Guitar Lessons Part 12

Sep 6: Happy

I passed Greensleeves! I played it slower a few times (75%, 80%, 85%) before attempting it at full speed. I made a few mistakes (got two stars on two parts instead of three stars) but I passed it according to the app, so I’m really happy with my progress today.

I’ve started practicing my chords both without the capo and with, because there is a lot less space for my fingers when the capo is on, so I figure I should practice that.

I played my song. The first time through it is rough still. It’s like my brain forgets what the rhythm is supposed to be overnight. I recorded myself, and I’m actually pretty happy with it. I feel like my strumming is improving a lot, which is nice to see. I definitely notice the slow downs when I change chords, but I know my speed will improve with practice, so I’m not beating myself up over that.

Context for the song: In my book Crushing It, not yet submitted to a publisher, 14yo boy (A) wrote the lyrics for this song in half an hour as he was trying to make sense of his emotions towards his new friend (B). A then plays it for B to tell B that A likes B.

I figure it makes sense for the song to start off slow, because he’s figuring out what chords he likes for the song, and then it picks up in the second verse. The bridge is slow again, as is the last line (because mirroring).

I hope you like it! Drop me a comment!

P.S. I’ve only been playing guitar for just over two months. You can follow my progress if you click on my tags!

Sep 7: Brief but satisfying

I tried Greensleeves again today and passed. I’m very proud of myself. Then I moved on to the next lesson: Aloha. It is very fast. So I dropped down to practice mode and played it at 50%, 60%, and 70%. I’m pleased by my progress so far.

I practiced my chords, both with and without the capo, and then listened to yesterday’s recording to remind myself of the rhythm. I think that was a good idea because I didn’t fumble over it nearly as much as I did yesterday. I am very happy with how it sounded today.

I felt like a real musician!

Then I played Frère Jacques, just so I can play it with my daughter.

Yesterday afternoon, I played the soprano ukulele for over an hour! It was a lot of fun and my son enjoyed it. (Daughter was at her piano lesson.)

Sep 8: Short

I played the Aloha song in practice mode at 70% and 80% speed. I didn’t make too many mistakes and was pretty happy with my progress.

I played Frère Jacques several times for my daughter to sing along with. The third line is causing her problems, but she’ll get better with practice.

Last, I played my song. I didn’t need to listen to the recording first, which was nice progress.

I still love it.

Sep 9: Oops

Forgot to write my post today. I did play. I completed Aloha! I was very proud. 3 stars across the board. My daughter applauded for me.

We sang Frère Jacques together. Her voice is getting better.

My song is going well. I need to work on my rhythm.

Sep 10: Practice

Today I worked on a new melody. It requires all four fingers on all but the top string and it is very fast. I practiced it at 50%, 60%, and 70% speeds today. I was pleased with my progress.

I practiced my chords and then played my song a bunch. I really need to focus on the rhythm. I keep changing it to match the rhythm of the words. It’s really hard to separate the two.

Then I played Frère Jacques. I also tried it with chords. That’s really hard to change between them. Practice will probably help.

Sep 11: Too long

I passed the lesson I was working on (2,2,3,3 stars). I’ll try it again tomorrow and see if I can get 3 stars across the board.

Then I brought my guitar up to the main level for the rest of my practice. I played my chords first and then my song.

I worked on my rhythm… With mild success. It’s ok. I have the time to work on it.

Then I played many many songs from my app. Too many. My fingers hurt a bit.

I hope I didn’t overdo it.

Update: it’s been 3.5 hours since I stopped playing and my fingertips are still a little numb. Definitely ukulele tomorrow.

Guitar Lessons Part 11

Sep 1: A surprise

My lesson today was half instructional and half a new song.

The instructional was all about down and up picking (single strings). The guy said to rest my wrist on the board at the end of the strings so that I would know where my pick was.

Ok, so first off, that pushes my arm too far back, so it hurts my back. I was in pain within a minute.

Secondly, I don’t have a traditional board because my strings are attached to pegs. So if I rest on it, it mutes my strings.

Also, I have no idea which string I’m on when I use a pick! I got so lost!

The new song was Scarborough Fair. I managed the first note and then got completely lost because it was so fast. So I dropped into practice mode and lowered the speed to 50% and even then, I only got the right notes about 50-75% of the time. Suffice it to say, I did not speed up today and I finished the lesson very frustrated.

I played my song next, my daughter singing along. I decided to attempt recording. There’s a special guest who sang along with me.

Please pardon the roughness of it. I’m not used to singing with someone else. Also, I’ve only been playing for two months, so please be gentle.

Context of the song: a boy (14yo) has realized he’s gay and he’s telling his friend (15yo) that he likes him as more than a friend. Their story is written in my book “Crushing It” that will be submitted to my publisher in October.

After recording, I played a bunch of songs and they all went fairly well. I’m pleased with my progress. I can switch between chords much faster than I used to and my fingers don’t hurt.

