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View Full Version : Productive Practice for Beginer..



slapbass
04-13-2009, 10:07 AM
Hey all...Just curious how you all practice..I ususally try to practice chords off my chord chart...Then I get bored and try to learn songs from the Aldrine videos..
Do you guys use some sort of structure..
I find learning the songs on Aldrines video alot of fun but am afraid I not learning the chords by names..Im just learning the song..
Anyways ..Whats your practice like???

NukeDOC
04-13-2009, 10:15 AM
if i already know the song, i find a beat similar to the song on my keyboard and set the tempo to "close enough". then i play along.

if there are different parts, like rhythm and lead that i am practicing, i will use garage band on my macbook and record the chord progression while i play along.

i do the same thing with chords in different keys to practice my improvisation.

blackfist
04-13-2009, 10:42 AM
I'm brand spanking new to the Ukulele, so I'm not sure if my practice routine is as productive as it could be, but here is what I'm doing.

First things first, I'm of the opinion that 30 minutes of practice every day is better than 4 hours once a week. So I devote the first 30 minutes of my "workout" to things that aren't quite as much fun but build up to better things. So I usually start off doing all the major scales five times, and I try to do them without looking at my fingers if I can. So far, I'm improving but need to do more of this. Then I go through the major chords a few times. That's my warmup for now, but I'm going to start working the minor chords in next week. I'm trying to add new stuff slowly and focus on building flexibility and muscle memory.

I'm also trying to get better at reading music. I have a book with some really simple songs and I try to spend the rest of my 30 minutes playing along with the sheet music.

After that my 30 minutes are done, and if I have other stuff to do then I consider myself "free" to do other things. If I feel like it (and so far I always do) I move on to "do whatever you want" practice. That's when I try to find songs that might be fun to play and practice those.

I would be curious if anyone has any feedback about my routine right now and suggestions for the future as well. I only started playing a week ago and so far I've been able to practice for a couple hours every day, but I don't think I will be able to sustain that as summer activities start to eat into my time. I am going to try to be very strict about getting in at least 30 minutes every day though.

slapbass
04-13-2009, 11:06 AM
I know I have to more of the chords..Know all the majors..Ill spend more time on the minors and 7ths..Scales is a good routine to ge into as well
Any scale tabs available..Ill try a search as well...Thanx

mailman
04-13-2009, 02:28 PM
I don't know if my routine is good , bad or indifferent....but here's what I do.

No scales. No chord practice just for the sake of chord practice. I go to chordie.com and print out songs (chords and lyrics) that interest me. Then I set out to learn to play them. I may practice one almost exclusively for a couple of days, and then go back to cycling through the others.

I guess I have a stack of songs a half inch thick. I checked a while back, and I have exposure to at least 28 different chords in that pile of songs. Lots of chords, and in different combinations and sequences. I consider this to be useful practice, and yet I don't get bored with it and I feel that it's productive.

I've not worked on picking out any melodies yet, and that may not happen any time soon.

At any rate, it's working for me so far (3 months in).

bg031
04-13-2009, 03:27 PM
My routine nowadays is almost the same as mailman's. I don't do scales or chords. I just do the songs I love over and over and over.:D

carpekd
04-13-2009, 03:38 PM
I lock myself in a room and try new things until I find something that sounds good... :D

Ukulele JJ
04-13-2009, 04:53 PM
My routine nowadays is almost the same as mailman's. I don't do scales or chords. I just do the songs I love over and over and over.:D

Bingo!

While it's always nice to "stretch" yourself, there's a lot to be said for learning things as you need to learn them, in the course of playing songs you want to play.

JJ

Valerie
04-13-2009, 05:57 PM
I came to the uke after training classical guitar and classical violin.

Therefore, for me, practice follows what my teachers taught me for those instruments.

I start off with a warm-up. Usually I do scales in multiple positions up and down the neck. Or play a piece/riff I know well slowly and then gradually speed it up till I'm making more mistakes than right notes.

Then I practice a bit of a new piece.

Then practice adding flare to older pieces.

