I have made it to the final stage of the Justin Guitar Beginner Course. It has taken 12 weeks and about 70 hours to get here and I have loved every minute of it, including those frustrating times as it is all about learning.
This stage looks like it is going to take a long time because there is so much to do as part of the consolidation phase of this course. The biggest one will be learning to play 10 songs all the way through as to date I have really learned any of them in their entirety.
Either way, I am in the final stretch and have started to think about what to do next after this course but more on that later.
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 my progress this month.
What I Learned In My Fourth 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: 98 hours
I wrote an article at the beginning of this journey called How Long Does It Take To Learn Guitar? This was an article based on a book I read plus online research and I am measuring my progress against it.
Once I finish Justin Guitar’s Beginner Course I will give feedback against this progress but in the meantime, it is well worth a read to understand what the projections are based upon the research found and whether the timescale is realistic.
Summary Of What I Learned / Did / Recommend This Month:
- Total of Hours of Guitar Practiced this month: 28 Hours
- Chords: D/F#, G/B, C/G
- Songs I have been learning:
- Wonderful Tonight – Eric Clapton
- 5 Years Time – Noah and the Whale
- Redemption Song – Bob Marley
- Lay Down Sally – Eric Clapton
- Summer of ‘69 – Bryan Adams
- Madworld (Fingerstyle) – Gary Jules
- Fields of Joy – Sting
- Smoke On The Water (intro only) – Deep Purple
13 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 9 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
So I have made it to the final stage and what a fun journey it has been so far. There are lots to complete as part of this final stage including the biggest one for me which is to learn to play 10 songs all the way through.
Looking back over the time I have spent learning to play guitar so far I have to say that I may have moved through the course a bit too quickly and that this final stage is going to take some time to complete.
We all learn at a different pace and we all have different amounts of time that we can dedicate towards learning. I have been playing for about 4 to 5 hours a week, during the week and none at the weekend. I do it after all tasks have been done at home including helping put my two young children to bed and preparing for the next day. This usually means I sit down around 8:30 or 9 pm and play for an hour before going to bed ( I am an early riser, I get up around 4:30 am so I need to go to bed early).
Over the course of time, this has become a real relaxation time for me, it almost meditative and has really helped with my mental state. If you don’t know, I have suffered from depression and anxiety in my life, as many of us do, and I have found that learning guitar has helped me greatly in terms of controlling this. I no longer watch TV but occasionally films, I have always loved a good film.
I don’t know exactly where I am going with this but I was just reflecting and realized that learning guitar has given me more than just a hobby. I put a video and blog article together about How Learning Guitar Helps Depression, click the link to read it, I opened up a bit and felt emotionally quite vulnerable recording the video but really wanted to share so that others may benefit.
As you may know, we all deal with depression and anxiety differently but this is one way that has definitely worked for me so I can’t help but recommend it.
Ok, so let’s get in to what I have been doing this week:
12 Bar Blues Variations
If you have read any of my other guitar progress updates you will likely know that I struggled with the 12 bar blues. While it looks pretty simple when watching it, when I try to play it I am very inconsistent.
This week I have been learning some variations and one of them incorporates the pinky finger with a stretch to the 5th fret. This isn’t easy and my strength in that finger isn’t great so it will take some time to master.
They do sound great when I get them right though and I am planning to create a loop of my 12 bar blues. The reason I want to do this is that later in this stage you get to improvise over the top of it! Wow, that will be cool, If I get any success with that I will think that I am really starting to sound like a guitar player.
Am Pentatonic Scale
So I have been working on this for quite a few weeks now and the aim of this stage is to get it up to 120bpm and I tried it out this week and was able to hit this bpm and a bit higher so I was pleased with this as the hard work and focus I had put it had paid off.
However, and there is always a however, haha, there is now a variation to learn in the way that you play the Am pentatonic. The whole aim of this as I understand it is to get you to understand that you can play notes in any order as long as they are on that pentatonic scale. This way when you improvise everything will work together.
