A little pixie magic

The very first thing we did when we arrived in Disney World in January 2020 was go see Tinkerbell. Pegasus was so excited. Dragon was a little overwhelmed to be holding TInkerbell’s hand.

Ages of the kids: Dragon is 3 years 4 months, Pegasus is 7 months

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!