After my last post that had the word ‘yousician’ in the title, I’m going to jump right out there and say this: Yousician, I am not looking for tech support. I am just honestly chronicling my experience with your program, even on those days when the experience has been sub-standard.

I say this, because, my readers, the last time I whined about technical glitches in the program, suddenly, out of the blue, Yousician found my little blog and tried to customer support me out of what was blatantly a glitch in their program. I haven’t experienced that particular glitch again since relenting and using my rocksmith cable with my acoustic electric (sort of defeats the purpose of having a program that can use your built-in mic, but whatever. Plugging in magically resolved my E5 recognition issue. At least, on that particular lesson.

So, I have been plugging in with Yousician ever since. And, gents, guess what? Today, MORE recognition issues. This time, with A5. …and just about everything else. I kid you not. Here’s me, plugged in, properly tuned, working with chords I know quite well at this point for the most part, and the only way I could get Yousician to recognize them was to attack the guitar like I was trying to hurt it. I’m sorry, Hellcat, I really am.  I had to both fret and strum with such Herculean strength that nothing sounded even remotely good (pressing too hard = gross sounding chords), but that was the only way to get the lesson to recognize that I was hitting chords. My fingers are actually numb as I type this, which has not actually happened to me in practicing hardly at all up to this point. I have been callused for months, so there is no reason 15 minutes of play should cause my hand to be this level of dead.

I got to this little chord practice thing, too, where you have to strum as many consecutive chords as you can in a time frame. Yeah, that was the same kind of joke, where I had to approach the guitar with that same Olympian strength, and strum in some VERY heavy downstrokes, very quickly and consecutively, to get the program to recognize them.

Then, I get to the F Chord lesson (okay, that Chord is totally not the big deal people make it out to be…or maybe it’s just that all the time I spend with the ukulele has prepared me in some way that I’m not fully conscious of…?).  …and, the recognition issue is suddenly gone-as if by magic- suddenly, all the chords I’m trying to play are being recognized just fine.

…and then the program crashes…

So, I reboot, and the recognition issues seem to have corrected themselves for now.  This is definitely an intermittent problem I’m having with the program.  Now, I’m working on my lessons other places, doing other things, working with multiple programs and such…so I’m in a position to know ‘I am definitely, no doubt, performing this chord correctly’.  The problem I have with training programs like this having intermittent recognition issues like this is that not every beginner attacks learning the way I do. Some beginners, I’d wager, are likely working predominantly with a program like yousician, that it is very clear a percentage of the time tells you you’re doing it wrong even when you’re not.  How is a student supposed to have any faith in their learning progress when they’re failing even when they’re right?  So, tonight was one of Yousician’s bad nights for me. Some nights, it works great. Other nights are nights like this, when the program suddenly goes hard of hearing for no reason (again, whether I plug in or not).

Anyway, the video for the F Chord worked, so I learned a new chord today, and it wasn’t nearly as dreadful as everyone says it is. Yay. After that, I plowed through a bunch more of the Cowboy chord lessons.  I’m significantly further along in the rhythm section than the lead section at this point. I’m convinced it will be a while before I make any progress on lead. And, I admit I do not use Yousician daily. I have such a love/hate relationship with the program that on days when I feel my patience has been frayed enough (maybe I had a rough day at work, maybe traffic was exceptionally bad…whatever), I do still practice, but I don’t use Yousician to do it. I don’t dare, just in case. I’m lucky enough to have good ears (or so I’m finding out) and just enough knowledge about technology to be able to identify when the problem is me and when the problem is the program with reasonable accuracy.

In any case, it did teach me the F Chord, and the lesson was clear. I learned that there’s actually very little shifting required between F, C, and Am. It’s actually really easy to move between them, but it’ll be a bit before I can transition to F smoothly. That’s not because it’s a difficult chord, just that it’s new. I hit it in the lessons with about 70% accuracy, which is not bad for having just learned it, really. It didn’t always sound wonderful, mind, but I got there.

Also on the agenda tonight was moving on on the Ukulele handbook to the Triplet Strum.  I decided to look it up on youtube, to find out how it was meant to sound:

And, blown away, once again. Conceptually it’s pretty easy, but it’ll be a lot of practice before I can get it that fast! Though, I’ve been using my middle finger instead of my pointer on all things ukulele. It feels more natural to me, and hasn’t caused any technique problems yet. So, I’m practicing the triplet strum with my thumb and middle finger. It’s working out fine. I can only do it at a fairly slow pace. As things speed up I lose track of where I was and fumble, but this is nothing to get worked up over on day 1 of practicing it.

As for the four finger roll, I’m clunking against the body less often. It’s coming out clean more often, but it’s still got a ways to go.

I’m still running through the chord progressions on songs, but I haven’t been actively trying to memorize them, instead using those progressions as a basis to run through these different strumming techniques for now.

In bass land…pretty much nothing has been going on. But! I got a nice long cable, so I can sit in front of the computer and plugged into my amp now. I started to do this last night, but really didn’t get much of anywhere. I opened ‘Bass for Dummies’ and realized I forgot where I was and that I’m going to have to backtrack to get my head in the right space.  I’m really not sure what to even do about practicing bass outside of rocksmith and running through some scales and exercises, so I do have the bass exercises for dummies book on the way. Unlike guitar and ukulele – both instruments that are well-suited to stand on their own, I find it virtually impossible to practice songs on bass without the song playing. That becomes a problem because sometimes, I need to slow things down – easy enough practicing by yourself, but I find with bass I just can’t get my head into the right groove in a vaccuum, I really need those other sounds to get a feel for what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s funny, because in Rocksmith, it’s far easier than the guitar lessons, as a rule.  But, trying the bass against silence…I can play things, I can get the groove going…but I can’t say, take a song I know, and replicate the bass line, without the rest of the song playing. I feel like I just have no idea how to practice bass in a way that will get me playing songs. The aim of learning an instrument is to make songs happen, so while I still feel like bass is fairly easy to work with, and really fun, I also need to acknowledge that I have literally no concept of how to practice. It’s not like I can just grab a handful of chords and remember the melody. Bass is a different creature entirely, so, so far, other than a few exercises, I’m still only working with it in Rocksmith.  Eventually, that’s going to be problematic, but I have no concept of how to practice bass, really, so for now it can’t be helped.

Until Next Time, learning a lot, but still mostly clueless.

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