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!

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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”.

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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!



Feedly: Weird Name, Great Resource

WOW! Feedly is what I’ve been missing in my life. The self-proclaimed smart reader that helps you stay ahead of the curve is exactly that. The app allows you to stay connected to new information/ideas/inspiration in pretty much whatever category, trend, skill, or fun you want. The app reminds me off Pinterest, in that you can choose what categories you want to see and they show upon your personal newsfeed, but more informative.

So far, I’ve been able to follow several teacher technology pages, teacher run blogs, and pages dedicated to staying current in the education field. Upon initially downloading the app I added most of the pages I’ve found to be great resources from recommendations from Feedly, other classmate recommendations were helpful as well though. Two pages I’ve found to be exceptionally informative and helpful are Cool Cat Teacher and Educational Technology.

Cool Cat Teacher is dedicated to sharing information on everyday classroom advice. Whether you want to know how to get your students to think out of the box, how to improve building good relationships with your students’ parents, or how to stay sane while in the classroom she’s your girl. I found her page to be helpful because it addresses issues students don’t’ typically think about when joining the education field. Things such as teacher relationships with parents weren’t on the forefront of my mind when I decided on education, but know I’m glad I have the knowledge to help me in these future situations.

Educational Technology is a great page for keeping up to date with the latest and greatest educational technology. I’ve already book marked a few pages to use in the future for my classroom. I even found one organizational note-taking app I found on the page for myself called Google Keep. The app allows you to make to- do lists, record voice memos, organize important photos and much more, all on your phone, and smart device. Educational Technology also shares about apps for kids with ADHD, and resources for science teachers and students, among many other helpful posts. This is defiantly a page I can see myself looking to for technology help in the classroom, and even for my own personal life.

I’m looking forward to exploring more on Feedly, and adding more categories of my interests and finding other great pages on educational resources. Feedly is a game changer for anyone that values staying in the loop and up to date information.

follow me on twitter @GlascockKennedy for my best finds on Feedly

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!