Sep 2: Slow and steady

I think I was holding my picking wrist too tense because I was trying to get the song.

I managed to get the 50% and then I sped up to 70%, which wasn’t too bad. So I sped up to 80%. I made a lot of mistakes, but I felt like I was making progress.

And then I noticed my wrist was hurting.

So I practiced my chords and my song and left my practice session at that.

My wrist has already stopped hurting. I think I was smart to stop when I did.

Sep 3: Nursery rhymes

I played my lesson (Scarborough Fair) at 75% and then at 80% (with several errors) and then because I wanted to see what would happen, I tried to perform it (for scoring in the app).

I passed.

Yeah.

I’m shocked too.

I didn’t play the full time because I decided I should look up Frère Jacques so I could teach our daughter the words. We realized yesterday that she didn’t know any French songs, other than the months of the year. She enjoyed learning it. I’ll be adding it to my regular practice time to give her practice.

Then I played my song.

For some reason, I’m not playing the A chord properly today. 🤷‍♀️

I decided I should probably stop playing today because my fingers and back were hurting.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back to normal.

Sep 4: Strumming!

My app lesson was tough today. I replayed Scarborough Fair with pretty decent success. I was happy to move on. Next lesson was Greensleeves. Omg. So fast! I’m going to have to slow it down considerably tomorrow.

Then I played my song. I added some extra strumming to it to change it up a bit. Omg! I absolutely adore how it sounds on the chorus! I desperately need to work on the rhythm of entire second verse and on the Fmaj7 in the chorus, but it’s really coming together. I’m ridiculously excited about it.

After that, I played a variety of songs by request from my daughter and then we worked on Frère Jacques. She’s enjoying it.

I love it when my fingers don’t hurt even after a long playing session.

Sep 5: Greensleeves

It’s a REALLY good thing that I like Greensleeves as a song, because I have a feeling I’m going to be stuck on it for a while. Today I slowed it down to 50%, and I still wasn’t able to get all of it. I sped it up to 60% and then 70% and was able to complete just as much as on 50%, so I was pretty happy about that.

After my lesson, I practiced my song a bunch, focussing on the new rhythms. It’s HARD to play one rhythm and sing a melody! I’m really happy with how the chorus is coming along. The verse still needs a lot of work. I might try recording it tomorrow. I’ll see how it goes. Even if it’s only for me. I find it’s easier to hear where the issues are if I’m listening to it rather than playing it.

I practiced Frere Jacques. It’s coming a lot faster now and I don’t need the music.

My fingers are a little sore today. I think I was pressing too hard while practicing my song.

Guitar Lessons Part 10

Aug 26: Low key

Not a pun.

I didn’t do any lessons today. My fingers were still stinging a little from yesterday.

So I practiced chords and riffs for a bit.

And then I played my song 3-4 times. The chord changes are getting more natural. I’m really excited about this song.

Aug 27: Quick

I didn’t have much time to play guitar today. I practiced my chords and riffs and the finger stretching thing that my music mentor told me to do. Wow, it stretches.

In other words, no lesson today.

I played my song 3 times. I feel like I’m getting more consistent, which is nice. I still play more than the bottom 4 strings on Fmaj7 sometimes, which isn’t great. I need to work on that.

I’m hoping to play some ukulele this afternoon.

Aug 28: Riffs!?!

I did a lesson today. Apparently the first riffs lesson was made to induce a false sense of security. The second lesson was complicated. I had to slow it down, but I was able to get it before the end of the lesson.

But the third?? They changed how they showed the riffs (instead of a bar over two strings, they highlighted the individual strings with numbers for the fret) and it was so sped up that I had to slow it down to 50%, and even then I wasn’t getting it every time.

I think this lesson is going to take me a couple days to pass.

I played my song a bunch of times. I need to stop playing it on the ukulele because I don’t use a fret on it and the tone is different. And then my voice takes a while to remember what sound it’s supposed to make.

I worked on the Fmaj7 a lot. I also focussed on playing the chords at the time I’m supposed to and not a couple beats later.

When my son woke me up for his 3am feeding, I came up with a few lines for a new song! I remembered them long enough to write them down. Not sure where they’ll go in the song because I haven’t started it yet, but I like them so far.

Aug 29: Ouch

I passed the riffs lesson after much practice. I didn’t get it quite as high as I would like (only got 2 stars on the second half, but I got them consistently, so I was ready to move on) but I don’t expect to need riffs all that often. I haven’t come across them in any of the music I’ve seen. And if it does show up in a song, at least I know what they are.

I played my song. A lot. I’m feeling much more satisfied with my Fmaj7 chords (not strumming the top two strings), and I’m trying to add nuance to the lyrics and how I sing it.

Although I think I should perhaps focus on the difference between “wanna” and “want to,” which are both in the song.

