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View Full Version : You *can* do this: Pushing myself to get better at ukulele



Tonya
02-20-2017, 09:56 AM
Since September I've been a part of the Luongo Ukulele Experience (LUE), an "adult" ensemble directed by Peter Luongo (of the well-known and well-traveled Langley Ukulele Ensemble youth group).

If you've ever taken a uke workshop from Peter you know he's intense--and one of the best instructors of any topic I've ever studied under. I joined LUE thinking I certainly had the skills necessary--and initially found myself drowning in inability and an "I can't do this!" attitude.

Here's the account of how it all worked out: http://www.ukuleletonya.com
(Spoiler alert: In 10+ years of playing I've never been so motivated or improved so much. Or had such fun!)

And, if you're in Palm Springs for this week's uke festival or Reno in April for that fest, you can take a "mini" version of LUE and try it, too!

lfoo6952
02-20-2017, 01:38 PM
Cool stuff Tonya. Your enthusiasm is infectious.

Eynowd
02-20-2017, 03:33 PM
Since September I've been a part of the Luongo Ukulele Experience (LUE), an "adult" ensemble directed by Peter Luongo (of the well-known and well-traveled Langley Ukulele Ensemble youth group).

<snip>

(Spoiler alert: In 10+ years of playing I've never been so motivated or improved so much. Or had such fun!)




Good for you!

Keeping the motivation to improve as a musician can be a tricky thing sometimes. If you join a uke group, it's relatively easy to work hard enough to get to the group's level of chord strumming, but I've found there's often not a lot of motivation (nor call) to push beyond that to the more intricate styles of playing; they just never seem to come up at a session.

I'll admit I'm a little weird in that department: my long term aim is to become a proficient Hawaiian slack key guitarist and I'm not there yet (working on it though). Because of that, I'm forever poking away at things trying to get better. I don't know of anyone else locally who plays Hawaiian music, so I just keep plodding along solo, as I don't have the group trap to fall into :)

I picked uke up because it's so prominent in Hawaiian music and it's actually been really useful to delve into. I've learned quite a lot of good stuff via uke, so I'm grateful for it. In a couple of weeks, I'm pencilled in to start a continuing uke course (so, stuff beyond the beginner chords and strumming stuff). I don't think it's going to teach me everything I need or want to know, but I'm hoping that it'll fill in a few blanks in my knowledge and keep propelling me along the path some more. If I get that much out of it, I'll be a happy boy.

Perhaps the key to finding and keeping motivation is picking a long term goal and working at nibbling away at it day after day, and accepting that side quests and detours are just as valuable in the long run as plowing straight on towards the goal like a bulldozer. If nothing else, they're fun and help recharge the batteries. But I've found that some of the tricks and knowledge you pick up along the way transfer to the main goal, and that's proved very valuable.

So, keep going! There's always more to learn and practice :D

Debussychopin
02-20-2017, 10:07 PM
For me whenever I sit down to play it is always to get better. Yeah I do love to just have fun playing it while, let say watching a game , but most instances, I'm focused purely on trying to at least develop or learn one thing each time I hit it. I'm always pushing myself.

Griffis
02-21-2017, 03:39 AM
This inspires me. I still have so much to learn, so many ways I want to develop as a player. I strive...it's a never-ending process and, for me, so fulfilling, enriching and most importantly, fun! Thank you for sharing.

Even though all of us are separated by physical space, it means so much to have this community of supportive, kind, knowledgeable people and players. I consider the folks here my friends and love the fact we are all in some ways in this together.

