are improving.
It is also the benefit of using a structured course to learn how to play. Justin’s course has you working on more than one area over a practice session so it gives you more opportunities to make those 1% gains which are so important over time.
Stick with it, is my mantra for this week.
6 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 6 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
This week was the dread F chord, the barre chord that seems to halt many beginner’s progress. Many choose to ignore it, others don’t seem to get through the barrier to playing it and I was determined to not be a victim of it! 🙂
For whatever reason, it didn’t prove to be a bad week and I think part of this is down to using a guitar finger exercise tool (this is the one I would recommend) which seems to have helped with the F barre chord. I have been using this for a few weeks now and the strength in my fretting hand has definitely increased.
Justin has a video teaching you how to form the chord but for me the most important part of getting some consistency with it I learned from watching another video. Below is the video that really helped me improve my technique with it.
‘Old Faithful’, no not some beloved canine pal in a Hollywood movie but a strum pattern from Justin, given this name because it can apply to many many songs. Click on the image below to take you to the lesson on his site.
Finger Exercises & Picking
I have been working on finger exercises which Justin has on his course. This is to help finger dexterity and helps to serve as a warm-up before I start playing.
It is actually proving to be really useful and in the video, you can see what I was like the previous week compared to now. Sometimes I find there is really quick progress on some elements of learning guitar and it is these 1% gains that really motivate me and keep me coming back.
Picking with a pick has proved to be a fun exercise, trying not to get caught up in the strings has been ok but it does feel like a really slow process but I am beginning to understand that this is often the best way. That is to start really slow and be accurate and then speed up as your fingers get used to the exercise.
I have been working on one song this week by David Gray and that is Please forgive me and it comes from the album White Ladder. It was a song that was quite quick to get to grips with once you know ‘old faithful’ but to get the accentuations correct isn’t easy for me.
It is also a nice song to practice the F chord transition with. The transition to the F chord before and after it is not easy and I pause to form the shape and so it halts the songs. It feels like this will take a long time to master.
White Ladder was a big album at the time and has continued to do well over the years and there are many great songs on it. Interestingly David has only YouTube channel and he is working through tutorials for the whole of this album, you can check it out here.
Justin Guitar Community – Road Cases
So I posted on the Justin Guitar Community thread Road Cases which is a great place to show others your progress with learning guitar.
I was a bit hesitant to do it at the start because I didn’t want to be seen on that forum as self-promoting rather than what I was really there for which was advice, social interaction, and sharing.
It proved to be a really good idea as I got constructive feedback and kind words. What they did have to say about my progress was that I appeared to be rushing through it because I was moving quickly from one stage to the next.
This was a fair point I thought and I have previously mentioned that for me the momentum of progress is one that is important to help build the habit. From experience, I know that when I start something new the key maintaining it is increasing my interest. This for me comes from progress and immersing myself in the ‘world’ of what I am learning.
I have started to watch a lot of guitar related content on YouTube and this has really helped to grow my passion. I seek it out because I am genuinely interested and I love playing guitar.
7 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 6 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
Last week felt good for making progress with the F chord but this week my fingers seem to have forgotten what I did and I am not getting the consistency with it anymore. The transitions between the F chord and other chords are still slow and not sounding right so I am just going to keep working at it and I am sure it will come right with focused practice.
There are a couple of tips I share in the video that has helped me with the F chord. I did this because when going through Justin’s video I didn’t feel that it showed me enough to get my finger position exactly correct for making the chord sound right. Hopefully, they can help you.
Songs / Palm Muting / 8th Note Strumming
I have been trying to learn Dakota by the Stereophonics this week. It is pretty much all 8th note down strumming which is a lot of strumming and at the same time, you have to use a palm mute. The palm mute is all about hand position and the best way to do it is just to strum an open chord and place your hand (more your wrist and bottom part of the hand) near to the bridge and then slowly strum and move towards the soundhole.
I didn’t do this to start and so it either sounded too dull or too bright, by moving your hand around though you can find the sweet spot. Then the problem was consistently hitting this.
