The Last Howrah

Welcome to my last blog post of EDTC 300, where ill be wrapping up my learning project. As you may remember from a previous post my goal was to learn a few songs from a designated playlist I made. I managed to learn one of my favourites; Sweet Home Alabama. Check out the video of me playing below.

Learning guitar was something I’ve always wanted to do but, something I never found the time for previous to this taking EDTC 300. As someone who had previously never thought of themselves as very musical I was nervous to start. With the help of some great online resources and the motivation form my class mates it turned out to be a lot of fun. Playing guitar is now a regular part of my life and something I plan on continuing to improve on.

Though my goal was to learn 3-4 of the songs from this playlist I’m still happy with learning only one. I was brand new to guitar at the beginning of the semester and underestimated the time it took to master a musical instrument. I was unaware of the basic skills I would have to learn first before catapulting myself into learning songs. With that said, with those skills now under my belt I will be able to progress a lot faster.

From this project I also learned the value of becoming a life long learner. Here is a great article on the importance of teachers committing to life long learning. I had gotten my self in a rut from my previous 3 years of post secondary education of only learning for my classes and not for my enjoyment. This lead to me being well versed in my science classes but, left me missing out on some important life lessons. I’ve decided to carry on taking on a new project every year to keep me out of this rut.

Favourite Resources

I used a lot of great online resources to in learning to play guitar. The magic of the  internet really does make it possible to learn almost anything. The following list shows the resources I used listed in order of my most to least favourite.

  1. Yousician: This app takes 1st place for it’s in time feedback and simple instructions
  2. Marty Music on YouTube: Marty deserves second place for his to the point, easy to follow instructional videos. He has tons of videos available for any skill or song you want to learn on guitar.
  3. Thomas Michaud on YouTube: Thomas Michaud is second to Marty music only because he doesn’t have as many videos available or as wide a variety of song genres to learn from.
  4. Guitar Chords Scales and More: This site has some great diagrams of chords. I always found it helpful to look at chord diagrams to see the exact placement my fingers needed to be in.
  5. Fender Play: This resource gets last place due to the fact that even though its a paid for app its missing a key feature; in time feedback. Though it does have some good instructional videos you can find most of the same information on the internet for free.

Greatest Inspirations

I had a lot of great inspiration in learning guitar. Some I had had previous to learning and were what made me want to pursue learning in the first place and others motivated me well I was learning.

  1. The school of Rock is my all time favourite movie and the my biggest inspiration to learn guitar. Who can resist Ned schneebly’s guitar solo in Rock Got No Reason.

2. Ian Munsick, an up and coming country singer has some mad guitar skills. he has an great ear for music and can make any song sound great on an acoustic guitar.

3. Ben Crosby or @confetticoordinates on Instagram is an awesome guitarist who posts a cover on his Instagram daily.

That’s a wrap folks! I hope you enjoyed following my learning journey this semester. if your looking to read up on some of my other classmates learning projects ill link a few down below. You never know what might inspire you to learn something new!


Learning E Minor

For this weeks EDTC 300 learning project post I’ll be doing a how to on the E Minor chord, or EM chord. This is a pretty beginner chord. It does not take a lot of complicated hand and finger twisting to perform.  Despite this it still took some time and a few different resources to perfect.

To start I looked up a picture of the finger placement I was to use. I’m a very visual learner so the more visual content I can get my hands on the better. The picture gave me a start to what I would be learning. I learned from this that only two fingers, my middle and ring fingers would be placed on the second and third string of the guitar along the second fret, Looking something like this:

E Minor

Phot courtesy:

I also used a Thomas Michaud video on YouTube. Thomas Michaud is an excellent guitar player/teacher on YouTube who has great instructional content. His video “3 Ways to play EM (E Minor) on guitar” was very helpful to me. I used the first and simplest way to play the chord. His video was an excellent resource as he explained it thoroughly and left enough time to follow along with his movements.

Lastly I used my yousicain app to help me perform the chord. My yousican app did little to teach me the skill, but did help ensure me that I was playing it correctly. In it there was an practice chord option for each new chord presented. It shows the correct finger placement along the strings and when the chord is played the strings light up in green if the chord is correct and red if incorrect.


Photo Courtesy: Yousician


I put all the useful information I leaned from the above sources to make this E Minor how to video. I hope it helps! Let me know if you have any questions I can help you with down below.