Why is this titled ouch?

So I have a chronic back injury. My lumbar spine is being pulled in the wrong direction by my back muscles. It causes a lot of problems and limits me a lot, especially where it comes to my children (picking them up is next to impossible). Apparently guitar playing is another one of those things that affects my back. If I play for more than twenty minutes or so, my back is in an awfully lot of pain.

I’m going to try sitting somewhere else. Maybe a chair isn’t the best place for me? Maybe my phone with the app isn’t high enough so I’m crouching to see it?

I’ll figure it out.

P.S. Two months of practice!

Aug 30: I need a timer

My lessons were both theory and practical today. I (re)learned about sharps and flats and the difference between major and minor chords. Then for the practical, I attempted a minor scale.

I say ‘attempted’ because it did not go well. It was very quick and I’m not used to playing notes instead of chords.

Before all this, I played one last riff song. It took half my time, but I was able to get it. It was fun.

Then I played my song a bunch of times. I even played along with my recording, which means I was able to keep up with the speed I prefer for singing, which is excellent.

I recorded myself on an app I have. I’m pretty happy with it, tbh. I could still use work to make it a little more seamless, but that’s where practice comes in.

Then I played a bunch of other songs.

I played for over an hour.

I need to start setting a timer so that I don’t play so long. My fingers don’t hurt at all!

Aug 31: Passed level 3!

I passed the lesson I was working on yesterday. I had to slow it down drastically in order to get it, but once my fingers got used to it, it wasn’t too difficult. I did the same thing for the next lesson, and then I was done level 3!

Level 4 started with beats. I passed the first lesson with very little trouble (I got mixed up at one point but I found myself again).

I played my song a bunch of times.

I decided to try putting my phone on the bookcase, to see if that helps my back. I still bunch, so perhaps a higher shelf will work? I’ll try that tomorrow. I feel kinda weird facing the bookcase, but whatever works, right?

Guitar Lessons Part 9

Aug 20: Too Much? Hope Not

I “passed” the lesson I was working on for the past two days. Tbh, I was tired of playing it and I think the only reason I wasn’t getting 3 stars was because my mic wasn’t picking up the chords properly. I passed it according to the app, so I moved on.

I learned A! I mean, I already knew that chord, but I got to learn it in the app. I got to complete another “play as many chords as you can in a set amount of time” game. I got 3 gold stars. It was super fun.

Then I passed the first song with an A chord. I feel good about today.

I played my song a few times. The chords are becoming easier to switch between.

Then I played a bunch of songs that I have chords for, including I want it that wayHit Me Baby One More TimeMamma MiaDust in the WindHouse of the Rising Sun, and a few Disney songs.

I played too long, I think. It’s just so exciting to recognize the music that I’m playing!!

I don’t think I aggravated my blister, but I think I’ll probably play the ukulele tomorrow.

Oh, and then at the end of my session, a friend of mine told me that she hasn’t been feeling well, so I recording my song and sent it to her. She loved it.

Listening to the recording, I realized that I’m not consistent with my speed in certain parts… Mostly the chorus. So I’ll have to work on that.

Aug 21: Ukulele Break

My finger wasn’t feeling great today, so instead of playing guitar, I picked up our soprano ukulele.

I’m not doing lessons with the ukulele, so I went straight into playing songs.

Peeps, you have no idea how awesome it is to pick out a song, go through the chords at the top of the app, and just play and have it sound like it’s supposed to!

I recognize that this is mostly due to my experience—slight though it is—on the guitar. The chords are different on the ukulele, but the concept of changing finger positions and strumming is very much the same.

I played for almost an hour and barely noticed the time fly by. So much fun!!

Oh, and after I’d played enough songs that I remembered what the chords we, I played my song! That was really fun.

Aug 22: Awesome Lesson

I had a great lesson today! I passed the lesson I was working on two days ago with no problems, and then passed the next two lessons on the first (and second) tries!

I played my song, paying attention to the timing of the chorus so I wasn’t speeding it up.

I really need to schedule a music mentor session.

I played a bunch of fun songs, including True Colours and When you Believe.

I still can’t get over how much fun I’m having with this.

Aug 23: Music Mentor

I didn’t do a lesson from my app today because I had a meeting with my music mentor!

He walked me through strumming to my song and we decided to keep it simple because adding a more complex rhythm kept messing up my melody.

But I do understand how strumming works a bit better now.

We also talked about the sight changes that I’d made to the chords in my song. He approved the E major, confirmed that the A major he had suggested a while ago did work for the song, and suggested Em instead of Dm at the end of the bridge.

He said I’m doing really well. It’s really great to hear that. 🙂

He also suggested a finger stretch. I’ll definitely work on that.

Aug 24: Audience

I had an audience today in the form of my daughter.

I completed the chords lesson and started the riffs lesson. It’s my first riffs lesson! I learned E5 and A5. I need to figure out how to play those.

