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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Guitar Lessons Part 2

July 7: Ouch

I played the riff I was having trouble with yesterday for the entire practice session today. I’m doing no better than I was when I started today.


I played the tabs I came up with for my song yesterday and while I still like them, I don’t feel like my singing went with them very well today.

I think I’m just feeling less productive overall today.

My fingers hurt.

Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow.

July 8: Melody

I succeeded at that last riff!! On my first try today! Big surge of adrenaline after that!

Then I moved on to learning melody lines.

Apparently it’s a lot more pressing on strings because ouch my fingers hurt!

I did not pass the first melody.

Tomorrow is a new day.

I played my song (the first verse) and I’m in love with it again today. I need more practice to make sure I hit the right strings, but it’s coming along.

July 9: technical issues resolved

So I finally figured out why my phone wasn’t registering my notes properly… My sound was up too high. So it couldn’t hear my playing properly! And I thought that I wasn’t playing right!

So I ripped through 3-4 melody lessons and got 3 gold stars on almost every part today once I turned my phone’s sound down.

Then I listened to the first lesson on chords but couldn’t do the prescribed because I refuse to upgrade my account to get more practice time.

My fingers hurt, but I’m so exhilarated from doing well in today’s lesson that I don’t care.

Then I played my song. The first verse is sounding more natural, which makes me happy.

So I moved on to the second verse. The lines aren’t the same number of beats, so it’s going to need some adjusting. I can’t change the words too much because the character is supposed to have scribbled them down in half an hour and it’s supposed to be super rough, but I might have to modify them a bit if I can’t get the music to sound right.

Then I played the bridge and it sounds decent currently, so we’ll see how that goes.

I’m excited to start learning chords so I can put them to the chorus!

A note about me learning guitar

Something I haven’t really mentioned on here about when I go to practice the guitar…

I go to the basement.

Not to get away from the family, but because my son tries to tune the guitar while I’m playing it and refuses to listen to the word “no”.

He’s only 2. He’ll learn soon, right?

But every day, I encourage my daughter to come with me. (She’s always excited to join me… So far.) She’s almost 5. And she hates not being perfect at something on her first try.

So I’m not making a huge deal about it, but I talk out loud to myself. If I get something first try, I celebrate it. IfWhen I don’t get it, I say something like, “wow, that was hard! I’m going to need to practice that.”

And I talk to my husband about my feelings about my lessons in front of her, saying, “I feel like I should be further along because I used to play flute, and it’s frustrating to be going at such a slow pace. But I want to do this properly and I don’t want to skip steps.”

I’m hoping that she sees and hears that this is taking a lot of time, that I’m working really hard at it, and that I’m making a LOT of mistakes as I go.

Nobody’s perfect at something the first try. It takes a lot of time and effort to master an instrument (or reading, math, printing, drawing, colouring, etc).

If she refuses to listen when I tell her that, let her learn by example.

I hope.

July 10: I need to cut my fingernails again

I learned 3 chords today: Em, E, and Am.

My fingers hurt so much from pressing on the strings that I wasn’t able to do more than a ten minute lesson.

And my fingernails need trimming again because I’m not using the tips of my fingers, so it’s harder to put my fingers in the proper places.

When I tried learning guitar two decades ago, I bit my nails all the time, so I didn’t have this problem.

It’s kinda frustrating.

I played my song again and I fixed the notes for the bridge. I’m much happier with it now.

And I don’t think I need to change the lyrics to make the lines shorter, I just need to speed up the singing. (If that makes sense).

One good thing about writing the music for this is that I’m getting slightly more confident with singing. Hopefully I’ll be fully confident by the time I need to perform it.

I’m excited to see progress.

July 10 Part 2

I’ve started re-teaching myself scales so that chords make more sense to me.

A hand-drawn guitar with each fret labelled is on the left. On the right are several chord names with the fingering and corresponding music notes, along with the scale and the triad.

It’s really strange, because it’s been so long since I last thought about this stuff, that I’m starting from scratch. But I kinda remember it. But not really.

So. It’s strange.

Song update

I recorded the lyrics at my first attempt at setting down the melody line.

They are so far from perfect it’s not even funny.

Like, I messed up on the second line of the first verse and on the third line of the bridge. The third line of the bridge is my favourite!!

However, I feel like I have made a good start.

I’ll be recording the lyrics again after I listen to it a bunch of times.

Ugh, listening to myself.


