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View Full Version : Does everyone have 3 piles / how do you learn a new tune? / what are you working on



whistleman123
02-23-2016, 04:18 AM
Just curious about other peoples process of learning new songs? At this point in my ukulele journey it takes me a considerable amount of time to arrange and learn a new song no matter which style I want to play it in. In fact, it takes me so much time that I find if I work on only that song until it's "performance ready" I end up getting bored with it!

So I find that I have 3 piles of music. Pile one has songs I've learned and can play all the way through without stumbling (small pile). Pile 2 has songs I am currently working up. I try to limit this pile to 2 songs and hit them for a little bit every time I practice. Pile 3 has the sheet music or tabs for songs I want to learn (big pile and constantly growing).

How can I speed this up?

What's your process?

In pile #2 I currently am working on an instrumental arrangement of Paper Moon and a strum/sing/and solo arrangement of Someone Like You

Xtradust
02-23-2016, 04:40 AM
Wow. I'm the same way. I fixate on a song until I get to where I've got it down. Then I lose interest in it, because I've played it so many times, and find another one to work on.

I have three "piles" (favorites) in Goodreader on the iPad. The ones I can sing and play all the way through get a yellow star. The ones I like, but can't play very well get a red star...and everything else with no star.

Concentrating on a couple/few songs helps me make progress more quickly. As does marking them as favorites. It helps me remember which songs I'm working on. I've found that if I don't mark them as favorites, they get lost in the paper storm and I'll forget about the songs that I want to work on.

Rllink
02-23-2016, 05:52 AM
Are you talking about playing a song, or memorizing a song? Are you talking about just playing the chords, or are you trying to get fancy? And what do you mean by performance ready, and who are you performing them for? I guess it would help to know what your expectations are.

NewKid
02-23-2016, 06:06 AM
It depends on how difficult the song is. I've been working on a couple of classical pieces for over a year and I know all the notes but I'm not playing them beautifully yet.

Songs with just chords I can learn in 5-20 minutes. This did not apply to the Lyle Ritz blue chord melody book that also took me a year to master.

My process is one small section of a song at a time until I have it. Once I have that section I don't play it over and over but instead spend my time on the sections I haven't mastered.

Somtimes it helps to start at the end of the song and work backwards.

Take your time and enjoy the journey!

mikelz777
02-23-2016, 06:42 AM
Sometimes I feel like an idiot because when I think about it, I couldn't pick up a uke and play a single song by memory. I've never bothered to try and memorize a repertoire of songs. I'm song sheet dependent and it would take hours to play everything I've put in my song book. I guess I just enjoy strumming away and playing in the moment because as of now, I'm my only audience. Maybe I'd feel different if I was to perform for others.

janeray1940
02-23-2016, 07:26 AM
I'm kind of all over the place - I play fingerstyle only and I play alone, in a trio, and in an instrumental ukulele ensemble. Never thought of it until just now but I guess my "piles" are:



Songs I play from memory: this is a group of around a half-dozen songs I've been working on with two others. We meet weekly to practice, and I play this group of songs daily as my warm-up.



Ensemble songs: mostly not memorized; this group also meets weekly and I try to run through our repertoire at least three times a week.



Solo stuff: this can range from one-off easy things (yes, even strumming if there are fun twiddly bits) to things I've been playing for years but will likely never really master (John King arrangements for instance). I tend to alternate days doing this with days focusing on the aforementioned ensemble material, so typically three times a week would apply here as well.


I try to play every day, but sometimes miss one day a week. At the very least, I'll run though a few of those songs-from-memory. The other days, I usually play between 2-4 hours in the evening. And my "piles" are all paper in binders - I don't do digital.

whistleman123
02-23-2016, 07:49 AM
Are you talking about playing a song, or memorizing a song? Are you talking about just playing the chords, or are you trying to get fancy? And what do you mean by performance ready, and who are you performing them for? I guess it would help to know what your expectations are.

Mostly I just play for myself and family, but I have started rehersing with a jazz clarinet player with an eye toward possible duo gigs. I'm not necessarily trying to memorize but find through the learning process that I do memorize. I comp behind an instrument or my own voice, try to play linear solos, and some chord solos. I try to keep the voicings as smooth as possible and eliminate open strings as much as possible.

janeray1940
02-23-2016, 08:05 AM
and eliminate open strings as much as possible.