60 Second Chord Changes
So the changes this week are all about the F chord, moving to it and from it. As I said before this isn’t easy for me and while my changes were ok, I wasn’t hitting the 60 apart from the F to the Am, see below.
|F to C||51|
|F to D||53|
|F to E||52|
|F to Am||60|
|F to G||55|
8 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 7 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
I have moved on to the next stage, Stage 7, and there are only two more to go after this. There was a lot to get stuck in to this week and it has been great fun learning.
I have been working on the Am pentatonic scale and learning some notes on the fretboard as well as learning some sus chord and some power chords. So yes it has been jam-packed week.
Obviously all this is a work in progress.
The More You Know the More You Don’t Know
This week has taught me that there are so much to learn and so many directions that you can go with the guitar. Some of us may just want to shred, some rhythm, some like a particular style and some are deep into learning theory and improvisation.
None of it is the best route only the best route for you. What I mean by this is that you should chase your own dreams and interests and not be anyone else’s expectations of what a good guitarist is. I read some comments on a forum about Rachelf who has filmed her guitar progress over year periods. They were making some negative comments about someone who loves playing, you can see this on each video as she can’t stop smiling, and she is taking her own route and learned what she wants to play.
That to me is the definition of what learning guitar is all about. It is following your interests and passions and letting them lead you. It isn’t about being a great all-round guitar player if that happens cool if it doesn’t that is a cool tool. The guitar is about having fun.
Justin Guitar’s Note Trainer
I downloaded and installed Justin’s app on my phone called the JustinGuitar Note Trainer (links to download here). This app is all about learning the notes on the fretboard and speeding up the time it takes to do it.
Regular practice using this can really ramp up your memory and the whole of aim all this is to one day be able to improvise on the guitar. I have been using this app at work during my lunch break so it’s great to be able to practice away from the guitar.
In the video above you can see me trying to work out the notes based on what I have learned so far. I have been concentrating on the first 3 frets mainly.
Each time I try and work out a note I am generally using the ‘note circle’ in my mind which I learned in Week 5. This means it is a little slow but I think you just have to trust the process. As I understand it, later on, if you study Justin’s theory course this is all covered and there are methods to speed up knowing the notes.
Power Chords & Sus Chords & Alternating Bassline
Before I started learning this I was under the impression that power chords should be quite easy to play and coupled with the fact I have been learning full barre chords I thought I wouldn’t have too much trouble.
However, as usual, I was wrong and muting the right strings and keeping my fingers in the correct position as I moved around the fretboard was difficult. Although if I can get it sounding ok there are so many songs that you can learn quickly from what I understand so it will be well worth putting in the time to get it right.
I have also been learning sus chords and I would describe these as a little ‘sugar and spice’. You can these in place of root chords to make things sound a little unique and create a bit more interest. I love the sound of them.
The alternating bass line I have been learning this week requires some patience and I can’t help but look at the pick to try and get some accuracy on what I am doing. Previously I had tried this out when I was trying to learn how to play Working Class Hero by John Lennon so I know that I love the sound but again, something to work on, there is so much to learn on this stage!
Am Pentatonic Scale
This is my first introduction to a scale and all I know right now is that it seems to be a good finger exercise and that is about it, haha. I’m sure it will make more sense later down the line but for now, I seem to enjoy it. I have watched a few videos away from Justin’s site about this and one thing I will really need to work on if I want to increase my speed is to practice keeping the fingers as close to the strings as possible. I tend to have spider leg fingers at the moment.
What Next? 3 Month Guitar Progress Breakdown
I hope you can join me on my journey, so if you would like to keep updated then please subscribe to my YouTube Channel here and sign up for my email updates here. I won’t spam you, only provide tips and recommendations along with updates on my progress.
I would love to hear from any of you learning to play guitar and if you have any questions, comments or want to tell me how you are getting on then please leave them in the comments section below. I will do my best to answer them and provide any help, feedback, and encouragement I can.
All the best, good luck on your guitar journey and don’t forget to check out my other guitar progress posts below.
Look forward to seeing you there.
All My Guitar Progress Posts
If you are learning to play guitar or are interested in seeing my progress updates then please use these links below