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Kevs-the-name
06-17-2015, 12:00 PM
So, I have now had 5 hour lessons with a young ukulele tutor who comes to my house. Im not sure wether to carry on. I’ve been playing uke for 2yrs.

He charges me 20 ($30) per hour and at the moment I am having them weekly.

We have looked at ‘lots' of music theory (key etc), briefly worked on scales, major,minor and 7th chords and during the last lesson we finally looked at a finger style arrangement to learn: the first bit of actual ‘playing’.

so? you say..
the problem is, I don’t know what I don’t know! Im not sure what I want to know and Im not sure why the lessons being taught are so theory heavy.

Finally the biggest issue is: almost 100 ($160) a month but no idea of direction.

What advice can you give me

PhilUSAFRet
06-17-2015, 12:12 PM
A teaching plan by a professional should reflect your playing goals or agenda and not theirs. It's kind of like buying a car without knowing what features you want, how or how much you drive, how much space you need, etc. etc. If you don't have any goals, it's time to develop some. Some people enjoy travelling without a destination, some don't.

kypfer
06-17-2015, 12:46 PM
I think I'd be inclined to ask for a syllabus of the lessons to come so that you might get an idea at least of the overall length of the "course" ... or is it anticipated that you'll just keep shelling out 'till you get bored?

Another question I'd consider asking ... is this young tutor a ukulele player in his own right? Does he have a demonstrable repertoire, for instance, or is he "just" a musician using the ukulele pass on his knowledge, hoping no-one will realise he's only one or two pages ahead of his student(s) in the training material? ... met a guitar teacher like that once, could hardly play a guitar for toffee, but knew a lot of music theory and seemed to work on the principle that his students would get bored and give up before he had to prove himself!!

Yes, I'm being a little cynical, but you get the idea ;)

As PhilUSAFRet points out, perhaps you should draw up an agenda of anticipated goals and ask for a realistic consideration of how long they might take to achieve and therefore an idea of overall cost.

"Learning music" and all it's associated theory is not totally necessary to be able to "play the ukulele", though no doubt knowing some theory can make some aspects of the learning easier. Similarly, one can build up quite a repertoire with little or no knowledge of music theory. It'll be between you and your tutor to establish your priorities and take it from there.

Good luck :)

ukulelego
06-17-2015, 01:08 PM
Goals are massive, you should definitely have goals that your tutor then gears your lesson towards. Otherwise you won't know why you're doing what you're doing which kind of makes it hard to go all in on.

I'm a big advocate of theory though. When I first started playing guitar I had no theory for years, now I'm working on it and everything suddenly makes sense.

Ultimately I think you've got to ask yourself what you want to get out of it.

Rllink
06-17-2015, 05:31 PM
I took some singing lessons. The very first meeting, the instructor asked me where I wanted to go with it. He asked a lot of questions. So then he had me go though some scales and exercises to see where I was at. The second lesson, he had me bring in some music that I wanted to sing, and my ukulele. He looked at the music, had me play them on the ukulele, had me sing them, and then used them as teaching aids, teaching me not just how to sing those songs, but how use those songs as tools to practice and develop my singing overall. After five lessons, he sent me off on my own, and told me to come back when I felt like I wanted to go to the next level. That was it. I really felt that from the very beginning he was shooting for a target, and that he knew just how to take me where I wanted to go. I do know that the woman who was there before me was doing something different. I asked my instructor about her, and he said that she had different goals, so it was evident to me that he was tailoring the lessons for each individual student. Your instructor should be doing the same, I think. It should not be generic.

Mivo
06-17-2015, 05:31 PM
Yes, I'd probably just tell him openly about your concerns, and that you don't feel you're making the type of progress, or gain the direction, you'd like. In my experience (not ukulele), it's pretty hard to find a teacher that really clicks with you and that is right for you. I feel that to a large degree this is a subjective, personal thing. He may simply not be the right teacher for you, regardless of being nice and competent, or he may still learn how to teach (in which case he may be appreciative of feedback), so communication is probably the best approach. $30/hour isn't overly cheap, so don't hesitate to tell him what you feel isn't optimal.

Rllink
06-17-2015, 05:38 PM
Yes, I'd probably just tell him openly about your concerns, and that you don't feel you're making the type of progress, or gain the direction, you'd like. In my experience (not ukulele), it's pretty hard to find a teacher that really clicks with you and that is right for you. I feel that to a large degree this is a subjective, personal thing. He may simply not be the right teacher for you, regardless of being nice and competent, or he may still learn how to teach (in which case he may be appreciative of feedback), so communication is probably the best approach. $30/hour isn't overly cheap, so don't hesitate to tell him what you feel isn't optimal.I agree with Mivo. Maybe he is wondering where you want to go with it. He might be as lost as you are, wondering where you want to go if you haven't made that clear.

uke-garou
06-17-2015, 05:45 PM
You should be learning some chords and playing some songs, learning some notes and playing some songs, learning some more chords and playing some songs. Scales, chords and theory are fine but they need to be applied.

