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View Full Version : One more lesson with so-so teacher. What should we do? Also, music theory resources?



JessicaM
05-23-2016, 03:30 PM
I paid for two lessons with a teacher. I've had one and it wasn't great. He's a nice guy but doesn't seem particularly knowledgeable about the uke. Plus I think he's of the I'll-figure-out-your-song-and-then-you-play-it school of teaching. That's fine, but I can figure out a song myself. I don't need to pay someone for that.

Anyway, I think I'm a pain in the butt to teach, so it goes both ways!

So, I've got one more lesson with this guy. What can I have him show me so it's not a waste?

I'm a beginner. I've worked through Ukulele for Dummies and some of Ukulele Exercises for Dummies and Jumping Jim's Beginners book.

Bonus question: does anybody have a great resource for some basic, scratch-the-surface music theory knowledge. There's some seemingly good stuff in Uke Exercises for Dummies but I'm not getting it. This must've been asked a million times, but a search didn't turn up anything. (FYI: uke teacher guy wasn't great at explaining theory)

farmerjones
05-23-2016, 04:01 PM
The Complete Idiots Guide to Music Theory is a great book. Goes through how scales and chords are formed, as well as the basics of melody and harmony and then some. Also check out musictheory.net

As far as your teacher goes... ask for either a diagnostic for your playing technique or something from a genre you normally never play.

Pueo
05-23-2016, 04:04 PM
Yes, if you are a beginner then I would focus on asking about technique, left hand placement, that sort of thing. Sometimes it can take a while to find the right teacher for you.

JessicaM
05-23-2016, 04:08 PM
Yes, if you are a beginner then I would focus on asking about technique, left hand placement, that sort of thing. Sometimes it can take a while to find the right teacher for you.

His comment last time when I asked about left hand placement was "the great thing about the ukulele is that you can play it any way you want to!" :/ I'm sure he was trying to be reassuring. And, of course, he's right: There's no uke police! But it wasn't particularly helpful.

JessicaM
05-23-2016, 04:09 PM
The Complete Idiots Guide to Music Theory is a great book. Goes through how scales and chords are formed, as well as the basics of melody and harmony and then some. Also check out musictheory.net.

Thanks!! I'll check these out!

geetee
05-23-2016, 04:51 PM
... Bonus question: does anybody have a great resource for some basic, scratch-the-surface music theory knowledge. There's some seemingly good stuff in Uke Exercises for Dummies but I'm not getting it. This must've been asked a million times, but a search didn't turn up anything. (FYI: uke teacher guy wasn't great at explaining theory)

This thread is a great free resource for music theory questions. I've seen it mentioned a few times recently that piano is the best instrument on which to learn theory.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?60805-Music-Theory-Questions-Ask-Away

Choirguy
05-23-2016, 05:05 PM
There are many issues here:

1) I don't know many teachers that are interested in taking on a student for 2 lessons. Many will give a first lesson free (to let you see if you are a fit as a student), and then work on a long-term contract. The exception are master teachers who might see you on a as-needed basis--there are a lot of professional voice coaches like this. But most teachers both need the regular income and want to teach a system to you before you move on to the next teacher. So the two-lesson thing is strange.

2) If you are already playing through those resources, and literally playing, you are no longer a true beginner. You are likely on the next level or two.

3) I would look at the Ukulele Tricks for Dummies Book--that is going to be my next purchase--where a number of "advancing" ukulele topics are covered.