I played my song, with a second voice singing along (heart melt!) and was very happy with how it sounded.

Then I played a bunch of Disney songs. That was fun. And an enthusiastic audience, too!

Aug 25: New Song Attempts

The riffs lessons are going decently. I feel awkward playing them. Hopefully they’ll get more natural as I continue.

I played my song a bunch of times. I’m really happy with it. I know I keep saying that, but I am. After I’ve played it a couple times, anyways. I always make mistakes the first few times.

Then I played some new (to me) songs. Ed Sheeran was fun. I played some more ABBA. And Disney, of course.

Guitar Lessons Part 8

Aug 14: Callouses

I just realized that my fingertips haven’t been hurting for a while. At least, not once I stop playing. That’s really comforting.

I played the chord song in my app today (Am/D/C). I shifted my phone closer to the body of the guitar and it registered the sound much better, which was a relief. I was getting very frustrated.

I played my song again. I’m really liking the Fmaj7 chord in place of the F chord. I changed one of them to a Dm chord. We’ll see how I like it tomorrow.

I also should play it for my music mentor and see what he says. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week.

Aug 15: Good Day

I played the chord song I was going to start yesterday but my time got cut off. I passed eventually. It had some quick changes between Em/C/D. I found it exhilarating. I then played the next song once. Same chords, different order; Em/D/C and slightly faster.

I then played my song. I took less time to switch between chords, which was really nice to note. I decided I liked the Dm chord that I put in yesterday. I updated the master song and let my music mentor know.

And then I played my song for my family! It was really nerve wracking. I need to get over my anxiety about playing for others.

Aug 16: I Played Songs!

I didn’t pass the lesson today. According to the app I did, but not according to me. I was getting very frustrated.

I played my song several times. My music mentor suggested that I was doing a key change in the bridge, so I tried that out and he’s totally right, so I changed that.

Then I tried a bunch of different songs in an app I have. Dust in the Wind, You’ll be in my Heart, At Last I see the Light, and Part of Your World. I didn’t know all the chords (I don’t know B at all yet), but I did very well, according to myself.

I played for way too long today. My fingers are tingling!

But it was so fun to play songs that I can recognize!

Aug 17: Break

I took a break from playing guitar today because my middle left finger has a tiny blister and I don’t want to make it worse.

So instead, I picked up the soprano ukulele that we bought and I played a bunch of songs, including my new favourite Unsaid Emily from Julie and the Phantoms. It was super easy to play and made me feel really accomplished.

Hopefully I’ll be healed tomorrow and can continue my guitar lessons.

Aug 18: Feeling Better

My finger looks and feels better today. I’m glad I took yesterday off from the metal strings of my guitar.

Today, I played the chord song from two days ago and got it. That was nice.

Then I played the next chord song. My fingers are getting faster at switching between the chords, which is really nice to see, but my fingers were clumsy today and I kept not being on my fingertips, which was causing dull notes all over the place. I did not pass, thanks to that. 🙁

I played my song. I still love it. I don’t think I have a good strumming pattern down at all, but at least my fingers are getting used to the chord changes. Other than the bridge. I’ll get there. The Dm is slowing me down.

I didn’t play very long today. Don’t want to aggravate my finger again.

Aug 19: Frustrations and Fun

I did not pass the lesson in my app (according to my restrictions. The app passed me.) I’m getting very frustrated.

I played my song. I still love it. I’m getting faster with the chords, even the bridge.

Then I played a few songs from an app I have. That was a LOT of fun!

Guitar Lessons Part 7

Aug 8: Very Good Day

I passed the melody I was working on yesterday, after several attempts.

Then I moved on to a pinky finger exercise. It was fun and easy.

And then!!

I got to play a song I recognized!

Ode to Joy!

Omg you have no idea how excited I was too not only get to play this, but I got to hear myself play it properly!? I passed it on the second try and then I played it two more times just because I could. So cool!

I played my song too, again without listening to the recording first. My daughter sang along with me. Super cool that she knows most of the lyrics to a song that I wrote.

I got the F chord today! Slowly on the changes, but I got it!

Aug 9: Melody Challenge

I played Ode to Joy again, just because I could. I did well on it, although not as well as after 4x yesterday.

Then I moved on to the next melody. It has FIVE parts! I passed according to the app, but I have not gotten 3 stars on all 5 parts yet, so I’m going to keep going with it tomorrow.

I played my song again. The chord changes are getting faster, which is very encouraging!

I’m still feeling weird about the timing on the verses. I might have to do a video call with my music mentor again this weekend.

Aug 10: Gah

The lesson through the app went really well. I passed the song I was working on yesterday on the first try and then again on the second.

The next song was difficult at first, but I’m feeling confident I’ll get it tomorrow.

Then I played my song. It sounded okay, but I could hear the dull notes, so I tried to play each chord individually.

