Week 3: Days 14 to 20

Friday 26th March to Sunday 11th April 2021

Game Paused for 17 Days:

So after ordering my left-handed guitar (from Bax Music because they had the cheapest price), there was a huge delay. The wait for the guitar was meant to be 5 days according to their website, but it ended up being over two weeks. It was coming in from Europe (which I was unaware of) and I think the whole Brexit thing played a big part in the delay. 

During this period, I decided that I wasn’t going to practice any guitar, as I really wanted to continue the project onwards with a proper left-handed guitar – especially for the video updates.

That said, I originally thought I’d only be waiting around 5 days for my new guitar. If I’d have known it would be 17 days, I probably would have continued with the upside-down right-handed electric guitar.

Thoughts During The 17 Day Break

Even though I didn’t practice any guitar, I did have a few thoughts during the 17 day break:

  1. The Problem with Online Courses:

One Size Fits All

The problem with online courses is that they’re “one size fits all” methods. The information in an online course can’t be adjusted to a student’s specific needs, because it’s pre-recorded. 

I guess the only way of getting around this would be to create a course outlining numerous methods of learning, allowing students the option of choosing the specific method that works best for them?

No Feedback

There’s no feedback with an online course! This is a big problem because feedback is essential. Feedback is vitally important because it tells you when you’re doing something right and wrong. Often, students think they’re doing something right, when they’re actually doing it wrong. It happens all the time.

I think the only way around this is to teach students how to evaluate their efforts so that they can give themselves better feedback. 

  1. I’m Only a Complete Beginner through Technique

I’m calling this experience Guitar From Scratch, but it’s not really that. I am learning guitar from scratch from a technical perspective, but I still have an experienced musical eye to direct my practice sessions. This obviously gives me a big advantage over somebody literally starting out from scratch.

Day 14 – Monday 12th April 2021

RESUME GAME! 

And we’re off! 

After waiting over two weeks for my new guitar, it finally arrives. It’s a Fender CC-60S (concert-sized) left-handed acoustic guitar. Woohoo!

My new guitar 🙂

Practice Time – 30 mins

I spent the first 15 minutes with the new acoustic just running through where I’d left off – Em, G, D and A chords. My fingers definitely feel rusty and the new acoustic feels much tougher to play than the ¾ electric. The action is higher and the strings are much heavier. I think my fingers have also become a little softer through lack of playing which didn’t help. My first thoughts are that I’ll replace the current strings with super light strings so that playing feels a little easier.

Progress after 12 Days of Practice

According to my diary, I also had three mini practice sessions at 5 mins each later in the day. During these sessions, I started practising the (4 finger) G and the Cadd9 chords.

Here are my notes from each chord:

New: G chord (4 Finger) 

  1. Little finger feels very weak, and my nail seems to be getting in the way, even though it’s cut back really short? The little finger needs conditioning!
  1. Fingers 3 and 4 need to be more of a unit for this chord. At the moment they feel very separate. 
  1. Trying to place all four fingers down at the same time feels far too difficult. But I can manage to just about get fingers 1, 2 and 3 down together, and then let finger 4 follow. It’s a similar shape to the original G chord I was learning but with a slight tweak. 

4. This chord feels difficult, but I think the challenge feels right.

New: Cadd 9 chord

This chord looks like a mini (4 finger) G. Making the shape of this chord in mid-air feels super difficult, so I’m just currently finding the notes using the strings as my guide. I’m also making little light jumps to train my fingers to become more familiar with the chord shape. This one is going to take work. I’m up for the challenge though.

Tilting The Guitar

For these brand new chords, tilting the guitar is a must because I really need to see where I’m placing my fingers. I wonder if there is a way of tilting the guitar whilst also keeping it steady? 

Strumming with a Pick

So today I begin strumming with my new very thin plectrums. Still, strumming feels horrible. 

Day 15 – Tuesday 13th April 2021

Morning Session: Practice Time – 20 mins

Ran through all chords, but mostly focused on the new (4 finger G) and the Cadd9 chords.

Evening Session: Practice Time – 30 mins

Spent the whole time practising the new (4 finger G) and the Cadd9. It seems that fingers 3 and 4 are the tricky ones for both these chords so I target these two. Finger 4 is the weakest finger and it needs conditioning. To combat this, I decided to throw in the Dsus2 and Dsus4 chords. 

New: Dsus2 and Dsus4 chords

I don’t really see these two chords as “new” chords. I see them more like variations on the standard D chord.  The Dsus4 chord in particular really puts finger 4 to work which is what I want.