I am learning the first of my ten songs and it is Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. It is a beautiful tune and could score me some brownie points with my wife so that can’t hurt either. You can watch it in the video above from 6:30. My progress has been ok on it so far, more to come and a nice one to play.
14 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 9 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
This is the second week of the consolidation phase but also within this stage are some new things to learn, it is like 2 stages rolled into one.
I have been working on some slash chords as part of the 60-second chord changes and some 12 bar blues improvisation and I have also been learning some new songs.
As part of this consolidation phase, these are the chords that you have to know:
- The Basic Eight Shapes: A, D, E, G, C, Am, Em, Dm.
- The Dominant Shapes: A7, D7, E7, G7, C7, B7.
- The Sus Shapes: Asus2, Asus4, Dsus2, Dsus4, Esus4.
- F Chord and variations: F, Fmaj7.
- Basic Slash Chords: D/F#, G/B, C/G.
The majority of these I have been learning along the way on the course but this week I have been learning the three basic slash chords. My results have been pretty good on the 60-second chord changes and I have hit the target with two of them. The only one I still need to work on is G/B to C/G.
12 Bar Blues Improvisation
So I created a backing track for myself this week and was trying to improvise over the top of it.
Learning how to do this was good fun and not just the playing itself.
I may not have mentioned this before, but prior to this whole guitar journey, I had never filmed videos of myself or dealt with audio in any way. So I have been learning as I go and I don’t have expensive equipment but just standard entry-level stuff that isn’t geared to recording guitar.
So this week was interesting as I got to grips using Audacity which is free, open-source recording software. Normally I just record straight from my blue yeti microphone straight into the camera so using the software was new to me.
It is very simple to use, to be honest, the only thing I didn’t realize at the start was the bitrate that I was recording in. So I had to do it a few times to get the right bitrate and the best playing I could do at the time.
Once I recorded it I then copy and pasted it to create a loop and then I was ready to start playing over the top of it.
That didn’t go so well. It was obviously the first time I had done it but I thought I might hit a few notes that I would be pleased with after playing 60 attempts or so. The result was maybe two times that sounded ok, not great, but ok.
This will be something I will work on a lot more in the future. I do hope to get an electric guitar one day and I think when I do that this will be a big part of it. I just think using lighter strings and the sound that I can generate will help inspire me to adventure down this path.
Songs I Have Been Learning This Week
As mentioned previously, you have to know how to play 10 songs all the way through as part of this consolidation phase.
So if you have followed any of my other progress updates or videos on YouTube then you will know that I have been learning songs along the way. What I have decided to do as part of this final phase is to learn 5 new songs and work on 5 that I was already learning prior to this final phase.
The two that I have been working on this week are Redemption Song by Bob Marley and the other was 5 Years Time by Noah and the Whale. 5 Years Time was actually the harder song for me to learn even though it was a Stage 1 song. This was due to the strum pattern and percussion slap.
You can see me play the songs from 6:57 on the video. I actually learned to play the intro on Redemption Song in two different ways. One was the way Justin teaches it and the other was from a tab that I found on the internet. You can see these two different ways on the video along with me strumming the song afterward. It all seemed to come together quite quickly, compared to other songs I have been learning so it was quite a good confidence-building song.
15 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 9 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
This week I was attempting to learn two new songs from Justin’s catalog of songs. One great thing (there are lots!) of Justin’s course is that he splits the songs per stage. So if you are looking to learn something that implements what you have been learning and is reachable based upon the skills you have developed in each stage then you can check out the songs area of his website. It is accessible here.
One of the songs that I have been learning is Lay Down Sally by Eric Clapton and I have learned it with a simple strum and have begun to learn it with the 12 Bar Blues variation which I was attempting to learn last week. It sounds terrible at the moment but nevermind, you have to start somewhere!
