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View Full Version : Noobie unashamedly fishing for reassurance :)



cosmic68
11-27-2015, 01:20 AM
Hello everybody.

Long time lurker here. I've toyed with getting a Uke because I really love the sound and to see if I could learn a new skill. I've never played an instrument in my life.

So I've picked up an inexpensive Kala-C to start off with and am at the 6 week stage today. I immediately signed up to a Uke beginners group which had four meetings (Learn To Uke-in the UK) and really enjoyed the classes. They try to teach you 2 songs per meeting which personally, I found very ambitious. I felt we were sacrificing sound for speed a little. But I have the learning sheets and I can now go away and practice, practice practice. After 6 weeks I can play Jolene, Don't Stop Believing and I Will Survive about 70% well/good. My singing-however is an abomination :)

I wanted to ask a couple of general questions which may be impossible to answer as very subjective but here goes;

The initial learning curve is quite fast and very encouraging. But I seem to have hit a bit of a wall with any chord that requires a barre or generally involves more then three fingers.
I'd really like to build a solid foundation and Uncle Rods Bootcamp seemed like a really great place to start, but gosh! On the first sheet, Cdim, Dm7 and Fm6-I can't make the shapes required to hold a clean note.

Am I concerned too early? I.E I've been trying all week to make the E chord shape-half hour a day-results are very hit and miss. The B7 chord with barre of index finger and middle finger on C string-nothing I do stops the E string making a dreadful dull noise.

So my questions (To Long, Didn't Read),

How long did it take you to learn these more complicated chords if you did?
Did any of you give up on any?
I practice at least an hour a day. When did that next level of ability happen for you?

I'm curious in your experiences. I understand it won't affect mine but just trying to get a general picture of different experiences.

Thanks for reading!

bunnyf
11-27-2015, 02:18 AM
I'm ashamed to say at 5 yrs in (and I play aLOT), I struggle with all four finger chords and most bar chords. I don't have a lot of he strength or dexterity. I do play more than I practice though and that probably the problem. About 2 yrs in I discovered Boot camp but was daunted by the tricky chords too. Now that I have somewhat better skills, I've been meaning to revisit it and work on cleaning up some of my chords.

DownUpDave
11-27-2015, 02:21 AM
I strated playing uke 16 months ago with no real prior musical skill or knowledge. I too started out with Uncle Rod's boot camp and I also stumbled with some of those chords. So I took a step back and thought about what I wanted to accomplish, that was plsying songs. I know a bit about teaching physical skills like golf, skiing hockey and you always start with the easiest and most useful skills.

I googled "Most used chords" and it brought me to "Ukehunt" website and a very comprehensive list in order of the 20 most frequently used chords. These were in order C, G, F, D, Am, A, Dm, Bb, D7 G7, etc. etc.............Light bulb moment, I could start simple, 3 chord songs ( C,F and G) and then build from there.

If you have read this far (touche') to answer your questions I was playing barr chords like Bb, B and D7 after 10-12 weeks. Some chords like E, nasty, I have still not masterd yet.

It is a building process. Slow steps really do make progress, but you have to give it time.

PhilUSAFRet
11-27-2015, 03:58 AM
It's a bit of a generalization, but "it takes as long as it takes." It varies from player to player based on several things. Hand and finger flexibility, dexterity, strength, and reasonably "correct practice." There are numerous hand and finger exercise demos and left-hand (assuming you are right handed) fretting patterns. Many feel that practice is the best way to go, but many professional players have a set of finger and hand exercises that they faithfully use, including warm up exercises (as you'd do for any exercise.) In the beginning, I spent much time practicing difficult chords and strumming patterns in front of the TV during commercials and strumming patterns on muted strings. All aspects of playing the uke are skills that must be, to the best of your ability, "mastered" before moving on to more difficult materials. When learning something you are unfamiliar with, go as slow as you need to go to "master" it. Speed comes with practice and subsequent familiarity. Perhaps "become proficient at" is a little more realistic than "mastered", but you know what I mean. Good luck and "may the uke be with you."

sukie
11-27-2015, 04:20 AM
This can be a life long learning process if you want it to be. I started out strumming but since I don't sing I quickly moved to fingerpicking. There are times I make a lot of progress but then there are times I plateau. Then I progress, then I plateau. There are always things to learn. I am enjoying the journey. But it's a very personal journey.

