By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jan 20, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Drive past the health clubs and fast food outlets and you can tell that New Year's resolutions are dying in droves.

But, our intrepid guitar students are soldiering on for a third straight week.

In cooperation with the folks from and Hal Leonard Corp., is offering a series of free online guitar lessons in an effort to get people jamming.

We know a lot of people out there have guitars sitting at home, the cases caked in dust -- perhaps a string or two is missing and was never replaced -- because they bought them on a whim or received them as a gift and became frustrated trying to learn the basics.

In order to make this endeavor more fun and interactive, we asked for some beginning-level players to join the effort and provide us with weekly updates on their progress to help keep everyone motivated.

Our course will run for about two months, culminating with three song tutorials to help get everyone jamming.

We ran lesson one last week. Before Doug Boduch begins lesson three, here is what our panelists thought of the second lesson:

After being excited about the second lesson, I now feel like I am already behind. I am having a heck of a time with the chords so far, really just because I cannot get my fingers that close together and hold down two strings without touching other strings; and I have skinny fingers! I don't have scales burned into my head like other folks with a history with the guitar and feel like I need finger exercises to help teach my fingers to act the way I need them to act. I guess a pen in my hand at work will have to do. As far as tuning, I am solely doing it by ear with a tuner on some Web site I found. Winners never quit and quitters never win, so I'll keep plugging along.

This week: chords! As before, the lesson was well put together and straightforward. Unfortunately, I have a lot of work to do. Sometimes it seems like my hands / fingers just can't move that way. Also, I often wonder if my fingers are fatter than everybody else's -- they seem to get in the way of each other, especially while trying to finger the "A" chord.

I'm working on building up speed now while switching between chord forms. I'm getting so that I don't need to look at my left hand, as I can do it by "feel" alone.

The good news? My fingertips were sore at first, but now they're not. I'm playing more and have grown accustomed to it. I have a long way to go, but I know I'll get there.

Lesson two is hard and easy at the same time. Some of the chords were easy. The song took time and I got a little stuck on "C," although I got it memorized! I learned some chords before this, but I liked this better because I can see his fingers and the picture at the same time. I know how to test to see if my chord is sounding right by strumming one string after another. Well, at least it is way more fun than homework, which my dad wants me to do next. I am wondering what will happen next week.

We thought lesson two was a good step with both review and interesting points. Dad learned that three or more notes make a chord, which Mickey already knew. We both already knew it's important to push down fairly hard on the fretboard. Mickey learned the advantage of putting your fingers closer to the frets, which Dad already knew. Dad learned something about how many strings to strum on certain chords. We had never heard that major chords tend to have a more happy sound, while minor chords are darker, kind of like ABBA vs. Ozzy. We're definitely enjoying the lessons and looking forward to lesson three.

This lesson was much much harder than the first lesson. It also seemed to go much faster than the first, which is oddly a good thing. Here we learned our first few chords as well as our first chord progression, otherwise known as our first real song. I am very slowly working to learn the song we were taught and I think I'm doing a pretty good job if you don't mind the song being slower than anything you would actually listen to. I guess that's why learning to play guitar is not that easy.

Hmm ... chords. These are going to be a bit tricky and require a little more effort than the last lesson. I've got fairly large hands that are great for getting around the keyboard with one-note-at-a-time tunes like blues. But they don't work so well with chords as its hard to fit my fingers in close proximity.

A quick bout with the flu hampered my practice schedule this week, so I'll need to double up this week.