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Mivo
09-22-2015, 12:19 AM
Ever since I took up the ukulele, I've wondered whether switching between the sizes is a good or a bad thing, particularly while learning.

I noticed that the soprano scale became much easier to manage after practicing more on the tenor for a while, but I also wondered if the frequent jumping around between soprano, concert, and tenor wouldn't slow down progress (especially with accuracy in mind). I sort of concluded, without any real knowledge to back it up, that flexibility (and adaptability) would be a Good Thing.

But is it?

The other night I was finishing the excellent book "Guitar Zero" by Gary Marcus. It's about his journey of learning guitar at the age of forty without any background or talent (same age, and same lack of talent, when I picked up the ukulele). It's full of wonderful anecdotes, assorted bits on the science of learning, results of studies, thoughts from musicians, and so forth. I really enjoyed that book. So, anyway, there's a chapter that deals with all the skills needed to play guitar expertly, and it clashed with my "theory" that playing all sizes may assist with learning.

Here's the relevant excerpt:

Becoming an expert musician requires the alignment or calibration of at least four distinct sets of representations (five if one happens to read sheet music): the notes the musician hears, the notes the musician wants to play, the location of those notes on the instrument, and the physical actions that the fingers must undergo in order to play the right notes at the right time (and, if applicable, the notes to be read).

The musician must draw direct mappings between a mental representation of the instrument and a physical location of where those elements (say, the frets on a guitar or the keys on a piano) are instantiated on the instrument being played at a given moment. The player must have both “egocentric” representations (of where his own body is) and “allocentric” representations (of where things lie on the guitar, independent of how the guitarist is holding the guitar)—and, most important of all, fluent mappings between the two, which must be updated in real time as he and the instrument shift position. (All this is bumped up an extra level of difficulty for a guitarist who plays different guitars, since different guitars often differ in their precise physical layout; the strings on a classical guitar, for example, are farther apart than the strings on an electric guitar.)

One of the most important yet seemingly moronic pieces of advice that an aspiring rock guitarist may hear is “Make sure your strap is adjusted so that the guitar is in the same relation to your upper body when you stand up (onstage) as when you are sitting down.” Guitarists who don’t heed it are often skewered by the discrepancy between the allocentric and the egocentric coordinate frames. Alignment is all.

That particular piece of advice is so important because the brain’s ability to map between representations is generally crude: more trial and error than sophisticated three-dimensional trigonometry. Consider, for instance, what happens when you try to help someone else put on a tie and face him: the usual relation between hands and eyes becomes reversed. Effectively, all you’ve done is invert directions, the equivalent of simply multiplying an equation by –1, but most people feel entirely flummoxed.

In principle, you could imagine memorizing the fretboard in the abstract and then using some sort of formula to calculate exactly where your fingers should go, factoring in your own posture and the three-dimensional angle and position in space of the guitar at a given moment. A robot might do exactly that, but the human brain doesn’t work that way. Instead, our brains solve these sorts of problems not so much by running equations as by tapping large databases of experience, retrieving similar episodes from memory. (The data for this come from experiments in which researchers performed prism adaptation experiments on human beings: participants relearn mappings between visual and motor space bit by bit, rather than by formula.)

The upshot is twofold. First, the fact that our maps between visual space and motor space are piecemeal means we need an enormous amount of practice. Second, our knowledge of the relation between the fretboard and the dynamics of one’s fingers is fragile; tiny alterations from what we are accustomed to can slow us down or lead to error.

This is one reason why even expert musicians should do warm-ups before going onstage. Warm-ups have a physical role to play— increasing the flow of blood to the fingers, wrists, and forearms— but they probably also have a mental role to play: a warm-up refreshes the brain’s memories about the calibration between the abstract (egocentric) representation of notes and the precise (allocentric) physical movements needed to play them.

(Excerpt from Guitar Zero (http://garymarcus.com/books/guitarzero.html), located in the chapter "What Experts Know That Novices Don’t", by Gary Marcus (http://garymarcus.com/bio/bio.html).)

