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joypog
11-04-2016, 02:49 AM
I've been messing around with the Uke for a couple months now (with no sustained experience in stringed instruments except with a short stint with the Banjo a decade ago).

On the one hand I've been quite enjoying just playing children's songs with my daughter, but I've been wanting to do something a little more "formal". So I'm currently working through the Art of Arpeggio's free ebook by Samantha Muir.

After I finish the 20 exercises in that book and if I still want to keep going, the three books on the market that's caught my attention are

Ukulele Aerobics by Chad Johnson
Ukulele Exercises for Dummies by Brett McQueen and Alistair Wood
Learn Finger-Style Ukulele: With music Theory by Tony Mizen

I might also veer off and go into Clawhammer Ukelele with Aaron Keim.

Any thoughts on any of these books?

Rllink
11-04-2016, 03:14 AM
I would not recommend Ukulele Aerobics. It starts out okay, but moves very quickly and loses its relevance before long.

Down Up Dick
11-04-2016, 03:38 AM
I would not recommend Ukulele Aerobics. It starts out okay, but moves very quickly and loses its relevance before long.

I agree with Rollie. I also have the Dummies book, and I guess the exercises are okay, but most of the tunes are Christmas songs, and it seems strange to be playing them in July and August. I didn't care for it. I also have Aaron's Clawhammer book, and it's very good if you wanna play Clawhammer on a ukulele.

I think that, unless you're a complete beginner, you can find better learning material on the UU or on YouTube. DVDs or internet lessons are good because one can actually see (sometimes) what he/she is supposed to be learning.

I have found most of the lesson books that I have tried to be disappointing. :old:

Croaky Keith
11-04-2016, 05:43 AM
If I were in the market for books again, I'd go the fingerstyle route, but I enjoy the melodies rather than strum & sing, so there isn't a lot of general books for picking, they tend to be for a certain style of picking. :)

ukatee
11-04-2016, 06:44 AM
If you like finger style you could try Rob MacKillop's 20 Easy Fingerstyle Studies (https://www.amazon.com/20-Easy-Fingerstyle-Studies-Ukulele/dp/0786687223). I am a beginner and I love it - the pieces are really attractive. He has done an number of other books, too. There are videos of some of the pieces here (https://robmackillop.net/ukulele/).

Uncle Rod's free Ukulele Boot Camp (http://ukulelebootcamp.weebly.com/) is good for learning chords.

Mivo
11-04-2016, 08:11 AM
I have gotten more out "Ukulele Aerobics" than from any of the other non-songbooks I have. It's not necessarily because of the content, but because of the format: The book gives you a set of varied exercises for a week (which I look at as a unit rather than a literal week), so specific things to practice that are loosely related. The pacing of the book isn't ideal, but I feel it's among the best exercise-type of books for the ukulele.

I also like "Ukulele Exercises for Dummies". It's very wordy, very personal. If you like the conversational style, this book just feels good. It's split in two major parts, exercises for strumming and exercises for fingerpicking. There is a lot of explaining and chatting in this book, and I think it's excellent value. If you want to get only one book, I'd go with this one, though it does not overlap with Ukulele Aerobics much. I feel that these books go well together.

joypog
11-04-2016, 09:53 AM
Thanks all! Definitely some food for thought. I'll first make sure this uke thing isn't just a short fad and then I'll most likely ahead with something from there.

I'm not THAT old, but I find learning via dvd or youtube difficult, even though it does seem to be the natural way to learn. I think I just like the physical object of a book!

Croaky Keith
11-04-2016, 10:02 AM
In that case - Ukulele Exercises for Dummies. ;)

johnson430
11-04-2016, 11:53 AM
This is a nice free source for high g ukes.
http://ukeofcarl.com/hanon-for-ukulele-free-ebook/

These are good for working the fingers.

Kayak Jim
11-04-2016, 01:52 PM
Dummies and Aerobics are my go-to books for exercises.

Joyful Uke
11-04-2016, 02:23 PM
I tried some of the exercise books, but never made it through one. (Got bored.)

What are you trying to accomplish with an exercise book? Maybe that can help people point you to one that might fill that need.

What I find myself doing instead is working on music I'd like to play, and essentially creating my own exercises when I find something in the music hard to play. That way, I'm working toward the specific goal of playing the music I enjoy, vs. just playing exercises.

But, maybe I just don't understand the exercise books, and would benefit a lot from them if I could keep myself working on them.

SoloRule
11-05-2016, 02:46 AM
This is a nice free source for high g ukes.
http://ukeofcarl.com/hanon-for-ukulele-free-ebook/

These are good for working the fingers.

That's Camsuke favourite book!

jarviw
11-05-2016, 03:32 AM
I tried some of the exercise books, but never made it through one. (Got bored.)
What are you trying to accomplish with an exercise book? Maybe that can help people point you to one that might fill that need.
What I find myself doing instead is working on music I'd like to play, and essentially creating my own exercises when I find something in the music hard to play. That way, I'm working toward the specific goal of playing the music I enjoy, vs. just playing exercises.

But, maybe I just don't understand the exercise books, and would benefit a lot from them if I could keep myself working on them.

From a classical training perspective, the exercise books make you practice the different skills/techniques with the instrument. The goal is to train you to operate the instrument for different expressions in a well controlled manner.
It is absolutely boring, repetitive, and more often than not takes the fun out of playing music. But it is EXERCISE. It's intended to be a little 10~15 min focused learning among playing.