But that’s how I learn a song the best… Listening to it over and over.

Hopefully I won’t ingrain the wrong tune in my head for those two lines!!

And then I get to try to figure out the guitar to go along with it…

That’ll be interesting.

Am I doing this backwards? Lyrics-learn guitar-learn how to write music-write music for guitar?

I mean, I suppose it could be MORE backwards!

July 11: chords are hard

Today’s lesson was all about switching between Em and Am. I did not do very well. I’m not sure if it was me missing the strings or me strumming poorly.

Probably a combination of both.

So today my fingers hurt and my wrist hurts (left hand).

I played my song. I think it’s going alright. I think I like A major for the initial chord for the chorus. I’m tempted to just use it all the way through, but I’m sure I’ll figure out a better progression than that!

I also think I should try a key change for the bridge and final chorus… We’ll see how things go.

Guitar Lessons Part 1

I wrote lyrics for a song in a novella in Stories! The Unexpected First Collection. Now I’m planning to write the music. Only one problem…

I don’t remember how to write music. Or play guitar. So I’ve asked my dad to reteach me guitar.

Let’s hope this goes well!

I’ve been journalling my progress on Tumblr, but since barely anybody I know has my Tumblr, I decided that it would make a good series of posts on our blog for the month of August.

I started on June 29th, when my dad let me borrow his guitar. I’ve been using an app called Yousician, not on premium (which means I get 30 minutes of practice time per day and limited song options. That really isn’t a problem for me.)

June 29

I had my first lesson today.

I forgot how much pressing on the strings hurts my fingers.

I’m starting from scratch because I was never really taught before; my dad showed me some of the chords and that was it. So I’m learning about tabs.

And how to tune!

The first lesson was tuning and playing the 6th string open (not touching the string). Then I learned about frets 1, 2, and 3 and how to play them with changing fingers.

My index finger is so sore.

I want to learn more!!!!!!!

June 30

I remembered to take a picture today!

I am wearing a pink shirt that reads “Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers” and holding a guitar. My daughter is next to me. Behind her is the guitar’s case.

Dragon has been learning how to read the tabs along with me and is talking about them properly.

I love it.

I need a lot of practice.

July 3

I learned what riffs are yesterday.

Today, my head was spinning because I got my second dose of Moderna yesterday, so I didn’t continue with lessons; instead, I tried to play Dust in the Wind by Kansas with chords. It’s a lot harder than I remember it being.

And my fingers still hurt from pressing on the strings.

But it was nice to play something that actually sounded a little bit like something.

July 4

I played two songs as riffs today. The second one, I only made one mistake!

I’m very proud of myself.

Then I tried playing Dust in the Wind by Kansas again. I had to completely relearn the chords, but they came quicker today, which was nice.

My fingers still hurt from pressing on the strings.

And the rest of my body hurts from holding it in an awkward position.

Hopefully I’ll get stronger, both in my back and in my fingers.

July 6: I’m darn proud of myself for today

I forgot to play yesterday. I had a pretty bad headache, so I was going to just do the left hand, but I completely forgot.

Today, I went back a couple lessons and tried to do the first couple songs again. I did better, but I still need practice.

Then I moved on and did two new riffs (twice each), and I did very well with them. The third riff was very hard and my fingers were very tired, so I did not do very well at all. It was kinda funny, actually. I’ll try it again tomorrow.

I’ve been paying more attention to the background music of the songs I like to listen to, and I’ve noticed that the music doesn’t always change notes/chords when the voice changes.

That’s probably not news to a lot of people.

But I played flute in band (a long time ago) and I’m a soprano (ish), so I’ve almost always had the melody line.

So I never really paid attention to what the background music was doing. I know about harmonies of course, but that’s not the same thing.

Anyways, my point is.

My point is…

I think I kinda know how to plan out the music part of the song I wrote.

At least, I wrote the tabs for the first verse today. I’m pretty happy with it. It’ll probably undergo changes as I learn more, but for now, I’m pretty thrilled with it.

And it doesn’t change on every note.

Now I just need to practice more and learn chords so that I can write the music for the chorus (because I want the chorus to be richer in sound than the verses and bridge… At least, that’s what I’m thinking right now.)

Also, I need to become more confident in my singing. I could barely hear myself over the guitar.

But today was the first day I felt like I was making progress.

I’m pretty darn proud of myself.

Oh, and my fingers don’t hurt as much today.