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Brad Bordessa
10-02-2014, 11:20 AM
A few weeks ago, one of my students requested I put together a list of things to practice/what skills make up each 'ukulele playing level. He thought this timeline of skills would be helpful for him to visualize what he needed to practice and check off the list.

It was a fun challenge for me to put together some skills and categorize them. I'm sure I missed a lot, but it seemed like the kind of thing that might be interesting/fun for UU peeps to help add to or just look at.

My groups are probably very idealistic - sort of the top edge of each level. Since it's on paper, I dreamed up things that I would want a "perfect" beginning student to know before showing up to an intermediate class.

Before anyone feels depressed or rips on me for imposing "rules" upon what they should know, please realize that I'm aware of a few things:

1. This is just a curiosity project
2. Learning is not a linear thing. Everyone approaches things differently, has strong suits and weak points, and takes their own time.
3. In real life there aren't any lines dividing levels or achievements. It's not bad to be considered "this" or "that."
4. One does not have to know or master everything on this list to be considered at the next level. I certainly don't claim to know it all perfectly.
5. Most importantly, music is not a competition.

Like I said, feel free to add your input. I'd love to make this a comprehensive resource for curious minds. I'll try to edit the original post to reflect updates.

UPDATED LIST (OCT 4):

I (Pre-Novice):

Knowledge:
The names of the strings
Simple 'ukulele terminology to aid learning (fret, up/down the neck, left/right hand, etc...)
C F and G7 chords (or similar)
Motor Skills:
Basic right hand motion to produce sound from instrument (downstrum and/or thumb pick)
Finger movement of the left hand to hold a simple chord
How to hold a chord and strum at the same time
How begin moving the fingers to new chord shapes while strumming
Musical Skills:
Be able to strum a simple song

II (Novice):

Knowledge:
Common chords in easy 'ukulele keys: C, F, and G7; G, C, and D7; F, Bb, and C7
Some basic music terminology like: key, chord, note, timing, rhythm, etc...
Motor Skills:
Chalangalang down, up strum
Moving fingers to achieve picked melodies.
How to strum and change through simple chords
Musical Skills:
How to stay on (or re-find) a basic beat when playing along with a group
Theory:
Chromatic scale

III (Beg 1):

Knowledge:
Proper posture and how to implement it
Basic chords in most keys: C, G, F, D, A, Bb, E
Simple picking exercises and melodies
Motor Skills:
Down, Up and Down, Down, Up, Up, Down strumming patterns
Begin playing chords just by feel, no looking
Musical Skills:
How to strum relatively in time when playing simple songs alone
Play a song from memory
Begin to hear when a chord change happens
Theory:
A better understanding of the chromatic scale, sharps/flats, enharmonics

IV (Beg 2):

Knowledge:
Open position Major, Minor, and 7th chords in all 12 keys
The C major/A minor scale in its basic position
What the notes are called up to the 3rd fret
Motor Skills:
Introducing the index finger to picking
How to add a "chop" or "chunk" to a strum
Musical Skills:
How to convey extremes in dynamics (loud, soft)
Hold confident timing (no rushing!) when playing alone
Play 2 or 3 songs from memory
Begin experimenting with improvising
Theory:
How a scale is created

V (Inter 1):

Knowledge:
How to transpose a basic song into any key
Some jazz chord shapes (6ths, minor 7ths, 9ths)
What the notes are called up to the 5th fret
Basic scales in 'ukulele-friendly keys: C, F, G, D, A, etc...
Motor Skills:
More exotic strum patterns like a reggae strum, country strum, hula strum...
How to integrate the thumb and index finger for picking string patterns
Musical Skills:
How to play with a metronome when strumming and for simple instances of playing lead
5 songs from memory (1-2 with picking)
How to play in simple odd time signatures like ¾ and 6/8
Learning start and stop notes for improv
Theory:
How a chord is created
Intervals

VI (Inter 2):

Knowledge:
All main major, minor, and 7th chord shapes up and down the fretboard
Simple open position jazz chords in 12 keys
All major scales in a simple position (relative minors too!)
What the notes are called up to the 7th fret
Motor Skills:
Basic picking articulations such as hammer-on, pull-off, and slide
Making what you already play more efficient/clean
Musical Skills:
How to recognize I, IV, and V chords in a progression
How to play triplet groupings
10 songs from memory
Beginning to solo in all keys
Theory:
Chord scales, how they are made, and create keys

VII (Adv 1):

Knowledge:
What the notes are called up to the 10th fret
All 6th, minor 7th, 9th, major 7th chords up and down the fretboard
Open positions for almost any other chord
All major and minor scales across the fretboard
Motor Skills:
Incorporating vibrato, hammer-ons, pull-offs, or slides into any lead
Musical Skills:
Play any song with a metronome
Enough songs to fill an hour set
How to accompany almost any song with confident strumming or picking
Incorporating ideas and energy in solos
Theory:
Modes
Memorizing key signatures

VIII (Adv 2):

Knowledge:
All notes across the fretboard
All scales across the fretboard
All chords across the fretboard
Musical Skills:
Figure almost any song out by ear on the fly
Close-to-perfect timing
How to play MUSIC: when to play, when not to play, feels, listening, what to play, what not to play, etc, etc, etc...