Apparently I cannot play the F chord today. Like, at all. 4th string, fine. 3rd string, fine. 2nd and 1st? Dull, no matter how I move my hand.

I am incredibly frustrated today.

I stopped playing because I felt like smashing something and I thought it would be smart to just leave it alone for now.

Aug 11: Not Bad

I passed the melody I was working on yesterday. It took several tries, but I managed it.

The next melody has barely any pauses in it. If I mess up, I have a really hard time finding the notes again. I passed it once before my time ran out for the day.

My song went well. I added an E chord, for “colour” as my music mentor says. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it, but I liked how it sounded today.

And that F chord… I managed it correctly about a quarter of the time, if I’m being generous.

Aug 12: That F-ing Chord

I completed the melody lessons for level 3 in my app. I only needed to play that one melody from yesterday once more to pass it.

Then I learned a new chord! D chord. I’ve been practicing it with the other chords for about a month, so I was able to get it right away. There was another chord challenge where I had to play as many chords as possible in a set time frame. I did that a bunch of times and managed to get 19 chords to give me three gold stars. Woo!

The first chord song in the app ended up required down strumming AND up strumming. I haven’t been practicing the up strumming, so I didn’t do very well. Something to work on for tomorrow.

Then I played my song.

That F-ing F chord. I couldn’t get it even once. Not even outside the song. I’m seriously considering transposing the entire song so that I don’t have to play the F chord.

So frustrated today.

Aug 13: Chords

The app I use is EXTREMELY picky (pun not intended) about chords. It’s exhausting.

I passed the chord song I was working on yesterday… Barely. I wouldn’t really say I passed, but I was tired of playing it. It kept not hearing me properly.

So I skipped on to the next one. I only played it once, but it didn’t hear a single C chord. Very frustrating.

I told my music mentor about my frustrations yesterday, and he suggested I play Fmaj7 instead of F. Omg what a difference! I’m very happy with the switch. I know I’ll have to learn F someday, but that day is not this day.

I played my song several times. It’s coming along well, I think.

Oh, and we ordered a soprano ukelele that came in today. Our daughter is EXTREMELY excited about it.

Our little soprano ukulele!

So it looks like I’ll be learning uke as well as guitar.

Guitar Lessons Part 6

Aug 2: Scales!

I finished this set of chord lessons. I think I’m getting the hang of up strumming. Sort of.

The next set of lessons is knowledge stuff. So I’m learning how to do scales! They’re starting off with a simple scales with no sharps or flats. They didn’t give it a name, but I start on an open E, so I guess it’s an E major?

I guess the guitar isn’t in the same key as a flute, because E major for a flute has flats, if I’m remembering correctly from twenty years ago. (??)

Oh, and big news for my song! I sent the recording I made (and the lyrics) to a very talented guitarist friend of mine and he sent me back some chords!!

So I have music for my song now! (Note to self, remember to credit him for the music!)

And he gave me chords I already know, which is so very sweet of him to think of. Thankfully I have a capo.

They’re very basic chords, which is perfect for a beginner like me: C, Am, and F (which I’m cheating on and only playing the bottom two strings).

Now I have to get used to singing the melody while I play a harmony. That’s going to take a lot of time and practice.

I tried it today and my voice automatically dropped into the harmony. Sigh.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Aug 3: What a difference!

I played the scale again today. It took a couple attempts, but I was able to play it.

Then I moved on to playing arpeggios. It took some time, but I got them today too. I think I’m a little lazy with my finger placement, not using the tips of my fingers. I’ll have to pay more attention to that tomorrow.

The last thing I did was a song with whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes. It had a couple string and finger changes that I struggled with in the first go-through and then my time was up for the day.

Then I got to play my song!

I decided to put the recording I had made on the Google mini while I played the chords to keep my voice on track and IT WORKED!! The chorus is so good I’m ridiculously excited about it. The verses need work, but I have a month to practice before I’m going to play for people.

Omg I’m so hyped from my practice session today!!

Aug 4: Challenges

I passed the knowledge section. I don’t really have anything more to say about that.

Now I’m on to level 3!!

It starts with melody lessons; adding the fourth finger! I did very well with the first two training songs. They were both on the bottom string (1st) only, so very simple.

The next song in the lesson was on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings and used the first four frets.

Apparently I have no idea which string I’m on with either hand. I think this song is going to take more than a couple days to master.

It’s a good challenge.

My song. Omg my song.

I played my recording once, singing along with it. Then I played it twice more, singing and playing the chords. And then! I turned off the recording.

And I was able to sing it properly!

I’m still so in love with the chorus.

I think I really need to master the F chord because the cheat I’ve been using feels very unfinished. So I’m going to work on that.

I still awkward with the verses. I’ll get there.

And the bridge is slightly uncomfortable, but I think that’s because there are F chords in it, so hopefully it will get more comfortable as I get better with that chord.