If you prefer to read on how to do the skill or supplement your learning further follow these steps:

  1. Place your middle finger on the second thickest string, slightly above the second fret.
  2. Place your middle finger on the string directly below the first right along the second fret.
  3. Ensure all other fingers are of the strings to ensure a clean sound.
  4. Strum all six chords.
  5. play your favourite George Strait tune!


Show Me, Show Me! Yousician vs. Fender Play

Yousician vs. Fender Play

In our EDTC300 class we were tasked with finding a new tool/ app to document our learning project. I chose the “Show Me” screen casting app. I used the app to compare two apps that I’ve been using in my guitar journey so far, Yousician and Fender Play. Both apps are geared at learning guitar, and in Yousicians case several other musical instruments. Both have been helpful in my journey so far, but since there paid for apps, I thought a review comparing the two might be helpful, in order to help you save some $$$$. Click the link below to check out my review on the two apps.

Show Me Review

As you saw from the video Yousican was the clear winner of the two apps. Now it’s time for a review of the “Show Me” app, which ill be honest from the start,  was a BUST!


“Show Me” describes itself as an “interactive whiteboard”, in which teachers can create lessons for students and post them online using an iPad. A good idea, that I can see myself finding useful in the future, unfortunately the apps interface was not up to par.

show me.jpg

A screenshot of  the app as it appears on the App Store.

Though I did not find the app to be user friendly there were still some things I did like about it, including:

  1. the ability to record voice memo’s
  2. the app deign is easy to navigate
  3. the ability to add photos to a presentation
  4. the ability to watch and make lessons from anywhere
  5. videos can be organized into multiple subject categories and sub categories
  6. there’s a limited free version

The following video is a short screencast I made of a how-to lesson explaining the features of  “Show Me”.

Now for the disadvantages of “Show Me”.  Though the app was easy to navigate, its missing some key features that would make it a lot more useful. The app does not have the ability to add graphs, charts, or shapes too it, a key feature in creating math or science lessons. The apps “draw” feature is also flawed. It is constantly misinterpreting demands and turning on at inconvenient times. Its quite glitchy as well, an Apple Pen is a MUST for anyone who plans on using this app to create even semi-neat lessons (hint: the neat diagrams and lesson seen on the app stores page probably aren’t going to happen!) . Below is a list of a few more things I dint like about the app.

  1. it is only for iPad
  2. you have very limited amounts of presentation time before having to buy the app (1 hour)
  3. Even with premium you are limited to a certain number of presentation hours.
  4. the premium version is $12.49 a month.
  5. You can not upload presentations to YouTube or download them to your own device (hence only the link to my Show Me presentation above).
  6. The voice memo recorder is hard to use as its tricky to delete and restart without losing progress on the presentation if you make a mistake or background noise interrupts (I lost progress and had to restart several times because of this).
  7. From comments on the App Store it appears many people are having problem with the app crashing.

Overall, the apps main idea of an interactive whiteboard is a good idea. The ability for students to watch and re-watch lessons is great, but the apps hard to use functions and limited presentation hours make it a no for me. My final feelings on Show Me can be summed up by the picture below. Its ok, but there are better alternative screen casting tools.

show me feels.gif Here are some similar apps to Show Me, that could be more helpful to you:

Rock Got No Reason and I Have No Time!

Is Anyone feeling the stress of full blown midterm madness? Because same! Luckily I just finished my last biology midterm today. If you want to know anything about the evolution of the 7 kingdoms of land plants or the serial endosymbiotic theory I’m your girl! if you want to learn about tips and tricks to playing power chords on guitar I am unfortunately, not your girl this week. I didn’t even get a chance to watch and review the film “School of Rock” as promised. However, I did grab an awesome clip from the movie that incorporates power chords. I embarrassingly have to admit that “Rock Got No Reason” might also be one of my favourite songs.

Also is Ned schneebly teacher goals, or what?! Now that’s someone who gets the importance of developing teacher, student relationships, and providing opportunities for all students.

I did manage to pick up and tinker with my guitar a bit this week, but did not get enough footage for a video. I continued to work on power chords, using the song Mississippi Queen. My trusty Yousician app was the only source used this week. I continued to make progress, and am beginning to feel more confident in the music coming from the strings of my guitar! A video of my progress will come next week.