Expert:

All of the above, flawlessly

OLD LIST:


These things are in no particular order. Think of each item as being preceded by “should know.”

Novice:

Basic/common chords: C, F, G7, Am, D7, G, etc...
Chalangalang down, up strum
How to follow along in a simple jam song
How to stop, find the beat, and recover when lost in a simple song

Beginner:

Open position Major, Minor, and 7th chords in all 12 keys
The C major/A minor scale
What the notes are called up to the 3rd fret
Down, Up and Down, Down, Up, Up, Down strumming patterns
Proper posture
How to convey extremes in dynamics (loud, soft)
How to keep time to/with a metronome for simple strumming songs
At least 3 songs from memory

Intermediate:

All main major, minor, and 7th chord shapes up and down the fretboard
All major scales in a simple position (relative minors too!)
More exotic strum patterns like a reggae strum, country strum, hula strum...
How to play with a metronome when strumming and for simple instances of playing lead
At least 10 songs from memory (some picking parts)
How to transpose a basic song into any key
Some jazz chord shapes (6ths, minor 7ths, 9ths)
A few picking patterns
What the notes are called up to the 7th fret
How to recognize I, IV, and V chords in a progression
How to play in simple odd time signatures like ¾ and 6/8
Triplet groupings
Chord scales and how they are made
Basic articulation movements such as hammer-on, pull-off, and slide

Advanced:

All 6th, minor 7th, 9th, major 7th chords up and down the fretboard
Open positions for almost any other chord
All major and minor scales across the fretboard
Where every note is on the fretboard
How to play with perfect timing
How to figure almost any song out by ear
Enough songs to fill an hour set
How to accompany almost any song with strumming or picking
How to incorporate vibrato, hammer-ons, pull-offs, or slides into any lead

Expert:

All of the above, perfectly

Dan Uke
10-02-2014, 12:13 PM
I'm between a novice and beginner...define common chords :confused:

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
10-02-2014, 12:59 PM
Come on Brad, I can't even remember 10 song titles! ;)

SteveZ
10-02-2014, 01:14 PM
After reading that list, I may go back to the banjo.

mm stan
10-02-2014, 01:25 PM
Hard Core Brad.....;)

ukemunga
10-02-2014, 02:06 PM
Novice: I think I'll spend 50 bucks on a uke. It arrives. How the hell am I going to ever figure this out. Ouch. That hurts.
Beginner: Damn! I know C, F and G and Am. Not bad. I can kinda play a few songs.
Intermediate: Please let me learn to barre this. I HATE you E chord!!!
Advanced: Sure. What key do you want to play it in?
Expert: Jake. And a bunch more I won't mention because I know I'll forget some.

Peterjens
10-02-2014, 02:27 PM
I can appreciate this project because I am teaching my first student. Like the old saying goes, "You can't manage (or teach) what you can't measure." At least this is a start along with using Uncle Rod's Self-Efficiency 'Uke Evaluation.
Thanks

Rllink
10-02-2014, 02:50 PM
It looks well thought out. Some people need structure, and they are generally the ones who go to an instructor to get it. I think it is a good measure and it will give your students a way to gauge their progress.

RiotNrrd
10-02-2014, 04:57 PM
You know, I'd almost want it broken up into more levels (for example, Intermediate IV). I think it's a great breakdown as it is, and I can't argue with a single thing regarding the content, but some of those longer lists are awfully intimidating. I mean, it looks like you could work on some of those levels for years before you proceed to the next - more interim levels means more milestones, which might give a better sense of advancement during those long time stretches.

Even many martial arts belts are typically broken up into a multitude of sublevels. You aren't just a purple belt. You're a purple belt with two stripes. :-)

Anyway, just an observation.

Icelander53
10-02-2014, 07:15 PM
Good thing I don't take these kinds of threads seriously. I'll stick to what I do and let others decided what level they are at.

katysax
10-02-2014, 07:33 PM
That's way too intense. Different people do different things at different stages. I suspect a lot of professionals can't do everything at your intermediate level. Some of what you are listing there is music theory and not particular to the ukulele. Someone with a music background might know the fretboard or how to form many chords from theory. I think ukemungas list pretty much captures how I see it. But seriously, I just want to play I don't want to be graded.

Dan Uke
10-02-2014, 09:31 PM
what's interesting is how someone rates their own skill without false modesty.

I'll start. I always rated myself as an intermediate by my own standards since I can play songs but don't know chord names.

kohanmike
10-02-2014, 09:34 PM
Is there something lower than novice? I'm feeling very intimidated by that list.

Brad Bordessa
10-02-2014, 09:56 PM
Sorry if the list came across as too intense. Please know that I'm not trying to make anyone feel inferior/judged. That is absolutely not the intent. I'm a teacher. I know how slow the learning process is, still being a part of it, working every day (well, most days) to improve my own playing in every aspect on the list. That's part of why it's an interesting concept to me. Now that it's been pointed out I see many things to improve and change.

