I remember as a young kid seeing an old motivational sign which used to hang in a gym. It said "Practice makes perfect is Bulls#*t! Only PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT."
The reason I think of this sign now, maybe 30 years later, is because essentially, I'm very disappointed in my own 'practice'.
I've played guitar for over 20 years. I had a few lessons in the beginning, but have since essentially been self-taught. I usually describe my guitar skill level as 'Campfire guitar', and originally that's all I really aspired to. I can competently bang out all the standards and a reasonable catalogue of modern classics but only using fairly simple major/minor chords and some very basic fingerpicking. I realise now that, despite the hours and hours I used to play the guitar, I never really practiced. And there's a big difference. Playing the things you already know how to play is fun, instantly gratifying and easy. It is rarely challenging. This is what I've done for 20 years. I almost never 'practiced' new techniques, chord shapes, scales, fingerpicking, I just played and replayed the things I already knew. And now it shows. For someone who has 20 years of experience I am nowhere as versatile as I should be. I gave lessons to my teen nephew for a while, now he shreds like a pro and is a thousand times better than me. I always used to tell him to practice the hard stuff because you already now how to play the easy stuff. I just didnt follow my own advice. I'm kicking myself.
So this week I bought my first uke. I love it, and I'm already obsessed. And I'm looking to the future. I dont want to kick myself again in another 20 years for taking the easy route with the ukulele.
I've quite easily picked up the basic chords (C, G, Am, F) and have managed to work through a couple of songs ok'ish. I found on here the other day a list of a hundred or so songs that can be played using those chords only. But I'm not going to use it. For now, I dont want to know. Something like this would have me falling into the same trap and becoming a 'Campfire ukuleleist' and regretting it in 20 years.
Instead I'm going to practice scales, and difficult chords, and finger picking and strumming techniques and understanding music theory. I've got the rest of my life to become a great ukulele musician. I'm going to practice the hard stuff, and play the fun stuff, and make sure there's a distinction between the two.
I'm amazed at the wealth of resources available in this place. I've been sifting through it for weeks, and I'm going to make use of it. I love the feel of this community and I am enjoying being a part of it.
So thank you for the help, information and advice so far, and remember, "Practice makes perfect is Bulls#*t. Only PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT."