NO CHORDS BARRED #7 – Looking Back

My last guitar lesson of the year is on Tuesday. Looking back on the three and a half months I feel like I’ve made some real progress. It’s a lot like trying to lose weight. You start exercising and watching what you eat and it’s hard and it’s frustrating. The worst part is you don’t notice any changes at first. For a long while it feels like you must be doing something wrong. It’s only after a couple of months when you compare where you are now to where you began that you really see the differences.

One big improvement is that I use a pick now. Before I only used my fingers to strum because it was quieter (I had roommates and thin walls on my first attempt to learn guitar). It also covered up a lot of sloppiness. Using a pick makes the chords so much crisper and isn’t as forgiving so it forces me to practice technique. Another sign of progress has been incorporating a new finger formation for the G chord into my repertoire. I still prefer the old way but it is coming along and I do use it when it is clearly the better way to change to or from a G. The most obvious measure of learning is that I can play a few simple songs well enough to try fooling around with other people. That’s something I want to do in the new year. So far the only other person I’ve played with has been my teacher. It’s time to start including some peer instruction. Overall, I feel more confident picking up the guitar. Sometimes when I’m on a particularly good roll it’s like I’m a real guitar player.

My students had their last class on Friday. I hope they can also look back and see their own progress. I certainly can. I like to point out to my chemistry students when they begin to start talking about chemistry casually and conversationally. Things like, “How many electrons does Oxygen need [to fill its valence shell]?” and someone replies, “2” without batting an eye. In late August no one would have understood the question let alone the answer. I also see differences in my Science classes. For example, one student used to snack on cookies and candy throughout the day and then switched to fruit after completing her “Healthy Change” project. A small thing like that speaks volumes as to what she learned about health and nutrition and it has nothing to do with a mark, it’s a personal change.

The semester is over and now I’m starting to think about January. I hope my students and I will be able to look back on the journey from here to June and see growth and improvement again.

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