4) Music theory? Check out Musictheory.net. I am not sure piano is the best instrument, but it is certainly the instrument that has been used as a primary interface for music theory (and digital music) for nearly 200 years (a little less, perhaps), and was preceded by other keyboard instruments before it (e.g. Harpsichord, Organ). The author of Musictheory.net also has two iOS apps...Theory Lessons and Tentuo, which are not free, but I always recommend because they give to his cause.

photoshooter
05-23-2016, 05:06 PM
I have several music theory books but lately I'm really enjoying Edly's Music Theory for Practical People. (http://www.edly.com/mtfpp.html)

jonyoon
05-23-2016, 05:30 PM
Have you looked at Aldrine's videos?

http://ukuleleunderground.com/courses/beginner-music-theory/

It's a good place to start and from there you can build yourself up. The cool thing with music theory, especially if you've played an instrument for awhile, you start to notice patterns and structure more and you'll start finding that you've had more exposure to music theory than you realized.

anthonyg
05-23-2016, 06:57 PM
Can you sight read standard music notation?

My impression is that the teacher is just trying to get you playing and enjoying music without first getting to bogged down in theory. You want to jump in a bit further along the process but how good are your basics. If you want structured learning start from the beginning. Teachers who will give you detailed directions are also teachers that will expect more from you and you probably won't get on with them either.

TO have a good teacher you need to be a good pupil and as such you will be required to hand some power in the relationship to the teacher. The best teachers demand the best pupils.

I had formal music lessons when I was young. I've learnt to and forgotten to sight read a couple of times. These days I'm self taught mostly.

Anthony

JustinJ
05-24-2016, 02:55 AM
I find that many people want to learn an instrument but do not want to to do the work. You have to practice everyday and work on your weakness. If you have problems with timing, then work on timing. If there are certain chords that give you trouble devote a few minutes everyday to making the chord, etc...

There are many articles and research on the most efficient way to improve on an instrument.

This article should give you outline of how to start approaching your instrument. You need to have some goals or else you'll just wander around for years without progress.http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2013/09/03/216906386/10-easy-ways-to-optimize-your-music-practice


This is an interesting article on random practice vs. blocked practice. Random practice is a much better way to achieve success by the way. http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2013/09/03/216906386/10-easy-ways-to-optimize-your-music-practice

If you expect to get music theory in one lesson then this is not realistic. I took this course online for free. https://www.coursera.org/learn/musicianship It's a good introduction to music theory. I would not worry about getting a deep understanding of music theory.

Your time is better devoted to learning to read notation, practicing timing, learning how to make chords, playing different songs and working on different playing techniques. If you do these things, then you'll improve quickly.

*I know that some will disagree about reading music notation but it opens a whole world of music to you. You do not have to look for tabs and can easily find melodies to play.

Rllink
05-24-2016, 02:59 AM
There are many issues here:

1) I don't know many teachers that are interested in taking on a student for 2 lessons. Many will give a first lesson free (to let you see if you are a fit as a student), and then work on a long-term contract. The exception are master teachers who might see you on a as-needed basis--there are a lot of professional voice coaches like this. But most teachers both need the regular income and want to teach a system to you before you move on to the next teacher. So the two-lesson thing is strange.


. I did take singing lessons last summer, and the singing teacher signed me up for three lessons. We went through those three, then did two more. Then he sent me off to sing. Of course, that is singing, not playing an instrument.

Rllink
05-24-2016, 03:01 AM
I paid for two lessons with a teacher. I've had one and it wasn't great. He's a nice guy but doesn't seem particularly knowledgeable about the uke. Plus I think he's of the I'll-figure-out-your-song-and-then-you-play-it school of teaching. That's fine, but I can figure out a song myself. I don't need to pay someone for that.

Anyway, I think I'm a pain in the butt to teach, so it goes both ways!

So, I've got one more lesson with this guy. What can I have him show me so it's not a waste?

I'm a beginner. I've worked through Ukulele for Dummies and some of Ukulele Exercises for Dummies and Jumping Jim's Beginners book.

Bonus question: does anybody have a great resource for some basic, scratch-the-surface music theory knowledge. There's some seemingly good stuff in Uke Exercises for Dummies but I'm not getting it. This must've been asked a million times, but a search didn't turn up anything. (FYI: uke teacher guy wasn't great at explaining theory)I think that you are not even giving this guy a chance. He has to get to know you, know where you are at, and know where you want to go. I think that is going to take more than a few lessons just for that. Those two first lessons and the songs that he is asking you to play are probably designed with that in mind. He isn't a mind reader. He can't just assume that you know things.

