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View Full Version : Am I doing something wrong or just expecting too much too soon? Advice please.



Philipraposo1982
12-10-2016, 03:07 PM
Hi Everyone,

I am self taught ukulele player (maybe 2 years) and while I have learned a ton and continue to keep improving I am worried I am missing something key

My main focus has been playing solo ukulele, this includes finger style stuff as well as chord melody's and instrumentals.

I tend to pickup new stuff fairly well and can read both tab and some sheet music too. Both cases I am not great but good enough.

So here is where my concern lies. I am worried with how "clean" I play. I end up memorizing all my solos and i have a fairly decent size repertoire for someone who is starting out. At least I think its a decent size (4 Christmas songs, 7 other pop songs / theme songs, some of which I think are pretty advanced).

I just feel like i don't get the super clean crisp playing I hear from people on youtube and watch in videos online. I wonder if its a cased of doing something wrong or just simply need a lot more playing time to truly master the songs.

I would say 75-80% is clean and nice maybe even up to 95% one some songs. so its not like i struggle through them but some notes ring out dead the odd time or note is bending a bit or a struggle to get my finger on it in time just a 1/2 second short on timing.

I know its hard to say for sure but does this sound like its something that I will natural improve on as i keep playing?

Thanks!

Ukulele Eddie
12-10-2016, 03:43 PM
Sounds like you've made a ton of progress! I should probably be asking you for advice. I'm not much of a player yet, but if your goals are to play songs consistently through at a pretty high level, you need to work on those parts that don't come as easily. Most people work on a song always from beginning to end. Once you have a song sort of memorized, really focus on the parts that challenge you. Over and over and over. Repeat frequently. ;-)

Something else I've found to be very helpful is Amazing Slow Downer. It allows you to slow down a song without altering pitch. You can slow it down to where you can play cleanly and then start upping the speed a little bit at a time.

UkieOkie
12-10-2016, 03:57 PM
Sounds like you've made a ton of progress! I should probably be asking you for advice. I'm not much of a player yet, but if your goals are to play songs consistently through at a pretty high level, you need to work on those parts that don't come as easily. Most people work on a song always from beginning to end. Once you have a song sort of memorized, really focus on the parts that challenge you. Over and over and over. Repeat frequently. ;-)

Something else I've found to be very helpful is Amazing Slow Downer. It allows you to slow down a song without altering pitch. You can slow it down to where you can play cleanly and then start upping the speed a little bit at a time.

I'm not trying to hijack but Eddie is that amazing slow downer thing an app or something?

bonesigh
12-10-2016, 04:16 PM
Hmm, I think the 'player' notices the subtle muting and missing notes at lot more than the listener. Our audience has a forgiving ear. I flub all the time and I'm pretty good at 8 years in uke as my only instrument. I'm not pro so I think "pretty good" is good enough (:

Lori
12-10-2016, 05:10 PM
Sounds like you've made a ton of progress! I should probably be asking you for advice. I'm not much of a player yet, but if your goals are to play songs consistently through at a pretty high level, you need to work on those parts that don't come as easily. Most people work on a song always from beginning to end. Once you have a song sort of memorized, really focus on the parts that challenge you. Over and over and over. Repeat frequently. ;-)

Something else I've found to be very helpful is Amazing Slow Downer. It allows you to slow down a song without altering pitch. You can slow it down to where you can play cleanly and then start upping the speed a little bit at a time.
:agree: Yes, just drill on the difficult bits slowly until you have it clean. Then slowly increase your speed. When you have a difficult section, start a measure or two before the problem, and play past the difficult area a measure or two after. Sometimes you can streamline your fingering to make it smoother (simpler), so be open to that option. Sometimes is helpful to slide a finger up or down, instead of having to lift all the fingers to reposition.
–Lori

robinboyd
12-10-2016, 05:17 PM
Well, I haven't been playing for as long as you, and while I feel like I've made a tonne of progress, I doubt I'm as good as you. Having said that, I'm going to repeat what I would tell my aikido students, which is "if you can't do it slow, you can't do it fast." There's nothing wrong with trying to play (do aikido technique) at full speed, but even once you get to that level, it pays to slow it down occasionally to try to get it nice and clean. Once you are happy with it, then you can speed up again.

Choirguy
12-10-2016, 05:23 PM
The Amazing Slow Downer is an app...and there are a few other programs that will also do a similar thing. The new version of forScore (a PDF reader for iPad) will let you slow down music (or speed it up, too).

I am not perfect in any way--and I think there is something natural about that. I just saw a somewhat famous player/teacher and was thrilled to hear some "buzzy" chords and "fuzzy" notes. It didn't take anything away from the performance for me. Just posted a video on my website...my first playing/singing video...and I made mistakes. I'm okay with that right now...I wanted to get the song out there.

Now...from the music teacher in me...Do you have a warm-up routine? If not, try to establish one, and do not allow yourself to "go on" until the routine is played perfectly and cleanly. Eventually, that will find its way into your playing.

