PDA

View Full Version : Sure Fire Way to Improve Significantly



katysax
09-24-2014, 08:34 AM
I have found a surefire way to make significant improvement in my uke playing. Play at least an hour a day for six months. Spend about half of that time trying to play things that seem too hard.

That's it. That's all. It works.

DownUpDave
09-24-2014, 09:27 AM
I have found a surefire way to make significant improvement in my uke playing. Play at least an hour a day for six months. Spend about half of that time trying to play things that seem too hard.

That's it. That's all. It works.

This is actually brilliant in it's simplicity. If I may add other element, practice does not mean noodling. Noodling is fun but will not give you significant improvement. That half an hour of hard stuff is what will get you to improve. Something as simple as a metronome while doing Uncle Rods chord charts turns easy into hard and serious for me real fast.

Thanks Katysax

PS I almost forget............as much or more time playing than reading stuff on UU:(

coolkayaker1
09-24-2014, 09:30 AM
And I'll add to what katysax and DUD wrote: turn up the tempo of that metronome.

71179

PhilUSAFRet
09-24-2014, 09:31 AM
Big Amen to the Noodling........probably why I haven't progressed as much as I could have.

strumsilly
09-24-2014, 09:56 AM
I don't practice. I just try to play songs that are a little too hard for me.

Jon Moody
09-24-2014, 10:54 AM
And I'll add to what katysax and DUD wrote: turn up the tempo of that metronome.

71179

I'd actually say to turn DOWN the tempo of the metronome. It's a lot harder to play patterns and passages at a slower tempo than it is to play it faster. Plus, it makes your internal metronome and time keeping skills rock solid.

mm stan
09-24-2014, 11:18 AM
Another good thing is to practice a hour after you wake up. Your mind is clear and not tired..also not cluttered

fretie
09-24-2014, 12:06 PM
Another good thing is to practice a hour after you wake up. Your mind is clear and not tired..also not cluttered

Totally agree with this!

I love to play any time of day but find that for the most significant improvements in my playing its best to practice in the morning when I am most rested.

coolkayaker1
09-24-2014, 12:15 PM
I'd actually say to turn DOWN the tempo of the metronome. It's a lot harder to play patterns and passages at a slower tempo than it is to play it faster. Plus, it makes your internal metronome and time keeping skills rock solid.

I see what you are saying, One, but for the challenging part of the practice session (the 30 minutes that katysax mentions), I find it much better to turn it up. Frankly, I see so many uke videos (most uke videos) where the players play only one speed...one type of song, always one speed--and, usually, that speed is school zone slow. It's as if the player picks only songs at the tempo they naturally play. How unfun is that?:o

For a new piece, yes, slow; for a practiced piece, I say amp it up. :-)

niwenomian
09-24-2014, 12:27 PM
I agree with you katysax. I didn't make much progress at all on the uke until I started to play on my lunch break. That's five guaranteed hours of closed door, no-interruptions practice per week. Add to that playing at home after work, on the weekends, travel, etc.

Usually at home, I just play. I save the "practice" for the lunch hour. I will drill a piece for an hour if needed. Whatever challenges me that day. I usually have 5-10 pieces that I am working on at a time, so I can rotate through those to avoid working on the same piece for so long that it keeps it interesting.

Nick

Steveperrywriter
09-24-2014, 02:53 PM
If I practice an hour after I wake up, most of it will consist of me trying to find the uke, then remember what it is for. I'm not a morning person. I barely breathe before noon ..

Ukejenny
09-24-2014, 03:12 PM
Nike was right. Just Do It. Swoosh!!! :shaka:

I get good uninterrupted practice time in the car line for school.

Jon Moody
09-24-2014, 03:55 PM
I see what you are saying, One, but for the challenging part of the practice session (the 30 minutes that katysax mentions), I find it much better to turn it up. Frankly, I see so many uke videos (most uke videos) where the players play only one speed...one type of song, always one speed--and, usually, that speed is school zone slow. It's as if the player picks only songs at the tempo they naturally play. How unfun is that?:o

For a new piece, yes, slow; for a practiced piece, I say amp it up. :-)

Sure, most start at one tempo (a slow one) and then don't know where to take it, so faster seems a solid option. The problem is that when you're speeding it up, you're covering up a lot of mistakes due to tempo. Look at the great virtuoso musicians of our time; when they warm up, it's with SLOW scales. Why is that? To get those muscles moving (because strumming patterns are really just muscle memory) and focus on the evenness of tone.