That said, I was trying to avoid having an end product that was be a mile long with little things like:

Memorize where the 1st fret, C string C# is
Learn to strum four bars of F and then four bars of Bb
Etc...

Methinks I'll revisit my list and shift some things around so the "goals" feel a little more manageable and not so scary. The martial arts model is a great idea! I've just got to figure out how to implement it. Until then, don't mind me...

NewKid
10-03-2014, 01:11 AM
I thought your original list was spot on. I wouldn't change it because three people felt intimidated by it. You qualified your intentions from the start so I think you got it right. Anyway, I appreciated it.

Rllink
10-03-2014, 07:05 AM
Sorry if the list came across as too intense. Please know that I'm not trying to make anyone feel inferior/judged. That is absolutely not the intent. I'm a teacher. I know how slow the learning process is, still being a part of it, working every day (well, most days) to improve my own playing in every aspect on the list. That's part of why it's an interesting concept to me. Now that it's been pointed out I see many things to improve and change.

That said, I was trying to avoid having an end product that was be a mile long with little things like:

Memorize where the 1st fret, C string C# is
Learn to strum four bars of F and then four bars of Bb
Etc...

Methinks I'll revisit my list and shift some things around so the "goals" feel a little more manageable and not so scary. The martial arts model is a great idea! I've just got to figure out how to implement it. Until then, don't mind me...I like that martial arts angle too. You could actually reward them with belts. Black Belt in Ukulele. You know, I looked at that list and thought, that just doesn't work for me. But that is me. I mean, I'm all about being self taught, no rules, yadda yadda yadda. But you aren't doing it for me, you are doing it for your students. Maybe it needs some tweaking, but I can see where your students might like to see where they are at and where they need to go. The thing is, you are the teacher, and you should decide where you want them to be at certain stages of their instruction, so I think that you need to take your expectations into account as well. Remember, this is a gauge of your teaching as well, and if your students are not reaching your expectations, it could very well reflect on you and your teaching. One other thing to remember is that it is important to have realistic goals for your students. If your expectations are not attainable, you set your students up for failure. You have to ask yourself, are these expectations reasonable for all my students, or does it target my over achievers and leaves the rest behind. Just a few thoughts.

PereBourik
10-03-2014, 07:51 AM
Those of us who are late learners work under a different paradigm. For me, that means that the time I spend on learning to play my ukulele must balance pleasure with practice. The first thing I discovered about ukulele is that it made me feel better. I commonly run on low-level depression and the ukulele lifts me from that. I work to get better, but I hope never to become so burdened by technique that I forget to play. I take lessons from a gifted teacher. One golden hallmark for me is that I ALWAYS feel better and more intentional about my playing after a lesson than I did in the week leading up to it. Strums, finger style, 2nd and 3rd position chords, chord melody, &c, are all on the menu. Always in an organic way that leads eventually to music. As far as my skill building goes, it takes the time it takes. I figure I have a couple of decades left to play. But if I get hit by a car tomorrow I don't want my last thought to be, "Dammit, I never learned all the notes on the fretboard." I'd rather it be that I'm humming the latest song I'm learning.

Kayak Jim
10-03-2014, 07:51 AM
I like that you put this list together, so thanks. And I don't have a problem with the "intensity". For me it's just a shopping list of skills- I can do these things at that level but not these others. Maybe (or maybe not) I'll use that to guide my practice program.

Dan Uke
10-03-2014, 07:52 AM
Hey Brad,

You're music is awsome and I just bought your Chord Book by clicking on your link in your signature. It looks very good and easy to understand. Keep sharing your love for the ukulele with us!

strumsilly
10-03-2014, 07:56 AM
Hey Brad,

You're music is awsome and I just bought your Chord Book by clicking on your link in your signature. It looks very good and easy to understand. Keep sharing your love for the ukulele with us!
yea, it looks good,I'm gonna get one too.

Teek
10-03-2014, 08:40 AM
I think your list will help you sell your chord book (I'll buy one to add to the huge pile of eBooks already on my computer), and I also agree that maybe you should have the categories at levels; for example break novice into two levels, intermediate into three. One can memorize and use chord shapes without knowing all the theory, even though yes, one should understand the theory. It seems for me that knowledge comes in small clumps that then form interrelated aggregates that make the whole. For me it's like Okay, this is the major scale, here's a chord version of the scale, now if I move this finger here or lift that finger I get this number sus chord, and oh I can do that with each major chord, oh cool! Got it! Then 10 minutes later Okay how did that work again?

I appreciate your website and what you offer and even though I understand and can do much of what you list on this page of techniques (http://liveukulele.com/lessons/techniques/), I can't see myself ever getting past the low side of intermediate with a huge helping of novice.

wayward
10-03-2014, 08:53 AM
Sorry if the list came across as too intense. Please know that I'm not trying to make anyone feel inferior/judged. That is absolutely not the intent. I'm a teacher. I know how slow the learning process is, still being a part of it, working every day (well, most days) to improve my own playing in every aspect on the list. That's part of why it's an interesting concept to me. Now that it's been pointed out I see many things to improve and change.



