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  • This Is How I TAC – At This Point

    Posted by N-lightMike on November 11, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    So, my “routine” has varied quite a lot since I joined TAC over 3 years ago, and that’s to be expected since my skills have advanced and my interests have come into sharper focus.

    The beauty of TAC is that there is a consistency from the start, and that is that I watch the lesson. Oh, yeah, and then hit the “Complete” button. No, I didn’t leave anything out. I simply stated what I have always done every single day that I have logged on from the beginning. And those 2 things are the only 2 things that I always do. Watch and check off.

    (Ok, so we gotta make a side bar to address this. Are you saying you sometimes don’t even try the lesson? “Yes, absolutely. In fact, sometimes, I don’t even pick up a guitar at this point. However, let me continue and it will ‘come into sharper focus'”. 😁)

    Ok, so the next thing that happens, always, is that I pick up a guitar and do something. Yep, that’s right. Even if I watch the video, mark it complete without even picking up my guitar, the very next thing I do is pick up my guitar and do something. You see, that’s the most important thing TAC ever gave me. The consistency of picking up my guitar. What I do after that is up to me. And, a great majority of the time what I do is to follow along with lesson.

    Now, this is where the “At This Point” comes in. For 2 years or more, I always tried to follow along with the lesson. So, “At THAT Point”, I could have put that into my “routine”. Watch, follow, check off. Even then, I didn’t always do the lesson as presented. For a long time, I would do my best to follow the tab with finger picking even though it was a flat picking lesson. That was actually one of the best things I ever did for my finger picking skills. Also, I mostly avoided open tuning lessons. I did them at first, but alternate tuning was the first thing I “altered” when following the lessons. I would use the tab to create some kind of lesson for that day using standard tuning. Now, alternate tuning just gets checked and I do something else. I love the sound of alternate tuning. I’m just not ready to explore that. I’m happy to know about it so that when I have exhausted my interests in standard tuning and wish to find something else to interest me, it will be there waiting for me to have a whole new adventure.

    But, then comes greater skill in my arena of interest and clearer vision of what I want to work on. I have heard people talk about the genre they are interested in being different from Tony’s interest. Yeah, but what does that have to do with the lessons, as the lessons cover techniques from many different genre? There is almost no technique that is unique to one genre. It may be used differently in different genres so it isn’t obvious it is the same technique, but that’s where “my interests have come into sharper focus”.

    Ok, so what else has come into “sharper focus” that led me to post this comment? How I TAC! Yeah, that’s right. I watched all of Tony’s videos on how to learn and practice and what his method and vision is, but I wasn’t able or maybe I wasn’t willing to follow all the advice, or direction, at the start. I have realized that I have come more and more into line with Tony’s direction as time has gone by. One of the more recent things (like within the last year) is that I pick a lesson that really focuses on something I still can’t do very well (there are still lots of them) and I really want to use in my playing and I put that into my daily routine.

    Ok, that was a very long sentence with several thoughts, including side thoughts. Let me try to simplify. I don’t follow the lesson always at this point. I sometimes go my own way on what I’m working on currently. However, I always watch the lesson cause there are many things that I still can’t do very well. Many of those things I don’t really care about, at least not “at this time”. But, some of these lessons contain skills that I very much want to learn and I’m at the point to focus on them. In other words, I have gained enough proficiency at other, more basic skills, that the skills in this lesson have risen to the top of the “priority” list.

    Today’s lesson, “Funkified Blues”, contains a number of skills that I really want to develop and still seem to be at a “beginner” level. Yes, I mean to use that word in it’s true sense, “a beginner knows little or nothing”. They are “beginning”. I only say this because no one is a beginner for very long on guitar. It is one of my pet peeves when “they” use “beginner” as a category of guitarists that stretches on for years. I call B.S. and I’m not buying it. However, we most definitely can be well beyond a “beginner” guitar player yet still be a “beginner” in certain areas or skills.

    So, my routine is going to include working on the skills contained in “Funkified Blues” for quite awhile.

