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Joyful Uke
03-20-2016, 05:43 PM
I haven't taken any ukulele lessons. What benefits have you all found from taking lessons?

For context, I play just for my own enjoyment. Had lessons on a couple other instruments many years ago, so some music background.

My primary memories of piano lessons, (when I was a youngster), consist of being hit when playing a wrong note, and something else that wasn't stellar. Back in ancient times, a piano teacher could get away with that. The idea of lessons still make me skittish, though.

What am I missing by sticking to the DYI approach? What benefits of lessons stand out for you?

Kyle23
03-20-2016, 05:54 PM
I've never taken lessons personally so I can only speculate, but I think some of it has to do with picking up things while watching someone else play. I learned from Youtube videos so it's a lesson in a way and I can't tell you how many things I've picked up from teachers without even realizing I was picking subtle things up. Also a lot of it probably has to do with getting rid of bad habits that someone can see straight on as you're playing. Plus learning yourself, if you have a specific thing you're trying to learn and can't quite grasp it, you can simply ask the person giving you lessons how exactly to do it.

janeray1940
03-20-2016, 06:01 PM
I've taken private lessons for 6+ years, and group classes before that. I'm not very good at being self-directed - I can't learn from videos or books very well (my eyes glaze over with boredom without an actual human connection), so the main benefit for me is that lessons keep me interested and engaged. But additionally, it's an opportunity to get feedback on things that I wouldn't notice on my own - important things like timing, or smaller things like suggestions on how to make a tricky chord easier to play. Plus, any opportunity to play with others is a good thing!

Jayfuzi
03-20-2016, 06:16 PM
I've been taking lessons for about 1.5 yrs with John Nash of ukulele inspired (check him out on YouTube!). He's seriously passion about music and the ukulele! Personally I like the mix of learning music theory and songs that we do. He leaves it up to me what I want to learn. He's a great guy and very encouraging!

kohanmike
03-20-2016, 07:17 PM
In 1965 I learned guitar with about 10 lessons, then I stopped and tried to learn on my own. The songs other people showed me I learned immediately, but ones that I had to look at a lead sheet I never learned. That went on for almost 50 years, then I took up the ukulele in mid-2013 participating in the Los Angeles Music Center Music Arts Play-Along ukulele summer series. I also learned a little from the internet, but the best thing I did was join a strum and sing group classes that meets twice a week, which made me have to learn the music handed out. Almost at the same time I joined a very advanced instrumental group, but after almost a year I realized I just couldn't keep up, so I dropped out.

Then about a year ago I started playing bass uke for my group and realized very quickly that I had to take lessons to get up to speed with creating bass lines for the songs we do. That has been the best thing I've done in the over 50 years I've been playing.

Domiuke
03-21-2016, 12:37 AM
I did not take many but the benefit of lessons is the feedbacks that you can't get alone.
It certainly can help sometimes when you get difficulties to pass a step.

kissing
03-21-2016, 01:15 AM
I don't think we can generalise anything about whether lessons are useful or not.

It depends on the person.

Some people are well suited to being guided and taught.
Others are better as natural self-learners uninhibited by an external teacher.

Tootler
03-21-2016, 01:23 AM
I'm largely self taught on all the instruments I play and am quite happy to teach myself. I did have formal lessons on recorder for a while. I go to workshops and on study weekends, though and generally find them useful. They're a good way of learning specific aspects of technique or style.

I went to folk music classes in Newcastle (UK) for four years. These were group tuition with a mixture of single instrument classes and mixed instrument (band) classes. The classes were based around teaching tunes which is where I got the idea of learning ukulele through learning songs and which is basically how I've taught myself ukulele. I started off with songs in the keys of C and G which gave a basic repertoire of chords and I've gradually learnt to play more chords as they came up in songs I wanted to learn. Workshops and occasional use of tutorial videos on You Tube have augmented this.

PhilUSAFRet
03-21-2016, 01:24 AM
I'd say it's based on one's learning style. Some people can learn on their own, some need instructions. I personally like video lessons, including DVD's, and online video tutorials where I can control the speed. I tried guitar lessons. Instructors generally wanted me to go faster than I'm able. There is some advantage for many regarding "self discipline." I'm a terrible procrastinator. With an instructor, you do have to get off your butt and attend the lessons you are paying for and many are more likely to actually practice what they just learned.

marimorimo
03-21-2016, 02:35 AM
I'm the type who really needs and values the instructor (on most anything). I think having someone who can give you real-time feedback is invaluable. I also think it saves valuable time, because the instructor gives out tips and tricks as we go along (no need for me to reinvent the wheel). I've only taken a few uke classes so far but each time I take them my playing changes tremendously. I learn much better when there's a person right there in front of me guiding me and giving feedback.