Now that midterm season is over for me id like to look into finding some more learning sources for guitar. Ill be downloading the Fender Play app this week, and comparing it to my Yousician app. Fender describes itself as “the complete learning app for guitar, bass and ukulele”. This is very similar to Yousician, but has less instruments available to learn. I also notice that Fender is cheaper at only $14 a month compared to Yousician’s $28 a month. It’ll be interesting to see if yousician is worth the extra cost or not.

Stay tuned for next weeks progress video, and a Fender Play vs. Yousician Comparison!


Marty Music And Midterm Madness

This week for my learning project I learned POWER CHORDS. Power chords, are chords played with only two notes (only two strings are used to play this). Their most commonly heard on electric guitars in rock songs. Some of the most legendary guitar solos have been played with the use of power chords, thus, they’ve been dubbed the back bone of Rock ‘n Roll. Below are some of the all-time great songs of Rock ‘n Roll that highlight the use of power chords. These songs include “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks, “Come On To Me” by Paul McCartney, and “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benetar (Hint: all songs are linked to Apple Music).

Along with my trusty Yousician app this week, I also enlisted the help of Marty Music on YouTube. As I’ve learned previously, learning new chords is tough. They require repetition and muscle memorization. With the help of the above resources though I was able to learn the basics.

Watching Marty’s video on YouTube was very helpful. I was able to slow down the video in order to follow exactly where his fingers moved along the guitar, and follow along at my own pace. Marty is a great teacher, and has over one million subscribers on YouTube to prove it! He’s able to explain guitar theory and skills at a level even the most beginner players can follow. He also uses both acoustic and electric guitars in his video’s. This is helpful as it seems a lot of online resources are based solely around electric guitars. The sound between an acoustic and electric guitar is no where near comparable, so its nice to find learning resources compatible with my own acoustic guitar. Marty’s YouTube channel is defiantly a great resource I will continue to use and suggest to others, whether  a beginner or an expert! Below is the video I used oh his lesson on power chords.

I used my Yousician app and iPhone camera this week to measure my progress.  I found one of my favourite songs “Mississippi Queen” by Mountain on the app and, thought it was a perfect fit for learning power chords.  Below is a video of the progress I made this week.  In the bottom left corner I overlaid my yousician app, displaying the notes played and whether I hit those notes correctly or incorrectly.

My progress was marginal this week. I was a tad bit too eager at the beginning of the week and, managed to give myself a blister on my strumming hand. It turns out strumming power chords requires a lot more force than I expected. I was forced to take a dew days off to let it heal but, I was still able to hit my practice goal of three hours a week. Some progress is better than no progress!

Next week I’m in full blown midterm mode, A.K.A I will basically be completing life’s bare necessity tasks of eating, sleeping, and studying. This tight schedule doesn’t leave a lot of time for practicing guitar. Thus, I’m seriously considering dedicating a week of my learning project to the important major motion picture School of Rock and its relevance to standardization in school systems and cultural effect on young musicians, particularly guitar players. Not sure how my awesome EDTC-300 instructor, Katia Hildebrandt would feel about this, but I think it has the potential to be a very educational theory project. On second thought maybe ill just stick to learning some new chords. Stay tuned to find out!

My top tips for learning power chords:

  1. Learn with a fun song – there’s so many legendary songs you could use learning this skill. Learning Mississippi Queen made the experience a lot of fun for me, and I practiced regularly because of it.
  2. Don’t over do it – playing power chords are particularly hard on your strumming fingers, as your applying a lot more force to the strings than usual. Limit your playing time your first couple of sessions to avoid the painful blisters I received midway through the week.
  3.  If you don’t sound like Black Sabbath don’t worry about it – If I’ve learned one thing so far, its that learning guitar takes above all else patience. Keep practicing and the results will come!

A Guitar Journey to One Day: inspiration and practicing old skills

After a VERY relaxing reading week I’m back and ready to hit the books.Between Netflix binges on the break, I did mange to get some actual work done. I scoured the internet for inspiration for my guitar learning journey.  I found some great guitar players and inspired I was!

Facing West Music on Instagram features two sister singer songwriters who happen to be awesome at guitar, among other instruments. I loved their modern take on country music.