What I take from this is that sticking to one scale length (and ideally to the same neck width, and really, optimally the same instrument with the same type of strings) is much easier for the brain to deal with and, if I understand this correctly, should have beneficial effects on one's learning progress (as well as allow for a higher level of performance).

What are your thoughts on it? And your own experiences?

Brian1
09-22-2015, 12:49 AM
Less than 12 hrs ago I was at dinner with a few friends one had aconcert size ukulele. The other had never played ukulele but was a guitar player in about 2 minutes or less he made the mental adjustments to play fingerstyle ukulele very well. (imo)

I don't think a brain study has ever been done between a uke player and a guitar player but and I doubt a serious study will ever be done, but it is not the first time I have seen guitar players "pick up" the ukulele so fast that it made me feel jealous. The other time was on a soprano sized uke.

If you can play a guitar all the way up the neck I'd assume you can play a ukulele. If you can play a tenor uke up the neck, I assume you can manage the first 5-7 frets on a soprano pretty easily. (the 10th fret seems to be pretty close to the same size on both)

VegasGeorge
09-22-2015, 01:06 AM
If I'm going to be playing up the fretboard, I really like the additional real estate offered by my Tenor. But, my fingers find the frets just fine regardless of the size. They just don't fit so well on the soprano fretboard. But as far as finding chords at the low end of the fretboard, they're all the same to me.

Ukulele Eddie
09-22-2015, 02:40 AM
Interesting read. I would underscore "expert" when reading that passage. First, there are sometimes notable differences between two different instruments of the same size: neck profile, string spacing, body shape, etc. If I made my living with music or if I wanted to be the absolute best player I could, I could see sticking with one particular instrument (vs. one "size") so that it felt like an extension of my body. However, for me personally, owning multiple ukes of different sizes, wood combinations and tones is a large part of the enjoyment I derive. I can be mediocre on all of them fairly equally. ;-)

DownUpDave
09-22-2015, 03:29 AM
If you wanted to absolutely maximize the efficiency and proficency of your practice time then sticking to one instrument only would be best. Jake plays only a Kamaka tenor.

But as others have said the vast majority of members here are in it for their own personal pleasure.

I own and play all the different sizes of ukeuleles. I tell my wife it is the same a "cross training" and that is why I need so many different ukes :cool:

ukulelekarcsi
09-22-2015, 04:15 AM
I disagree with Gray on this (and agree with your initial hypothesis). It actually helps to switch instrument sizes often. It even helps to swith between completely different instruments: from bass to mandolin and back to ukulele, or even some accordeon or woodwind playing can actually help your ukulele playing.

I even have some kind of explanation. In my opinion, such excursions help to master the more abstract aspects of music by precisely letting go of those 'egocentric' (bodily) and 'allocentric' (instrumental) focus, and puts the focus precisely on the music itself: dependency between chords, keys of songs, the structure of melodies, odd timing tricks... I even consider tactile feedback (the famous 'muscle memory') only one part of playing, aural feedback is much more important.

wayfarer75
09-22-2015, 04:20 AM
If you wanted to absolutely maximize the efficiency and proficency of your practice time then sticking to one instrument only would be best. Jake plays only a Kamaka tenor.

But as others have said the vast majority of members here are in it for their own personal pleasure.

I own and play all the different sizes of ukeuleles. I tell my wife it is the same a "cross training" and that is why I need so many different ukes :cool:

Jake doesn't only play a Kamaka tenor. That is most likely what he only practices certain songs on, but for sure he plays baritone (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152791821383430&fref=nf) and I believe he composes on that and possibly other scales. When I practice a particular song most on one scale, it's easier to play on that scale than if I switched to a different size uke.

k0k0peli
09-22-2015, 04:38 AM
As said, if paying my mortgage depended solely on my fretboard performance, I would choose a standard. Session musician Tommy Tedesco notoriously tuned EVERYTHING he played like a guitar. Others retune their single instrument so a specific song fits the part of the fretboard in which it will be played; they are experts in that single area of real estate. The Jake plays one tenor, and quite well, too.

