Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar Practice Log
I’ll be using this post as my practice log for my learning the guitar.
I first picked up my new guitar and began learning on May 15, 2012. Since then, I’ve been practicing between a half hour and an hour per day. I haven’t missed a day yet. My goal is to practice at least an hour a day, but sometimes I don’t make it that far. Apparently my brain gets in the way. More on that later. For now, let’s get a bit of history.
I think I held my first guitar in 8th grade. Somehow, I was pushed into guitar class with a few other unsuspecting souls. We had a teacher and her name was Ms. Jones. Sweet lady, but she truly enjoyed Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” far too much. Throughout the grading quarter, Ms. Jones attempted to teach the others and me how to play – and for our final exam, she wanted us to sit across from her in the hallway and perform none other than the song I mentioned above – with lyrics. I remember that so well – I didn’t do a thing. She encouraged me and egged me on, but I gave her nothing. I hadn’t learned a thing throughout the entire class and it’s no wonder why. Guitar is tough. I don’t know what they thought was going to happen to a bunch of us trying to learn together – for a few minutes each day – with little to no interest.
I really hadn’t thought much of guitar until a few weeks ago. I mean, sure I get jealous when I hear or see a talented guitarist do their thing, but I never really thought I had that in me.
So what happened a few weeks ago? Not sure, but I think it may have something to do with looking for my next challenge. I use this example far too often, but I constantly talk about my flying an airplane by myself. You can read about my first solo here – if you’re interested.
I did that and I succeeded. If you think it’s a small feat, I suggest you try it. I remember that morning today and I will for the rest of my life. I still feel good about it. I had seen them every day, but actually flying one, now that was something.
Since I was a kid, I wanted to learn how to fight. Some friends and I tried a free class at a local Karate school in town, but it didn’t stick. We were too young. Too immature. Just a tad over three years ago, I began learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and about two years ago, I began learning Muay Thai. I am now creeping up on my Jiu Jitsu Purple belt and practice Muay Thai regularly.
I am doing that and I am succeeding and it feels great. I think I’m at a point in my life where my mind is finally allowing me to learn the way it was always intended to. I’ve been accomplishing extremely difficult and sometimes nerve-wracking challenges and have been doing a really good job at it. But there are a few that remain.
I can try to get all philosophical on you about how achieving my individual goals helps me, but I won’t. I’ll just say that it’s extremely rewarding seeing something materialize before my eyes – something that seemed impossible to achieve, or even impossible to approach just a short time ago. I’m getting close to forty years old and these things are starting to matter. As I reach this milestone, I have a desire to define myself. Not just as a person who took up space on this planet for a few years, but as someone who knew something. Someone who became great at something – all for myself. When my time is up, it won’t make much of a difference, but until then, I am steadily working on the things I never thought attainable.
I really didn’t want to write a lot in this post, but it seems that things got away from me. It’s really only meant as a log of my practice sessions. I did the same thing during my flight lessons and during a few first months of Jiu Jitsu. It kind of helps to write things out.
Let’s get into the guitar thing.
When I found my interest just a few weeks ago, I knew I would need a few things. I knew I would need a guitar and some sort of a learning apparatus. Regarding the learning, I looked online for some local guitar teachers, but wasn’t attracted to their long hair and metal band history. These are the ones I found. I know different types exist, but not in my area. So I had to find alternatives. As I moved away from the face to face instruction, I began hunting for some type of virtual training or self teaching. I figured this would be more aligned with my style anyway. I can do things fairly quickly and I really don’t trust local people to steer me straight. So I filtered through all the guitar learning courses I could find and settled on one. It’s called “Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar.” Very highly rated and it seems as though people are thrilled with it. From my own experience, so far so good. And as Steve Krenz oftentimes says, the online community is invaluable.
Regarding the guitar, I did some shopping around. Online that is. Since there aren’t any good guitar shops locally and since I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what I was looking at anyway, I decided to purchase a fairly straightforward, middle of the road “Epiphone AJ-220S Acoustic Guitar.”
After I received both, I practiced a bit. I then discovered I needed a few more things. Namely a music stand, a stool and a metronome. So I purchased the:
– On-Stage SM7211 Professional Folding Orchestral Music Stand, Black
– Farley’s StagePlayer II – Guitarist Stool and Stand with Footrest
– Korg TM-40 Large Display Digital Tuner and Metronome
I am now discovering that I need a very thick cushion for the stool, because, well, the half inch of foam they gave me makes my butt numb. So I’ll handle that.
I’ll leave the first few weeks of detailed guitar practice to the imagination, but I will say this – the finger pain went away fairly quickly. I thought it would take longer to get the calluses I was looking for, but it actually only took a few days. I have heard horror stories about finger pain from guitar and I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous for those first few days. The pain was certainly there.
Okay fine, I’ll quickly list what I went over those first few weeks, just for memory’s sake:
– The parts of the guitar
– The names of the strings
– Proper right and left hand technique
– Tuning the guitar (luckily, my guitar came with an electronic tuner)
– How to read guitar tablature
– Finger exercises
– How to read chord blocks
– How to read music
– Notes on the “E” string
– First string exercises
– Notes on the “B” string
– First and second string exercises
And that’s where I am now. I moved into section three and covered more ground, such as eighth notes and notes on the “G” and “D” strings, but have moved back some. I really want to master and become comfortable with each section, no matter if the following section covers some of the same material.
I’ve put together a few techniques when it comes to learning guitar. If you think about it, I’ve already gotten at least a good 20 hours at this stuff (as of June 4, 2012), so I think it’s appropriate that I throw some tips out there:
– Don’t practice what you already know. (I just warm up with it)
– If you have trouble with something specific, focus on that specific item – then expand to the notes or strings directly surrounding it.
– Always stop practicing on a high note. The mind then can digest something positive on its downtime. (I make this a habit)
– Keep the repetition going strong and focus on those trouble spots.
– And just for motivation’s sake – think of how good you’ll sound one year from now – if you keep at it like you are right now.
I’d like to begin logging my practice sessions here. This is primarily for my own use, but you are welcome to read and pull from it what you will. I plan on taking some very rough and unedited video of me playing some of the songs at the end of each session. This is also for my own use, but again, take what you will from it. At the very least, you can get an idea of what someone at such and such a week sounds like.
Begin reading my practice session logs.
June 19, 2012
I was browsing around the Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar forum last night and discovered someone had asked a question regarding their place in the sessions. They were curious if they were going too fast or too slow. A few people responded. In many of the responses (and I have been seeing this here and there), people kept referring to the “Bonus Material.” Now, I purchased the expended version of these lessons, so I thought the bonus material was included in my lesson book. Guess not. At 2am, I found myself printing 189 pages of bonus exercises and songs. Awesome.
June 20, 2012
Just wanted to mention that I received my new “Epiphone Case for Epiphone Jumbo Acoustic” guitar case today. It’s pretty magical. I was wondering if the padding inside was going to be plush like some pictures showed or if it was going to be more foamy, like I saw in some others. I’m happy to report that it’s soft. So soft, like my old car seat covers I used to have in my ’79 Camaro.