Patrick Breen Music on Instagram was also a big inspiration to me this week. He’s an up and coming singer/songwriter with some awesome new songs out. Check out his single The Waters! His true passion seems to be guitar. His Instagram page is full of “groovy” jams he’s created on guitar. Lots of his music is based on alternative/rock, but he also has some great country mixed in.

Watching these two artists motivated me to keep improving on my own learning journey this week. Going into Reading week I knew I waned to improve on past skills. I decided to put a focus on playing chords. Before I ever picked up a guitar, I desperately wanted to be able to play the twangy cowboy chords heard in country music. I struggled with learning this skill  however. The pace at which I had to memorize where to put my fingers and when to strum proved very challenging for me.

As time went on and I kept practicing my fingers found their way along the strings of my guitar. Although I’m nowhere near as good as the Patrick Breen or the Facing West sister’s I’ve made a lot of progress. Below is a video of my first time playing a song on Yousician called El Condor Pasa, versus me playing the same song a month later after a considerable amount of practice (ps. Forgive the acoustics in my kitchen). You can see in the overlay on the video the Yousicain app displaying the chords to be played and whether I played those chords right or wrong.

Watching my progress was motivating for me. I remember how frustrated I was when I first started learning this song. It took me many attempts before I was even able to complete the song, let alone before I could play it well. I realize now that with enough practice that I could one day be as good as even my inspirations!

Next week I plan on continuing learning chords. Ill be leaning power chords! Power chords are typically played in rock songs on electric guitar. Their often heard in heavy shredding guitar solos. wish me and my acoustic good luck!

The Art Of Fretting

Fretting; the act of holding down, or “choking” a string and playing that corresponding note. A task that seems easy but, as I learned this week has its challenges. The practice of fretting is more commonly used for electric guitars in rock songs. I figured my acoustic would work the same, even if the sound is less desirable.

My trusty Yousician app started me of easy learning the skill. At first, I was only working on one to two string moving back and forth slowly. It didn’t take me long to think id mastered this simplistic skill. As I progressed to more difficult songs though I realized this wasn’t as simple as I had thought. The music started getting faster, and more strings were being introduced. This upped the difficulty considerably.

I found the most helpful practice to learning this skill was similar to the one I used for chording, in which I had also previously struggled with. I practiced placing my fingers along the strings without actually playing the notes, over and over. My muscle memorization seemed to be the key determinant to my success. The more I practiced a song, the more my fingers magically seemed to know where to travel along the strings. It turns out practice really does make perfect.


My biggest fan this week

The following video shows my progression learning fretting this week. I start by learning simple songs that only introduce the fretting of one or two strings, then progress to much harder songs that are faster, and include the fretting of many strings Be warned, this is not the works of a musical prodigy. However, I have included a video of a professional demonstrating what good guitar fretting really looks like and sounds like for comparison.

I found videoing my progress this week to be a very helpful learning tool. I was able to see where I was making mistakes more clearly and how I could correct them. It was also very motivational, as I wanted to present my best possible playing! Any guitar players feel free to critique my Playing. Any tips would be welcome!

I have also been following my own advice this week, regarding knowing when enough is enough regarding playing time. My previous five-hour a week practice target has taken a considerable hit because of this but, I believe it’s helping rather than hurting. Too much time spent practicing makes learning begin to feel too much like work, rather than a fun past time. I am now aiming for a goal of three to four hours a week and am having just as much success with my skill progression.

During our school break (😊😊😊) I will be recapping on my previously learned skills. I’ll be going back to previously passed Yousician levels and watched YouTube Videos and further replaying and enhancing skills that I might of at first brushed over.

Have a great February break everyone!

giphy yay 1.gif

yay for spring break!


Is That Music I Hear?

Well another week has passed in my guitar journey, and I’m sad to report I’m still no Stevie Nicks, but I have reached a level three skill level according to my Yousician app! This loosely translates to “your still bad but at least its starting to sound somewhat like music”.

yousician 2

It takes a lot of work to still be this bad! 😆

I’m glad I picked a project to learn that I’m interested in, as I realize just how much work it is to learn something new. The stress of midterm season makes it challenging to prioritize doing, but I do find it to be an escape from my endless stack of flashcards and readings. Its defiantly something I look forward to doing everyday.