But I do not so make my living. When I performed it was as a singer and player. I fingerpicked various guitars of varied sizes and configurations and tunings, picked them well enough to support my voice -- or my wife's voice, or my partner's sax, or whatever. I was not a 'master' musician. And I found that performing requires many more skills than does playing.

I play 12- and 11- and 10-string guitars, o'uds, and cuatros, all with wide fretboards. I play 'uke-like objects from soprano to baritone size with 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 or 12 strings. I play mandolins with wee narrow fretboards. I'll check my database: My shortest scale length is 13 inches (Varsity banjo-mandolin), my longest is 34 inches (Tanara electric bass guitar). My narrowest axes at the nut are 28mm or 1 7/64 inches (some mandolins), my widest are 47mm or 1 55/64 inches (10-string cuatro and 12-string guitar). I can finger those with about equal facility although I feel a bit squished on the smaller one, a bit stretched on some larger ones, and I'm better on any guitar than anything else because I've played that much, much longer.

If you're into music to have fun, then have fun. If fun requires machine-like precision in placing your fingers, so be it. If financial survival requires machine-like precision, so be it -- that's a valid pursuit. Whatever floats thy boat.

70sSanO
09-22-2015, 04:53 AM
The upshot is twofold. First, the fact that our maps between visual space and motor space are piecemeal means we need an enormous amount of practice. Second, our knowledge of the relation between the fretboard and the dynamics of one’s fingers is fragile; tiny alterations from what we are accustomed to can slow us down or lead to error.

This is one reason why even expert musicians should do warm-ups before going onstage. Warm-ups have a physical role to play— increasing the flow of blood to the fingers, wrists, and forearms— but they probably also have a mental role to play: a warm-up refreshes the brain’s memories about the calibration between the abstract (egocentric) representation of notes and the precise (allocentric) physical movements needed to play them.[/I]


Well this does sell books. But I highly doubt that there is a "fragile" relationship between the brain and the fingers. All you have to do is look at bass players who are all over the board on scale length and if anything is fragile it is playing different scale lengths fretless. And there are a number of bass players on this forum that are playing ukulele. So if anyone want to talk scale lengths I think they can.

I did a search to see if there were any videos of Gary Marcus actually playing the guitar and I didn't find any. I find this odd based on the premise of his book. I haven't read the book, but generally speaking one has to practice to be come proficient and even then there are no guarantees of reaching a high level. Muscle mind memories don't really supplant putting in the time.

For someone just starting out, there may be some advantage of one scale length, but that is pretty much during the beginner stage. There may also be an advantage if a person just picks up an instrument every now and then and is not dedicated to playing and developing those skills.

As for me, I do have to reacquaint myself but that is not difficult. If I go from a tenor to even a concert and play instruments there is a slight adjustment, but usually it is because there is less room for my fingers on the fretboard. When I go from soprano to tenor, it is actually a benefit because I have to be more precise when fretting a soprano.

John

DownUpDave
09-22-2015, 05:10 AM
Jake doesn't only play a Kamaka tenor. That is most likely what he only practices certain songs on, but for sure he plays baritone (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152791821383430&fref=nf) and I believe he composes on that and possibly other scales. When I practice a particular song most on one scale, it's easier to play on that scale than if I switched to a different size uke.

Yea you are right about Jake, forgot about his baritone. I just associate him with his ever present Kamaka tenor

Rllink
09-22-2015, 05:50 AM
I read Guitar Zero, and I took exception to a lot of things that he said. He is pretty black and white, and I'm more technicolor in my thinking. I really do not think that learning to play a musical instrument is formulaic. I also think that when one narrows their focus for too long, they can start to establish limitations.

janeray1940
09-22-2015, 06:10 AM
I thought Guitar Zero was a great read, especially for any of us getting serious about an instrument later in life. As for sticking to one scale length - I've stuck with concert scale for the better part of this year, with a few visits to my soprano so it doesn't get lonely, and for me, I think it's helped. I used to play reentrant soprano and low G concert, and I'd always have a bit of temporary awkwardness when switching from one to the other; now that the scale length on both ukes is the same, I'm a lot less fumbly.