And remember...unless people are paying you to play, the point here is for YOU to have fun. If the perfection of others is taking away your joy in any way--that's wrong. Do the best you can every day, work hard to improve, and go to bed feeling that you have done your best.

Ukulele Eddie
12-10-2016, 05:45 PM
Yes. Available for iPhones. Not sure if it's on Android. It's a great tool!

kypfer
12-10-2016, 10:36 PM
I tend to pickup new stuff fairly well and can read both tab and some sheet music too. Both cases I am not great but good enough.

I just feel like i don't get the super clean crisp playing I hear from people on youtube and watch in videos online. I wonder if its a cased of doing something wrong or just simply need a lot more playing time to truly master the songs.

Thanks!

What you don't get from the youtube videos is the amount of re-takes it took to get that one perfect performance ;)

Except in an extremely well rehearsed professional performance, there will often be the odd missed note or fluffed chord change ... the trick is, just carry on going like nothing happened ... a proportion of your audience weren't listening, many of the rest won't know the tune anyway and many of those who did notice may well put it down to "artistic license" or just acknowledge the fact that you made a small mistake and didn't let it spoil the performance :music:

Croaky Keith
12-10-2016, 10:58 PM
Easiest way to improve your playing is to record yourself! ;)

It shows up what is wrong very clearly. :)

Plus, you will see/hear when you do improve, if you keep the recordings over a period of time.
No one is perfect, lots of recordings are disposed of before the one that gets posted, in most cases.
Improvement only comes with practice.
:cool:

Philipraposo1982
12-11-2016, 03:32 AM
Thanks everyone for the advice. I am glad to hear that this is normal. I will take all the advice and implement it into my practices.

Working on a few bars at a time is something I don't do often enough to really nail it down good. I will put more time into this.

I do have a few warm up exercises I do as well as a few fun easy songs I play before tackling new pieces or harder ones I am working on.

Been slacking a bit on my hand exercises so maybe put more time into stretching and such.

Thanks again everyone!

Rllink
12-11-2016, 03:40 AM
When I start getting sloppy I have to remind myself to pay more attention to my playing. I guess you can do that by slowing down, but just learning to concentrate on what you are doing helps a lot. And I do believe that focusing is a learned skill.

DownUpDave
12-11-2016, 03:53 AM
Easiest way to improve your playing is to record yourself! ;)

It shows up what is wrong very clearly. :)

Plus, you will see/hear when you do improve, if you keep the recordings over a period of time.
No one is perfect, lots of recordings are disposed of before the one that gets posted, in most cases.
Improvement only comes with practice.
:cool:


This is what I was going to suggest.........recording gives brutally honest feedback. If you have a smart phone or tablet download any free recording app and away you go. The sound samples of new ukes I do are all done on my Samsung phone and the recording quality is very good.

Once you have identified the sloppy areas you can then target those with specific focused practice.

Philipraposo1982
12-11-2016, 05:11 AM
I will most definitely start doing some recordings with my phone.

Thanks again

JackLuis
12-11-2016, 06:29 AM
It sounds like you're doing well. I agree with slow down and play difficult parts. I find I have to practice chord sequences for any new song to get my hands used to a pattern, even if it's just chords I know well in another song, but I'm old and slow. Just enjoy the ride.

TheCraftedCow
12-11-2016, 07:39 AM
Until I change how I think, I cannot change how I act. I cannot allow myself to loose the joy of a trip from Oregon to Pennsylvania because I had a flat tire in Iowa.Playing for myself or others is that same kind of a trip. Saying,"I have yet to be or yet to do ..." changes from the failures of the past or present to what will occur some time yet in the future. It is also made obvious to others when facial expressions change that I have just not done it as well as I would like. If I see it as a defeat rather than an opportunity to improve, it certainly does not add to my emotional state of well being. Long ago I learned to look ahead when riding my bicycle rather than just watching the front tire. The same mental set is even more important now that I am riding my Honda or my Harley. No matter where I go, there I am. [yes, this is all 1st person--I am sharing, not preaching] It is amazing how my attitude affects my performance in everything.

Tootler
12-11-2016, 08:07 AM
The magic ingredient is time. Keep practising, pay attention to your mistakes and work on correcting them and over time you will improve. Keith's (uke1950) suggestion of recording yourself is a good one. Not only does it help you identify your mistakes but, over time it gives you feedback on your progress as you can look back at earlier videos and see how you have come on.

There are things that I never thought I would be able to do but I have found over time I have gradually learnt to do them, even bar chords. I am not good at them but much better than I used to be and over time, I expect to get better.

peanuts56
12-11-2016, 08:25 AM
I find playing some pieces and exercises with a metronome to be helpful. I use it on newer pieces that are challenging. It's not used enough in my opinion.

anthonyg
12-11-2016, 11:32 AM
My two bobs worth when performing music is. Rhythm is EVERYTHING.

Well just about everything. Try tapping your foot when playing as a guide. People playing fast when its easy but then slowing down when things are harder is a rookie mistake which everyone does. Beats come along at a steady pace and when the beat is gone, its gone. Don't worry about getting the note in that you missed. Its the next note already.

Anthony