I did not reach my five-hour practice goal this week due to a biology midterm and a negging illness, but I still made progress on my chords. I think my short time away from practicing actually helped in the long run. My fingers were able to heal, and I cleared my head of my previous frustrations.

My new positive mindset seemed to help my playing considerably. My fingers began to memorize chords better, and my timing improved greatly. I was also having a lot more fun practicing beginner versions of livewire and Sweet Home Alabama. I’m beginning to learn that just having fun might be the key to learning a new instrument. It seems that the more frustrated I become learning a new skill the worse it sounds. In the future i’ll defiantly focus on knowing when enough is enough.

Stay tuned for next week when I take on fretting!



A Rough Start

I’ve hit my first road block on my learning project journey. I’m down and out this week with the flu. As I write this, I’m in bed surrounded by Advil, vitamins, chicken noodle soup, and multiple herbal teas. As a result, my progress this week has been minimal, but not a complete bust as I still managed to get my five hours of practice time in.

This weekend I began to practice chords on the guitar. For you non-music buffs a chord is a combination of single notes played at the same time. So far, I’m finding it challenging. My fingers can not seem to memorize where to be on the strings fast enough. Also, they hurt!

A few people warned me about the implications guitars strings would cause my fingers, but I was quick to brush it off as something that only effected the fragile finger pads of children. The burn like marks on index and middle finger are real however, and make every day tasks like simply turning a page uncomfortable. I also found my hands cramp up a lot when I play, from the unnatural baseball bat like grip needed.

While my hands healed, I took the opportunity to look up a couple YouTube videos on how to push past troubles with my clumsy fingers. One that I found particularly helpful was about muscle memory. It explained that if you simply practicing holding and releasing the position of the chord without playing it the movement will eventually become second nature to your hands. I had some good initial progress practicing this before falling ill this week.

During this next week I still want to maintain my focus on playing chords, and hopefully be able to make more progress! Fingers crossed ill be able to make enough to be able to post a progress video. Stay tuned!


Some of the chords I’ve been learning- the circles are the notes where I place my fingers

A New Project

Upon first being presented with the idea of a learning project my initial thoughts where how cool it would be to lean to play an instrument like guitar. I quickly ran myself through a reality check though, reminding myself how unmusical I actually am, and that learning a new instrument would take up a lot of time in my already jam-packed semester. I started to think of other things that peaked my interest that I could learn. There was yoga, but I felt that it wouldn’t be exciting enough for me to carry on doing for four months. I could lean a new language, but my excitement drained as soon as I entered my English 100 class and realized I should probably study up more on my first language for now.

I kept running through different project ideas for the next week. Each project I considered though just didn’t peak my interest enough to want to make me pursue it for a whole semester. Finally, I settled on a project due to what I consider to be a sign from the universe. After catching a movie one night at the theatre I got up to realize I was sitting on a guitar pick the whole time! despite my limited knowledge of instruments, other than grade 5 band in which I played (quite poorly) the tenner saxophone, I felt I had no choice but to take up my original idea. Now I just had to track down a guitar.

My uncle Kirk was nice enough to entrust my clumsy fingers with his old acoustic guitar for the semester. He tuned it, packed it into a gig bag and gave me some advice on simple songs and chords to start out learning on. I did some research on my own as well on the best ways to learn acoustic guitar and settled on an app called Yousician. Yousician acts as a musical tutor for ukulele, vocals, piano, or bass. I’ve found it very helpful so far. It starts out with super basic skills that you must successfully learn before being able to access the next level. Ill also supplement this with guided YouTube video tutorials and a few lessons when needed. To reach my goals I’ve decided to allocate one hour a day five times a week to practicing using these platforms or others that I find along the way.

I’ve went through my playlists and have picked out a couple songs that I thought would be fun to learn and that are long time favourites of mine. I also went ahead and googled some beginner songs that I knew would be easier than some of my choices. I made a YouTube playlist highlighting all my choices. There are about 20 songs in the playlist, and it grows daily but I hope to be able to play three to five by the end of the semester. Most of the YouTube videos I’ve watched have suggested that playing songs is an attainable goal at about the four to six month mark depending on the amount of practice being done. This doesn’t leave me a lot of time to achieve this goal, but here’s hoping!


Thank you Uncle Kirk!