Saturday, April 3, 2010

Final Reflection

It is that time. Time for my final reflection. Whoa, this semester has gone by so fast, and yet, so incredibly slow. Whichever it was for you, the conclusion is the same - we all have come a long way these past three months. To begin my reflection, here is a brief synopsis of my accomplishments:
  • Learning and recording C, G, D, A, Em, Am, Dm, and F chords and scales
  • The First Cut is the Deepest
  • Down By the Bay
  • Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush
  • How Much is that Doggie in the Window
  • Hokey Pokey
  • If You're Happy and You Know It
  • Hush Little Baby
Links to these recordings are on the left. I have also taken the time to type out the words and chords for these songs on Google Documents. Here are the links: The First Cut is the Deepest; Down By the Bay; Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush; How Much is that Doggie in the Window; Hokey Pokey; If You're Happy and You Know It; Hush Little Baby; Colours of the Wind.

I have also been working hard on Colours of the Wind for my final exam/performance on April 12th. This is by far the most difficult piece I've attempted this semester, so I probably will not post a recording of this song until I've sorted out a few more bumps in my playing - but it will be here soon!
Besides tangible, recordable proof of my progress, I have learned many other about learning guitar for beginners. First of all, the wealth of information is overwhelming. I immediately ruled out practical lessons because of the expense. Instead, I borrowed the book "Teach Yourself Guitar" by Nick Freeth from my sister who made an attempt to learn guitar a couple years ago. This did not work because it began using guitar lingo on the very first page. Instead of being able to learn where to place my fingers for a G chord on page two, I could only think "What the heck is a fret?" Perhaps other books are better suited for new players, but expense limited me to borrowed or free resources. Speaking of free resources, there is always The Internet. There are thousands upon thousands of tutorials online: free, paid, videos, written, anything you could ask for it's there. Unfortunately, instead of being wonderful in it's abundance of information, it is overwhelming. So many YouTube videos are made by random people who decided they knew the best way to teach a song, it is extremely difficult to sort through them and choose.

So, the question remains, what resources did I use to learn guitar?
  1. I faithfully attended every guitar jam session with Denise all semester. This was helpful in several ways. First, identifying with other student's struggles and measuring my skills against theirs was both humbling and encouraging. Denise herself was a great for asking questions, getting face-to-face advice on problems, and gathering resources to give to future students (even if I honestly didn't use any of them except "First Cut is the Deepest"). Another reason I am glad I attended these lessons is that it provided me with a general knowledge base of picking and slap strumming - objectives for other students that did not originally apply to me. However, I ended up meddling in both of these techniques through the songs "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "Hush Little Baby", something I would not have done without these lessons.
  2. My critical friend Colter Hahn and I only met twice throughout the semester because of our crazy clashing schedules. However, he provided me with two insurmountable things for my success: the motivation I needed early February to actually get a start on things, and the piece "Colours of the Wind" which has become my final goal for the semester.
  3. I did use the Internet, but only when I knew exactly what I was looking for. This was often still frustrating, but I eventually found what I needed. A prime example was chords for children's songs. I found the ones I used from Storytime Songs, but that wasn't even enough. I had to ask Denise for advice on what kids of strum patterns to use for several of the songs since the survival pattern is not the be all end all.
Overall, the entire experience went much better than I expected. I was apprehensive from the start, never having played a string instrument and not particularly eager to try. I quit piano lessons my first year of university, unable to find the time and motivation to practice every week - in my eyes, I didn't fair much better with the guitar. It was true in the beginning: My apprehension got in the way of progress until I discovered Colter as a critical friend, and the need to progress between sessions with him gave me a kick-start. In the end, my original goal of learning scales, chords and a couple children's songs has been accomplished and surpassed: I've learned many children's songs, have learned many strum patterns including the slap-strum, and have even begun some picking.

I am very glad I chose blogging to document my guitar experience. This method kept me honest, as the dates of posts show up and there is no way to change them -- therefore I had to complete my goals every week and not put them off and record them all at once. This became easier each week and although I thought I may have received some feedback from other students who were blogging or people who have my URL, I still think blogging was the best method of documentation for me.

I have no immediate plans to continue the guitar, one big reason being that I cannot afford the purchase of one at the moment and Cadence will be returned to Denise on April 12. However, many of my friends own guitars and I will be able to pick it up an pick out a couple songs with them. I feel confident that I will return to the guitar in later years when I hopefully become the music teacher I aim to be.