Sounds like you just need to tell this person what you want, and if he argues then look for somebody else.

Do you have a personal goal? Strumming standards, reading music, playing with a group, performing solo, etc?

Kevs-the-name
06-17-2015, 08:28 PM
Thank you all for you constructive advice.
I realise that I am partly to blame for this, I haven’t really set any goals. I did say that I wanted to learn finger style using the ukulele as an instrument in its own right rather than as an accompaniment to me singing: I already practice and perform with a ukulele band/club.


I think I'd be inclined to ask for a syllabus of the lessons to come so that you might get an idea at least of the overall length of the "course" ... or is it anticipated that you'll just keep shelling out 'till you get bored?

An email will be sent off today looking for this guidance.

I guess I don’t know what I actually want from the lessons as I don’t have the experience of what a lesson ‘can do’
My only previous experience was when I had 1 lesson with a terrible tutor. we sat and played for an hour, HE sang, then at the end said “I haven’t got much else to offer you, just keep doing what your doing!” “do you want to come back next week???” (I didn’t!)

As for the current lessons, I feel I’m just waiting for everything that has been taught to ‘have a reason’. Im just yet to see it
We’ll see!

kypfer
06-17-2015, 09:26 PM
My very limited experience in this teaching/learning to play a musical instrument scenario is that, much like driving a car, once the basics are covered, it's about 5% being shown what to do and 95% sitting down and practicing it, with the tutor just "being there" to point out errors and help you on your way.

Unfortunately this time does have to be paid for. This also assumes that the tutor is sufficiently capable to recognise your mistakes before they become bad habits.

I can totally sympathise with your "waiting for everything to have a reason" problem. I ran into this with maths at school. Everything was hunky dory up to the age of 15 or 16, then bang!! brick wall!! just couldn't see the reason for calculus and "advanced" trigonometry and totally lost interest :(

Whatever you do, don't give up playing, it's far too much fun :)

Kevs-the-name
06-17-2015, 10:23 PM
Whatever you do, don't give up playing, it's far too much fun :)

No chance of this happening. I love playing!
I recognise the 5% - 95% analogy this makes sense.

My tutor is a newish music graduate who studied guitar at University.
I think he put this knowledge to ukulele playing, but is far more set on teaching music than playing. as I suggested, we have only looked at 1 music arrangement (his own interpretation of a Beatles track)

Icelander53
06-18-2015, 05:41 AM
Stop until you know your direction. That's basic IMO.

Don't forget he's working for you so you can determine the direction and if he refuses then you go elsewhere.

sukie
06-18-2015, 06:15 AM
I have had 3 ukulele teachers. The first 2 weren't really ukulele players. My current teacher is a master ukulele player. There is a huge difference. Perhaps you could find an ukulele teacher via Skype? There are some excellent ones out there.

ubulele
06-18-2015, 12:10 PM
If you want to play fingerstyle, and especially solos, theory will help tremendously. All melodic work is built on scales. Scales are the backbone for chords. In fingerstyle, you often combine playing melody with playing the chords that back it up, meaning that you need to be able to work with movable chords and deal with chord inversions, chord alterations and voice leading. Your tutor may have started heavy on theory because he recognizes it's the biggest gap in your current musical understanding (as it is with most self-taught ukists). You have enough knowledge already (presumably) to play basic chord accompaniment in first position, and you can continue on your own to practice this until you have the theoretical grounding for moving further. Of course, you can move forward without a good understanding of theory, but it will be by far the harder route ultimately and more wasteful of your time and lesson dollars.

Yes, it may be that your tutor has his own agenda instead of yours, or doesn't know how to adapt to your needs, desires and learning style. And it may be that he's not primarily a uke player. But it may also be that he still knows his stuff well enough to help you greatly, at least in the short run. If he isn't fumbling with the chord names (translating them from his guitar mind), he probably knows uke pretty well. And if you're not giving him much feedback on what you specifically want to learn, he has little option but to teach you like he'd teach anyone else, to prepare them for playing in any style.

katysax
06-18-2015, 01:27 PM
I've never taken a ukulele lesson but I've had many lessons on guitar, clarinet and saxophone. There is a lot of benefit to learning theory. However, there is no way someone can "learn" you. No matter how many lessons I've had, most of what I've learned has been on my own. Playing with other people is the best way to learn.