I really like your list Brad - in most respects I rank as intermediate, but with some glaring gaps when it comes to scales and identifying individual notes on the fretboard. Personally, I found it useful to identify the gaps in my learning from your post - but I am also a teacher (not of ukulele) and, since I once smashed a light bulb with a cushion in frustration at not being able to play a particular song at the right tempo after days of trying, I guess I'd rate as fairly intense too :o

... so perhaps you've created a great list for fairly intense teachers :rolleyes:

IamNoMan
10-03-2014, 09:52 AM
This is an excellent project. It works on all kind of levels.

Where do I go to find out about posture?

To those folks who were intimidated: The list is a first approximation of how this teacher evaluates his students; what he expects and where he starts working with the student, not what you expect or where you start. I have been playing at the uke for a month. I am a beginner. I can entertain people with the uke for an hour and I always ask what key do you want to play it in.

... hey guy what do you mean an hour? Sets are 25 to 40 minutes long with a 3-5 minute encore if your lucky.

@ the teachers:
This syllabus is flawed. The content is acceptable. It is really addressing the issues of what the instructor wishes to or is willing/able to teach at this level. I would waste a lot of time as a substitute teacher in this Tao if I used it as a lesson plan. Time that would be better spent advancing the student knowledge and skill levels. It might be just a matter of saying THis is what I teach to make the student eligible to obtain a brown belt in intermediate ukulele.

I think student's motivation for learning the uke is important and needs addressed. Does the student wish to be happy by playing the uke? Does the Student want to play in the style of the Uke Masters? Does the Student want to understand the uke as a music making machine. Does the student want to enhance his or her performance skills. Perhaps each skill level should be sub-divided into tao to address the different motivations. In a slightly different context there is an unstated Pre-Novice level in the syllabus. It presumes the Student can or wishes to sing. How does the Sensei approach his task when confronted with a non-singer. There are expert players who don't sing period. How can one become an advanced player without knowing how to interact with singers?

From the beginner student: When Should I concern myself with movable chords and when should I concern myself with movable chord patterns?

From the Critic: You are missing an important element in your lists at this iteration. It goes something like this: understand the concept of playing in a key/learn to play in different keys/how to find out what keys you sing in/learn to play a song in different keys/learn to play out of a key, (not off-key). To me the first thing I would teach any student is to ask the other players what key they are playing in, every song. Even if they don't understand the concept of key they will quickly learn to relate to it.

Good Start keep up the good work.

Luke El U
10-03-2014, 10:09 AM
That's a good start. How about using Bloom's taxonomy as a framework? More recently the affective and psychomotor domains have been added to the cognitive skills, and I think they apply perfectly to learning a musical instrument and learning to be a musician. This list below is edited from the Wikipedia site.


COGNITIVE SKILLS

Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge, comprehension, and critical thinking on a particular topic. Traditional education tends to emphasize the skills in this domain, particularly the lower-order objectives.

There are six levels in Bloom's taxonomy, moving through the lowest order processes to the highest:

Knowledge
Exhibit memory of learned materials by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts and answers

Knowledge of specifics - terminology, specific facts
Knowledge of ways and means of dealing with specifics - conventions, trends and sequences, classifications and categories, criteria, methodology
Knowledge of the universals and abstractions in a field - principles and generalizations, theories and structures
Questions like: What are the health benefits of eating apples?

Comprehension
Demonstrate understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions, and stating the main ideas

Translation
Interpretation
Extrapolation
Questions like: Compare the health benefits of eating apples vs. oranges.

Application
Using acquired knowledge. Solve problems in new situations by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way

Questions like: Which kinds of apples are best for baking a pie, and why?

Analysis
Examine and break information into parts by identifying motives or causes. Make inferences and find evidence to support generalizations

Analysis of elements
Analysis of relationships
Analysis of organizational principles
Questions like: List four ways of serving foods made with apples and explain which ones have the highest health benefits. Provide references to support your statements.

Evaluation
Present and defend opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas or quality of work based on a set of criteria

Judgments in terms of internal evidence
Judgments in terms of external criteria
Questions like: Do you feel that serving apple pie for an after school snack for children is healthy?

Synthesis
Compile information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions

Production of a unique communication
Production of a plan, or proposed set of operations
Derivation of a set of abstract relations
Questions like: Convert an "unhealthy" recipe for apple pie to a "healthy" recipe by replacing your choice of ingredients. Explain the health benefits of using the ingredients you chose vs. the original ones.

AFFECTIVE SKILLS

Skills in the affective domain describe the way people react emotionally and their ability to feel other living things' pain or joy. Affective objectives typically target the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings.

There are five levels in the affective domain moving through the lowest order processes to the highest:

Receiving
The lowest level; the student passively pays attention. Without this level no learning can occur. Receiving is about the student's memory and recognition as well.

Responding
The student actively participates in the learning process, not only attends to a stimulus; the student also reacts in some way.