Then I do some more drills like the spider drill (play all the notes on one string up and down, then start on the next string, untill you've played the entire fret board) and the inch-worm drill (play frets 1, 2, 3, 4 on g then c, e, a, e, c, and g. Then move up to frets 2,3,4,5 and repeate until you've moved all the way up and down the fret board.) These drills help to build speed and coordination between hands.

Of course, these are all finger picking drills. For chord practice, I have a folded sheet of cardboard paper that I keep in my pocket that is an exact duplicate of my uke's fretboard. I pull it out when I've nothing else to do (or when I really should be doing something else...) and practice making a chord shape and switching between chords.

When I've a uke handy I do the same thing- switching between chords without actually playing them. Helps to build muscle memory.

haole
04-13-2009, 06:22 PM
Learning chords off a chord chart out of context is no fun. If you're doing the video lessons, check out the play-along/karaoke versions as well. Eventually you'll learn to associate the chord names with the fingerings. Another good way is to flip through a songbook that focuses on the chords (like the Jumpin' Jim books) and learn a song that way. I'm just now getting out of the habit of thinking of all the uke chords as guitar chords (thus pausing for a second to remember that F is like C on the guitar, D is A, etc) and learning the correct uke chord names, and this is probably the easiest way to do it.

buddhuu
04-13-2009, 11:15 PM
If your aim is to learn just the songs you need to play - say for an on-stage set - then the best use of your time may be to work on those songs and practise new chords as you find you need them

If you want to become a more confident and competent musician then your question is a good one because focused and structured practice is the way to go.

I would suggest:

1) Learn movable chord shapes. By learning the shapes for types of chords (rather than all the individual chords) you'll be able to play unfamiliar chords by moving them to new positions. For example the BMaj shape of 4322 will give you a CMaj chord if moved up a fret to 5433, or a DMaj if moved up three frets to 7655. A DMaj shape of 2220 will give you EMaj if slid up two frets to 4442.

Learn a couple of shapes each for Maj, min, dom7, min7th and you'll have most chords covered without learning the fingering and position for each individual chord.

2) Learn scales the same way - by the shapes. The different shapes can be moved around the fretboard to give scales in different keys. Which scales will be most useful will depend on the kind of music you play. For folk, bluegrass, Irish etc the Major scales are probably most used, while for blues, pentatonics are a good place to start.

3) Learn the Nashville number system for identifying notes and chords. By thinking of chord progressions in terms of I, IV, V rather than C, F, G or G, C, D etc etc etc you'll come to understand the structure of songs better.

4) Try to learn to distinguish the sounds of chord types by ear - Major, minor, sus4, dom7 etc.

5) Try to learn to identify intervals by ear. You can use tricks to help with this - for example, the interval between the first two notes of the main melody of the Star Wars theme is a 5th, so that tune can be your mnemonic for remembering the sound of that interval. You can find other tunes familiar to you for the other intervals. Alternatively, just count up the Major do-re-mi scale to count many of the intervals between notes.

But in all this, keep practising songs. Try to see how scales and chords relate to each other and to the songs. Learn to recognise common progressions and patterns.

Music theory is useful, but only if it fits in with what you're actually learning to play. It's of little use to know all the scale modes if you can't play a song with them.

There is some pretty good software available to help with music theory and with learning chords, scales and the relationships between them

Check out Chord Wizard Gold or Silver, and Chord Wizard Music Theory. Commercial products, but demos are available. I have used these for years and found them very good.

http://www.chordwizard.com/products.asp (NFI).

Good luck with whatever you're aiming for. :shaka:

buddhuu
04-13-2009, 11:43 PM
Welcome, Kitty. :)

Ukulele JJ
04-14-2009, 01:45 AM
Good advice, Buddu.

But I will make one minor point: 'round these here parts, we don't use them fancy-pants "roman numerals". The Nashville number system uses plain old 1, 4, 5, on so on.

Of course, it really doesn't matter if you use a 4, or a IV, or even call it "fa". The idea is to start seeing chords in terms of their relationship to the key of the song. You're right that that's an important part of musicianship. It helps with training your ear, with memorizing songs, with transposing, etc.