Of course, some of the best musicians I know are largely self-taught so YMMV. But self-teaching certainly isn't for me.

sukie
03-21-2016, 03:00 AM
I do lessons for a lot of reasons. I want to get better and better. It's slower than molasses sometimes, but I do make progress. My teacher can see what I'm doing wrong and help me correct it. Lessons are geared to what I need and want to learn. It keeps me motivated to practice. No, I hardly ever just play. I practice. But it's still fun. Unless I am doing something I don't want to do -- like practicing tremolo.

I love my lessons.

Rllink
03-21-2016, 03:47 AM
I have not taken any ukulele lessons. There are very few ukulele instructors where I live, and the few that I checked on were guitar instructors who were giving ukulele lessons. If I could have found someone who was an actual ukulele instructor I would have taken lessons. I think that the feedback and, as Sukie says, someone to tell you what you are doing wrong, would be very helpful. I think that they would also be a confidence builder and a bit of accountability wouldn't hurt anything either. I did take singing lessons, and that was a great help. The biggest thing with the singing lessons was coming to the realization that I really can sing. I was convinced that I couldn't prior to my first lesson. So in that case, the realization that I could and the confidence to do it was well worth the time and money. The secondary benefit of Singing lessons was that my voice coach had me bringing my ukulele to class and playing the songs while I sang them. He helped me a lot with the playing and singing part. His approach was that if I was going to be a singer, then we could just sing, but if my goal was to sing and play the ukulele, then we really needed the ukulele involved in the process. I thought that was a good approach. But I would guess that all of that holds true for ukulele lessons.

Croaky Keith
03-21-2016, 03:48 AM
I play what I want when I want, & feel that the learning process is part of the fun.

Being self taught, I'm not very good, but I enjoy what I do, & feel that improvement comes with practice.

If you want to be critical, just video yourself to see how good/bad you are. :D

Ukulelerick9255
03-21-2016, 03:55 AM
It all depends on what you want to get out of your playing. If you just want to play some basic chords and strum some songs then self taught is fine. If you want to learn to play chords more extensively and various genres of music and the learn to play melodies and leads and learn the neck and to play up and down the neck and to understand some music theory then lessons will help with that. I take lessons, I have to stop temporarily for some surgery but as soon as I'm able I'll be back taking lessons.

Recstar24
03-21-2016, 04:12 AM
Last year I started weekly lessons with Matt dahlberg for about 6 months, then went to a lesson here or there to brush up from that point. Even though I'm a music teacher with a full music degree and certification, classically trained in voice and violin, I can't imagine my playing being where it is now without him. He really has pushed me forward and taught me so many unique things that you just can't find online or in a book. He's got quite a novel approach to so many aspects of playing and is just a great teacher.

Some specific things include strumming technique, different patterns and styles of strumming, 4 finger picking, playing up the neck, the CAGE system for finding different versions of chords, and included some fantastic music and arrangements. He's really cleaned up my strumming and finger picking that is for sure.

70sSanO
03-21-2016, 04:44 AM
I took piano lessons over 50 years ago and thankfully from a teacher that didn't smack me when I messed up. I also took a couple years of guitar lessons. I have basically used my guitar background and adapted it to the ukulele.

The one thing that lessons will help with is with technique. Whether it is right hand finger picking and strumming, or left hand chording and transitions. I am not a real fan of taking lessons to just learn a song, but that is what I believe a lot of younger guitar students want to do... teach me to play this or that.

The one area that I need/want to learn is more hands-on theory... scales, major minor key chords, etc. A friend who has muddled through guitar playing for years finally buckled down and really learned the fretboard using the CAGED system for guitar. His playing is night and day from where he was. That is where a good teacher can make the difference.

John

Rllink
03-21-2016, 04:45 AM
It all depends on what you want to get out of your playing. If you just want to play some basic chords and strum some songs then self taught is fine. If you want to learn to play chords more extensively and various genres of music and the learn to play melodies and leads and learn the neck and to play up and down the neck and to understand some music theory then lessons will help with that. I take lessons, I have to stop temporarily for some surgery but as soon as I'm able I'll be back taking lessons.Not trying to take anything away from lessons, but I think that people can get beyond basics and strumming without taking lessons. I fact, there are a lot of very talented ukulele players out there who have not taken lessons.

janeray1940
03-21-2016, 04:51 AM
Not trying to take anything away from lessons, but I think that people can get beyond basics and strumming without taking lessons. I fact, there are a lot of very talented ukulele players out there who have not taken lessons.

As others have noted, it really does depend on what one wants to get from it.