A couple years ago there was a thread about Jake only using one uke (this was before the baritone arrived on the scene) and I think some quotes of his about getting to know one instrument as closely as possible - again, no hard and fast rule, but to me this made sense, and I think it applies to scale length as well. Nothing wrong with switching around if versatility is your thing, but for some of us, a narrower focus is the way to go.

chuck in ny
09-22-2015, 07:24 AM
now kimo hussey has to give up either tenor or baritone.
this is a classic case of overthinking a situation. i can't get out of a tenor what is in a baritone, and don't want to play baritone full time. then you have players who spend vast but not all of their time on soprano.
NOBODY is complaining and the ones who had gripes in the past have given up particular scale lengths. most wind up playing more than one scale.
you could only eat apples to simplify that aspect of your existence.

kohanmike
09-22-2015, 07:31 AM
Before I played uke about 2 years ago, I played guitar for almost 50 years. My first uke was a whim purchase and not knowing about sizes, it was a soprano. I picked up uke chords quickly, but found holding the chords was difficult. Then I learned the sizes and immediately bought a tenor, which was perfect and the only size I used. Then less than a year ago I started playing bass uke. All the time I played guitar, my friends would tell me I should learn the bass, but I never wanted to be encumbered by a large electric bass, forget a double-bass, but because of the creation of bass ukes, I went for it. That also didn't take me all that long to pick-up. Now I'm very comfortable moving from bass to uke, though my ukes are being more and more neglected.

(BTW, in the early 70s I was a production assistant and road manager for the Johnny Mann singers and Tommy Tedesco was one of our side guitar players, along with Herb Ellis and Joe Pass. Yes, it was amazing to be 22 years old watching those guys work. When Tommy Tedesco's son made a documentary about his dad and the Wrecking Crew a few years ago, I went to the premier and added to a list my experience working with Tommy, saying that it was fascinating to see Tommy with his chubby fingers flying over the fretboard, cigarette dangling from his lips.)

RichM
09-22-2015, 07:50 AM
I switch regularly between soprano, concert, and tenor, and never give it a second thought. Honestly, they all feel the same to me, although I appreciate the extra space on the tenor if I'm going up the neck. I have never felt the need to adjust to scale length. I also play guitar and bass. Bass feels like an entirely different animal and it's easy to switch over. However, when I switch in the same set between uke and guitar, it can take me a second to get the feel I want, because they are somewhat similar, somewhat different.

spookelele
09-22-2015, 08:08 AM
I think it probably depends on the person.
I tried going to concert, and I adjusted, but then going back to tenor I found myself under reaching for some things.
Corey obviously plays all the sizes regularly, and doesn't seem to have too much trouble.

But for some people, I think switching is more a problem.
I type 90% on an ergonomic keyboard, with the split in the middle.
I type very fast as my livelihood is based in interfacing with keyboard.

When I switch to a standard configured keyboard, or a laptop, that has a smaller keyboard, I can still "type", but I'm not as fast, fluid, or accurate as I am on my ergonomic keyboard. On the one hand, you could say, I should be using all kinds of keyboards and be more well rounded. But, if I have to write a bunch of lines, I'm going to the ergo keyboard to bang it out.

I find the same to be true with uke. All my ukes are tenor now, which makes things easier for me. But I have a guilele too, and it's bari scale, and I have to adjust when I play it. On the one hand, I can "play" it, but some amount of mental energy goes to compensating for the scale. That seems especially true when I'm playing from sheet music, where I am not actively looking at the fretboard. Noodling/playing stuff I already know isn't as much of an issue cuz I can look at the fretboard.

Whether one or the other is better, I can't really say. I think the same scale length would be easier. Would I be a better player if I played all the sizes regularly? Or would I be better if I got like.. a tenor scale guilele so all my scales are the same?