The other song that I have been attempting and frankly is sounding better is the Summer of ‘69 by Bryan Adams. Just has split the song into four and I have found this is a great way to concentrate on just mastering a small part and building up to learning the song in its entirety.
You can see how I got on at about 2:30 in the video.
As you can see I have gotten an ok handle on the parts separately but have yet to put them together and get it sounding like an actual song.
I have also been getting an itch, no it isn’t some middle-aged rash that I can’t explain but it is actually the itch to get an electric guitar. Ever since about week 4, I have been thinking about getting one but I don’t think it is going to happen yet. In fact, I don’t seriously think I will look to get one until I have been playing for at least a year.
Firstly I wanted to make sure that I enjoyed playing guitar and secondly because I am married and have two young children my wants and needs are the lowest in the order haha. Ah well, I can dream for now and my current dream is a PRS Custom 24 SE Semi-Hollow Body or a Fender Telecaster, but who knows what I will think once I visit a guitar store and try some out.
16 Week Guitar Progress (Stage 9 – Justin Guitar Beginner Course)
This week is all about songs as I push to get towards the 10 songs that I need to be able to play all the way through in order to complete the beginner course. It has been great fun just getting stuck into learning songs as the course itself obviously deals with many areas of learning and a typical practice session recommended by Justin includes about 15 to 15 minutes of song practice.
So it is refreshing to get stuck into learning some songs because that’s why we all learn right?
The Difficulties Of Learning Guitar Online
I chose to learn guitar online as I don’t have the time and money to have physical guitar lessons with a guitar teacher. If I had the money I would likely choose to have a guitar teacher probably once a week or twice a month so that they could help correct and guide my progress.
This leads me to one of the difficulties of learning online and that is getting direct, personalized feedback about what we are doing right and wrong. The support from everyone on my YouTube channel has been fantastic and I thank everyone for their input to date as it really all helps. However, this is never going to be the same as you could get from a guitar teacher in person.
Often I learn something and think I am beginning to understand it but then wonder if I really am as a day later I may have forgotten how to play or something or the technique feels slightly off. I think with the help of a guitar teacher they could quickly point out where I am going wrong and reassure me with their voice of experience.
While this is not something I can really do anything about, I am aware that it could affect how I play e.g. bad playing habits. The only advice I can offer is to post videos of yourself in guitar channels like those on Facebook and the Justin Guitar community pages and see what they say. In addition by adopting a self-analytical approach to your learning you can also help yourself avoid any major pitfalls or playing errors.
My 10 Songs For The Final Test
These are currently the songs that I think I will take through to the final test and be able to play all the way through. This will likely change but this where it is at, at this point in time:
- Fields of Joy
- Mad World
- Wonderful Tonight
- Redemption Song
- Lay Down Sally
- Summer of ‘69
- Fly Away
I am trying to choose songs across all the stages and styles that Justin has taught so that I get a broad ability of basic skills.
I have been practicing Mad World this week which I learned before but this week I have been trying to learn it in fingerstyle as I think it suits the song so much better. You can watch me play it in the video above from about 3:36. I think it is sounding pretty good, I have really enjoyed learning it in this style and I am not far away from being able to play it all the way through.
The next one that I have been working incorporates the F chord which I find it is always good to practice as I still don’t have this fluid in transitioning to it and from it. The song is Fields of Joy by Sting and you watch me play it from 4:32 on the video above. Within the song, you have to push between the F chord and C chord and between the F and the Am which sound great when you get it just right.
The final song that I have been learning this week uses power chords and that is Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz. I attempt it at 6:19 on the video but it is really rough and is one of my first attempts at trying to learn it.
Oh and I almost forgot, I am getting ready for my world tour and to rip up every guitar shop I ever visit because I have learned the intro to Smoke On The Water. Watch the video towards the end to see this piece of history being made (edit: This should be read with heavy sarcasm)
What Next? 5 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.
Links To All Of 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
If you are learning to play guitar or are interested in seeing my progress updates then please use these links below