A good day.

Aug 5: Well then

You know that melody I said was going to take days to master?

I passed it today. And passed it well. I played it four times, and got three stars on all of them except the first (only two stars). So yay?

However! This next melody is actually going to take me days. I’m playing it at 75% speed and barely managing a third of the notes. So yeah. DAYS. That’s ok. I feel like I’m learning.

I played my song again. Once with the recording, several times without. Still in love with the chorus. Still fighting with the F chord.

It’s ok. I’m getting there. It’s nice to make progress.

Aug 6: Accomplishments

I worked on the melody from yesterday today for the entire half hour. I played it at 80% speed several times, sped it up to 85%, sped it up to 90%, and then played it at full speed.

And you know what?

It wasn’t as difficult as it was yesterday.

It was still really hard, but I came really close to passing. (3,3,2,2 and then 2,3,3,2 stars on each part of the song – I have decided that I need 3 stars on each part of a song in order to consider it passed. According to the app, I have passed.)

I played my song again. I’m still having trouble with that pesky little F chord. (my nemesis!!)

Keep on practicing.

Aug 7: Playing with a Headache

I completed the melody I’ve been working on for the past couple days. I’m honestly kinda surprised. Even though it was very challenging for me to start with, I felt competent while playing it today.

Shows the value of practice, I guess!

Then I played a new melody. I got three stars on all three parts the second time I played it, but then every time I played afterwards, I got worse and worse! It was kinda funny, looking back on it, but very frustrating in the moment.

I played my song without listening to the recording first. It went very well! I’m very pleased with my vocal training. Making the recording was definitely the right thing for me to do.

However!

F chord, you will not defeat me!!!

Guitar Lessons Part 5

July 26: Ugh

I passed the Am/C chord lesson once. I didn’t pass a second time, so I’ll be trying it again tomorrow.

The lines on my fingers from pressing on the strings were turning purple, so I stopped for the day.

Then I tried to play the melody line I had written out yesterday and it sounded all wrong.

Sigh.

I had (mostly) forgotten that I have an annoying little problem with my ear.

Any note I sing will change to the note I play.

This makes writing a melody incredibly difficult.

I tried to avoid this problem yesterday. Apparently it didn’t work.

I need to figure out a different way of doing this.

July 27: Not much

I didn’t play much today.

I completed the Am/C chord song, somehow.

Then I moved onto the next Am/C chord song. I got 3 stars on the first part of it, and then only 1 on the next two parts. Sigh.

I know that Am and C are super easy to switch between, but I’m looking forward to the difficulty of switching between chords that require me to move all my fingers around so that I’m not digging gauges in my fingers every time I play.

I tried out a new app to translate my song into guitar chords. It’s called MyChord. I’m not sure how pleased I am with it. It definitely records, and it definitely gives me chords (most of the time), but I feel like it picked the most complicated chords imaginable! I need to figure out how to transpose them to chords I can actually play, or maybe just cut out half of them.

It’s probably that my voice isn’t perfect. I know it isn’t. I have choral training from high school and that’s it, no private lessons.

Anyways, I’ll muddle along. At least this gives me something to start off with!

July 28: Ups and downs

I had a really hard time getting my fingers to cooperate holding down the strings today.

I gave up on the Am/C chord lesson after five attempts and practiced the chords I knew, plucking each string individually to make sure I had no dull notes.

Which I did.

On many chords.

Like I said, my fingers were not cooperating today.

Then I tried the lesson one last time.

And I passed with only one mistake!

I’m going to play it again tomorrow to make sure I do have it down, but yay for only one mistake!

I sang my song once.

I talked with a musician friend last night about guiding me on how to write the music. First step is to record me singing it. So I guess I’m doing that at some point this week.

Did you want to hear it?

Bear in mind, I’m not a professional singer by any stretch of the imagination and that this was “written by a 14yo boy” as his coming out love song to the guy he likes (I am not 14yo, gay, or a boy).

July 29: One Whole Month!

It has been a month since I officially picked up a guitar!

I am very happy with my progress, even though it feels slow at times.

I passed the Am/C chord song and moved on to learning G.

One of the major benefits of getting this Fender; the neck is narrower and G is easier to reach. The only trouble I’m having with it is switching in and out of it.

I passed the chord player, where the app gave me a series of chords that I had to play in a certain amount of time. I played 14 on the first try. I’ll probably play it again tomorrow.

Then I played the first G chord song.

Whew!

This song had G/C/Em/Am!

My fingers are still feeling cramped from playing. It’ll get easier though.

I didn’t pass the lesson, but I’m really excited to be moving onto a more complicated song!

I tried to find a simple app that would tell me what notes I was singing for my song. All I learned is that my voice is wildly out of tune.

Sigh.

Maybe I shouldn’t try to write the song.

July 30: Fun!

I had a lot of fun playing today.

