Bye bye, Karaoke!

I couldn’t leave my #learningproject behind without a final reflection. Although I blogged about my overall experience in the Spring #ecmp355 course, as well as the process involved in my final Summary of Learning project, I felt that my actual learning of the guitar wasn’t covered adequately in either of those posts.

After all, my first video sounded like this:

I could barely strum a chord, could I?

And so to fill you in on my growth, I will review a few of the favorite resources that I used:

  1. this is a great site which allows musicians to save their favorite songs to “My Songbook”. Even better, you can change the key, so that if the song was submitted in a key that is too low or difficult to play, it can be transposed to any other key. All my songs are saved in my preferred keys, and I can pull them up digitally or print them off. The downsides of this site are that a) Occasionally there are songs from other sites that cannot be transposed, and b) Sometimes the people that create the chords aren’t correct, and you may not agree with what is posted. There is a way to suggest edits, but I haven’t dove into that yet. Overall, this is a great site to use.
  2. This was a great site that offered new guitar learners easy lessons that were simple to follow. Andy also provides a great variety of tunes to practice and learn. I really enjoyed this site!
  3. I do want to warn about some YouTube lessons. Not all instructional videos are created equal. If the video is going too fast for your current level, move on.

Lastly, and this applies to any site, or with any songbook: just because someone rates a song as “easy beginner” does not mean it is going to be easy, or is even FOR a beginner. “Easy” is relative, and an “Easy” Beetles song may actually take a lot of work and contain chord changes that are not easy. Know what you can play, and look through the songs, especially before spending money.

By comparison to those early beginnings, I wanted to offer you a sense of my improvement. My newest video was so focused on the singing, lyrics and video, that the guitar playing was a bit lost in the shuffle. Nonetheless, here is a behind the scenes look at the playing behind the video:

And just for fun, here is a final rendition of Brown Eyed Girl. I can’t think of a better baseline comparision, since I started with this song:

My strumming isn’t great, since everyone in my household had gone to bed, and I was trying to play quietly and not belting it out like my usual self. However, I think it demonstrates that I now feel more comfortable changing chords.

And do you know what that means?? Bye bye Karaoke, hello guitar! If you have a song that you think I should add to my playlist, please comment below!





The elephant in the room plays the guitar

So I wanted to give everyone an update on my #learningproject. You may have seen my last rendition of Brown Eyed Girl, recommended as an easy campfire song, courtesy of this site. I have still been practicing that one, so here’s a little update – with traditional chord fingerings, which is tricky with the C major chord:


Now you may be wondering, “where is the new material?” After my last post, I sent out a tweet to poll the Twitterverse as to what song I should learn next.  I was pretty excited that the winner was “Sweet Home, Alabama” by Lynard Skynard. It was listed as an easy Campfire song, however, when I went online to learn how to play it, this was the video I pulled up.

Frankly, as soon as I heard the picking, I thought, “what the heck did I get myself into!” Now, this video focused on the strumming, but to be honest, I was really overwhelmed by the speed of this video and after 20 minutes of struggling through this, and only kind of getting the strumming down, I totally bailed on this song (and hoped that no one would remember my poll!)

I went back to practicing other songs that I had been working on – mostly by the Beatles: I Want to Hold your Hand, Yellow Submarine, Let it Be and Hey Jude. It was pretty rough at first, but here’s a video of how it sounds now.

Since I was still struggling with some of my transitions, I decided to google “easy guitar chords youtube”. Much to my delight, I found Andy Guitar! Not only did he solve my transition issues, but he had a tutorial for Sweet Home Alabama! The elephant was still in the room, and he was playing a guitar! After a few minutes working through this video, I knew I would be able to tackle this song!


So here is my attempt, after only 1 day of practice!

So, granted, I was still super rusty, but I felt like Andy’s chord transition would help me with so many songs! I was pumped to be back on track and dying to see if it would help with my Brown Eyed Girl transitions. Here’s how it sounded, what do you think?

My next goals are to keep improving my transitions, and also finger placement. Andy has a tutorial about sore fingers caused by poor positioning, so I want to work on being more comfortable while playing.

I am building up a repertoire of songs that I practice, and I plan to keep Sweet Home Alabama in that rotation. I’m glad that I didn’t give up on it, even when it seemed impossible. Sometimes coming at things from a different angle is all that’s needed to get back on track.

Slow and painful plays the chord?

I officially have bruised my fingertips. I am definitely coming along with learning the guitar chord fingering, but boy, it is time for a break today! I am sure I will build up some callouses soon – the quicker the better in my book.

The upside; I am starting to memorize the chords. And I am having fun.

Want to witness what progress looks like? Take a listen…

And if you want to help choose my next song attempt, visit me on Twitter to choose from my 3 song choices:



Why do I HAVE to learn this?


Well, I have to be honest – I had a really rocky start to my #learningproject. I started out with the Rockstar Academy lessons, which are slow and steady. However, Lesson 1 taught the parts of a guitar, the chords C and G, and some strumming exercises. I got through it, but even though my head knew what to do, my fingers hurt! Now I remember why I never learned how to play before, guitar is hard!

I was deflated. Why did I pick guitar? I could have picked something so much easier than this. A hundred things ran through my mind. And… I stalled. I didn’t have much motivation to practice and a mountain of lessons didn’t seem surmountable. But, I figured, ANY learning project is going to have some hurdles, setbacks and times when you are just unmotivated. So I figured I better jump back in and DO THIS!

I needed a little motivation, so I skipped ahead to lesson 3, which introduced E, D and A chords and suggested strumming these and adding in C and G, which I remembered but wanted to see the fingering. Rather than flipping back to lesson 1, I skipped over to Google and easily found a Guitar Chord image. It’s handy to have in front of me when I am trying to play a song and learn the chords.

Woohoo, now that I knew what my fingers were supposed to do, I wanted to try to play something. I abandoned the lessons for the day and googled easy guitar songs, settling on this site. I figured Brown-Eyed Girl by Van Morrison wasn’t too hard, too fast and I could sing along!

It was a pretty rocky rendition, since there are lots of chord changes, but hey, it’s a song! After feeling pretty bummed, I am actually believing that I will be able to learn the guitar well enough to enjoy it!

So, stay tuned for my next video, where I will actually reveal my progress.

In the meantime, do you have any tricks to overcome lack of motivation? How do you jump start yourself?