Valuing
The student attaches a value to an object, phenomenon, or piece of information. The student associates a value or some values to the knowledge they acquired.

Organizing
The student can put together different values, information, and ideas and accommodate them within his/her own schema; comparing, relating and elaborating on what has been learned.

Characterizing
The student holds a particular value or belief that now exerts influence on his/her behavior so that it becomes a characteristic.

PSYCHOMOTOR SKILLS

Skills in the psychomotor domain describe the ability to physically manipulate a tool or instrument like a hand or a hammer. Psychomotor objectives usually focus on change and/or development in behavior and/or skills.


Perception
The ability to use sensory cues to guide motor activity. This ranges from sensory stimulation, through cue selection, to translation. Examples: Detects non-verbal communication cues. Estimate where a ball will land after it is thrown and then moving to the correct location to catch the ball. Adjusts heat of stove to correct temperature by smell and taste of food. Adjusts the height of the forks on a forklift by comparing where the forks are in relation to the pallet. Key Words: chooses, describes, detects, differentiates, distinguishes, identifies, isolates, relates, selects.

Set
Readiness to act. It includes mental, physical, and emotional sets. These three sets are dispositions that predetermine a person's response to different situations (sometimes called mindsets). Examples: Knows and acts upon a sequence of steps in a manufacturing process. Recognize one's abilities and limitations. Shows desire to learn a new process (motivation). NOTE: This subdivision of Psychomotor is closely related with the “Responding to phenomena” subdivision of the Affective domain. Key Words: begins, displays, explains, moves, proceeds, reacts, shows, states, volunteers.

Guided response
The early stages in learning a complex skill that includes imitation and trial and error. Adequacy of performance is achieved by practicing. Examples: Performs a mathematical equation as demonstrated. Follows instructions to build a model. Responds to hand-signals of instructor while learning to operate a forklift. Key Words: copies, traces, follows, react, reproduce, responds.

Mechanism
This is the intermediate stage in learning a complex skill. Learned responses have become habitual and the movements can be performed with some confidence and proficiency. Examples: Use a personal computer. Repair a leaking tap. Drive a car. Key Words: assembles, calibrates, constructs, dismantles, displays, fastens, fixes, grinds, heats, manipulates, measures, mends, mixes, organizes, sketches.

Complex overt response
The skillful performance of motor acts that involve complex movement patterns. Proficiency is indicated by a quick, accurate, and highly coordinated performance, requiring a minimum of energy. This category includes performing without hesitation, and automatic performance. For example, players will often utter sounds of satisfaction or expletives as soon as they hit a tennis ball or throw a football, because they can tell by the feel of the act what the result will produce. Examples: Maneuvers a car into a tight parallel parking spot. Operates a computer quickly and accurately. Displays competence while playing the piano. Key Words: assembles, builds, calibrates, constructs, dismantles, displays, fastens, fixes, grinds, heats, manipulates, measures, mends, mixes, organizes, sketches. NOTE: The Key Words are the same as Mechanism, but will have adverbs or adjectives that indicate that the performance is quicker, better, more accurate, etc.

Adaptation
Skills are well developed and the individual can modify movement patterns to fit special requirements. Examples: Responds effectively to unexpected experiences. Modifies instruction to meet the needs of the learners. Perform a task with a machine that it was not originally intended to do (machine is not damaged and there is no danger in performing the new task). Key Words: adapts, alters, changes, rearranges, reorganizes, revises, varies.

Origination
Creating new movement patterns to fit a particular situation or specific problem. Learning outcomes emphasize creativity based upon highly developed skills. Examples: Constructs a new theory. Develops a new and comprehensive training programming. Creates a new gymnastic routine. Key Words: arranges, builds, combines, composes, constructs, creates, designs, initiate, makes, originates.

Redeyejedi
10-03-2014, 01:39 PM
Brad, I'll throw my .02......
i as a total beginner also find the list intimidating as is.
i think scrapping the beg/int/adv/exp terms, use Levels as a framework; much like degrees or levels in martial arts, as has been suggested.
Level I
Level II
Level IIa etc
that way there are clear benchmarks and goals, but also avoiding terms that can alter the way someone views their skillset. and to add, terms like beg-adv are nebulous; everyone on the road are novice drivers compared to shumacher, but taking just drivers on the road and i'm now an advanced level driver.
another point, perhaps a time-frame for which you feel each level should be achieved, would be helpful. all in all, good post. i agree with expectations, goals, and fun-factor.
thanks!

Eyeguy
10-03-2014, 03:45 PM
I genuinely appreciate both the concept and the time and trouble you expended in thinking this through and putting it into a logical, cohesive outline. It was fun and I personally like this kind of thing as it gives me an opportunity to see where I fit on your list compared to my inner analysis of what I perceive my skill level to be.