Jon Moody
09-22-2015, 08:08 AM
What I take from this is that sticking to one scale length (and ideally to the same neck width, and really, optimally the same instrument with the same type of strings) is much easier for the brain to deal with and, if I understand this correctly, should have beneficial effects on one's learning progress (as well as allow for a higher level of performance).

What are your thoughts on it? And your own experiences?

As many have said, you're switching scale lengths (to a degree) by moving up the fretboard of your particular ukulele of choice. A C scale, starting on the open string is going to be a different reach than starting it at the octave. For those that are serious about making music their career (in that their livelihood rests upon teaching and performing music), sticking to one scale has the benefit of familiarity, but by no means is it going to hurt if you go to a different scale length. At all.

Case in point: Greg Rzab stopped by the office while on vacation a month or so back. As we were talking, he grabbed my Hofner Beatle Bass, commented on its color (it's green) and then tore into playing on it. The Hofner is a 30" scale length, which is 4" shorter than the traditional basses Greg plays. It took no effort at all for him to acclimate to that scale, which is comparable from going from a soprano to a tenor uke.

It's hard to say specifically, since the quote referenced is out of context of the entire book, but I think he's completely overthinking it. The only times that switching scales ever becomes an issue for me is when I'm doubling on electric and upright bass. However, both instruments are played completely differently, and the transition usually takes a second or two as opposed to instantaneous.

MARKbOC
09-22-2015, 08:31 AM
Cool discussion, was just thinking about this the other day. Note: I'm a newbie, too, and thank GOD I'm not using my skills to feed my poor daughter :)

My uneducated guess: sticking to one size/instrument is probably the fastest way to be proficient with that exact instrument/size but playing a variety probably builds more skills over a longer period of time.

I'm happily bouncing back and forth between a Tenor and Soprano and every time I switch there's definitely an adjustment but it helps me focus on the sound I'm making and learning to feel where my hand is based on something other than a precise/very specific muscle memory. Seems like those are skills that will come in handy as I progress. I think? I hope.

janeray1940
09-22-2015, 08:45 AM
But for some people, I think switching is more a problem.
I type 90% on an ergonomic keyboard, with the split in the middle.
I type very fast as my livelihood is based in interfacing with keyboard.

When I switch to a standard configured keyboard, or a laptop, that has a smaller keyboard, I can still "type", but I'm not as fast, fluid, or accurate as I am on my ergonomic keyboard. On the one hand, you could say, I should be using all kinds of keyboards and be more well rounded. But, if I have to write a bunch of lines, I'm going to the ergo keyboard to bang it out.


That's a great comparison, and I've had a similar experience: I switch between an iMac desktop and a Windows laptop regularly. My old Windows laptop keyboard was chunkier and clunkier than my Mac keyboard, and I was always really fumble-fingered on that thing. My more recent Windows laptop keyboard is almost identical in size and feel to my Mac keyboard, and I didn't realize it until now but - it's almost a joy to use. (This, coming from someone who hates Windows in general but hey, gotta make a living...)

Another similarity: cars. I've driven the same car for 15 years and have been driving for almost 40 years, but EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I get in a rental car I feel like my driving skillz go down by a good 15-20% until I get used to things.

Rllink
09-22-2015, 09:46 AM
I thought Guitar Zero was a great read, especially for any of us getting serious about an instrument later in life. As for sticking to one scale length - I've stuck with concert scale for the better part of this year, with a few visits to my soprano so it doesn't get lonely, and for me, I think it's helped. I used to play reentrant soprano and low G concert, and I'd always have a bit of temporary awkwardness when switching from one to the other; now that the scale length on both ukes is the same, I'm a lot less fumbly.

