My Learning Project Begins!

As part of my EC&I 831 course with Dr. Alec Couros, we are required to do a major digital project. The project is pretty wide open as far as what we can choose to do. One of the choices is to do a “learning project”.

I found a great description of a learning project on Howard Rheingold’s Blog which just happened to be about Alec Couros and The Connected Teacher. The basic idea behind a learning project is this:

1. Learn a skill, concept or idea you know very little or nothing about but that you’re interested in learning.

2. Document the learning. Write about it, video tape, audio record, whatever.

3. Consider all the sources you use to learn. Collect those resources.

4. Take an early baseline snapshot of your understand at the beginning and another one at the end. Compare and analyze.

My learning project is not exactly to learn a new skill but to challenge one of my existing skills. I have been playing guitar for almost 19 years and I would rate my skill as a guitar player as adequate. When I started teaching myself to play, my goal was to be able to play around a campfire. I accomplished that goal and I have gone beyond the campfire and regularly sing and play my guitar on stage with The Saskatoon Soaps Improv Comedy Troupe and with the Red Hot Riot show here in Regina, Sk. I also have written and performed several parody songs that I have posted to my YouTube channel and also the Saskatoon Soaps YouTube channel.

As I said earlier, my guitar playing is adequate. I have gotten better over the years but I have plateaued long ago. My skills as a guitar player are very utilitarian. I play just well enough to get by. I can pick up most songs by ear but I would categorize myself as a “strummer” and not a “picker”. In other words, if I were in a band, I would definitely be the rhythm guitar player and not lead guitar. I can play the chords to most songs but cannot play the screaming guitar solo’s.

One of the songs that I have always wanted to learn was “Blackbird” by the Beatles. I have always been a huge Beatles fan and this summer I was able to see Sir Paul McCartney in concert. It was the thrill of a lifetime to see one of The Beatles on stage and relive my childhood and teenage years listening to The Beatles. Even the title of my blog, Live and Let Learn, is a play on the Paul McCartney song Live and Let Die.

So even though I have been playing guitar for a long time, taking on a classic like “Blackbird” is a huge challenge for me, not to mention that the song is all picking and fast chord changes. Not what I am used to playing at all. To learn how to play I went to YouTube and found several tutorial-type video’s and ended up looking at these two video’s.
I spent a couple hours learning and practicing and here is my first attempt at playing the song. WARNING: This attempt is not pretty. I apologize to The Beatles and Paul McCartney and anyone else who has ever played this song properly.
So there you go! My plan is to get much better over the next couple of weeks and post one more intermediate video and a final video. I think that my learning project is a good analogy for this course. I am taking a skill that I already have and trying to do something new with it as well as improve on that skill, very much like this class. I am taking what I already know about technology and social media and trying to do something new with it as well as improve on my knowledge base. Hopefully it all goes well on both fronts!
Stay tuned…..



5 thoughts on “My Learning Project Begins!

    • Thanks Jason! I have been getting better but I still have a long way to go. Struggling with the fingering at some points in the song. Lots of pinky use and that is something that I am definitely not used to. I haven’t played my guitar this much in years! It has been fun learning a challenging song. Thanks for the comment. Maybe we will have to have dueling “Blackbirds” sometime.

  1. Good job Ryan. I think you played great for just starting to learn this song. Even though we may have been doing something for many years we can still learn new things. It will be interesting to see your progress when you post an update in a couple of weeks. I don’t play guitar but a played organ for 5 years when I was younger. I have taught my daughter a couple of songs on the piano. I am glad she is so interested in music. She is taking Kindermusic classes where she has learned to play the glockenspiel and dulcimer. She is also learning her treble clef notes.

    • Thanks Greg. You are very kind. I am not used to posting “works in progress”. Lol. But like you said, I am excited to challenge myself and learn something new. We’ll see how the end product turns out. I haven’t practiced this hard in a long time!

      I think that music is so important for young people to learn. Most kids have a natural attraction to music and they will dance, sing and play instruments just by instinct alone. I know my daughter loves music and I will nurture that as much as I can. Thanks for the comment Greg!

  2. Pingback: Just In Time Learning: Final Learning Project What to do Next??? | Shauna Drackett: A Teaching and Learning Journey

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