Down Up Dick
05-24-2016, 04:10 AM
I haven't had private music lessons since high school (a long, long time ago), and I wasn't very impressed with them then. They're very tedious, and, though a teacher can catch mistakes and solve them, the process seems to me to be painfully slow. He/she tells you what to practice during the week, and then he/she hears and instructs you. I suppose this is very important for someone who is planning on a big career in music, but it's certainly a plodding and very expensive process. I've heard and read about a lot of not-so-hot teachers too. I guess many who can play an instrument think it's automatic that they can also teach. I priced private lessons at a local store, and, I think, they were $30 for a half hour. A bit much for a fumbling, old coot like me.

I bought Music Theory for Dummies, hoping to learn all about chords (one of my weaknesses). It seems okay, I guess, but it's very basic. I suppose if one was a beginning musician it'd be all right. Playing chords is still a weakness.

I prefer a lesson book with a good DVD (not a CD) or good lessons on YouTube or the UU or like that. A good group with friendly people willing to help is also a great place to learn.

And studying and learning about music on my own is the best part of musicianship for me. :old:

JessicaM
05-24-2016, 09:48 AM
I want to clarify that I know I know I know that improving takes practice! I'd love to find a teacher who had a course of instruction that s/he recommended. I'd love for them to recommend drills and daily practice agendas, etc. This guy is, no doubt, exactly the right teacher for someone who wants to learn some songs and get on with it. I've been that student in years past (with piano and guitar) but this is not a good fit for me right now.

Re: music theory, I've known and forgotten quite a bit music theory over the years. I don't expect anyone to crack open music theory in one half hour lesson, but they should have some ideas about a bite or two to offer in that time. To be fair, he did explain some, and probably did a fine job, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it!

Finally, part of why I'm a pain the the butt as a student is because I'm an educational psychologist and I have deeply held ideas about what works for learning. This guy, bless his heart, didn't even ask what my goals were or what I already know. He was recommended by someone at the local uke club and works out of a fret shop. They sell lessons on a monthly billing arrangement. He didn't "sell me two lessons," rather, I paid for the remainder of May and have not yet paid my bill for June. I plan to cancel after this lesson if it's not very different. Finding the right teacher is like finding the right therapist: it takes some hunting! This is just my first try.

JessicaM
05-24-2016, 09:50 AM
I bought Music Theory for Dummies, hoping to learn all about chords (one of my weaknesses). It seems okay, I guess, but it's very basic. I suppose if one was a beginning musician it'd be all right. Playing chords is still a weakness.

I prefer a lesson book with a good DVD (not a CD) or good lessons on YouTube or the UU or like that. A good group with friendly people willing to help is also a great place to learn.

And studying and learning about music on my own is the best part of musicianship for me. :old:

I think I agree that I need a visual, or some literal hand holding, for a deeper understanding of theory. By "deeper" I mean deeper than just-about-nothing!

JessicaM
05-24-2016, 09:55 AM
I find that many people want to learn an instrument but do not want to to do the work. You have to practice everyday and work on your weakness. If you have problems with timing, then work on timing. If there are certain chords that give you trouble devote a few minutes everyday to making the chord, etc...

There are many articles and research on the most efficient way to improve on an instrument.

This article should give you outline of how to start approaching your instrument. You need to have some goals or else you'll just wander around for years without progress.http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2013/09/03/216906386/10-easy-ways-to-optimize-your-music-practice


This is an interesting article on random practice vs. blocked practice. Random practice is a much better way to achieve success by the way. http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2013/09/03/216906386/10-easy-ways-to-optimize-your-music-practice

If you expect to get music theory in one lesson then this is not realistic. I took this course online for free. https://www.coursera.org/learn/musicianship It's a good introduction to music theory. I would not worry about getting a deep understanding of music theory.