    1. Right out the gate, we have a “mini” barre that mutes the string above. I want that skill and since I have focused on finger picking it just hasn’t gotten cultivated.
    2. Hitting a small part of the strings with a strum and being able to reliably control that. And that’s with or without a pick.
    3. A hammer on while holding any kind of barre. Finger picking always has the fingers up on the tips and this is so different it’s like a completely different skill.
    4. (Are you getting the idea of just how many different skills are involved in the first measure of this lesson?) The “rhythmic necessity” of a hammer on (or pull off) on the “and” beat. While my left hand is performing the hammer on, my strumming hand wants to pause. So when I’m ready to down strum, I can’t because my right hand never came up on the “and” beat. So AS I HAMMER ON, I must bring my hand up with the down/up rhythm.
    5. Using my fretting hand to mute the strings in between strums that press the strings and cause them to sound out. Man, this just seems so hard for me right now. I can mute the strings with my fretting hand just fine. But in rhythm, press as I strum, then cover the strings just enough to mute, don’t press at all, but do touch them, then go back to a press to make the string ring out again. Yikes, that may not be hard for everyone, but for me this is the hardest technique I have listed so far. I’m not kidding. I am actually better at palm muting than string muting.
    6. I’ve never gotten good at an A shaped barre chord, so using my ring finger to create a second mini barre 2 frets away from my index finger’s mini bar is tough. And you want me to mute the 4th string at the same time? Yeah, ok, this is going to take work.
    7. Now, you might think this next one was already covered in points 5 and 6. But, this one is about muting the correct part of the stings so that my ring finger is in position to create the mini barre.
    8. Then there is the skill of strumming a partial area of the strings on an upstroke. Wow, I am so far away from this “at this time”.
    9. Yeah, I’m still not done. I have to do a partial mute in order for my ring finger to be ready for the mini barre as stated in point 7, which means I have to do a partial strum, which was mentioned in point 2. So what’s new? Well, I have brought my hand up without strumming as started in point 4. Normally, when I do that I give a bigger strum at that point in the rhythm. So to do a light, or partial strum after a “ghost” up strum, that’s a new skill for me.

    So, that’s it. My current routine has me working on 2 specific lessons now. One is “Spike Driver” from the Mississippi John Hurt week. And “at this time” I’m only working on the picking pattern as it’s different from what I have developed. The one and two, three and four is easy enough. But to combine it with the one, two and three, four and… which then ties into the first measure pattern still has my mind in a pretzel. I have been working on that for a long time but I just haven’t been able to “groove” it in because I didn’t break it down enough.

    So that’s another of Tony’s techniques that I’m trying to use more. Breaking things down enough that I can turn my mind off and just do it till it becomes automatic. Then, and only then, proceed to the next piece of the lesson puzzle. In the case of this Spike Driver lesson, that would be to get the hammer ons with the pinky. I’ve actually gotten better at those, but I still don’t have the pattern. So yeah, I did it backwards. That’s why I’m still struggling.

    The other one will be to work on the pieces of today’s lesson, Funkified Blues. So to break that one down means I won’t even be working on half of the first measure. But just the first down and up beat, literally.

    That’s how I am TACing “at this time”. And if you bothered to read this whole thing, I hope that you can gain something from it that will be useful to you. And if not, I hope you’re a speed reader and didn’t spend much time on this.

    I’d welcome any and all comments.

    MG 😀

    the-old-coach replied 1 year, 5 months ago 6 Members · 14 Replies
  • 14 Replies
  • N-lightMike

    November 11, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    Oh, one thing I want to add. TACing like this is possible because I’m a lifetime member. I no longer have to weigh the value of what I get from TAC against what I’m gonna pay when my subscription expires.

    Now the funny thing is, since I’m not “weighing” the value of TAC, I can get more value out of it. TAC absolutely is helping me to keep growing and keep motivated and giving me excitement and fun. So I don’t have to question whether it’s “worth it” for me. It is definitely worth it!

    MG 😀

  • jumpinjeff

    November 11, 2022 at 4:10 pm

    Hi N-light. Read to the end? sure I did, mostly because it read like my own routine. I had to figure out if I was missing anything. Thanks for highlighting the successes. The evolution is cool.

    • N-lightMike

      November 11, 2022 at 9:59 pm


      You always make me smile, @jumpinjeff . Thanks for the ongoing support and friendship. Oh, by the way, I am getting better with the metronome and the pick. Always new things to work on. 😎

      MG 😀

  • the-old-coach

    November 11, 2022 at 4:56 pm


    I liked your post- a lot…. I like the philosophical stuff. You are a thinker. I also consider myself a thinker– but I don’t even know if I’m on the “JV-squad” in comparison to you.

    You lost me on the 9 steps in reference to today’s Funkified Blues lesson. I got to about the 2nd step- (if that far😴)- and then my brain just blurred-over.

    I finished the 9 steps– but I don’t remember any of it.

    As for the lesson itself- (Funkified Blues)- I gave it 2, 10-minute sessions today, and said to heck with it. I remember this lesson from before- (Nov 2021- where I gave it 3, 10-minute sessions- and said worse), and if I had posted my personal thoughts about this lesson- (from before)- they would have been edited-out and I would have been possibly banned from this Forum😳😎.

    Again– Thanks for posting….. I enjoy your philosophical thoughts- (and, yes, I read the entire post as well).

    yer old pal-


    • N-lightMike

      November 12, 2022 at 12:11 am

      Hey my ol’ pal, @the-old-coach ;

      You kinda captured what I was trying to say. I like the Funkified Blues now only because I have made enough progress to learn it. I won’t lie, it is really challenging. But I think I can get it with work. And there are 2 things I really want. I want to be able to do the mini barre, especially being able to add hammer ons to it, because there is a whole world that opens up with it. And muting strings gives you so much more punch and variety to your rhythm.

      Anyway, thanks for your support, Mark.

