Week 5: Days 28 to 34

Day 28: Monday, April 26th 2021

Practice Time – 10 mins

Last week wasn’t a great practice week and I’m determined to make this one a good one.

Today I spent 10 minutes running through all of the chords that I’ve learned so far. It felt good to have practised, but I don’t think 10 minutes is really enough for the type of progress that I’m after. 

Progress update after 22 Days of Practice. Ooooh, and I’ve had post-lock-down hair cut too 🙂

Day 29: Tuesday, April 27th 2021

Practice Time – 0 mins

Today was a super busy day for me, so no practice! Aggrr!

Day 30: Wednesday, April 28th 2021

Practice Time – 1 hour and 5 mins

Holy Moly! My biggest practice day yet 🙂

I’m not really sure how this happened, but I practised for 30 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening. 

During the morning session, I worked on changes too and from the 4-finger G. This chord is trickier than I originally thought, and I’m struggling with it a bit. Fingers 3 and 4 are the culprits. 

During the evening session, I practised whilst the kids watched a couple of episodes of Floor is Lavar on TV (an end-of-day treat for them if they’ve been good). The guitar was out and in sight, so I just picked it up and played.

Having the TV on in the background whilst practising isn’t recommended, but I personally found it quite pleasant again. I think having it on just made making the same old chord changes feel easier, which was nice.

Day 31: Thursday, April 29th 2021

Practice Time – 0 mins

Another busy day, so no practice. 

Aw Man!

Day 32: Friday, April 30th 2021

Practice Time – 35 mins

Today is the day when I’ve decided to start using the pick exclusively! I know, I know! I’ve said this about 10 times already LOL! But now is the time. It feels right. From today I’m going to make sure that I consistently use a plectrum in my practice sessions.

So why haven’t I done this so far?

I think it’s because my strumming just sounds awful with a pick. It sounds loud, clunky, brash, and horrible! However, the only way around this is to go through it. I just have to accept and endure this loud, clunky, horrible strumming noise before I’m able to smooth it out and make it sound a little more musical. 

I practised all my chords today with the pick and as expected, it sounded horrible! 

Day 33: Saturday, May 1st 2021

Practice Time – 30 mins

So today’s session was interesting.

I used the pick as promised (that’s a record two days in a row for me), and it seems that it’s negatively affecting my chords. They’re just not ringing out as clearly as they normally do. 

Why is this happening?

After close inspection, I notice that I’m fretting the chords too lightly. The notes aren’t ringing out because I’m not squeezing with enough pressure. 

Why is this happening?

Well, when strumming, it’s helpful to hold the pick lightly. This helps achieve a smooth and even strumming sound. 

But it seems that holding the pick lightly also encourages my fretting hand to squeeze the chords lightly. The lightness of my picking hand seems to be influencing the lightness of my fretting hand. 

So, I basically need to work on keeping my picking hand light, without letting my fretting hand get too light that it doesn’t press down enough.

This is really interesting. 

Strumming feels a tiny bit better than yesterday though which is encouraging. Although, it’s still not very good. 

Day 34: Sunday, May 2nd 2021

Practice Time – 55 mins

On a bit of a roll with the practice right now. 

I practised for 25 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. 

During the morning session, I worked on Em, 4-finger G, Cadd9, and D using the pick and continuous strumming. I really want to nail these chords with a continuous strumming pattern because I know there’re heaps of cool campfire bangers I can play with just these four chords. 

The 4-finger G is still the tricky one for me. Fingers 3 and 4 are still the culprits. 

I’ve also discovered another issue with strumming with the pick today. I can strum quite evenly over a single chord. But when it comes to changing chords, either my strumming suffers, or my chord suffers. It’s like my brain struggles to focus on two things at once – the strumming and the chord change. 

Slowing it all down seemed to be the solution.

Before the evening session, I changed the strings on my guitar to a set of super-light strings. I also tuned down to Eb and placed a capo on fret 1. 

This made playing the guitar so much easier because it was now far easier to press the notes down.

In fact, after doing this, I no longer had to squeeze tighter with my fretting hand whilst retaining a light and relaxed strumming hand (the problem I had yesterday with the pick). I could now relax and play lightly with both hands. 

This change made playing and practising positively different. I’m practising with much less tension, and it feels great. 

Again, I worked on Em, Cadd9, G and D (with a bit of the Am, C and F added in). The 4-finger G is a pain, so I decided to turn it into a 3-finger G5 to practice getting fingers 2, 3 and 4 down at the same time. If I can nail these three fingers, I’m sure I’ll then be able to add the 4th finger naturally. 

Weekly Round-Up

Total Days Practiced: 5

Monday – 10 mins

Tuesday – x

Wednesday – 1 hour 5 mins

Thursday – x 

Friday – 35 mins

Saturday – 30 mins

Sunday – 55 mins

Total Weekly Minutes Practiced:

3 hours and 15 minutes

End of Week Thoughts: 

This week felt good in terms of practice. I practised 5 days out of 7 and I think that’s a really healthy number (although my aim is to pick it up every day). I feel like I’m progressing but it seems to be coming in small steps. 

There were a couple of things that took my interest this week:

Don’t Berate Yourself for not Practising

As grown-ups, we’re going to have super busy days where we’re not going to be able to practice. This is a reality, and I think it’s just important to accept this without worrying about it. The important thing is just to get back on the horse the next day and enjoy the guitar.

How I feel whilst I practice is really important for me

Another thing, does practice always have to be about discipline and progress? Does it always need to be deliberate? 

I’m not sure. The important thing for me is how I feel whilst I’m learning. I don’t want to feel obligated to follow a strict routine on a day-to-day basis and I don’t want to feel guilty for not sticking to the routine. A more casual approach seems to work better for me. Leaving the guitar out in the open and picking it up when I get a chance, with no set time limits for practice seems to be working really well for me. 

I also personally prefer an approach to learning based on where my practice naturally gravitates. This week it’s been Em, 4-finger G, Cadd9 and D, so this is what I’ve been working on. This is what feels good for me. This is what gives me a healthy motivation for practice. It’s what makes me want to pick the guitar up.

Learning on a Very Easy-to-Play Guitar

Towards the end of this week I set up my guitar to play as easy as possible and it’s made a really positive difference for me. Everything feels much more relaxed and enjoyable. 

Knowing what I know about muscle memory, these relaxed movements will ingrain themselves into my playing over time. This is awesome because playing relaxed is a really important technical concept that helps us play the guitar more effortlessly.

But what if I never made this change? What if I continued to learn on a guitar that required more tension and strength to play? Would these tenser movements engrain themselves into my playing over time? Would this affect my playing and progress negatively? Maybe.