Your time is better devoted to learning to read notation, practicing timing, learning how to make chords, playing different songs and working on different playing techniques. If you do these things, then you'll improve quickly.

*I know that some will disagree about reading music notation but it opens a whole world of music to you. You do not have to look for tabs and can easily find melodies to play.

Thanks for the resources. I don't intend to dive deeply into theory, I just want a better understanding of the basics. Edited to add: in my work life I'm an "executive functioning coach" working mostly with folks with ADHD. I have a client right now who is an excellent musician and he's been doing a research paper on practice techniques and he came across many of these same resources! Funny to see them here too! Life is funny.

Tudorp
05-24-2016, 10:35 AM
Hadn't read the entire thread, but wanted to chime in due to a comment you made, "I'm just not getting it..." I don't have much to add, but this. Don't over think it. Sure, Music theory is great, and those that do get it, playing music does come easier for them in many cases. However, that said. I played the Bass for many years, in a Jazz band, and in some Rock/Classic Rock bands over the decades. I was a very competent bass player, and played guitar fairly well as well. Until I started dealing with pretty bad arthritis, but that is a different story. I now play the uke as best as I can, some say Im good, but I am my worst critic. Always have been. Now, that also said, I do not, and have not ever been able to read music. I tried many times when I was younger to "get it", but it just never stuck. Every time I tried to apply "music", my playing would become "souless" and very "mechanical". Many, many times, I would start to play "music" and band mates, and others listening would tell me to "Tony, Put the damn music down and play like YOU do. It has heart and soul in your music. Its lost when you try to play using science...". I've just never could "get it". It wasn't because I have learning issues, I have always been considered fairly sharp, better than average in most cases. But "music"? Nope. it just wouldn't stick. So I would listen to something, and just start playing by ear, adding my own heart and soul into it, and the masses loved it that way. Point being, you CAN play without the science of it. The Science is great, and I wish I could figure that out, but it just never happened for me, and Ive been playing music for over 40 years. Just playing to the beat of my own drum sort of speak, and enjoyed the ride.

Now, best of both worlds is my daughter. She does know and understand "music", but she also has my music "heart". She plays using science, but adds her heart and soul to it as well, and in many cases tossing the science aside completley to make it "hers". She is 19 years old now, and have played guitar since she was 7, and the kid rocks, let me tell ya. She can shred her guitar with the best of them, and it may, or may not be "science". Play, play if you can figure it out or not.

rappsy
05-24-2016, 10:43 AM
A student can only be as good as his teacher's ability to teach.

The teacher I have now is Matt Stead (Mattyukaholic), and he has made all the difference to me. He has opened up my playing and is patient with the questions that students ask. I have never felt that any of my questions have been looked down upon and I feel I am making progress, which is important to the student. We're on Skype and it works.

uku0729
06-18-2016, 05:58 AM
I offer Skype ukulele lessons at a great rate. I'm semi-retired and do this because I enjoy helping others and I love playing and teaching uke. I have played piano for many decades (I have been performing since childhood) and have been composing and arranging on piano and MIDI instruments (many decades), guitar (six years) and ukulele (18 months). I offer a free first lesson and there are no contracts, although you can buy packages of four to receive a discount. I teach what you need and want, nothing more and nothing less. My website has complete info including samples of my uke playing as well as piano arrangements and MIDI compositions. And you do need to try different teachers to find the right fit. One more thing, I don't use the "P" word (practice). It has a ton of baggage and makes learning any thing tedious and uninviting. I encourage students to explore, discover and spend time playing your instrument. I do talk about constructive ways to become familiar with new concepts, chords, fingerings, etc so that your time alone with your uke is well spent. Hope this helps.