Having said that, there are aspects of your list that I know I will probably never learn completely, ostensibly because I am coming to the uke learning party a bit late and simply don't want to invest the considerable time involved in doing that. In other words, my goals are to play songs first and have fun doing it, and then add in extra strumming patterns, fancier chords, single note runs, etc., here and there as I go along. Were I twenty years old and starting out, I might take a different tack, but at this point in the game, despite the fact that I appreciate that there is probably value in knowing all of the scales in all of the keys and what not, I have zero interest in going down that road, and I suspect there are many many expert ukes players who have not traveled that road either. As a guitar player first, I'm reminded of some of my acoutic blues guitar heroes who not only couldn't play a scale if their life depended on it, but often times didn't know precisely what chords they were actually playing at any given time. To be sure, there are no doubt many more expert/professional players who certainly do, but the point is there is more than one way to skin a musical cat, and when time is of the essence, some things just have to be jettisoned.

Thanks again for your offering your wisdom and expertise. I am going to save your list and ponder it periodically as I continue my journey.

You never know, I may actually learn a scale some day.

RiotNrrd
10-03-2014, 05:08 PM
You could also drop the hierarchical model entirely. Your "level" is just how many things on the list you know.

"I know seventeen things on the list."
"That's pretty good. I only know eight."

You could always make it a "point" system - one point per list element. Then assign levels to various point scores. Level I is 10 points. Level II is 20. Etc.

In this scheme, there is no set order in which you learn things, and you can learn some pretty advanced things early on and still get credit for them (whereas when jumping ahead in the hierarchical model you don't - if you're still in the "beginner" slot, learning an "intermediate" skill doesn't help you advance).

Just random thoughts.

wayward
10-03-2014, 09:59 PM
As a guitar player first, I'm reminded of some of my acoutic blues guitar heroes who not only couldn't play a scale if their life depended on it, but often times didn't know precisely what chords they were actually playing at any given time. To be sure, there are no doubt many more expert/professional players who certainly do, but the point is there is more than one way to skin a musical cat, and when time is of the essence, some things just have to be jettisoned.

I have to agree with this. Although I don't rate too badly in terms of your list, Brad, I'm nowhere near as good a player as the fella who plays lead uke in our band: his instinct for when to use different techniques and his ability to improvise a lead line in such a way that it suits the music perfectly are skills of such a level that they seem like dark and magic arts to me! I know there are some rules (or tricks, as he calls them) to what he's doing, but there seems to be more than that going on ... & because he was a guitar player first he often has no idea of the name of the note or chord he's playing.

itsme
10-04-2014, 12:08 AM
Novice:

Basic/common chords: C, F, G7, Am, D7, G, etc...

Beginner:

Open position Major, Minor, and 7th chords in all 12 keys
I think you're expecting too much.

What would you call someone just starting out who's learned C and isn't all that comfortable with G yet? In my mind, that is a beginner.

CeeJay
10-04-2014, 02:11 AM
That's way too intense. Different people do different things at different stages. I suspect a lot of professionals can't do everything at your intermediate level. Some of what you are listing there is music theory and not particular to the ukulele. Someone with a music background might know the fretboard or how to form many chords from theory. I think ukemungas list pretty much captures how I see it. But seriously, I just want to play I don't want to be graded.

The last line ...the last line... "But seriously, I just want to play I don't want to be graded."
Spot on .....and one more thing ....I slightly ( but not dreadfully seriously) resent the way that Guitarists have started to adopt the ukelele and then adapt it to guitar techniques and styles , using the phrase " I came to the ukulele from the guitar " makes me cringe a little.......It seems a bit like saying I came to the violin from the Double Bass....:D

I played the Ukelele as my first instrument...and play it like a uke ...strumming and some picking ......Ah Ah AAaaah....before you start reaching for the moderator and "You're a Hater " buttons......what is being produced these days is very good musically and technique wise........but very few "up to date " players seem to play soprano uke ,which for me is THE uke (Though I will own up to two Concerts)...most seem to play Tenor and most play them like small guitars ....(which I also play ...guitar ....but like a ukulele ,well I did at first).....and with it has come a whole raft of other hang ups.....seemingly ..

The Ukelele to me is a simple little instrument for simply strumming and having fun with ...........all this compartmentalising people into what they know and can do is a bit ...well ....unnecessary................................... ...

PS I am not having a serious swipe at guitar afficionado ukeleleists...just a gentle poke.....

drewp
10-04-2014, 04:57 AM
I appreciate the time and effort that went into devising the "list" AND I certainly got some good take-away points from it (things I could/should work on, etc.) BUT I truly get Brad's sentiments re: not being intimidated by it....I don't judge myself by my ukulele skills only : ) It's nice to have some type of a basis as to where one might stand and/or needs to work on (admitting that I'll probably never be a music theory "wizard" BUT I really don't care!

pixiepurls
10-04-2014, 06:27 AM
A few weeks ago, one of my students requested I put together a list of things to practice/what skills make up each 'ukulele playing level. He thought this timeline of skills would be helpful for him to visualize what he needed to practice and check off the list.

It was a fun challenge for me to put together some skills and categorize them. I'm sure I missed a lot, but it seemed like the kind of thing that might be interesting/fun for UU peeps to help add to or just look at.