You play a song you know by heart at half the tempo you usually do for only ten minutes a day, and you'll have massive improvement, because you're focusing on the muscle memory and making sure everything sounds even. THEN start bumping the tempo.

Jon Moody
09-24-2014, 04:13 PM
Agreed. I've read time and time again, go slow enough that you don't make mistakes; only then speed it up. Otherwise, you're practicing your errors. (Not that I follow this advice, which may be why I keep making lots of errors.)

My old teacher had me start my metronome at 60bpm and play whatever technique we were working on. I was required to come back to the next lesson (usually two weeks) with the technique flawless at 120bpm. It's from that mindset that many will practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.

ksiegel
09-24-2014, 04:20 PM
One thing I do, silly though it sounds, is to attempt to play along with videos I have made and posted.

Boy, do those tempo changes stand out! Makes me realize what I do when I'm playing in front of others.

I've never been able to play with a metronome, but when playing with other people, I can almost always match their tempo.

Larry D.
09-24-2014, 04:27 PM
Great advice gang! I see in order to improve I need to get out of the comfort zone to stretch. One of my greatest challenges (on the uke anyway) are barre cords, can't seem to get my fingers to cooperate. I need to put more quality time in that area and attempt to whooop that hurdle. I can see where breaking the hour up in half should help.
Again...thanks.

katysax
09-24-2014, 05:18 PM
Barre chords will come with practice. On thing to do is get a chord chart and try playing chord changes you know but in different positions. Also, try playing what you know in different keys. I'm of the school that speed comes with muscle memory - I think it's a big mistake to speed up until you play it cleanly. I like to focus on tone, playing cleanly and smoothly allowing the notes to ring.

Barre chords on the uke are really not that hard. I find the various closed shapes that are not barre chords hard to get to where they are automatic. Even when the chord isn't hard it takes a while for it to become natural. For me a goal has been to get proficient through the whole fret board. Coming from guitar the first five frets were easy. I've really been working on getting comfortable through the whole neck.

All of us have things that come easier and things that come harder and they are different for each of us. I find that if I attempt music that is too hard and just keep plugging at it day after day, eventually it comes - even if it takes months. Sometimes I'll work on it a few weeks then turn to something else that is hard for me, then come back and find the older piece is now easier. I think the most important thing is to play every day (or as close to every day as possible) and to keep reaching for things that are a little too hard. Also, I think it helps to mix it up and keep adding new music.

itsme
09-24-2014, 06:01 PM
I have found a surefire way to make significant improvement in my uke playing. Play at least an hour a day for six months. Spend about half of that time trying to play things that seem too hard.
Regular practice will make you better, of course. :)

And I agree about challenging yourself beyond your current limits.

The other thing I'd add is to play with others as often as you can. When you're playing on your own, it's all too easy to slow down to make a difficult transition or chord. But when you're playing with others you have to keep up in real time.

coolkayaker1
09-24-2014, 06:54 PM
My old teacher had me start my metronome at 60bpm and play whatever technique we were working on. I was required to come back to the next lesson (usually two weeks) with the technique flawless at 120bpm. It's from that mindset that many will practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.
Your old teacher was right: ramp up that tempo, and ramp it quickly.

Dan Uke
09-24-2014, 08:45 PM
only practice songs you like unless you're part of a group. Why practice songs you have little interest in? It's a parochial approach but at least you'll enjoy practicing.

Jon Moody
09-25-2014, 01:18 AM
Your old teacher was right: ramp up that tempo, and ramp it quickly.

You missed the entire point. Where did I start on those techniques? 60bpm. I doubt many of the people that are practicing start with a metronome anywhere near that. Once you get it in your muscle memory, turning up the tempo is fairly easy, and you'll find you're playing it clean and precise, which is the entire point of mastering something.

Two weeks to ramp up a tempo from 60 to 120bpm isn't really that quick. Especially if you can't play it cleanly, there is no point to continue to ramp the tempo because at that point, you're playing fast but you're playing sloppy.

TheCraftedCow
09-25-2014, 06:37 AM
I'd actually say to turn DOWN the tempo of the metronome. It's a lot harder to play patterns and passages at a slower tempo than it is to play it faster. Plus, it makes your internal metronome and time keeping skills rock solid.