I played the G/C/Em/Am song multiple times. Haven’t passed it yet, but it felt really good to play something that required a lot of brain power.

I even played it for an audience! And the toddler didn’t attack the guitar!

I sang my song a few times.

I’m supposed to record it for my friend to help me and I keep putting it off because a) we’ve been busy, and b) I’m nervous.

July 31: Moving right along

I passed the G/C/Em/Am chord song twice today. I’m very proud of myself.

Then I moved on to the next song, Em/G/C chords. I passed it on the first attempt, and then had trouble the next two times.

Sigh.

I’ll get it tomorrow, I think.

I sang my song once and then I recorded it to send to my friend who’s guiding me.

Good day today!

Aug 1: Progress

I passed the Em/G/C chord song today.

Then I learned about up strumming. That was… Interesting.

Then I played a G/Em chord song that was all about switching between down and up strumming.

I did not pass it, but I feel pretty good about my progress on it.

I put on my recording of my song and sang along with it multiple times.

I need to work on my confidence.

Guitar Lessons Part 4

July 18: woo!

I used up all my practice time on the app today!

I started off by playing the melody from yesterday. I wasn’t satisfied by the first couple times, so I played it a third time and got four x three stars, two of which were gold.

Then I moved on to the next melody. This one had a variety of rhythms, switching strings and switching frets. It was hard.

I slowed down in practice mode and played it at 75%, 85%, and 95%. I didn’t get a chance to perform because my practice time was used up. (I get half an hour in the free app.)

Then I sang my song again, no guitar. I’m still liking it.

I practiced all the chords I know. I had fewer dull notes on the first strum, which was nice. Still having trouble with G. My fingers may be long, but wow by third and fourth finger do not like being separated that far.

On a positive note (pun intended), my fingers didn’t hurt until I started playing the chords!

July 19: Look at the pretty!

I didn’t think I was going to get to practice today (although I did play through yesterday’s song once through) because…

Dun dun dun!!

I bought a guitar!

(I just realized I’m wearing the same shirt as the last guitar pic. Oops. I swear I have more shirts!)

It’s a Fender ¾ and it’s red and it’s so pretty!

There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to the higher strings because my new guitar has metal strings and wow they’re thin! The highest is practically a garrote!

I’m looking forward to practicing on my new guitar tomorrow!

July 20: Chords really hurt

I passed the melody line that I’d been working on the past two days after playing it twice today. I ended up with 2x three gold stars and 2x three stars. I’m very pleased with that result.

Then I moved on to the C chord.

My new guitar has a much thinner neck than my dad’s, so the reach isn’t as painful. However! The metal strings (bronze) really hurt and I have to get right up on my fingertips so as to not touch the strings on either side.

So I had a lot of trouble getting past the chord review. E, Em Am, and C. I had to play 9 in a set amount of time. The best I did today was 7. And then 6. And then 5. And then my fingers hurt too much to continue.

I’ll get callouses eventually and then it won’t hurt anymore, right?

I practiced singing my song, no guitar.

July 21: Passed the chords!

I figured out that I had to strum more than once in order for the app to pick up the sound. So after I had done a few tries and only succeeded at getting 1-5 right, I figured out the strumming thing and I got 14 right! I only needed 9 to move on.

Rather than moving on with the chord lessons, I went back and re-did a whole bunch of the melody songs. I was very pleased at how well my fingers responded to them. I did a couple twice because I stumbled on them the first time.

My fingers hurt from the chords, but the melodies didn’t make them hurt worse, so I’m calling that a win.

I also was able to play through the entire half hour of free play time. Woo!

I am loving my new guitar. I’m definitely finding it easier to reach the chords like G (not that I’ve learned that one in the app yet).

I didn’t sing today during practice, but I promise I will later.

July 22: Bad day

Today was a difficult lesson day. I tried the next chord lesson, which was a song with C and Em chords, and it did not go well.

Just switching between them is hard enough, but I keep being slightly off the strings and that messes up the chord. So I didn’t pass the lesson at all. It was very disheartening. And my fingers hurt.

To try to cheer myself up, I tried to do one of the melodies, and I kept messing up on it, too.

I did sing my song though, so at least one thing went well in my music lesson today.

July 23: Boo

I still have not passed the C/Em chord lesson. I have a feeling I’ll be stuck here for a while.

Plus side?

I’m finding it easier to switch between them. I just need to be more precise with where I’m pressing on the strings so that I don’t make a dull note. Because this app? It picks up EVERYTHING.

I’m rather frustrated.

I did play 3 of the melodies from the previous set of lessons and did pretty well on them.

I sang my song again. Still happy with it. Still not ready to try to put music to it.

July 24: Success!

I passed the C/Em chord lesson!! I played it about ten times today, and finally got three stars in both sections (two times). I’m very proud of myself for sticking with this.