Just have fun, whatever you do.

jop
11-27-2015, 05:15 AM
Take it easy, this is meant to be fun. Practicing 'easy' chords will improve your general dexterity, and eventually make 'difficult' chords easier too. I started out playing the guitar many many years ago, but I still remember the struggle. My major victories arose from "I must learn this great song, even if it contains this $##!!**** chord!"

jollyboy
11-27-2015, 06:38 AM
My major victories arose from "I must learn this great song, even if it contains this $##!!**** chord!"

This made me chuckle. Six months into my uke journey and I still try to avoid songs with too many tricky chords. Also I continue to cheerfully substitute an E7 for a straight E whenever possible and have no intention of trying to correct this 'bad habit' any time soon.

I feel like I'm just now starting to get the hang of barre chords, as Bb has proven harder and harder to sidestep as I've sought to increase my song pool. Something I've noticed is that the skin on the side of my barring finger seems to have toughened up a bit and the soft fleshy parts are no longer working against me quite so much. So, that's something that seems to happen.

A couple of personal observations regarding the practicalities of barring - a good set-up/low action at the nut end makes barring the first couple of frets a whole lot less challenging imho. Also, string tension makes a difference (kind of obvious I guess :))

Good luck! Have fun!

Ukejenny
11-28-2015, 09:54 AM
In the beginning, for me, I practiced C, F, G, G7, Am..... those easier chords until they literally became like second nature to me. I practiced the chord progressions in Ukulele Boot Camp. Doing that expanded me into different chords. Then, I worked on Bb until I was getting it - it took a zillion tries. Repetition and not giving up, that is what got my chords flowing. And making sure my hand/thumb position was good, relaxed, and able to shape with a fluid motion (relaxed is the key).

I stuck to the really easy songs for a long time. Then, I'd branch out just a little bit, and try to grab a different chord in a different song. Lots of time, repetition, and making sure my left hand/fingers were doing the right thing.

mac1012
11-28-2015, 07:24 PM
you are doing well for 6 weeks ! I have just rejoined this site I used to play a concert ukule , then sold it , I think part of the problem was I was playing songs from a uke group that didn't really rock my boat I am now in process of buying a ohana electro acoustic and small amp , I think you are running before you can walk , focusing too much on difficult chords will end up to frustration and feeling miserable , I bet you know quite a few basic chords , consolidate what you have learned , find some songs you really enjoy playing with simple arrangements and just enjoy playing them and then gradually work on harder chords , I play the flute and as with any instrument you have to set attainable goals , as for singing I found pitching to sing with my concert difficult at times , I am hoping the fuller tenor sound will help that a little I find someimes the most simple songs played and sung nice with passion are as good as anything I guess that's the beauty of the ukulele I have seen some lovely you tube videos of simple arrangements and lovely singing

cosmic68
11-28-2015, 09:41 PM
Thank you so much for replies and great advice. I just want to say how nice everyone on here is. I've taken on board all the advice-all solid and am grateful to receive and learn.

I guess I panicked a bit because on the third lesson of the four classes they asked us to learn a song with lots of barre chords plus the horrific E. I simply couldn't do it. So it actually made me believe it may not be for me.
I see this is totally incorrect. Reading on various forums and tutorials E chord is notorious. Not one most people learn easily.

I'm going to slow down I think. I have a couple of songs I enjoyed learning and would like to get them smooth and faultless over the next couple of months. Have set myself a mini project of trying to teach myself Brett McQueens version of Jingle Bells by Xmas day :)

I will continue with boot camp. I may not have the dexterity for it, but won't know until I've tried a thousand times, eh? It may be a case that I'll be only able to do a smaller number chords-but that's fine, even at this early stage, I really love playing. Enormously. It's so much fun.