Absolutely true!If one cannot play it accurately at a slow rate, playing it rapidly will only make it worse. Check for finger positioning and alternative finger positions as you go from note/chord to note/chord. You might even want to to put little little sticky pad notes at some places as prompts for awhile.

Example play 1-2-0-2 as we usually do with the index finger on the 1..., to play that same pattern on any other position , the index finger is needed on 4-5-3-5 as covering the 3. So---why not play 1-2-0-2 in the same position, since all other positions of that pattern must be played with it? This is a sadly neglected part of practicing because we are so used to looking at printed stuff that tells us where to place our fingers as though it sacred writ.

Ukejenny
09-25-2014, 06:58 AM
I'm also a proponent of going slow and steady until it is perfect and then speeding up. Only problem is, my students think it is boring. Sometimes, so do I. I want to fly right now... So, I alternate between slow, methodical work and just winging it and seeing if I can get through it.

Shorebird
09-26-2014, 11:53 AM
I thought you had a pill

Nickie
09-26-2014, 05:04 PM
This is interesting. Stan....all of you...I think I just learned something. I always wait till I have my "thinking" and active stuff done before I play, right before work. Or, when I feel stressed out from some crap that happened, like today. So my practice has been getting cheated.
I think I'll try playing right after my dog walk and meditation, see how it goes, before I do my thought/business activity. Maybe I'll feel/play better....
Thanks!

Dan Uke
09-26-2014, 06:44 PM
Live vicariously through Jake :p

mm stan
09-26-2014, 09:11 PM
This is interesting. Stan....all of you...I think I just learned something. I always wait till I have my "thinking" and active stuff done before I play, right before work. Or, when I feel stressed out from some crap that happened, like today. So my practice has been getting cheated.
I think I'll try playing right after my dog walk and meditation, see how it goes, before I do my thought/business activity. Maybe I'll feel/play better....
Thanks!

Aloha nickie, yes you will have More creative aha moments, better concentration, memory, better mood
And dB be able retain more equals to more happiness and success, happy strummings

UkuEroll
09-26-2014, 11:23 PM
I was taught to only play at the speed you can make it perfect, only then speed up the tempo. Also I often watch my wife play guitar, and when she messes up a tricky part she starts from the beginning, she again gets to the sticking point and again goes wrong, she then repeats the process. I've told her to play till she gets it wrong, then practice that part only until she can do it and continue from there. Doing this slowly moves you through the piece till you get it down pat. If you repeatedly play through mistakes your just learning to play those mistakes. Bad pratice=bad playing.

Peterjens
09-26-2014, 11:59 PM
I have found a surefire way to make significant improvement in my uke playing.
Me, too. My surefire way is to give lessons to a beginner 'uker. It forces me to be a good example - a role model. And the extra playtime in preparation of the next lesson and the lesson itself is beneficial.

Jon Moody
09-28-2014, 03:50 PM
I've told her to play till she gets it wrong, then practice that part only until she can do it and continue from there. Doing this slowly moves you through the piece till you get it down pat. If you repeatedly play through mistakes your just learning to play those mistakes. Bad pratice=bad playing.

Exactly. When I was learning a new solo piece, I would play through it once at a slow tempo, ALL THE WAY THROUGH. Make notes of the mistakes and tricky passages, and then spend some time focusing on each of those spots, before attempting to play the song.



Me, too. My surefire way is to give lessons to a beginner 'uker. It forces me to be a good example - a role model. And the extra playtime in preparation of the next lesson and the lesson itself is beneficial.

What's that phrase? To teach is to learn twice?

Strumdaddy
09-28-2014, 04:08 PM
.......practice does not mean noodling. Noodling is fun but will not give you significant improvement.
:(

I know what you mean - "practice" is "practice", but noodling is a big part of my own musical adventures, and has led me to many wonderful places...

katysax
09-28-2014, 07:14 PM
Noodling is useful and important. Noodling isn't "practice" but noodling can help you learn to use your ear.

VegasGeorge
09-29-2014, 03:04 AM
I improve "significantly" by paying attention to what I'm doing and using my noggin. Example: I was playing a song with the chord progression C, Em, F yesterday, and I was having trouble getting the chord changes smooth. I looked at what I was doing and saw that in coming out of previous chords I was fingering the C (first position) with my Index finger. That meant I needed to shift my hand to play the Em. So, I started making sure that C was fingered with my Middle finger, and the transition smoothed right out as my hand was already in position for the Em. All I had to do was lay my fingers down, no shifting required.