That got my attention - I'm curious as to why one would aim to eliminate open strings? Asking because I do a bit of campanella playing and from that approach, open strings can be considered a good thing.

kypfer
02-23-2016, 08:09 AM
My biggest revelation was learning to read music "properly"

Now I've only got two piles ... music I haven't played yet and music I've already enjoyed ;)

Both piles get revisited on a regular basis.

Both piles grow slowly over time.

As items move from pile 1 to pile 2, pile one gets replenished with new acquisitions ... my total pile occupies some 6ft of shelf space.

If they were all stacked on top of each other they'd probably fall over :rofl:

Croaky Keith
02-23-2016, 08:37 AM
I was trying to learn all my old favourite easy tunes that I always use when starting out on a new instrument, then I took the plunge into the Seasons, & had to start learning a tune a week.

But I can't always find suitable tabs online, so started to write my own tabs from music notation books that I have aquired for other instruments tried/played in the past. So, I have an increasing number of tunes that I practice with, & as long as I end up being able to play reasonably/competently from tab I'll be happy.

(I might try songbooks in the future, but will have to practice a lot more of chord changing.)

acmespaceship
02-23-2016, 09:28 AM
Y'all are more organized than I am. I never tried to count piles before. I'm a chord strummer and singer, so there's no big learning curve unless I'm trying to play from memory. Let's see...

1. Songs I know and am prepared to play/sing from memory.

2. Songs I knew but haven't played recently, so maybe I can play them from memory or maybe not. I hate when I find out it's the latter and I'm already halfway through the song!

3. Songs I knew once but don't remember anymore, a group I could subdivide into songs I need to go look at again, songs I've deliberately abandoned, and songs I have forgotten even exist.

4. Songs I am trying to memorize. Like the OP, I get bored if I try to learn just one song at a time, so I usually work on two or three at once. Play them every freakin' day. In the morning, again in the evening. Some songs take a few days, others take weeks. Sometimes the chords are easy and it's the lyrics that kill me, but usually it's vice-versa. If I'm sick to death of a song and I still haven't learned it, time to give up and learn something else.

5. Those rare songs that took 20 minutes to memorize. Predictable chord patterns, familiar lyrics. It is useful to collect a lot of these. Once you've learned one 12-bar blues, you've learned them all. Except keeping track of which verse you wake up in the morning, and which verse you go down to see your baby.

6. Songs I intend to memorize one of these days. This is a large pile and it keeps growing. But sadly, it's not really a pile. It's a vague mental construct. Sometimes I write lists, but mostly I hold this in my head which is like a sieve. If I were better organized about this, I would probably learn more songs.

7. Songs I have as lead sheets or chord/lyric sheets and I'm content with playing from paper. I have no intention of memorizing these. This is the largest pile since I am in several uke clubs and the tab keeps piling up.

8. Songs I have as chord/lyric sheets (thanks to uke clubs) but I don't know how the song goes so I can't play them from paper. Some of these I like and intend to learn someday, but mainly I ignore these.

9. Songs I'd like to learn but don't have an arrangement yet. This pile is actually not that huge, since the internet is full of tab and old sheet music. Often it just takes a Google search and the "transpose" button to change a #9 song into a #6.

There are still more piles that involve playing with other people. Songs my buddy Liz and I do from memory, songs my husband knows on clarinet, songs I intend to lead at uke club, and so on. Kinda scary to think about it, but this is a good exercise. Thanks for an interesting thread!

whistleman123
02-23-2016, 10:37 AM
[QUOTE=janeray1940;1815215]That got my attention - I'm curious as to why one would aim to eliminate open strings? Asking because I do a bit of campanella playing and from that approach, open strings can be considered a good thing.[/QUOTE

Gerald Ross can explain it far better than I can. Check out his youtube video titled "Beginning Swing Ukulele #1". Basically it enables you to play Very rhythmically.

janeray1940
02-23-2016, 10:42 AM
Gerald Ross can explain it far better than I can. Check out his youtube video titled "Beginning Swing Ukulele #1". Basically it enables you to play Very rhythmically.

Ah, got it, I think - he's referring to chording rather than single-note playing. I'd just never heard anybody speak of avoiding open strings before but in that context it makes sense to me, thanks :)

photoshooter
02-24-2016, 05:56 AM
Wow, I do almost exactly the same thing. My piles are digital- folders on my computer. I have a huge repository of music. When I identify songs I want to learn next they go into folder 3 on standby and eventually make their way to folder 1. I try to work on three songs at a time so it stays interesting and also to help increase my memory. I vary the styles between Fingerstyle, chord melody and strumming. I can play a bunch of songs with sheet music but only a few from memory. I'm getting better though....baby steps...