My groups are probably very idealistic - sort of the top edge of each level. Since it's on paper, I dreamed up things that I would want a "perfect" beginning student to know before showing up to an intermediate class.

Before anyone feels depressed or rips on me for imposing "rules" upon what they should know, please realize that I'm aware of a few things:

1. This is just a curiosity project
2. Learning is not a linear thing. Everyone approaches things differently, has strong suits and weak points, and takes their own time.
3. In real life there aren't any lines dividing levels or achievements. It's not bad to be considered "this" or "that."
4. One does not have to know or master everything on this list to be considered at the next level. I certainly don't claim to know it all perfectly.
5. Most importantly, music is not a competition.

Like I said, feel free to add your input. I'd love to make this a comprehensive resource for curious minds. I'll try to edit the original post to reflect updates.

These things are in no particular order. Think of each item as being preceded by “should know.”

Novice:

Basic/common chords: C, F, G7, Am, D7, G, etc...
Chalangalang down, up strum
How to follow along in a simple jam song
How to stop, find the beat, and recover when lost in a simple song

Beginner:

Open position Major, Minor, and 7th chords in all 12 keys
The C major/A minor scale
What the notes are called up to the 3rd fret
Down, Up and Down, Down, Up, Up, Down strumming patterns
Proper posture
How to convey extremes in dynamics (loud, soft)
How to keep time to/with a metronome for simple strumming songs
At least 3 songs from memory

Intermediate:

All main major, minor, and 7th chord shapes up and down the fretboard
All major scales in a simple position (relative minors too!)
More exotic strum patterns like a reggae strum, country strum, hula strum...
How to play with a metronome when strumming and for simple instances of playing lead
At least 10 songs from memory (some picking parts)
How to transpose a basic song into any key
Some jazz chord shapes (6ths, minor 7ths, 9ths)
A few picking patterns
What the notes are called up to the 7th fret
How to recognize I, IV, and V chords in a progression
How to play in simple odd time signatures like ¾ and 6/8
Triplet groupings
Chord scales and how they are made
Basic articulation movements such as hammer-on, pull-off, and slide

Advanced:

All 6th, minor 7th, 9th, major 7th chords up and down the fretboard
Open positions for almost any other chord
All major and minor scales across the fretboard
Where every note is on the fretboard
How to play with perfect timing
How to figure almost any song out by ear
Enough songs to fill an hour set
How to accompany almost any song with strumming or picking
How to incorporate vibrato, hammer-ons, pull-offs, or slides into any lead

Expert:

All of the above, perfectly

I think novice should include finger-plucking a very simple tune to some chords you know, I don't think novice should mean only strumming. So probably like a C chord and finger pick strings 4, 2, 3, 1 in that order, twice in a row then change the chord.. you can do this with any chords the person happens to know. I think this is super basic and should be learned early!

Chunking, that is missing!

Rllink
10-04-2014, 07:15 AM
The last line ...the last line... "But seriously, I just want to play I don't want to be graded."
Spot on .....and one more thing ....I slightly ( but not dreadfully seriously) resent the way that Guitarists have started to adopt the ukelele and then adapt it to guitar techniques and styles , using the phrase " I came to the ukulele from the guitar " makes me cringe a little.......It seems a bit like saying I came to the violin from the Double Bass....:D

I played the Ukelele as my first instrument...and play it like a uke ...strumming and some picking ......Ah Ah AAaaah....before you start reaching for the moderator and "You're a Hater " buttons......what is being produced these days is very good musically and technique wise........but very few "up to date " players seem to play soprano uke ,which for me is THE uke (Though I will own up to two Concerts)...most seem to play Tenor and most play them like small guitars ....(which I also play ...guitar ....but like a ukulele ,well I did at first).....and with it has come a whole raft of other hang ups.....seemingly ..

The Ukelele to me is a simple little instrument for simply strumming and having fun with ...........all this compartmentalising people into what they know and can do is a bit ...well ....unnecessary................................... ...

PS I am not having a serious swipe at guitar afficionado ukeleleists...just a gentle poke.....I have to agree with a lot that you are saying here CeeJay.

Freeda
10-04-2014, 07:26 AM
You could also drop the hierarchical model entirely. Your "level" is just how many things on the list you know.

"I know seventeen things on the list."
"That's pretty good. I only know eight."

You could always make it a "point" system - one point per list element. Then assign levels to various point scores. Level I is 10 points. Level II is 20. Etc.

In this scheme, there is no set order in which you learn things, and you can learn some pretty advanced things early on and still get credit for them (whereas when jumping ahead in the hierarchical model you don't - if you're still in the "beginner" slot, learning an "intermediate" skill doesn't help you advance).

Just random thoughts.
I like that. My learning priorities aren't the same as someone else's.

Rllink
10-04-2014, 07:42 AM
I like that. My learning priorities aren't the same as someone else's.I think that some need the security of structure and compartmentalization, while others just need to go wild and crazy. Two different approaches to the same thing.

hoosierhiver
10-04-2014, 08:43 AM
I like that. My learning priorities aren't the same as someone else's.