I'm around a lot of uke players who are self-taught, or who have gotten the basics via a strum-and-sing group but have never had one-on-one lessons or played other instruments. The two issues I notice among the self-taught types are poor sense of timing, and an inability to play single-note passages smoothly, both things that a teacher could hone in on and correct in a single lesson or two, especially the latter - I don't think they know how unintentionally staccato their playing sounds. I remember struggling with both of these things as a newbie, but if I hadn't had an instructor to set me straight, I'm not sure I would have figured out what I was doing wrong on my own.

sukie
03-21-2016, 04:57 AM
Just so ya know -- I take skype lessons. No need for just local teachers. I am continually astounded at what he sees and hears over the Internet.

Piecomics
03-21-2016, 05:32 AM
I tried several teachers, all guitar/uke... Did not get much from them (a lot of "here's the circle of fifths... Now go practice). Finally found a classical guitar teacher who has really opened my eyes and ears to what I can do. I think a lot depends on temperament as to whether going with a teacher would be the right decision... Temperament and goals.

Ukejenny
03-21-2016, 05:43 AM
The benefit of taking lessons is spending time with someone who knows more than you, can give you tips and tricks, can trouble shoot with you, right there, in real time. If it is a good teacher/student relationship, it an also be a lot of fun and be a challenge that is exciting - you should learn a lot.

Peace Train
03-21-2016, 08:20 AM
My instructor tells me to pick the songs and music I want to play while making playing fun. He only introduces music theory and technique every now and then to help round out my knowledge and experience. This is what I've learned within four months of instruction:

* Progressing rapidly in skill, knowledge, and ability
* Proper technique to make playing easier, not harder
* How to rewrite tabs so that an entire song is easily played using only four frets
* Instant feedback on everything from technique to breathing, relaxing (not tensing up), and so forth

I only recently started playing in groups for fun, and have been impressed that I'm able to play with intermediate level players as a result.

MARKbOC
03-21-2016, 08:30 AM
I took a six week (one night per week) group lesson and it was a huge help. Picked up a lot of new skills and saw how much I didn't know that i didn't know. There's a limitless world of interesting techniques, work-arounds, strum patterns, new ways of looking at things, etc.

Highly recommend at least trying some kind of lesson to see if it suits you.

rappsy
03-21-2016, 09:36 AM
Lessons have kept me focused, as I was all over the place until the lesson started. Matt Stead,(Mattyukaholic), has helped me grow and I heartily recommend him. We use Skype and I can honestly say that I don't think it would any better if we were in the same room. He's in England and I am in the States. I foresee me taking lessons for a long time to come.

+1 for Technology.

NatalieS
03-21-2016, 10:27 AM
I took piano lessons for 11 years, singing lessons for 2, and violin for a measly 6 months. I definitely feel that you progress more quickly as a player with lessons. I'm finally starting uke lessons after years of wanting to. I feel it's very easy to get in a playing rut and/or re-enforce bad technique if you're self-taught. I'm eager to try things I wouldn't have if I just kept playing for my own amusement.

robinboyd
03-21-2016, 11:08 AM
For what it's worth, I took lessons briefly, but I found that I ended up only practicing things for the lessons and getting discouraged because I didn't feel like I was good enough. I'm much happier just muddling along on my own. My progress isn't as fast, but I'm never going to be a pro or anything anyway.

kypfer
03-21-2016, 01:56 PM
It's a lot easier to learn bad habits without lessons :mad:

Rllink
03-23-2016, 03:12 AM
I tried several teachers, all guitar/uke... Did not get much from them (a lot of "here's the circle of fifths... Now go practice). Finally found a classical guitar teacher who has really opened my eyes and ears to what I can do. I think a lot depends on temperament as to whether going with a teacher would be the right decision... Temperament and goals.There is a big difference between a guitar player who is teaching ukulele, and a ukulele instructor who also plays guitar. I could only find the first example around here. The two that I found were treating ukuleles as a step down from playing the guitar, and that seemed pretty obvious after talking to them for a little while. One thing that I found interesting was that when I was at a music store looking for an instructor, they offered to let me be a ukulele instructor for them. Well, I don't really consider myself good enough to instruct others how to play the ukulele, and I found it interesting that they would take me on as a ukulele instructor, without checking me out at least. So it seems, in this case anyway, it doesn't take a lot of credentials to become a ukulele instructor.

sukie
03-23-2016, 03:17 AM
Rllink -- I had the same experience when I started. Guitar teachers are not the same as ukulele teachers. That's why I looked around for an ukulele teacher. It has worked out much better for me. It has to be done via Skype but it works great.

Rllink
03-23-2016, 03:19 AM
It's a lot easier to learn bad habits without lessons :mad:This is just a story, so don't make any more of it than it is. I was at a ukulele festival early on in my ukulele journey, and I was at the open mic session the first evening. I was sitting with a fellow who had taught one of the workshops earlier in the day. There were some really good players there, and I noticed that a lot of them were sticking their thumbs up in the air, holding their ukuleles different ways, and just plain showing off plenty of bad habits, which at that time I was trying my hardest to not develop. So I mentioned that to the fellow sitting with me, and he said, "that is because they are self taught." So I responded but they were all so good though, and he replied, "that is because they are self taught."