Fingers Are Very Sore Today

My fingers are definitely feeling it today. They’re sore, and the strings seem to be feeling heavier than usual – I think this is because my fingers are tired! Maybe I’ve overcooked it a bit?

Either way, It seems that I’ve developed a little blister on my 3rd finger. I hope this doesn’t slow me down.

Blister Finger!

Still, I’m happy with racking up another 50 minutes of practice. 

Overall, I’m starting to see small improvements with the new chords today which is very pleasing. 

Day 16 – Wednesday 14th April 2021

Session 1: Practice Time 5 mins

Quickly run through all chords before the “school run”. The (4 finger) G took my attention again because it’s the ropiest. I think the 3rd finger is the biggest culprit now as it’s not landing as accurately as the other fingers. It just doesn’t feel right under the fingertip, so I focus on this finger the most. 

I also quickly run through the Dsus2 and Dsus4. Wowzer, my fingers feel so much stronger than yesterday. Yesterday’s longer sessions have really paid off today. 

Fingers still feel sore, but not too sore to practice. 

Session 2: Practice Time 10 mins

I practised for a further 10 minutes in the afternoon. Again, the (4 finger) G took my attention, specifically the 3rd finger. So I really focus on this, lifting it on and off to build more familiarity with where it needs to go. 

Session 3: Practice Time 15 mins

I then also practised for a further 15 minutes in the evening. I didn’t plan to, but I found a free moment and picked up the guitar. 

In this session, I ran through a couple of songs using the chords that I’ve already learned. Time of Your Life and Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. My chord changes are nowhere near up to speed but it still felt nice to be practising something musical. My first finger definitely needs more strength to play the A chord. It’s a tough one!

Notes:

The Plectrum

So, I’ve really not been good at practising with the plectrum since I began this project. I’ve been using my thumb 90% of the time. It just feels more natural and I like the gentle tone over my clunky, loud, brash plectrum strumming. 

Practising Until I See Progress

I don’t set myself any limits for practice, my goal is just to pick the guitar up every day. But I notice that once I begin practising, I’m only really happy to stop when I see a little bit of progress. I think this tends to happen after around 15 minutes. 

Varying Practice

I also like to mix things up in my practice sessions. I’m generally a big believer in focussing and putting more effort on less. But, to me, it just feels better to vary things up a bit. It makes me practice more because I feel better doing it.

There’s a learning concept known as Interleaving which is beneficial to learning new things, and I think by mixing things up the way I am, I’m kind of using this interleaving technique. 

Day 17 – Thursday 15th April 2021

Morning Session: Practice Time 15 mins

Ran through all the chords as usual, and then ended up stumbling upon the song Talking About A Revolution by Tracy Chapman. The chords for this song are (4 finger) G, Cadd9, Em, D and Dsus4 – Perfect! 

I ran through the song the best I could, although my chord changes are still not up to scratch. Still, it’s nice to be working on a song. 

Day 18, Friday 16th April 2021

No session: Practice Time 0 mins

I didn’t practice today. There was no real reason not to practice. I just didn’t think about it. 

Although, interestingly my guitar was left in a different room, so it wasn’t about to act as a reminder to practice. 

Day 19, Saturday 17th April 2021

Practice Time 3 mins

Hardly did anything today. 

We had a busy day out, but I did manage to pick the guitar up for a quick 3 minute strum. 

After yesterday’s no show, I made sure to bring the guitar back down to the main room, and sure enough, it acted as a reminder to practice, even if this was only for 3 mins. 

Day 20, Sunday 18th April 2021

Mid-day session: Practice Time 3 mins

Pretty much a replica of the day before. 

Weekly Roundup

Total Days Practiced:

Monday – 30 mins

Tuesday – 50 mins

Wednesday – 5 mins

Thursday – 10 mins

Friday – x 

Saturday – 3 mins

Sunday 3 – mins

Total Weekly Minutes Practiced: 

1 hour 41 mins

New Things Learnt:

G (4 finger)

Cadd9

Dsus2

Dsus4

Talking About a Revolution by Tracy Chapman

Thoughts: 

The week started really positively but dwindled over the weekend. I think I started fast due to the excitement of the new guitar, but I’m not really sure why it dwindled out. 

The Dsus2 and sus4 chords seemed to be a very healthy addition, as did the G and Cadd9. 

Leaving the guitar out in the room I spend the most time in is a super good idea.

Playing songs, even if they are ropey, is far more fun than drilling. Although, I think drilling is important to begin.