A couple years ago there was a thread about Jake only using one uke (this was before the baritone arrived on the scene) and I think some quotes of his about getting to know one instrument as closely as possible - again, no hard and fast rule, but to me this made sense, and I think it applies to scale length as well. Nothing wrong with switching around if versatility is your thing, but for some of us, a narrower focus is the way to go.What do you mean by getting serious? I'm 65, and it is pretty hard for me to get serious about playing a ukulele. I find a lot of pleasure in getting better, and my goals are to get better, but I haven't set myself a deadline. I'm probably not going to end up on a concert tour. I ask this, only because I wonder if people harbor some idea that they are going to get rich and famous playing the uke? If the answer is yes, and your goal is to be a professional ukulele player, then by all means, forge ahead accordingly. But if your goal is more on the lines that over time you want to be a good ukulele player, well, that is a whole different experience.

Recstar24
09-22-2015, 10:00 AM
We all have our own levels of "Seriousness". Most people here I've interacted with take their uke playing seriously, but they don't confuse that with being a professional.

For myself, I take the uke seriously to the level where I do take lessons and I am interested in getting better, and going beyond singing and strumming. I've taken my finger picking and doing instrumental arrangements through chord melody pretty rigorously regarding practice. I will never be good enough to make money on uke, but the inner musician in me and the drive inside of me to accomplish a certain level of musical expression is how I define my own level of "seriousness".

Mivo
09-22-2015, 10:57 AM
I ask this, only because I wonder if people harbor some idea that they are going to get rich and famous playing the uke?

I can't answer for Janeray, but for me, "getting serious" means that I invest a large chunk of my recreation time into a hobby that provides me with pleasure and other "good feelings" (stemming from progress, overcoming plateaus, etc.) with the aim to steadily improve. There are numerous other things I could be doing in that time (including working extra hours), many of which would require less discipline.

But the ukulele, and making music, is important to me and I prioritize the activity and all that surrounds it. That, to me, makes it "serious". "Getting serious", to me, then means that I'm willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to play well (for myself and my own pleasure). It's the opposite of picking up the instrument every few days, strum a little, or play songs that don't challenge me and that don't require effort. That'd be just fine too, but it wouldn't be "serious".

Money or fame don't figure into it for me. Twice in my life I turned my passions into jobs, and both times it diminished the enjoyment. Even if I wasn't three to four decades too late for a career in music, I'd not do want to do it.

janeray1940
09-22-2015, 11:17 AM
What do you mean by getting serious? I'm 65, and it is pretty hard for me to get serious about playing a ukulele. I find a lot of pleasure in getting better, and my goals are to get better, but I haven't set myself a deadline. I'm probably not going to end up on a concert tour. I ask this, only because I wonder if people harbor some idea that they are going to get rich and famous playing the uke? If the answer is yes, and your goal is to be a professional ukulele player, then by all means, forge ahead accordingly. But if your goal is more on the lines that over time you want to be a good ukulele player, well, that is a whole different experience.

That's your journey, and it's equally valid to mine. I was a kid who dabbled with a bunch of different instruments and various lessons and never took anything seriously and never learned anything well, and then suddenly I was in my mid-40s and sick of watching all of my musician friends make beautiful sounds come out of their instrument while all I could do was watch. In other words - I grew up with all of these advantages, music all around me, lessons for the asking, and - I totally blew it! I was an incredibly impatient kid with zero attention span for stuff like practicing and studying.

For me - and this is for me, not for anybody else, but since you asked - being "serious" means applying myself, focusing on what is important (which changes of course), playing daily, and attempting to understand music theory. I'm probably the most "serious"/least "fun" ukulele player on the planet. And I'm totally okay with that, just like I'm totally okay with those who just want to be the life of the party. Just don't expect that of me!

I have zero ambitions of being famous doing this - heck, I don't even like performing. I like getting together with one or two other players, or with my instrumental ensemble, and playing; performing is something I do reluctantly at best.

