Stringing The Pieces Together: My Journey Learning Guitar

Over the past few months I have been working towards learning the Guitar as an online-based learning project. I have had minimal experience with guitar in the past, mainly a grade 9 guitar class years ago, however it has always been an instrument that I wanted to learn the basics of. While I wouldn’t consider myself entirely fluent in guitar at this point, I have seen drastic improvement iin my ability to change chords efficiently, my technical strumming skills, and overall comfort of the instrument. I can see myself playing the guitar casually in the future, however I am mainly going to apply these acquired skills to my continued learning on the ukulele.

Photo Credit: Karlgoro1 Flickr via Compfight cc

Learning Project Recap

  1. “Guit” up and make some noise!
    • Introduction to the project, my background with guitar and music, and a rough proposal plan of the project.
  2. What note is that string suppose to be?
    • Introduction to the primary educational resource: Andy Guitar
    • How to hold and use a pick
    • How to tune the guitar, and what notes each string should be
    • Tuning Mnemonic: Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears
    • How to read guitar music: Chord symbols and TABS
    • Guitar Vlog #1
  3. Making The Switch Efficiently
    • Fingering for the first three chords: E, A, and D major
    • A bit of finger technique for optimal chord sound
    • The repetitive process of practicing Chord changes
    • Result: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”, and a failed attempt at 500 Miles
    • Guitar Vlog #2
  4. Choose Your Song!
  5. A Little Marley Love
    • A return to guided lessons
    • Brief explanation of educational resource: Google Hangouts on Air
    • The pain of E to D chord changes
    • Introduction to riffs and motives
    • Result: Bob Marley “Three Little Birds” and The Troggs “Wild thing”
    • Guitar Vlog #4
  6. Doo Wap, BOP, Ohh La La – Getting a bit minor
    • Introduction to educational resource: Google Search Lyrics
    • Introduction to the minor side of music, and some minor chords
    • New strumming technique “Ooo La La”
    • Introduction to pickless strumming (plucking)
    • Result: Bill Withers “Ain’t no sunshine”
    • Guitar Vlog #5
  7. Four Chords to Rule Them All!
  8. Scaling Up The Intensity
    • Learning our first scale: G Major
    • Applying that to a bit of a riff/melody
    • Result: Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”
    • Guitar Vlog #6
  9. Sometimes Uk Just Need a Break…Ukay???
    • Introduction to educational resource: Ukulele Tabs
    • What is a Ukulele? You mean there is more than one?
    • A brief comparison of the Ukulele to the Guitar
    • How to use 4 chords on the Ukulele
    • Guitar Vlog #7
  10. A Little Cheer, A Little Buddy, A Little Bluez
    • Completion of Andy’s course
    • Educational Resource: A homemade 12 bar blues progression chart
    • The open chord technique
    • A further exploration of minor music
    • Introduction to the 12 Bar Blues (Also commonly written as Bluez)
    • Introduction to dominant chords
    • New strumming pattern: blues technique
    • A very rough vocal scat solo to compliment the 12 bar blues
    • Result: “Hey Ya” by OutKast, and Buddy Holly’s “That’ll be the day”
    • Guitar Vlog #8

A bit of an assessment

For some reason I never took an initial video of my skills, however I am pretty sure this is mainly because I did not have much knowledge of guitar left. My technique was poor and very choppy, I took a second every time I had to change chords, and could hardly sing while playing. If you compare my vlog video #1 to my final vlog video, you can see the improvement of skills and ability just through the results songs. While it is not perfect, there is a decent progress shown through those results.

Photo Credit: Cooleych Flickr via Compfight cc

Another improvement is my simple confidence and ability in recording those vlogs. I have not done much for vlog-type videos previously, so recording myself like this was a first.

Reflection on the Process of Learning Online

This wasn’t entirely a new process for me, I have been self-learning through online resources since elementary school. However, the idea of strictly using online resources was different, and I will admit to feeling intimidated at first. I see YouTube as the ultimate tool for learning and teaching after this semester, as it is a way to transfer knowledge visually, verbally, and through text in the description. This allows you to prepare some decent resources of your own with fairly high quality, and even use resources prepared by other educators and creators. In the end, the process of learning online did not really change for me, but it still is a bit listen, practice, repeat process as you are relying on the online information for learning instead of board and coursework provided in paper.

Final Thoughts

I loved this adventure as it was a way for me to learn course content using something I love: music! The idea of allowing a student-led learning project for a semester, with topics they choose and outcomes that you provide is awesome. This brings the student interest back into learning, and makes it fun and evolving, not just the standard daily routine. I feel satisfied with my learning of guitar over the semester, and I have gathered a decent list of resources and ideas from this project alone that I will most likely use in the future. Overall, this is one of the highlights of this class for me, and I look forward to experiencing the next adventure in EDTC 400!

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