Continuing with the Old...
Face-to-Face Lesson at Music in the House
- This week my face-to-face guitar instructor introduced up-down strumming to my practice. These are supposed to be natural feeling but so far I have felt awkward doing them. He asked me to work on strumming down the whole chord but only strumming up the first three or four strings.
- He also gave me chords to practice two different songs, “Stand by Me” by Tracy Chapman and “Helpless” by Neil Young as these songs chords which I’ve learned in previous weeks.
- Our lesson is only 30 minutes long so by the time we review the homework from the previous week and do a few run-throughs of the coming week’s practice, it’s time to pack up and go!
- I’ve been working on reaching level two in all three of the sections: Lead, Knowledge and Rhythm. I hoped to be moving on but I was feeling some frustration in the Rhythm section where I was working on chords and continuing to have difficulty playing the chords without hitting a mute or dead note.
Starting with Something New...
“The real key is not natural music ability, its the desire”
- Marty Music
This week I started using some new resources. The first resource was instructional acoustic guitar videos from Marty Music. I began working on his Beginner Lesson Videos Playlist with my first video being the one below, Your Very First Guitar Lesson – Eminor and A sus2. He starts out with an encouraging message. He says that it is important not to give up until you get over the first hump of guitar playing which he quantifies as the first two months. In those first two months, he recommends giving yourself 5 minutes a day and not deciding that it’s too hard. He proposes that your 5 minutes of practice can often become 20 minutes or an hour if you have a breakthrough in your skills.
A lot of this was review since from the beginner lessons I have taken on Yousician and Udemy. However, I learned a few new things from Marty in this video to apply to my practice:
- Marty describes strumming as painting on the strings. I have taken many art classes and so this painting stroke is something that feels natural to me. I am going to work on the “painting stroke” to help me with my strumming this coming week.
- In his first lesson, he teaches two chords: Eminor and Asus2. I already know the Em chord but Asus2 was new to me. The end of the lesson was Marty instructing to practice the Em chord and Asus2 chord in a variety of combinations using strumming prior to watching the next lesson. See my weekly update for beginning progress on this.
The second resource I used was a Udemy course – Complete Guitar System – Beginner to Advanced which was recommended to me by my classmate Brad Raes who is also working on a guitar learning project however he is much further advanced than I. He offered to meet up with me in our Zoom room two weeks ago to offer some resources and advice.
The Udemy course is taught by Erich Andreas. This particular course has been taken by 123,298 students with a total of 34.5 hours of instruction separated into 47 sections. Each module is then broken down into a series of lessons and each lesson has an attached PDF(s) that reviews the content of the lesson, provides music to play along to, background information and other important tips. The beginning modules and lessons included a lot of listening time (95 minutes to be exact), which included lessons to set yourself up for success and several lessons on musical theory, prior to any playing.
This week I worked on the following modules/lessons and have included some of the highlights:
Section 2: Beginner – THE CORE – Module 1
Lesson: Definitions You’ll Need to Know
- half and whole steps, sharp (raise a note a half step), flat (lower a note a half step)
- distance between 2 musical notes (or pitches) is called an interval
- chord – 3 or more notes played at a time – we like them to sound pleasant but it doesn’t have to, mostly commonly chords are major or minor (happier vs. sadder)
- arpeggio – break up a chord in any order
Lesson: Proper Posture and How to Hold the Pick – Erich describes the lesson on posture on of the most important lessons in the series.
Section 3: Beginner – THE CORE – Module 2
Lesson: Introduction to the Physics of Sound
Lesson: Basic Picking Techniques and Basic Fretting Techniques – In this lesson, Erich suggested using a sharpie to put dots on your finger tips to make sure you are playing on the correct spot. If you can see the dots, you are playing incorrectly. Playing on your fingertips stops the musician from playing muted notes in a chord which is a problem I have been struggling with a lot. Erich gave the following tips to work on which I also believe will help me to not mute any strings in my chords. First, the thumb position should be loose and behind the neck of the guitar (I have been playing a lot with my thumb on top of the neck). By keeping your thumb on the back of the guitar neck and playing on your fingertips, your hand is then in a C position with space between your hand and the neck of the guitar. Additionally the top knuckles should be curled instead of flat. I tested out these tips while watching the lesson and I immediately noticed a difference in the quality of my chords.
Lesson: Naming the Notes on the Fretboard and How to Read Tablature – I learned the names of the strings and how to know which note you are playing on each fret. I hadn’t learned this in my face-to-face course, or in any of my other online resources.
Section 4: Beginner – THE CORE – Module 3
Dexterity Exercise 1 – This was an interesting exercise where the musician is required to play finger 1-4 on each string starting with the e string (thinnest) to E string (thickest). Once you are able to play this quickly and confidently. Then you switch up the fingering to any variation of 1, 2, 3, 4 for example you could play 1, 2, 4, 3 on each string or 2, 1, 3, 4. There are 24 variations of this exercise. Erich asks for you to spend a minimum of 2 hours on this exercise before moving on to the next lesson so this is where I ended for this week because I wanted to start practicing this dexterity exercise.