Then the next lesson was Em/C chords. I’m very proud to say that it only took me four tries to get three stars in all three sections (twice).

My fingers were very sore by the end of these two lessons, but I wanted to check out the next lesson, so I gave it a shot. It is Am/C, and I did not do very well, despite it being incredibly easy to switch between these two chords (only one finger needs to move). It’s probably because my fingers were tired.

I sang my song at the beginning of the lesson. I still love it.

I think I’ve figured out how to write out the music. I’m going to print out the song and figure out which notes belong with each syllable, writing them down with a pencil. Then I’ll figure out the chord progression from there.

We’ll see how that goes.

Anyways, positive lesson today, despite the fact that my fingers are still tingling.

July 25: Bruises or callouses?

Yesterday, I was all excited because I thought I was developing callouses.

Today, I realized they’re bruises.

It really hurt to play today.

I played the Am/C chord song a few times today. I did not pass. I kept making mistakes like shifting my fingers too far or not pressing hard enough on the string.

I printed out the song and wrote out the melody for the first line of the first verse.

It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. I used to be able to do this sort of thing easily when I was in high school. Funny how skills vanish after twenty years of not using them. (Twenty?? 😱)

If I figure out one line a day, I’ll finish the song in 11 days (because the verses are practically the same and the chorus will only need a minor tweak at the very end of the third chorus because of a difference in syllable count). Fingers crossed?

Guitar Lessons Part 3

July 12: chord lesson blahs

I played the same lesson the entire lesson today; Em and Am. I need to get three stars on all three parts of the lesson in order to move on to the next lesson.

I have yet to succeed.

My fingers hurt.

Silver lining? I’m feeling a lot more confident switching between the two chords.

I guess that’s the whole point.

July 13: new chords

I have finally succeeded at the Em/Am lesson!!

Now I’ve moved on to E/Am.

I succeeded on the first attempt, but I like to play it twice because my fingers need the practice switching between chords. I don’t want to move on too quickly.

And then I couldn’t pass it again.

Sigh.

I appear to be on a downswing for my song too. It sounded all off today.

So now my fingers hurt and I’m not feeling great about how today’s lesson went at all.

Very disappointing.

July 14: moving forward

I beat the level!

Well, it’s not a video game, but it kinda feels like one.

So I completed the song with Am/E. Then I moved on to an Am/E/Em song. I completed it twice, passing both times.

I feel a lot better about my progress today.

That was the end of the chords lessons, and they moved on to basics about the guitar: the names of the strings, half steps and whole steps, and pitches.

I completed all of those easily.

I played my song again. Still not super happy with it today. That’s ok, though. I’ve got time to figure it out.

Yes, my fingers still hurt.

July 15: level 2

I completed the knowledge lessons. It’s nice to know that I haven’t forgotten things like how to count 4/4 time.

That meant that I got to move on to LEVEL TWO!

The first set of lessons are Melody 2. Single fingers, picking and not strumming. I completed the first few melodies with very little trouble (twice each, to make sure I had the lesson down properly).

The fourth melody really picked up the speed and switched from the 2/¾ frets to the ¾/5 frets and wow was that ever difficult! I completely failed (couldn’t even get to the end of the song) multiple times before I finally managed to pass. I only passed once though, so I’ll be playing it again tomorrow and hopefully succeeding.

As for my song…I seem to have stalled on it. I hope it’ll get easier to write the music for it as I learn more.

My fingers don’t hurt too much today. They sting a little.

July 16: slow down

Today I repeated the melody I was having trouble with yesterday and I only made one mistake. I was very satisfied and moved on to the next set of lessons; Melody 2.5.

Wow.

That was a dramatic increase in complexity.

Changing frets AND strings and much faster than the previous songs.

So I took the time to run through the song on practice mode and slowed it down to 60% and tried again. Then I increased it to 75%. And then 85%. And then I tried again in perform mode. I wasn’t perfect by a long shot, but I got 3 stars (not gold stars) and I’m really thrilled with that.

I am not considering myself as “passed” though. I’ll try it again tomorrow and if I can get 3 stars again, then I’ll move on to the next lesson.

As for my song, I didn’t play it today.

However, I sang it. I think it’ll be easier to get the melody down on the guitar if I have it firmly in my head first.

We’ll see how that goes.

July 17: mostly positive

I started today’s lesson with the melody I was having trouble with yesterday. It took two tries, but I succeeded to my satisfaction.

Then I moved on to the next melody. The app told me I passed on the first try, which was, frankly, astonishing. The melody moved between the first 3 frets and the next 3 frets, switching between the bottom 3 strings. I don’t think it was quite as fast as the first melody I did today, but it was close. Then I tried it three more times before i finally passed it again on the fourth try.

I practiced the chords I know, both with a strum and finger picking each string to make sure I don’t have dull notes.

Again, I sang the song rather than play. I think I’m getting more consistent. I hope.