http://skype-ukulele-lessons.virtualcolony.com/index.html

JessicaM
06-18-2016, 08:17 AM
I offer Skype ukulele lessons at a great rate. I'm semi-retired and do this because I enjoy helping others and I love playing and teaching uke. I have played piano for many decades (I have been performing since childhood) and have been composing and arranging on piano and MIDI instruments (many decades), guitar (six years) and ukulele (18 months). I offer a free first lesson and there are no contracts, although you can buy packages of four to receive a discount. I teach what you need and want, nothing more and nothing less. My website has complete info including samples of my uke playing as well as piano arrangements and MIDI compositions. And you do need to try different teachers to find the right fit. One more thing, I don't use the "P" word (practice). It has a ton of baggage and makes learning any thing tedious and uninviting. I encourage students to explore, discover and spend time playing your instrument. I do talk about constructive ways to become familiar with new concepts, chords, fingerings, etc so that your time alone with your uke is well spent. Hope this helps.

http://skype-ukulele-lessons.virtualcolony.com/index.html

Thanks! My very strong preference is in-person lessons (I'm a psychologist and see many of my clients via Skype -- so already I feel like I'm in front of a computer for too much of the day).

joramy
07-02-2016, 06:45 AM
I have posted a free Syllabus for people who want to learn some basic music theory as it relates to the Ukulele.

www.lakesidepress.com/UkeSyllabus.pdf

Joramy

SailingUke
07-02-2016, 11:53 AM
Where are you? Your profile does not list a hometown.

Joyful Uke
07-02-2016, 05:21 PM
I have posted a free Syllabus for people who want to learn some basic music theory as it relates to the Ukulele.

www.lakesidepress.com/UkeSyllabus.pdf

Joramy

I just downloaded it. Looks nicely done. Thanks for sharing it!

coolkayaker1
07-02-2016, 05:34 PM
I respect that you want in person lessons, Jessica, but I can't let an opportunity to slip by to suggest UU+ Ukulele Underground lessons. Inexpensive (compared to in person) and structured in a hierarchy that makes sense from a skills and theory perspective. Doing it for, say, a year would prove invaluable--and, if you're a savant, it even includes Master Class lessons, like for this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0fM24a0Z40

The other advantage is the ability to watch each lesson, or parts of that lesson, over and over; this is a big bugaboo of live, timed lessons.

Just an idea. Rock on!

Joyful Uke
07-03-2016, 04:40 AM
The other advantage is the ability to watch each lesson, or parts of that lesson, over and over; this is a big bugaboo of live, timed lessons.

Other advantages: It's available whenever you are, and as often as you'd like, without additional cost for the time period you signed up for. And, you can pick and choose what lessons to take, (there is a huge variety), so if something doesn't interest you, there is no need to wade through it anyway. IIRC, you can sign up for one month, to give it a test run.

Another option - one that I haven't tried, but have been thinking about - are the ArtistWorks online classes, where you can submit a video of yourself to the instructors for feedback. (I'm guessing that one reason you want in-person lessons is for the feedback.) Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel certainly know their way around a ukulele, and from the sample videos on the ArtistWorks site, they're good instructors as well.

bunnyf
07-03-2016, 06:14 AM
I know I've mentioned this in other threads, but I am really enjoying Hill's "the ukulele way". I'm not a beginner, but I started at book one and am slowly working my way thru, picking up skills that I glossed over in my search to learn more chords and play more songs. The site lets you check out sample lessons. I like the video instruction that I can repeat as needed, as well as a separate audio file and the printed stand.not. and often tab. The price is very reasonable too.

JessicaM
07-03-2016, 08:18 AM
I know I've mentioned this in other threads, but I am really enjoying Hill's "the ukulele way".

Thanks! This is helpful! Since I posted this I have found a great teacher locally! He's really excellent at some stuff, but he's a mandolin guy at heart & I suspect that supplementing my lessons with some specifically-for-ukulele stuff might be the best option.