      MG 😀

  • GerryB56

    November 12, 2022 at 5:48 am

    As always, Mike, I enjoy reading your insights on this ol’ guitar geek journey we are all on. I did read to the end, though like Coach I will admit to losing focus here and there😆 My routine also includes at least an attempt at Tony’s daily challenge, and most often I get through them with some degree of success, if not even close to full speed. I thought I’d relish the 5 day blues challenge since I’m currently trying to learn some blues technique – but I guess I’m not there yet, and I definitely threw in the towel on yesterday’s lesson fairly early on. The mini barres are tough but doable, however adding in the string muting and that partial upstroke put me out of this game.

    Also like you, I usually end up working on other stuff if I don’t complete the challenge – there are so many directions I want to head off in! One of them now is working through FBW for the first time – I’m just starting into the last section on soloing. I was already a big fan of Tony’s system before, but FBW has boosted that a few degrees more! I’m going to face a big decision next May when my membership comes up for renewal. I would love to stay with TAC, but not sure if I want to spring for the lifetime option (it’s almost $800 in our Canadian dollars).

    Anyway, thanks for posting your contemplations.

    • N-lightMike

      November 12, 2022 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you for reading and replying @GerryB56 .

      I can certainly understand your dilemma regarding your membership running out. I’m glad it’s not right away.

      MG 😀

  • albert_d

    November 12, 2022 at 5:51 am

    The switch to daylight time must have sparked your introspective fires. But I am along side you. My routine is just that… a routine and daily habit. My two nemesis have been Mississippi Timing (cousin to Spike Driver) and Funkified Blues. I am so glad I bought a lifetime membership after the first 90 days. That made me “lifetime committed” and I attest to the enrichment it has brought to my guitar playing and daily joy. You are right. Music is a gift from God. We’ve witnessed the metamorphosis of TAC and it various website facelifts and the Fretboard Wizard rework and the Quarterly Party and the deemphasis on the TAC Song site and the Song Challenges (Remember Irene Goodnight and Ragtime Blues?) and Jam Clubs and all those Acoustic Tuesday episodes and taken them in stride. The heart of Fun with Consistency survives and propels us onward. Guitar geeks unite. And congratulations on session 1100.

    • N-lightMike

      November 12, 2022 at 8:43 pm

      Yeah, @albert_d , lot’s of good memories. But that was very well said, the spirit of playing consistently survives and is flourishing. My guitar journey has continued to improve, and TAC has had a lot to do with that. In fact, TAC started that. I owned a guitar, but I had no acoustic life. That started when I joined TAC. And what a ride it’s been. And I’m so glad to be able to continue with TAC.

      Thanks for the support, Albert. We would love to see you on the VOMs sometime. 😉

      MG 😀

  • ChuckS

    November 12, 2022 at 7:33 am

    Know where you are coming from @N-lightMikeN. I also became a lifer and like you adjusted fire a bit. Now, while having coffee and breakfast, I go to the daily lesson, pull up the to digest and then listen to Tony’s walk thru and it always seems that I find out I missed a few nuances going over the tab on my own. Anyhow, I take it all in and then put it aside until later in the day when I have time to give it a shot for at least 10 minutes. Then I hit “complete”and move on to other stuff.

    Re alternate tunings – good excuse to have more than 1 guitar, as you can keep the others in different tunings and work on songs or whatever.

    I also struggle with Mississippi John Hurt (I have come to the conclusion that if you want to be a good blues player, you need 3 names 😄, Robert Crossroads Johnson, etc.) and Funkified Blues, so I put them in my favorites, not because I really like them, but because they are beyond my current skill set and this way it is easier to revisit when so motivated.

    Always enjoy your insightful and thoughtful posts. Keep em coming.

    • N-lightMike

      November 12, 2022 at 9:28 pm

      Yeah, it’s great being a lifer… at least here on TAC, @ChuckS . 😂

      I have multiple guitars, but I’m funny. I want to keep my focus narrow enough I can really stay on track and progress. As time goes on, I broaden out. It’s not the right way or the best way, it’s just the way I choose. Someday, I’ll get to open tunings. Hey, I’m using a pick now. I thought I would never bother with a pick. I can use both a flat pick and a thumb pick with fair proficiency.

      I’m glad you enjoy my posts. I like to put my thoughts down, then I can remember them better and apply my own insights. Otherwise, they just blow away in the wind and get scattered among all the other leaves.

      Thanks again, Chuck. Would love to see you on a VOM sometime. 😉

      MG 😀

      • the-old-coach

        November 12, 2022 at 10:45 pm

        Mike— you just wrote a song……..

      • N-lightMike

        November 13, 2022 at 11:03 am

        😅 Yeah, Mark @the-old-coach , I thought the same thing when I typed that line out. I have written over 10 songs since early spring and I just finished one. So I guess I’m starting to think in lyrical form. That’s cool. 😎

        Gotta love the process. It really works. And I really love having music in my life.

        MG 😀

      • the-old-coach

        November 13, 2022 at 2:47 pm


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