This has been a valuable experience if I ever choose to teach guitar in the classroom. I can give them resources, advice, and warnings with first-hand experience and passion. I can show them this blog and others (Elora, Alej and Sarah) to show proof of different approaches and goals to learning guitar. I can abate the fear of being overwhelmed by information by guiding them to more specific resources depending on their goals.

Hush Little Baby

This was my first attempt at picking. I used this string pattern: 5, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2, 3. I need a little more practice so there are pauses between chords but I wanted to post a recording before my reflection. It's a really beautiful picked in this simple manner, making it one of my favourites this semester.

EDIT: I accidentally originally posted a recording where I sneeze at the very end... my bad. This is a different, less-embarrassing version and I hope no one saw the other one haha

If You're Happy and You Know It

I used the slap strum pattern learned in class: down, up, slap, up

Hokey Pokey

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chord Pictures

Here is a slideshow of the chords I've used most often this semester. I decided to put them in this format as to not take up great amounts of space in my blog. If it is moving too slowly, just click on it and it will flip to the next image.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How Much is that Doggie in the Window

Guest Artist = my mom ;)

Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush

I didn't mean to look so unamused at the beginning lol

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Down by The Bay

Here is "Down by the Bay" using C, G, and F.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Minor Chord

A Minor Scale

The First Cut is the Deepest

So, after several attempts of recording this song through several different programs, I finally decided to try the movie feature on my digital camera, and it worked okay! Still not the greatest, I sound a little bit like a kid singing it, but oh wells. It's a decent run-through, except for the very last note got stuck... *dramatic sigh* Feedback is welcome!

I used a simple 'down down' strum pattern and the chords D, A and G.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

E Minor Chord

So, I've realized that my methods of recording sound really bad. Honestly, this chord sounds better than this recording. If you have suggestions for recording sound, please post! I would like to record "The First Cut is the Deepest" but not when it sounds this bad!

E Minor Scale

Saturday, February 20, 2010


So, from my practices this week I have made a couple decisions:
  • Record "The First Cut is the Deepest" by next Monday's class.
  • Find some children's songs and record them.
  • Continue learning new chords and scales.
  • Song for end-of-semester performance: "Colours of the Wind". This song contains these chords: Am, C, Em, Dm, G, and the dreaded F. I will be using the 'survival' strum pattern, which sounds great but also had provided me with another challenge - I've been changing the rhythm of the melody to fit the strum pattern! I will do my best to sort this out before performance time.
This still mostly fits by original proposal, but it has been fine-tuned and molded to better fit my goals and abilities. I can't wait for midterm check-in and put "Colours of the Wind" past Denise to see what she thinks. Please encourage me by commenting on my blog posts! I would really appreciate it :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Official Critical Friend Practice #1

So, I had my first official practice with Colter today at my house. Colter said he noticed an improvement in my ability to transition between chords, which is true, but I feel I can do much better. Then we discussed "Last Kiss", a song he'd taught me last time, and decided to leave it because I have a hard time singing that low and it sounds weird singing it an octave higher lol

He brought me several pieces of music including "Colours of the Wind", Creedance Cleerwater Revival's "Lookin' out My Back Door", and "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison. I will look at these eventually, but by goal for this week is to work on "The First Cut is the Deepest", record it and post.

Then Colter taught me the chords in "Colours of the Wind" that I did not know: Am, D7, Dm, and F - but a cheated version of F because it's really tough! However, after that there wasn't a whole lot he could "teach". I think this session has finally solidified in my mind that I need to practice several times a week in order to be good! I know this is really obvious, but I've been putting it off and hoping I can just be better, but that's not going to happen, and therefore things are going to change.

In exchange for a guitar lesson, I gave Colter a piano lesson. It was tough because I didn't really know what his goals were (ie; learning theory or learning by ear, etc.), but I don't think Colter knew what he wanted either. We tried "Home on the Range" by reading music but he seemed discouraged after a little while, so I let him choose out of a bunch of familiar tunes. He chose "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" and I taught him half the song by ear. It was tough because I rarely plunk something out by ear, but he made a lot more progress in this fashion. It helped when I explained patterns in the piece, such as octaves and leaps by thirds. Although he enjoyed learning by ear, he vocalized a small want to learn music, so I wrote out the C Scale on treble and bass clef and taught him the acronyms "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge" and FACE for learning note names. I will create some further exercises if he seems
interested again next time we practice.