Rllink
03-23-2016, 03:21 AM
Rllink -- I had the same experience when I started. Guitar teachers are not the same as ukulele teachers. That's why I looked around for an ukulele teacher. It has worked out much better for me. It has to be done via Skype but it works great.I have thought about skype lessons. My wife skypes a lot in her business, so it would not be hard for me to get started doing that.

kypfer
03-23-2016, 01:24 PM
This is just a story, so don't make any more of it than it is. I was at a ukulele festival early on in my ukulele journey, and I was at the open mic session the first evening. I was sitting with a fellow who had taught one of the workshops earlier in the day. There were some really good players there, and I noticed that a lot of them were sticking their thumbs up in the air, holding their ukuleles different ways, and just plain showing off plenty of bad habits, which at that time I was trying my hardest to not develop. So I mentioned that to the fellow sitting with me, and he said, "that is because they are self taught." So I responded but they were all so good though, and he replied, "that is because they are self taught."

There's a lot of truth there !!

Problems only really arise when there's "only one way" of playing a particular sequence (chords or notes) easily and because of "bad habits" that sequence can become overly difficult to complete cleanly ... most of us just find another tune to play ;)

Nothing wrong with being "individual" :music:

Pueo
03-23-2016, 02:26 PM
I took private guitar lessons when I was a youngster and I have also taken some private ukulele lessons here in Hawaii. The best reason, for me, is that taking lessons will push you past what you are comfortable playing, which means you will improve. When just starting out, private lessons I believe are invaluable for things like 'proper' technique which helps with all sorts of things like reducing fatigue and improving your tone.
As you learn what works for you, fine, do your own thing, but it is nice to have a foundation.
Having an expert guide you will sometimes unlock that little piece of knowledge you seek but do not know where to find.
Getting honest feedback and constructive support is also important.

Nickie
03-23-2016, 03:18 PM
I would no more take ukulele lessons from a guitarist than I'd take flying lessons from a dance instructor.
I'm not taking lessons now, but I am studying music theory with a piano teacher. After the 1st lesson, little has sunk in.
I took horn lessons as a youngster. If I hadn't gotten hold of a teacher who derided me, I might still be playing that trombone, because I loved it.
I took fiddle (not violin) lessons for a couple of years, but almost nothing stuck with me. I had picked too difficult an instrument, for me.
I've had about maybe 4 or 5 uke lessons, and I walked away with something good every time.
I love the workshops that the pros do for us at festival. I've taken away at least one little trick from each of them.

Rllink
03-24-2016, 04:06 AM
I think that one has to realize what they want to do. Are you trying to emulate someone, or are you trying to develop your own style. I think that both can benefit from lessons, but I can see where if someone is trying to sound like someone else, that can take many years of training. Developing one's own style is a different process. When I took voice lessons, my voice coach asked me if there was someone in particular I wanted to sound like, or if I just wanted to sound like me. I told him that I wanted to play my ukulele and sing songs. I told him that I didn't really want to sound like anyone. After five lessons, he told me that there wasn't much else that he could do for me. He said that I had plenty of range, and that I could hit the notes. He said that my style was distinctively mine. He told me to go out and sing a lot. So that was interesting.

Recstar24
03-24-2016, 04:10 AM
I took private guitar lessons when I was a youngster and I have also taken some private ukulele lessons here in Hawaii. The best reason, for me, is that taking lessons will push you past what you are comfortable playing, which means you will improve. When just starting out, private lessons I believe are invaluable for things like 'proper' technique which helps with all sorts of things like reducing fatigue and improving your tone.
As you learn what works for you, fine, do your own thing, but it is nice to have a foundation.
Having an expert guide you will sometimes unlock that little piece of knowledge you seek but do not know where to find.
Getting honest feedback and constructive support is also important.

Couldn't have said it better myself :) I am going to copy this and put it in my classroom.

sukie
03-24-2016, 06:45 AM
I took private guitar lessons when I was a youngster and I have also taken some private ukulele lessons here in Hawaii. The best reason, for me, is that taking lessons will push you past what you are comfortable playing, which means you will improve. When just starting out, private lessons I believe are invaluable for things like 'proper' technique which helps with all sorts of things like reducing fatigue and improving your tone.
As you learn what works for you, fine, do your own thing, but it is nice to have a foundation.
Having an expert guide you will sometimes unlock that little piece of knowledge you seek but do not know where to find.
Getting honest feedback and constructive support is also important.
Nicely said, Damon

My teacher is allowed to be honest. Except for the week or 2 before UWC. Then he can only say nice stuff. Then when it's over? He can be mean again. (I don't mean MEAN mean. I mean he can critique again.