That's why I got the aerobics book, because it is exactly that; and as someone coming from the wind instruments I wanted to learn the different ways of operating ukuleles.
The Aerobics comes with audio tracks -- not so much as to teach you how to play the notes but to show you the intended expressions. (back in the days that's why we paid a teacher to play along with the exercise book!) As others have mentioned, the best thing about the Aerobics is the weekly format. In terms of content, I think as a beginner (and even advanced players) will find this book getting challenging very quickly as it goes through a lot of skills.

But I agree - a fun songbook teaches you new songs does help you feel accomplished, and at the same time logging the hours.
Do both!

Joyful Uke
11-05-2016, 08:43 AM
From a classical training perspective, the exercise books make you practice the different skills/techniques with the instrument. The goal is to train you to operate the instrument for different expressions in a well controlled manner.

I'm not clear on what you mean by "different expressions". Could you explain?

jarviw
11-05-2016, 02:43 PM
I'm not clear on what you mean by "different expressions". Could you explain?
Accents, punctuation, articulation, phasing, sound effects... etc.

padlin
11-06-2016, 01:29 AM
This is the beginners part of the forum... What are "Accents, punctuation, articulation, phasing, sound effects... etc."?

Rllink
11-06-2016, 05:54 AM
So what makes an exercise an "exercise?" What makes the notes and chords in an "exercise", and their relationship to each other, more beneficial to learning to play a ukulele than the notes and chords in a song and their relationships to each other? I ask this because Joyful Uke asked, "What are you trying to accomplish with an exercise book," and I wonder that myself. What does one accomplish?

I'll add here, that I do scales and exercises regularly, but often times I feel like I am doing them only to prove that by doing uninspiring and repetitious practice I am worthy, and that I'm not just some ukulele bum sitting around playing music all the time.

Croaky Keith
11-06-2016, 06:54 AM
That's quite a good question, I would class an exercise as something that is done to improve your knowledge or physical prowess.

If you know your scales, you may understand why something is written or played the way that it is.

But, if you just want to play a few songs/tunes, you don't need to know any scales, you just need to know how & where to play the notes/chords of the song/tune.

peanuts56
11-06-2016, 07:27 AM
Rob MacKillop's 20 Easy Fingerstyle Studies is a good resource.

johnson430
11-06-2016, 07:37 AM
That's Camsuke favourite book!

Campbell has been helping me with the Hanon. I am enjoying it more and more.

joypog
11-06-2016, 01:26 PM
What are you trying to accomplish with an exercise book? Maybe that can help people point you to one that might fill that need.


Thanks for the question. As an architect I often encounter clients who come to me with specific problems and one of my key jobs is to make them step back and look at the bigger picture of what they are looking to accomplish. So I've spent the last day and a half thinking about the question and I'll go into a little bit of a musical biography I guess...

I grew up in a household that only played classical music on the stereo due to my dad's strict preferences. Of that genre I gravitated toward Baroque and Renaissance works. As I got older, I discovered Irish and Bluegrass which have become my preferred instrumental music. Nowadays I enjoy all types of music (hip-hop, rock, EDM, etc) but of the acoustic fare I'd say those are the guiding stars of what I like to listen to.

When I first got out of college and started earning money, I took some spare change and got myself a banjo, a three finger style bluegrass book, and an irish music book. But unfortunately I never got very far and it lay dormant for more than a decade. About five years ago I picked up the harmonica, and I hit that pretty hard for about half a year until I got pretty good at bending notes...which proved to myself that I could develop difficult skills, but without an ouvre I wanted to play it died out. Just a few months ago, I pulled the banjo out again and I had started toying with clawhammer but I then came across my dad's old ukulele (he doesn't play but owns an old yamaha) and since it was smaller and easier to carry around, it has now become the stringed instrument I've adopted.

So hopefully the third time's the charm. The big change is that I now have a songbook to play with my daughter. Now that she's almost three, she can sing and dance and the uke is a great accompanying instrument for these childrens' songs. I've printed out a bunch of tunes that are nice and easy for strumming and we've really enjoyed playing chords and singing together. But at a technical level I can see that I'm starting to lose interest with just strumming, so I'm now starting to pick away at the melodies. But trying to randomly finger pick the melody seems very unsystematic - which is why I've been looking at more abstract books that might lead to a cleaner educational path to getting better with the picking out those basic kids songs with an eye towards more complex fare in the future. I think the appeal of abstract exercises is that I can approach the technical aspects of playing without having to think about a song.

From what I can tell, there's two ways forward. It seems that campanella is a more difficult style of more conventional finger picking, but at the beginning both would really be approached similarly. On the other hand if I want to go more bluegrass, I can pursue the clawhammer which seems to be a quite different way of striking of individual notes. I'm drawn to the american roots history of clawhammer style, but I'm do appreciate the wider range of music with more conventional finger picking.

In any case at this point I'm leaning towards working through all the free resources that y'all have linked to here, including another free campanella fingerstyle book by john lewis (http://jons-ukulele.com/learn-campanella-fingerstyle-ukulele-free-guide-to-download/). Once I do my homework, I should have a much stronger feel for what I'm looking for. And on the other hand, if I decide to go the clawhammer route, I'll just go ahead and get Keim's book which seems to be fondly regarded around these parts.

Croaky Keith
11-06-2016, 11:23 PM
Picking melodies is more interesting than just playing chords, as would finger style arpeggiating be, & can be quite relaxing. Then you can progress that into chord melody playing. :)

joypog
11-07-2016, 03:00 AM
Picking melodies is more interesting than just playing chords, as would finger style arpeggiating be, & can be quite relaxing. Then you can progress that into chord melody playing. :)

I'd never heard the term "chord melody" before so I started googling and found a really interesting blog post on Ukulele hunt.
http://ukulelehunt.com/2010/04/14/combining-melody-and-chords/

Really interesting! Thanks!