So, I'm not only learning about guitar through this project, I'm also learning how to teach music/piano! Yay :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Hello! So, I was in Calgary visiting my sister for the past week and since we stayed in her dorm room on a designated "quiet" floor, I could not practice my guitar... :( Poor Cadence. However, I'm back in Regina now and have been working on transitioning between D-A-G chords. I am working mostly on the song "The First Cut is the Deepest", love it!

I am also getting together with Colter tomorrow to exchange piano and guitar lessons. I haven't worked on his song Last Kiss very much since we've been focusing on D-A-G in class, but perhaps I will go over those chords (G-Em-C-D) before our lesson.

A Chord

A Scale

Saturday, February 6, 2010

An Unexpected Practice

I had an unexpected practice last night which has provided me with *hopefully* a wonderful opportunity for my dwindling guitar project. While at a house party, someone discovered an acoustic guitar. Five out of the ten people could play fairly well, all self-taught, and two people including myself, could massacre a couple chords.

My boyfriend's friend Colter was really happy that I was learning guitar. He reviewed the chords I already knew (C, G, D and A) but also taught me E, Em, and Am. Then he taught me the chords for Last Kiss (G, Em, C, D). This is a great song for me to practice travelling between chords. I think I'm going to learn the words and attempt to be able to sing and play this song by February 22.

Colter also said he'd be in for a couple more teaching sessions throughout the semester. He's not a guitar genius, but he can play better than I can and I can use all the help I can get at this point in my learning. In exchange, I'm going to offer him piano lessons. At the same party I taught him the easier part of a duet on the piano and he caught on extremely fast and also played me a couple songs that he had taught himself by ear.

I've already changed my weekly goal schedule, but I believe as long as I do complete something every week, that is success!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

D Chord

D Scale

Catching Up

Well, I'll be honest. I haven't done a lot of practicing this past week, however, Monday's class gave me a bit of renewed motivation. In order to catch up on my weekly goals, I'm going to post both D and A this week. Then I'm going to work on changing between the chords in the method Denise recommended:


Wish me luck :)

Friday, January 22, 2010


So, my practice session today did not go very well. My chords are pretty horrible, I'm having problems keeping my fingers in the right places. Sometimes they touch other strings, or they aren't strong enough to keep curved or they just plain hurt too much.

Scales are going much better because I don't have those particular problems. I am using a pick, as my goal is to learn to strum so I think I should practice using it (even though it's easier to pluck out a scale than to pick it, in my opinion).

Plus, my C scale and chords haven't really improved since I recorded them last week. So, I am frustrated. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I haven't actually played with someone who can watch me and give me advice. Hopefully Monday's class will be able to supply me with some advice and mostly renewed hope.

Sorry for the somewhat depressing post. Here's to a better practice session this weekend :)

G Chord

G Scale

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Here is a Google Document of my proposal. It includes my goals, my timeline, trouble-shooting and critical friends. Enjoy :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Introducing Cadence

After much research and deliberation, I have decided to name my guitar Cadence, or Cady for short. A cadence is "progression of at least two chords that concludes a phrase, section or piece of music" to describe it simply, so it's musical origin fits a guitar. Plus, when you shorten it to Cady it becomes one of my favourite names :)

I considered Hathor (egyptian goddess of love, music and beauty), Euturpe (one of the nine greek muses; the muse of lyric poetry) and Asteria (greek mythological name meaning "star"). In the end, I didn't like the first two names and Asteria didn't really seem to fit my guitar. Cadence just popped into my head and ta-da! Cady was named.

First C Chord

... and here is my first attempt at the C Chord. My fingers don't quite curl properly so I know there are some sketchy notes in here. I will have to find some fingers exercises or something to help me get my hand in the right position for playing.

First C Scale

Hello everyone. During Monday's class, the lovely Erika taught me how to play a C scale - thank you! I obviously need to work on it a lot more (and tune-up a bit), but here's an audio file of my first scale:


Hello everyone! Long time, no posts, I know, but I'm glad to announce that I will be back online for another semester. However, instead of posting about my learning in ECMP355, using technology in the classroom, I will be posting about EMUS202. I will be learning guitar this semester and recording my progress here.

We'll start with a couple pictures of my new (yet un-named) partner. She is a beautifully "pumpkin" coloured classical guitar, complete with Dean Markley nylon strings and Jim Dunlop nylon picks. More progress to be posted soon!