Rllink
02-24-2016, 06:31 AM
I've probably got a hundred or so songs on my computer, a lot of them I'm pretty good at, some I've not even tried yet. I have around thirty on paper, which is my gig list, and another fifteen or twenty that I know by memory. Those are my singing around the campfire songs. Sometimes my memory fails me though, and when that happens, I fake it. Some of the songs on my gig list, I don't even particularly like, but other people seem to.

The thing that got my attention was the "performance ready" statement. The first actual performance that I ever did, resulted from a miscommunication where I thought that I was going to a coffee shop to jam with another ukulele player, only to find thirty or forty people there who had come to watch. The other ukulele player and I looked at each other's music, strummed a little, downed a couple of quick beers, and put on a show. So don't let performance ready stop you.

mikelz777
02-24-2016, 06:47 AM
So don't let performance ready stop you.

True, it reminds me of my brother's wedding reception. He had a band come in made up of guys he knew. They were just a crappy garage band but the beer was flowing and everyone had a good time despite the band being pretty raw and ragged.

Rllink
02-24-2016, 07:36 AM
True, it reminds me of my brother's wedding reception. He had a band come in made up of guys he knew. They were just a crappy garage band but the beer was flowing and everyone had a good time despite the band being pretty raw and ragged.
A performance is half musical talent, and the other half stage presence. If you can get up there and have a good time, most of the audience is going to have a good time too. Once in a while you get someone who thinks they are a critic, and I have a special song for them, but most people just want to have a good time. But back to the original post, I have songs that I was pretty good at playing and singing at one time, but if you don't keep playing them, they end up in the not so good anymore pile. I've got a lot of songs that I memorized at one point, that I don't remember anymore. So if one's goal is to keep learning new songs, there comes a point that for every new one you learn, there is probably an old one you are forgetting.

Tootler
02-24-2016, 11:22 AM
My songs are all in the computer but in folders by genre rather than whether or not I'm learning them. However I do have them mentally organised into four categories.

Songs I have learned (ie memorised). These are songs I know I can sing when I am out and ones I base any set list on.

Song I'm currently learning. These are ones I've not yet memorised but am in the process of trying to memorise. I don't usually sing them out as I would need to use a crib sheet. I do sometimes try them out if I'm not sure how they would go down with an audience to judge whether it's worth the effort of continuing to learn them.

Songs I had memorised but need to refresh because I've not been singing them much so I can longer guarantee to sing them through without a crib sheet.

Songs I've maybe sung once or twice but I'm not really intending to learn properly. I have a lot of songs in this category because of being a regular participant in the Seasons, so regularly look up and record songs to fit into the current theme.

I find it doesn't take me too long to get a song into shape enough to make a tolerable recording for You Tube as I will have the words and chords in front of me. Mostly I don't do any more than that with the songs, but every now and then, I find a song I find worth working up further. However, it takes me a lot longer to commit a song to memory so it needs an investment in time and effort. I also find I need to sing a new song out several times before I am really comfortable with it.

If I'm going to sing a song in front of an audience, even if it's just an open mic or a weekly folk club singaround, I think it important to be able to sing the song from memory and not have to rely on having the words in front of me. That way you can interact with the audience more effectively.

Edit to add that I should have said that I'm basically a chord strummer and singer rather than a fingerstyle player though I do finger pick accompaniments sometimes on slower songs.

WoodGlue
02-24-2016, 12:52 PM
Maybe being a newbie on the Ukulele, this isn't the way I should be doing it - but I have one book, The Hal Leonard Ukulele "Fake Book" with over 400 songs, melodies, chords & lyrics (and chord grids for Soprano, Concert & Tenor Ukes) - and I draw from that:

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1476812934/

Ukejenny
02-24-2016, 02:17 PM
I have a few songs down well enough that they are memorized, the others are not. I have a notebook with constantly changing sheets in page protectors. I have the songs we will play for our next Monday Night Jam in front, and behind those, I have the songs I'm personally working on. Behind that, I have some old favorites I want within easy reach. The rest of my music is filed alphabetically in a file box.