Osprey
02-21-2017, 04:32 AM
It's great when you find the trigger to push you towards improving your musicianship. I am a member of three ukulele groups. One large group that meets weekly, generally plays through five or so songs suggested by group members. We play for enjoyment not perfection. Once in a while we get a set list together to play at assisted living homes. It is the group I started with and is still a lot of fun, although it no longer pushes me. Second group is a subset of the large group meets once or month or so and plays more challenging music but for enjoyment of the group not performance. Third group is about six or so of us that want to find songs, practice them until we do them well, add flourishes, maybe one of the group will play a solo part. The idea is that we will perform and entertain. I get the most out of the third group. It is what makes me pick up the ukulele and learn to pick solos, learn new strums, get better at chord changes. It was a progression each romp was added as I reached a plateau. They all are fun, but I live for the third group.

bikemech
02-21-2017, 04:36 AM
Tonya,

That is a very inspirational blog post. I think I'll have to re-read it again later, after work, and recommend it to my wife as well, who is only now beginning to learn to play at the age of 53.

Thank you.

David

Tonya
02-21-2017, 06:10 AM
I think it's easy for me, personally, to buy a ton 'o books (I must have the single best-stocked ukulele reference bookshelf in North America) and then dabble at them happily...but never really *push* myself to constantly improve. And, while I've truly enjoyed the dabbling and the great input at all the festivals I've been to (29 at last count!), it's been such growth (and not only ukulele-wise) to truly keep at this, way beyond what I thought I could tackle. Revelatory in a very good way!

DownUpDave
02-21-2017, 06:48 AM
This inspires me. I still have so much to learn, so many ways I want to develop as a player. I strive...it's a never-ending process and, for me, so fulfilling, enriching and most importantly, fun! Thank you for sharing.

Even though all of us are separated by physical space, it means so much to have this community of supportive, kind, knowledgeable people and players. I consider the folks here my friends and love the fact we are all in some ways in this together.


Ditto........great response Griffis.

Tonya, thanks for sharing. It was truly inspirational and has given one more reason to keep practicing and pushing myself.

Rob Uker
02-21-2017, 08:03 AM
I was fortunate enough to see them perform live a few years age.
It was a truly mind blowing experience.

OhioBelle
02-21-2017, 11:55 AM
Tonya, you are a FABULOUS writer and a FABULOUS inspiration. Thanks for sharing your journey.

TheCraftedCow
02-21-2017, 06:55 PM
I was a teacher for 15years of students who were unsuccesful in regular classes. We did many things which were not done in a regular class. Behaviors decreased and attendance went up. They were told that until they changed how they thought, they could not change how they acted.They were not allowed to say 'I can't" or 'I don't know how" The only acceptable answer that did not have a negative consequence was " I have yet to know how to------- "
The negative consequence was to fill out a thing called a Time Out Sheet. They could give the T hand to anyone in the class who was inappropriate in how they spoke or acted.They could also T Hand me. We were all responsible to each other. As their attitudes changed, so did their behaviors.


I find "stinking thinking" to almost be of epidemic proportions even among "normal " people. One can say "I have yet to be able to(whatever it is)" rather than becoming negative and trapping themself in the past or even the present. Negativity does not create an atmosphere or mind set which helps build confidence or skill. Paraphrasing a verse from the Bible....forgetting the things which are behind, I press forward to the mark. That it might seem unnatural to say is an indication of how locked into negativity we are in our daily activities. Yes... this is the same line of thinking I use on the students in my adult education upholstery classes. I have yet to be able to.... A couch is a whole lot bigger than a ukulele.

dhbailey
02-21-2017, 10:35 PM
Nice message, TheCraftedCow!

That reminds me of a saying that I can't remember who originally said: "If you think you can't, you're right. If you think you can, you're right."

Our own personal attitude is, in my opinion and experience as a private music teacher for over 45 years, is either our biggest ally or our biggest enemy.

Griffis
02-22-2017, 02:13 AM
Nice message, TheCraftedCow!

That reminds me of a saying that I can't remember who originally said: "If you think you can't, you're right. If you think you can, you're right."

Our own personal attitude is, in my opinion and experience as a private music teacher for over 45 years, is either our biggest ally or our biggest enemy.

The older I get (and the more I read up on physics) the more I am aware that, to a large degree, we create our own reality.