And as for rich - definitely not something I've ever wanted. I just want enough to get by, and I know full well that I'm not going to get that from ukulele. And I wouldn't want to - the few times in my life I've gotten paid to do things I actually enjoyed doing, I ended up hating doing those things. So money doesn't factor in at all.

janeray1940
09-22-2015, 11:19 AM
I can't answer for Janeray, but for me, "getting serious" means that I invest a large chunk of my recreation time into a hobby that provides me with pleasure and other "good feelings" (stemming from progress, overcoming plateaus, etc.) with the aim to steadily improve. There are numerous other things I could be doing in that time (including working extra hours), many of which would require less discipline.

But the ukulele, and making music, is important to me and I prioritize the activity and all that surrounds it. That, to me, makes it "serious". "Getting serious", to me, then means that I'm willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to play well (for myself and my own pleasure). It's the opposite of picking up the instrument every few days, strum a little, or play songs that don't challenge me and that don't require effort. That'd be just fine too, but it wouldn't be "serious".

Money or fame don't figure into it for me. Twice in my life I turned my passions into jobs, and both times it diminished the enjoyment. Even if I wasn't three to four decades too late for a career in music, I'd not do want to do it.

It took me so long to type out my reply that I didn't see yours - but now that I've seen it, you *could* have answered for me. Or I simply could have replied with "Yeah, what Mivo said!" :)

Mivo
09-22-2015, 11:28 AM
It took me so long to type out my reply that I didn't see yours - but now that I've seen it, you *could* have answered for me. Or I simply could have replied with "Yeah, what Mivo said!" :)

I read your response with a big grin on my face, thinking (not for the first time), "We must be related in some way." :) Very similar history, same life lessons, same awakening around forty (and, for once, actually tackling the issue instead of bemoaning the state of affairs).

Hippie Dribble
09-22-2015, 11:48 AM
Having spent years switching regularly between different sizes of ukes, I'm starting to believe one scale length is best to focus on, and one uke in particular.

I'm finding lately that sticking to one scale (concert) and one uke makes me a more precise and assured player and that familiarity has been positive for me. It's pretty much concert for me from here on in.

To the question of "seriousness". I agree with what Mivo said. Be careful lest you turn your hobby into a career. I did that too, with English Literature. I can testify that working in academia killed off my passion for reading and it has taken me half a lifetime to get that back. Few things I am more serious about than music. But it is a hobby and I am very happy to keep it that way.

Rllink
09-22-2015, 11:49 AM
That's your journey, and it's equally valid to mine. I was a kid who dabbled with a bunch of different instruments and various lessons and never took anything seriously and never learned anything well, and then suddenly I was in my mid-40s and sick of watching all of my musician friends make beautiful sounds come out of their instrument while all I could do was watch. In other words - I grew up with all of these advantages, music all around me, lessons for the asking, and - I totally blew it! I was an incredibly impatient kid with zero attention span for stuff like practicing and studying.

For me - and this is for me, not for anybody else, but since you asked - being "serious" means applying myself, focusing on what is important (which changes of course), playing daily, and attempting to understand music theory. I'm probably the most "serious"/least "fun" ukulele player on the planet. And I'm totally okay with that, just like I'm totally okay with those who just want to be the life of the party. Just don't expect that of me!

I have zero ambitions of being famous doing this - heck, I don't even like performing. I like getting together with one or two other players, or with my instrumental ensemble, and playing; performing is something I do reluctantly at best.

And as for rich - definitely not something I've ever wanted. I just want enough to get by, and I know full well that I'm not going to get that from ukulele. And I wouldn't want to - the few times in my life I've gotten paid to do things I actually enjoyed doing, I ended up hating doing those things. So money doesn't factor in at all.
That is all cool. I guess that words like "serious" mean whatever we want them to mean. So you are serious in your way, and I guess one could say that I'm serious in my own sort of slanted way, but I always like to know what each person's "serious" really is. It helps me understand where they are coming from when we are discussing something and helps me make an appropriate response. If someone says to me that they are serious, and they are preparing themselves to become a professional musician, my responses would be different than my responses to your posts when you address that subject. That's all.

But to answer that original questions, for me it doesn't make any difference. I have two concerts and a soprano. I've messed with some tenors at the music store a couple of times. I don't think that I am a sophisticated enough ukulele player for it to make any difference to me..

