A little bit of Johnny, a whole lot of everything else!

My learning project was nothing short of a journey. My personality shined through as my focus went from one thing to the next wanting to soak in as much as I could about guitar. I have a life motto, if something challenges you, figure out a way to turn that challenge into a new opportunity. So that is what I did. I started my learning project with hopes that I would be able to practice, practice, and practice Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” which I did, but not as much as I had hoped. Instead majority of the hours I spent on my project were forcused on challenges that presented themselves to me through this journey. Though I did not master my skills, I went from having no background knowledge or experience to being able to decently play a few lines of my chosen song and an abundance of information I never thought I would be able to understand. For me, that is a successful learning journey – one that I would not have been able to achieve without the internet, the many resources such as YouTube, music blogs, and my helpful friends. Thank you for taking this journey with me!

What I learned:

  •  How to tune a guitar and I have now developed an ear for what is intune versus what is not – though I am still learning the process and am in no way a pro.
  • Teaching yourself something out of pure interest can bring the fun back into learning after a stressful semester of papers and meeting the expectations – learning can be fun!
  • What hand/finger exercises really are – though I am still a bit disappointed that they are not finger pushups and why these exercises are important for guitar.
  • The basic guitar chords and how to move from one to the next.
  • That the lines on a guitar neck are actually called frets and are not just there for show!
  • There is a proper way to string a guitar and mine was not properly done.
  • Guitar music, is called Tabs, and it is similar yet completed different from regular sheet music.
  • I should really invenst in a pick for my guitar playing.
  • If something does not challenge you, is authentic learning occurring?
  • There is an entire language specifically for the guitar – and it changes between styles of guitar too.
  • There are plenty of resources at our finger tips – for free.
  • There are tools that exist in order to making playing guitar a little less stressful for newbies like me – I am definitely going to invest in them!
  • That it is ok to mess up, no one is perfect the first time around.

My Manual for Learning to Play Guitar:

  1. Always expect a curve ball when you are just starting out.
  2. Learn the language of guitar before you even begin.
  3. Research the names of the strings and start practicing your hand exercises.
  4. Learn the basic chords for guitar.
  5. Either learn how or purchase a tuner to help you out.
  6. Enjoy the process and share it with people – their ears are likely less biased than yours.
  7. Don’t give up – even if you do have small hands.
  8. If you ever reach a road block, remember there are a handful of resources out there to help you overcome whatever is in your way!
  9. Pick a song, and begin – to create music is an entirely beautiful experience.


A Recap of My Journey: 

First things first – Learning the chords 

  • I was still uncertain of how to showcase my learning – I kept it simple for the first experience, a photo collage of the chords I had spent time learning and then learning how to play in a sequence. 
  • This was my attempt to jump in to a bottomless pool of information, unknowns, and unanswered questions about guitar – little did I know, it was only just the beginning of what would be a crazy but good rollercoaster ride. 

Thank goodness for YouTube – I have found my go to helper!

  • Still learning the chords and trying to understand what it should sound like in real life was a constant challenge for me. I was always uncertain if I was strumming correctly, holding my fingers properly, or even holding the guitar the right way. I luckily found Justin Guitar (link is in my blog post above) that brought light and sound to what I needed to do. It was my first positive step forward into accessing and utilizing the resources around me. 

What’s that horrific sound?! Must need a tune… the part of my journey that saved my ears!

  • Once again I found myself on a learning journey within my learning project. From YouTube tips, articles of helpful lists, to text messages, and a FaceTime phone call, I finally learned how to tune my guitar and am I ever thankful that I did! The difference between what my guitar sounded like before tuning versus after was a remarkable change in events. 

Wait, What does that “x” mean again?!

  • My next learning journey curve ball – the steps I took to understand guitar tabs before I could officially begin learning my song. I have to thank my friend for always being my human confirmation. I am able to learn up to a certain point on my own, but I always need that face-to-face instruction to complete the step. 

Attempting Johnny Cash

  • Hours and hours and hours spent learning such a small section of the song, but it taught me just how difficult it is to learn a musical instrument. I was overwhelmed with frustration and stress during this week and wanted to give up multiple times but something inside of me wouldn’t let me do it. So I kept practicing and eventually I started to get the rhythm, the timing, and the correct notes.. things were starting to come together! 

Fingers too small? Scales are the answer!

  • Ah, the next speed bump on this adventure! As I was learning Johnny Cash, I couldn’t get my fingers to reach the strings I needed in order to play the correct cord. It was another frustrating turn of events, but instead of thinking of quitting, I decided to google if anyone else had trouble playing the guitar with smaller hands – turns out, people do! So I researched a few exercises to do and spent my week exercising and practicing Johnny, trying to familiarize my fingers and get comfortable with what my hands needed to do in order to succeed in the next portion of the song. 

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