:shaka:

JJ

Armelle0808
04-14-2009, 01:48 AM
I also agree with mailman and print a lot of chords of songs I like from various sources :
- Ukulele Hunt : http://ukulelehunt.com/tab-chords/
- Doctor Uke : http://www.doctoruke.com/songs.html
- chordie
- ...

This teaches me chords as I go along.

I also select from Aldrine's tutorials, among songs I like.
This helps me improve rhythm and strumming techniques as the tutorials are very detailed.

I think the key thing is to have fun and not to be overwhelmed by theory.
I do refer to theory or charts whenever I get stuck trying to play a song I really feel like playing. That way I learn in digestible chunks...

mailman
04-14-2009, 02:07 AM
I'm just now getting out of the habit of thinking of all the uke chords as guitar chords (thus pausing for a second to remember that F is like C on the guitar, D is A, etc) and learning the correct uke chord names, and this is probably the easiest way to do it.

Me, too! Although I've made progress in this regard, I still think guitar "F" when I make a ukulele "Bflat"....

I still think my guitar background was a huge help in learning to play ukulele.

buddhuu
04-14-2009, 02:51 AM
Good advice, Buddu.

But I will make one minor point: 'round these here parts, we don't use them fancy-pants "roman numerals". The Nashville number system uses plain old 1, 4, 5, on so on.

Of course, it really doesn't matter if you use a 4, or a IV, or even call it "fa". The idea is to start seeing chords in terms of their relationship to the key of the song. You're right that that's an important part of musicianship. It helps with training your ear, with memorizing songs, with transposing, etc.

:shaka:

JJ

Agreed, JJ, it's the concept that really matters.

Apologies for choosing the wrong label! :o But the concept of using numbers to specify the notes/chords is the same, just fine detail of notation varies.

One thing about the Roman numeral notation for chords is it has a nice neat way of showing Major and minor. The old standard progression of 1, 6min, 4, 5 is rendered I, vi, IV, V - lower case for minor. I find that SO neat! And easy to see at a glance.

Believe me, my pants ain't fancy! Just diff'rent strokes etc. :D

And for the beginners, this basic theory stuff isn't a complicated way of learning. After a few years you realise it was actually the easy way to do it and then you kick yourself for not having made that little effort earlier! ;)

Once you get your head around it you'll be able to play a song in any key. No more running back to Chordie for revised tabs when you suddenly get told that you have to play a song in G that you always did in A, because your new singer can't get as high as your last guy did.

Of course it takes a bit more thought than learning just by looking at tabs and chord diagrams, and it's totally not compulsory. You must learn whichever way you enjoy best, and whichever way gets you where you want to be, but without a little bit of work on this stuff it'll be harder to just drop in and jam with people and tunes you're not familiar with.

slapbass
04-14-2009, 06:42 AM
Thanx for the replies..I find it really easy to figure out songs on my upright..I do see the patterns on the upright ..But Ive been playing that thing for years..
Guess its just a matter of seeing them on the uke now..
All good tips and very muck appreciated!!!!

NukeDOC
04-14-2009, 06:51 AM
Thanx for the replies..I find it really easy to figure out songs on my upright..I do see the patterns on the upright ..But Ive been playing that thing for years..
Guess its just a matter of seeing them on the uke now..
All good tips and very muck appreciated!!!!

hold your ukulele upright. ok maybe not exactly.

im not sure about the upright bass, but an electric 4 string bass is usually tuned EADG. while a guitar is tuned EADGBE. so if you know your way around the guitar strings, its just a learning curve to understand the ukulele, which is essentially a DGBE guitar capo'd at the 5th fret... thus becoming GCEA. (i put in bold where the two instruments overlap on the guitar.)

i guess it was easier for me since my primary instrument is guitar. but thats just how i understand it. its not always clear and easy, but if i sit and think about it for a while, what im trying to do on each instrument begins to clear up.

bg031
04-14-2009, 06:56 AM
For those past the beginner stage and want to learn the "classical" way, I do recommend the Fretboard Roadmaps book coz it outlines a lot of the stuff that buddhu was discussing. I was doing the exercises in it before, but I found that doing the songs I love over and over truly did help me learn faster the fingering, chord relations and recognizing different sounds (ie, major vs minor vs the sustained, etc).