Thank you.

Croaky Keith
11-28-2015, 10:29 PM
Your hand will loosen up & your fingers tips will harden over time.
Getting a dull sound from a string usually means another finger is touching it.
This happens a lot when starting to play a stringed instrument.
Keep your finger nails short on your fretting hand, (cut weekly if needs be).
Take your time, play what you like, & most of all, enjoy the journey.

phil hague
11-29-2015, 12:47 AM
Just enjoy it. I suggest you join a uke club, they will draw you along. I was over 60 when I started as a complete novice and I made quick progress after going to a club and watching what they do and joining in where I could. Still lots of things I struggle with, but there are now lots of things which I can do.
By the way, Kala are excellent ukes, I use them myself.

fitncrafty
11-29-2015, 04:32 AM
Great thread and great questions. I have progressed and regressed through my 5 years. Getting frustrated at times and not playing for months. I don't play nearly as much as I would like. I think it all depends on you. I struggle with several chords, E and a few others, I just keep plugging away. Sometimes I change a key to avoid a chord.. yes I do!
If you are having fun, don't give up. You are creating new neural pathways in the brain. Sometimes it helps to take a few days break from working on a chord or strumming pattern and then I can come back to it.

I still consider myself a beginner in all senses of the term. I have long way to go. Best of luck and have fun! If it gets frustrating, it will be much harder!

bedweazel
11-29-2015, 01:49 PM
As another beginner I appreciate the thoughts of the original poster and everyone else. I am having a harder time with strumming patterns than I am with chords. I'm sure it is different for everyone. The thing is to enjoy the process and keep doing it. Thanks for the vadidation provided here!

JackLuis
11-29-2015, 08:38 PM
Check out Howling Hobbits Chord Progressions up in the resource sticky. (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?15464-Ukulele-Resources-%28Updated%29) He has six progressions in each key, I use them to expand my key knowledge and to practice strum patterns. It's kind of like Uncle Rods bootcamp but the key progressions 'sound like songs' which make it more fun, and teaches your ear a little theory.

cosmic68
11-30-2015, 03:35 AM
Check out Howling Hobbits Chord Progressions up in the resource sticky. (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?15464-Ukulele-Resources-%28Updated%29) He has six progressions in each key, I use them to expand my key knowledge and to practice strum patterns. It's kind of like Uncle Rods bootcamp but the key progressions 'sound like songs' which make it more fun, and teaches your ear a little theory.

Oh this is excellent. Right up my street. Exactly what I'm looking for to keep me on track. Quick question; to the left of the chords there are the finger placement and numbers, but sometimes there's only three when it should have four (last sheet). Am I missing something?

blodzoom
12-01-2015, 07:16 AM
I've been playing for almost 6 months now. I didn't really feel comfortable with barre chords until about 3 months in. I realized around then that my uke setup was crap and was working against me. I now have 3 ukes, one of them is set up perfectly and makes a lot of things way easier. Try googling ukulele action to find tutorials on where it should be and how to check it. You can lower it yourself if you're pretty handy. I did this on my first uke but not until after I had another one, I was too worried about screwing it up but it's really not that scary. Or you can take it to a shop and have them lower it for you (probably about $40-$60)

If your action is fine and you're still struggling, then it's just practice. Find a song to learn where you know most of the chords but there is one or two extra chords that you're not as good at. Don't be afraid to take your practice in different directions. If I get tired of trying to master a chord, I'll try to find a new song to learn or I'll just practice strum patterns/techniques for a few days. It all adds up to better playing.

E chord is still really hard for me, btw. If anyone knows a song that uses mostly easy chords but also has an E, let me know. It's probably time for me to get comfortable with it.

JackLuis
12-01-2015, 12:15 PM
Oh this is excellent. Right up my street. Exactly what I'm looking for to keep me on track. Quick question; to the left of the chords there are the finger placement and numbers, but sometimes there's only three when it should have four (last sheet). Am I missing something?