No doubt, and my brain is different too. Some skilled technical players seem to have a very tough time memorizing songs, I can remember songs with not much effort, but will never be a skilled technical player.

Brad Bordessa
10-04-2014, 09:16 AM
So I just updated the original post reflecting much of the generous input you have all provided. Still not perfect, but much improved.

Let me know what you think!

Luke El U
10-04-2014, 02:24 PM
So I just updated the original post reflecting much of the generous input you have all provided. Still not perfect, but much improved.

Let me know what you think!

That looks great! Probably over time you will tweak it here and there, but now you've got an excellent outline for an ukulele course curriculum. Mind if I share it with my former students?

Brad Bordessa
10-04-2014, 03:00 PM
That looks great! Probably over time you will tweak it here and there, but now you've got an excellent outline for an ukulele course curriculum. Mind if I share it with my former students?

Charge. It's there as (hopefully) a resource. :)

SailQwest
10-04-2014, 03:02 PM
So I just updated the original post reflecting much of the generous input you have all provided. Still not perfect, but much improved.

Let me know what you think!

Brad, your list is excellent, and very concise. Thanks very much for posting it.

IMO, it relates well to the types of proficiency skills that are expected with other musical instruments at novice through expert levels.

Nickie
10-05-2014, 03:05 PM
My skillset must be way past my knowledge. i sorta follow the pattern of a friend, he is by far the best guitar player I've ever known well, personally. He can't read a single note of music, nor does he know music theory. Yet, he hears a song once, and then begins playing it, with his own embellishments, and composes his own licks. He can flat kill a song on a uke in minutes, and it takes me weeks to learn it. I'm improving my playing without knowing the circle of fifths, but AM TRYING to learn that too. Understanding thoery is much harder than learning a new picking pattern, or chord progression, for me. I guess I don't fit in.

Redeyejedi
10-09-2014, 12:37 PM
thanks for your time and insight in creating the og and the rev.
as intimidating as the learining road ahead of me may be, each step must be conquered, or more acurately played through to progress to another level of achievement. we all have different end games, thus different approaches to learning and different modes of absorption.....thanks brad.

ksiegel
10-09-2014, 03:13 PM
Charge. It's there as (hopefully) a resource. :)

And bingo, there we go!

Thanks for the list Brad, and thanks for calling it "a resource" - that's all I ever thought it was.

I've been playing Ukulele for a little less than 3 years, but I had 40+ of guitar under my belt before an arm injury that makes guitar too painful to play. As a guitar player, I could make it to Intermediate with your list, every now and again I might be able to see Advanced down the road - but I still play by ear, and don't read music or tab. But I knew the strings, and the names of the notes on the fretboard.

With the ukulele, I am a better player, more comfortable, and far more confident. But I can barely remember the strings are GCEA (I have to say a song lyric in my head to remember them) and couldn't tell you the names of the notes up and down the fretboard without concentrating on it. I was looking at your list, thinking, "I wouldn't know an X6 chord if I fell over it!" when I realized that I do - the open strings, or full barre on any fret.

I've been avoiding anything with a dim chord because I had to fight my fingers into position, until one song I played had a dim chord that I just naturally fell into, because it sounded right. That's when I realized I've been playing them all along, as part of my improvising - I just didn't know what they were called. Then I looked at the photos in your Book sig line, and realized that the chords are all 7th chords - and I've been using that shape all over the neck since I've been playing.

So again, this is a resource, much like the Sokolow book, and any of the books I've got. I have things to refer to, and when they don't fit my playing style, I just file them under "nice to know".

In the meantime, I'll keep playing, and thank you for your input and support of your student's request.



-Kurt

gardens_guitar
10-10-2014, 03:05 AM
I like the idea of the OP and the revision. However some of us play baritone and/or tenor ukes in baritone tuning. What would the following note, chord, key etc specific skills change to for baritone tuning?

I (Pre-Novice)
Knowledge: C F and G7 chords (or similar)

II (Novice)
Knowledge: Common chords in easy 'ukulele keys: C, F, and G7; G, C, and D7; F, Bb, and C7

III (Beg 1)
Knowledge: Basic chords in most keys: C, G, F, D, A, Bb, E

IV (Beg 2)
Knowledge: The C major/A minor scale in its basic position

V (Inter 1)
Knowledge: Basic scales in 'ukulele-friendly keys: C, F, G, D, A, etc...

Ukejenny
10-10-2014, 04:11 AM
My skillset must be way past my knowledge. i sorta follow the pattern of a friend, he is by far the best guitar player I've ever known well, personally. He can't read a single note of music, nor does he know music theory. Yet, he hears a song once, and then begins playing it, with his own embellishments, and composes his own licks. He can flat kill a song on a uke in minutes, and it takes me weeks to learn it. I'm improving my playing without knowing the circle of fifths, but AM TRYING to learn that too. Understanding thoery is much harder than learning a new picking pattern, or chord progression, for me. I guess I don't fit in.

If you can play it and make it sound great, it doesn't matter to me if you know all the theory jargon behind it... but that's just me. I've always been impressed by those who play by ear and "naturally" do so many cool things.