Here are two more interesting emails I have got lately. I hope you find the email and my thoughts useful…


Email #1

“Hi Dan,

I am 66 years old and I’m looking forward to making greater progress with my fingerpicking, 

I have been playing now for about 2 years but only got real serious within the last year. 

One of my largest issues with fingerpicking is maintaining a constant rhythm/pattern while picking.

That is one thing I would like to improve, and another is to know the correct timing for chord changes in sync with the picking.

Several other things as well, but for now those two items are at the top of my list. 

I have been trying to learn “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas.

Looking forward to making some progress with my playing.”



“Dust in the Wind” is one I struggled with early on too.

Mainly because I played it too fast and didn’t really perfect the pattern before applying it to the chord changes.

I see this a lot with this song with students too.


The problem is so many beginners are taught to try to learn the chords, the changes and the picking pattern, the different sections, and put it all together in one go.

It’s crazy really, it’s like trying to build a house and lay the foundations, do the brickwork, and stick on the roof in one go.

Each requires a different skillset and has to be done in stages.


For Lyle, I recommended he do this:

Practise the chords on their own without picking them (apart from occasionally checking each note is clear).

Work on changing back and forth with proper technique with just two chords for now.

Work on the fingerpicking pattern over one chord, slowly ensuring the rhythm is correct.


Once the above is achieved, then he can start merging the parts together.

It is a simple plan but when followed correctly it works better than trying to master it all in one go.



Okay, onto Email #2…

The following email is in regard to a little free test Carol did recently. The test was to help gauge where her playing is at. After taking the test this is what Carol said:


“The test is a good idea to gauge a level.

I can only do the first three, giving me only 6 points!  

I can play a lot more chords but have to look them up on a chart my teacher made for me because I sometimes confuse them.

I do know a lot of songs that I can sing with and that is fun for me.  

That’s why I am kinda “stuck” at the “Spanish Romance” barre chord “bit”!  But I practice faithfully.  I have to admit that the test has left me just a bit discouraged!  


(One of the favourite songs I like to play and sing is “Desperado”).”


It is great that Carol saw the benefit of the test.

It is easy to be discouraged if things don’t go so well.

The thing is, you need to test your playing here and there to gauge where you are at now.


Most guitarists don’t ever get tested on their playing.

It’s hard to “self-test” your playing.

Therefore, it is down to teachers to test students regularly.


Coaches do it all the time in sports, teachers do it all the time in the classroom, but many music teachers think it’s okay to just throw information at students and hope it sticks.

Carol might have felt a bit discouraged, but if she takes that test again in a week or so, she would likely do better…

Especially if she puts time into improving the areas she struggled with.

This is what happens in my studio when I test students regularly.

They improve, and importantly they see the improvements too.

This is highly motivating.


Keep testing your skills and then re-testing them.

It is a good driver of progress.


Dan Thorpe

Guitar Domination


P.S. Inside the Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy there are multiple tests with more being created all the time. Each will help you measure and improve your playing.

Check out the membership to find out more and see how it can help your playing at the link below:

The Dan Thorpe Acoustic Academy


P.P.S. This post was originally taken from Dan Thorpe’s private email list. To get blog posts like this sent to you which are full of great tips to make fingerpicking, strumming, and learning guitar more enjoyable (especially if you are over 40) join Dan’s list. It’s 100% free, HERE.

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