Three or four chords are all you need for a lot of songs. Many songs add one or two, or 12 'extra' chords. However for a noob, 3-4 is enough to teach you the relationships of chords to keys.

If you look at more theory you'll find the relationships for more chords that fit a key.

Try looking at http://ukebuddy.com/ukulele-chords/Cm7b5-chord and read the suggested usages. If you find a form that sounds good,and don't know what it is, switch to the chord namer and find out what it is.

I wish I'd had the internet when I was trying to play guitar 30 years ago.

JackLuis
12-01-2015, 12:26 PM
-

E chord is still really hard for me, btw. If anyone knows a song that uses mostly easy chords but also has an E, let me know. It's probably time for me to get comfortable with it.

The Hotel California in Am. If the E is too hard try E7 and it sound okay, or barr the fourth fret with the A string fretted on the 7th. I still paly E7th whenI run across an E, but I'm just learning too.

cosmic68
12-02-2015, 10:01 AM
Three or four chords are all you need for a lot of songs. Many songs add one or two, or 12 'extra' chords. However for a noob, 3-4 is enough to teach you the relationships of chords to keys.

If you look at more theory you'll find the relationships for more chords that fit a key.

Try looking at http://ukebuddy.com/ukulele-chords/Cm7b5-chord and read the suggested usages. If you find a form that sounds good,and don't know what it is, switch to the chord namer and find out what it is.

I wish I'd had the internet when I was trying to play guitar 30 years ago.

Sorry Jack, I wasn't clear. On the Howling Hobbit link you pointed me to. The chord progression tables. On the last page it shows a picture of four tabs/tables and where fingers should be, but in the description box to the left (numbering the finger placement) it will only describe 3 sets of finger placement but there are four diagrams. I'm probably not explaining this well or using correct terminology. Have a look at the last sheet-it's a bit confusing. I'm sure I'm being a noob and missing something, but not sure what. Nothing is obvious at this early stage for me. Thanks.

JackLuis
12-02-2015, 08:24 PM
Sorry Jack, I wasn't clear. On the Howling Hobbit link you pointed me to. The chord progression tables. On the last page it shows a picture of four tabs/tables and where fingers should be, but in the description box to the left (numbering the finger placement) it will only describe 3 sets of finger placement but there are four diagrams. I'm probably not explaining this well or using correct terminology. Have a look at the last sheet-it's a bit confusing. I'm sure I'm being a noob and missing something, but not sure what. Nothing is obvious at this early stage for me. Thanks.

Well it's probably because four won't fit in the space allowed, or He forgot? Or maybe he was testing you? :D
Still it was well worth the price, wasn't it? You can always pencil it the missing one. Just remember the numbers start with the lowest/top (G) string. They always try to confuse you/me it seems.
Practice, practice and fool around for a while. HH's chord progressions are great for making up kids songs too.

cosmic68
12-02-2015, 09:57 PM
Haha, probably testing-I've failed already.

Thanks for the input and the tip re where the numbers start (top string).

Croaky Keith
12-03-2015, 12:06 AM
This site may help you with chords etc.
http://ukebuddy.com/ukulele-scales

morgensd
12-24-2015, 01:37 PM
If you are practicing an hour a day you should make good progress. Barre chords and 4-finger chords are awkward at first. When I'm learning a new piece with a difficult chord, I practice playing that chord while sitting in front of the tv. I just play it over and over strumming without the chord and then trying to form the chord. If it gets frustrating, come back to it in a few days. You may be surprised to find that you suddenly "get it". Good Luck!

ukulelego
01-05-2016, 01:11 PM
You are definitely concerned too early. I think it sounds like you're flying along, just keep at it.

Kupuawahine
03-19-2016, 05:55 PM
Hi cosmic68,
Great thread.
I have been playing the ukulele a short time and am also finding barre chords a challenge.
My thanks to all who replied. Your posts have been helpful and encouraging.
Aloha KFDUnder