Rllink
09-29-2014, 05:20 AM
Noodling is useful and important. Noodling isn't "practice" but noodling can help you learn to use your ear.Why isn't noodling "practice"? Is there some rule about what practice is and isn't? Because if there are rules about practicing, I might not be practicing at all.

RAB11
09-29-2014, 05:29 AM
Why isn't noodling "practice"? Is there some rule about what practice is and isn't? Because if there are rules about practicing, I might not be practicing at all.

Suppose it's the difference between having proper football (insert your chosen sport as required) training or just having a kickabout with your mates. Both will allow you to use your skills and even improve them, but the training will focus on specific things that could be improved upon, whereas the kickabout won't reinforce those things anywhere near as well.

I would say that if you're happy with what you're doing, keep doing it though.

Kayak Jim
09-29-2014, 05:41 AM
Suppose it's the difference between having proper football (insert your chosen sport as required) training or just having a kickabout with your mates. Both will allow you to use your skills and even improve them, but the training will focus on specific things that could be improved upon, whereas the kickabout won't reinforce those things anywhere near as well.

I would say that if you're happy with what you're doing, keep doing it though.

I think this nails it. The operative word in the thread title being "significantly".

katysax
09-29-2014, 06:10 AM
The problem with noodling is that you stay within the zone of what you already know. Noodling tends to reinforce mistakes. I think noodling is hugely important and it is fun. Playing the uke should not be work. You will progress very slowly if at all if all you do is noodle.

Rllink
09-29-2014, 06:57 AM
Suppose it's the difference between having proper football (insert your chosen sport as required) training or just having a kickabout with your mates. Both will allow you to use your skills and even improve them, but the training will focus on specific things that could be improved upon, whereas the kickabout won't reinforce those things anywhere near as well.

I would say that if you're happy with what you're doing, keep doing it though.Fair enough.

Rllink
09-29-2014, 07:13 AM
Is there a defined definition of what constitutes "noodling", or is it just one of those words with a very loose definition and everyone gets to decided what "noodling" is to them? I mean, I know what it is to me, but maybe I don't know.

Jon Moody
09-29-2014, 07:51 AM
Is there a defined definition of what constitutes "noodling", or is it just one of those words with a very loose definition and everyone gets to decided what "noodling" is to them? I mean, I know what it is to me, but maybe I don't know.

As I learned it.

PRACTICING: Intentionally focused on improving your skills; running through scales, learning new tunes, focusing on tricky passages on solo pieces, etc..
NOODLING: Playing with absolutely no direction or focus, as in walking by the ukulele on the stand, picking it up and playing whatever for a couple of minutes, putting it back down and going about your business.

Rllink
09-29-2014, 09:24 AM
As I learned it.

PRACTICING: Intentionally focused on improving your skills; running through scales, learning new tunes, focusing on tricky passages on solo pieces, etc..
NOODLING: Playing with absolutely no direction or focus, as in walking by the ukulele on the stand, picking it up and playing whatever for a couple of minutes, putting it back down and going about your business.I guess in that case, I don't do much noodling at all. I seldom just pick up my ukelele and play whatever, then put it down. I do often times think, "I wonder what that would sound like", and then I run up and see. Where does creativity fit in?

Jon Moody
09-29-2014, 10:01 AM
I guess in that case, I don't do much noodling at all. I seldom just pick up my ukelele and play whatever, then put it down. I do often times think, "I wonder what that would sound like", and then I run up and see.

But where do you take it? Do you just figure out what your thought was and leave it at that, or do you then try to find some useful applications for it?

Case in point: I was listening to the Brandi Carlile album, Bear Creek, the other day and thought "Hey, I like the tune 'Keep Your Heart Young.' I'll bet it's in G, with a couple of chord changes." So when I got home, I grabbed my ukulele and played a couple different chords and sure enough, it's in G. Played along with the recording twice and got the gist of it. Put the uke down and went about my business.

For me, that was noodling.

A couple of days later, I sat down and worked on the chords more intently; what voice leading would be good for the verse, where it could fit into the chorus, any chords that might be odd (like the Gmaj/B that was in the chorus), etc., and then pulled out the metronome and played along with that to make sure my chords were "playing well" with my strumming patterns.

For me, that was practicing.



Where does creativity fit in?

Honestly, both in practicing and noodling.