Ukejenny
09-22-2015, 01:25 PM
My serious is trying to buckle down and learn something new. For me, what works best is to stick with the same instrument when learning something new. The shape of the neck, feel of the strings, and frets stay consistent, allowing me to really concentrate on what my hands and fingers are doing.

Then, when I get the new skill down pretty well, I can move around on different instruments. The better I know the skill/song/lick the easier it is to recreate on different scales and instruments. I rarely ever play tenor anymore, so when I pick one up, I have to adjust and really think about it. Going between soprano and concert is pretty easy, because that is what I'm used to doing on a daily basis. My main instrument is a concert. I keep a plastic soprano in the van to noodle on when I'm sitting in car line.

actadh
09-22-2015, 02:27 PM
Having spent years switching regularly between different sizes of ukes, I'm starting to believe one scale length is best to focus on, and one uke in particular.

I'm finding lately that sticking to one scale (concert) and one uke makes me a more precise and assured player and that familiarity has been positive for me. It's pretty much concert for me from here on in.

To the question of "seriousness". I agree with what Mivo said. Be careful lest you turn your hobby into a career. I did that too, with English Literature. I can testify that working in academia killed off my passion for reading and it has taken me half a lifetime to get that back. Few things I am more serious about than music. But it is a hobby and I am very happy to keep it that way.

It interesting that my experience is different. I went from playing one size/ one ukulele to playing multiple ukes/multiple sizes and found that my skill level greatly increased. I took a hobby and turned it into a career in academia, and still have a passion for it.

k0k0peli
09-22-2015, 03:26 PM
I play for fun, and for challenges, which to me are fun. I love working out fingerings for the same song in the same key on vastly different instruments: on 'ukes tuned in many versions of the 4-3-4 interval standard; on mandolins with very different tunings; and on different types of harmonicas / mouth organs and fipple flutes, often in varied keys. I love the variety.

I want to be able to play from my repertoire on whatever instrument is at hand. I do not expect to develop pro-level proficiency on any of these axes. If mastery *was* my goal I would expect to take a hard decade to get there. I do not have time (nor inclination) for that. I need only play to accompany my not-too-lousy voice, with acceptable (to me) chord+melodic work, and toss in a few flashy fingerings to wow the rubes. Hey, look at that dinosaur wail!

We all have our own goals, if any. (Absense is a goal also.) We may reach those goals by many paths. The paths are not mutually exclusive. Some prefer one path, some another, some many. Maybe our goals are obscured, uncertain. "If you don't know where you're going you'll probably end up somewhere else." Know where you're going, grasshopper. Or don't. Wandering aimlessly can be lots of fun too.

And that bit of faux-Confucian wisdom reminds me of the difference between my wife and her sister. The sister was a VERY senior financial executive. When she and her husband travel it's most important to get from A to B as quickly as possible. My wife and I like to wander. A and B are often very much the same, so seeing everything in between is most important.

Take that as a metaphor for music study. One may focus fixedly on a goal and push toward it relentlessly. Choose the perfect instrument. Infinitely practice scales, passages, pieces. Attain total mastery. Maybe get some ulcers and breakdowns -- my sister-in-law has been hospitalized a lot. OR... do it for the lolz. Flit and flitter from here to there, tasting many varieties, never becoming gee-whiz on anything but getting good-enough on many toys.

Yes, that's an over-simplification. YMMV.

SteveZ
09-22-2015, 03:57 PM
For me it's all about fun. In the stable there's always a conglomeration of scale lengths, body sizes, neck widths, string counts and string types. The diversity itself is a joy.

I really aporeciate folk like Jake, Chris Thile and Earl Scruggs who are super-sharp on one instrument, and even folk like Roy Clark who's great on a bunch of instruments. For them it's a living and they need to be technicaly sharp. For me it's an escape from reality and I only need to be sharp enough to please myself.

So, a stabke of different stuff just makes it all more fun.