I write a lot of solo bass compositions, many of which started out as just noodling while I was killing some time. HOWEVER, the countless hours of practicing technique, studying theory, running scales all provided the foundation so when I was "noodling," I could easily figure out what it was that sparked my interest, and replicate it easily. And then, arrange it in such a way to give it life as a song. Without that solid foundation, it would be much harder to take an idea from concept to completion. It would be luck.

pixiepurls
09-29-2014, 10:22 AM
If I practice I get better, period. I don't like to always do an hour though. If I am working on a small little thing like a strumming pattern or chunking pattern I like to do it for 10 minute spurts and pick it up like once an hour for a few hours in a row, or even play for 5 minutes trying the chunk. I've made video's the same day and seen literally 500% improvement by the end of the day. I just work on one tiny thing, for 5 minutes at a time for several times that day, then the next day I only need to do it once because I've got it down and then I am ready to work onto the next part. I like to compartmentalize each piece.

Kayak Jim
09-29-2014, 11:24 AM
If I practice I get better, period. I don't like to always do an hour though. If I am working on a small little thing like a strumming pattern or chunking pattern I like to do it for 10 minute spurts and pick it up like once an hour for a few hours in a row, or even play for 5 minutes trying the chunk. I've made video's the same day and seen literally 500% improvement by the end of the day. I just work on one tiny thing, for 5 minutes at a time for several times that day, then the next day I only need to do it once because I've got it down and then I am ready to work onto the next part. I like to compartmentalize each piece.

Whatever you're doing, it's definitely working. The improvement in your videos since you've started posting has been terrific.

pixiepurls
09-29-2014, 02:14 PM
Whatever you're doing, it's definitely working. The improvement in your videos since you've started posting has been terrific.

thank you! Thats so nice to read, its hard to hear yourself!!!!

Larry D.
09-29-2014, 03:39 PM
Barre chords will come with practice. On thing to do is get a chord chart and try playing chord changes you know but in different positions. Also, try playing what you know in different keys. I'm of the school that speed comes with muscle memory - I think it's a big mistake to speed up until you play it cleanly. I like to focus on tone, playing cleanly and smoothly allowing the notes to ring.

Barre chords on the uke are really not that hard. I find the various closed shapes that are not barre chords hard to get to where they are automatic. Even when the chord isn't hard it takes a while for it to become natural. For me a goal has been to get proficient through the whole fret board. Coming from guitar the first five frets were easy. I've really been working on getting comfortable through the whole neck.

All of us have things that come easier and things that come harder and they are different for each of us. I find that if I attempt music that is too hard and just keep plugging at it day after day, eventually it comes - even if it takes months. Sometimes I'll work on it a few weeks then turn to something else that is hard for me, then come back and find the older piece is now easier. I think the most important thing is to play every day (or as close to every day as possible) and to keep reaching for things that are a little too hard. Also, I think it helps to mix it up and keep adding new music.
Great advice!
I know that as for me I get comfortable with the easy cords and songs and must force myself to stretch until uncomfortable cords become comfortable. Guess I am kind of lazy in that sense. I will take you kind advice and hopefully grow.
Thank you!

Nickie
09-29-2014, 05:12 PM
Well, I screwed up today. I got all stressed out over financial stuff, and didn't play unitl I was too stressed out to do anyting else. It only lasted 5 minutes....then I had to leave for work..how in hte heck do any of you guys find an hour to play?

Rllink
09-30-2014, 06:45 AM
Well, I screwed up today. I got all stressed out over financial stuff, and didn't play unitl I was too stressed out to do anyting else. It only lasted 5 minutes....then I had to leave for work..how in hte heck do any of you guys find an hour to play?Interesting post Nickie. I hope your day is better today. I find it interesting, because I play my uke to relieve my stress. Most of my stress is made up stress though. I don't have a lot to be stressed about, so I stress about things that are not important. Anyway, I'm old, retired, and most of my ups and downs are behind me. That is how I get an hour to play. I remember how it was when I was younger though. Good luck and stay positive.

sukie
09-30-2014, 08:50 AM
Well, I screwed up today. I got all stressed out over financial stuff, and didn't play unitl I was too stressed out to do anyting else. It only lasted 5 minutes....then I had to leave for work..how in hte heck do any of you guys find an hour to play?

I make time. I try to stick to a regular time. "Oh! It's almost 4 o'clock. It's time to practice." Some days I start earlier because I'm excited to get going.

But don't worry if it doesn't work that way for you. I have just made it a priority. I'm afraid I will poop out if I don't schedule it.